Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon 2021 – Reading Challenge

At the beginning of the month I found a new reading challenge for June I wanted to participate in. Since the month already began I had to think carefully am I going to make it or not. The idea of this reading challenge is very appealing to me and it seamed as too good to pass on. Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon is created by Maddie from book browsing blog channel on YouTube and you can check her channel HERE and give her some love and support. The reading challenge lasts for the whole month of June and is a team challenge with five teams competing in reading goals they mostly set for themselves. Each team has two captains, their color, and their chosen main genre. These are mostly guidelines and are designed to offer readers direction and something to identify with in the team challenge.

The hosts are mostly the people whose content I have been admiring and watching for a while now. I was excited to see them all together collaborating on a project like this one. Since the books I read tend to come from many different genres and I consider my reading taste to be a bit eclectic I decided to go with the Comrades of Chaos team! The fact that the team captain for this team were the least known to me was even better and in accordance with the Chaos factor. Watching some content from my new team captains was hilarious and revealed that we might not be the most competitive team in the mix which is fine by me since my own goal is to challenge myself by joining these types of reading challenges.

How the challenge works is that you can choose to read a certain amount of books for the challenge and set your own goal. Every book you read wins you certain amount of points and every book you read above your set goal gives you double the amount of points. There is the Pride month bonus for LGBTQ content which is optional. All hosts have provided the readers with their favorites and you can choose to read those for more extra points as well – again this is optional and if the said favorites are a part of a series any book in the series counts as well! With ten hosts and many different genres there is plenty of options for those extra points to choose from. Team genre is also optional for earning points but as the title say – You can read whatever you want! Each book you read earns you points and counts but if you make the book fit into any of the categories you earn extra points.

There are fifteen available prompts to get extra points on the books. You can fit one book in one or more prompts. You get extra points for up to three prompts per book. The amount of options and choices for fitting my books in June has stumped me and I just made a pile of books to read without much consulting of the prompts – which is a first for me! It felt very liberating at the start but kinda intimidating since I decided to make my own challenge a lot more challenging that I had to.

How did I manage to do this?

I started big by adding all my books I already choose for June Bookopoly. That was five books and I felt I needed to make it more interesting by adding more books that were not part of the Bookopoly for June. I made a wonderfull decision to double my reading goal from five books for the Bookopoly with extra five books which got me to my reading goal for Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon – TEN BOOKS!

Here are my ten books I set my goal on for the Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon reading challenge:

The Hedge Knight: The Tales of Dunk and Egg by George R.R. Martin

Lucky (Lucky Santangelo #2) by Jackie Collins

Mogla je biti prosta priča by Ajla Terzić

The Last Wish (The Witcher #0.5) by Andrzej Sapkowski

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1) by Christine Feehan

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

Micah (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #13) by Laurell K. Hamilton

There were some last minute tweaks to this list and I only checked a few for actually matching some of the prompts. I’m going with chaos as my guide here! I have one third of the month already slipping past me and I have barely scratched the pile of books I made for myself. All the while my team captains are very active across all the social media platforms and there are some very cool videos to read along books to and talk about books in the challenge. Here is the list of all the team captains (in no particular order) and their YouTube channels so you can check them out if you are interested:

Maddie from book browsing blog

Spoopyhol from Spoopyhol

India from What India Read

Steph from Steph Loves

Jadey from Jadeyreareades

Becca from Becca and the Books

Ashleigh from A Frolic Trough Fiction

Gavin from How To Train Your Gavin

Ro from wandering trough worlds

Codie from Codies Book Corner

Wish me luck!

May The Force Read With You 2021: Reading experience and thoughts

Good news is that I read all the books I picked out on my path to be a Jedi! While I had some ideas about reading more than just the five mandatory books for May The Force Read With You reading challenge I did not get around to picking more books that fit the prompts for it. I stayed true to my Light Side Path and did not have to pick any of the neutral prompts that were available.

Here are the books I read for this reading challenge and my thoughts on them!

Prompt: Jedi Council – Sequel or book in a series

Book: The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga #5) by Lois McMaster Bujold ★★★★★

My first prompt is the one I was the most excited about and felt it was the most connected with the Star Wars theme. Miles Vorkosigan is a high profile high born from the planet Barrayar that has a long and brutal military history. Due to and assassination attempt on his mother while he was still in the womb he suffered some damage that stunted his growth and made his bones very brittle. The Saga of Miles Vorkosigan is aptly named and there is a whole world of political intrigue in space and James Bond/Indiana Jones adventure feel to his life in general. This series has around sixteen books and finding out a correct way to read them can be tricky. I have all the books translated in Croatian and keep them as a great choice to add as a next book to read for reading challenges. I plan to read the whole series but am not actively working hard on it. These stories are a delight for me to read because with most science fiction literature I can’t seem to connect with the characters and their stories. Miles is different in this way. Miles is the reason I keep reading science fiction which I am not that big a fan of.

Prompt: Knowledge – Read one of the oldest books on your shelf/TBR

Book: Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show by Glenn Yeffeth (Editor) ★★★★

The second book I read in the challenge was not the second prompt but the book that was on my TBR and the actual bookshelves for many years. Nonfiction books are not often something I pick for reading challenges since they take more concentration and time to read. I am a story driven reader and reading a book of essays was not something I would have chosen to take on lightly. Like Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has had a cult following that transcends generations and the period that it was made in. It was really interesting for me to read professional writers on their own favorite show and exhibit great emotions over things only true fans would pay attentions too let alone obsess about! Some essays were endearing to read, some inspired me to watch episodes of the TV show and some made me feel glad my thoughts on Buffy never got that far. Fandoms and people that are part of them are amazing!

Prompt: Force Spirit – A book with paranormal elements

Book: Prolaz za divljač by Iva Šakić Ristić ★★★

My actual second prompt and the third book I have read for this challenge was a short novel by a Croatian author and the first of her work I have read. Like some movies from the Star Wars franchise, this was one of the books with characters I had trouble connecting with. The philosophical nature of the plot just made me disconnect and lose interest. I had similar issues with the Rogue One movie. While a friend that recommended and gave me this book as a present liked this book I now must find a way to tell her gently that I did not find what she thought was so fascinating about it…

Prompt: Healing – Read a book from your favorite genre

Book: Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark #18) by Kresley Cole ★★★★

My next prompt and the book I read was spot on with the healing theme. I needed something to get me back to my favorite genre. It has been years since I read the last book from this series and I was caught off guard with the amount of sex scenes here. For the first part of the book it is an enemies to lovers deal BUT when the main characters get it on, they GET IT ON a lot. I found some connections wo the Star Wars here in the star crossed lovers getting together and while Anakin and Padme share the aptitude for destruction and tragedy with Sian and Lila their story is HEA by the end of the book at least. Also this cover, while not one of my favorites, gives me Anakin vibes…

Prompt: Cleansed – Book with a white cover

Book: Proklete Hrvatice : (1&2) : Dvadeset životopisa by Milana Vuković Runjić ★★★

The last prompt and the last book I have read for this reading challenge was another nonfiction book – which is I suspect the reason behind me not reaching for the extra prompts that I might have chosen otherwise. Picking two nonfiction books in a single month and a single reading challenge is a first for me ever. This time it was a book of biographies of women from Croatian history. I was not too thrilled with the way they were presented – often trough the lens of political conditions of their time and trough the men they associated with. The title translates roughly as “Cursed Croatian Women” and these biographies are filled with tragedy and strife. My view on Star Wars story was always trough the main character Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and I can’t help but to consider him a tragic character. And here is my connection to the Star Wars theme – tragic life stories and choices. The sepia white on the cover made me forcibly claim it as a white cover and a part of the reason for this pick was also a buddy reading list I am still behind on!

I did not participate in reading sprints and activities across social media platforms that were available and maybe if I had I would have been felt more motivated to choose more books to read after the initial five. Eric from Breakeven Books did a great job with this reading challenge and he deserves all the credit. Show him and his channel some love HERE.

May your shelves be filled with great books and may the Force be with you all!

Bookopoly TBR 2021 – May review and June books

May Bookopoly TBR gave me six interesting books to read and I managed to read them all in time. Two of those books were excellent and I truly enjoyed reading them. One book was great and the reading experience could have been better and the other three were good to okay because I had certain issues with the reading experience and my own expectations. Here is the complete list of the books I read because of Bookopoly TBR game in May. Five of the books were from my own bookshelves and one was from the library due to the prompt requirement. Only two of the books were in English language and four were in Croatian language which is a rare thing for me! One books was nonfiction the rest were all fiction with some type of fantastic elements to them. Genres and audience varied from children’s books to full adult! Total number of pages read in these six books is 1679 pages!

1. Prompt: Dark Cover

Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling ★★★★★

2. Prompt: Disability representation

Book: The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga #5) by Lois McMaster Bujold ★★★★★

3. Prompt: Adult

Book: Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark #18) by Kresley Cole ★★★★

4. Prompt: Go to the Library

Book: Proklete Hrvatice : (1&2) : Dvadeset životopisa by Milana Vuković Runjić ★★★

5. Prompt: Friend Pick

Book: Clockwork or all wound up by Philip Pullman, Zdenko Bašić (Illustrator) ★★★

6. Prompt: Random Shelf Pick

Book: Prolaz za divljač by Iva Šakić Ristić ★★★

Here are my reading goals for Bookopoly in June:

Prompt: Chance card

Book: The Hedge Knight: The Tales of Dunk and Egg by George R.R. Martin

My first roll for June got me a seven and landed me on Chance spot. I am slowly running out of my Chance card titles and have decided to clear them all out before adding the new set of sixteen book titles from my shelves. For some reason this used to be a very common prompt on the old version of my Bookopoly board. The Hedge Knight: The Tales of Dunk and Egg by George R.R. Martin is a Croatian edition that collects all parts of a story set in Westeros and around a century (?) before the events of The Game of Thrones book. My expectation is to be a little less clueless about the book and the world it belongs to. Also, it is another book from my bookshelf to read!

Prompt: TBR Game

Book:  Lucky (Lucky Santangelo #2) by Jackie Collins

Second roll gave me a book that got pulled out of my TBR reading games few times before but due to its length it kept missing the cut. This time I used the mechanics of the Flip the Page Challenge. You can check out the original YouTube Challenge video by Jesse the Reader HERE and give him some love and attantion! A friend gave me random coordinates from the parameters of my bookshelves and I got: Lucky (Lucky Santangelo #2) by Jackie Collins. The first part of this eighties Jackie Collins chick lit with elements of crime thriller and erotic novel I have read way back in high school and have even written about it. You can check my thoughts from way back in 2016. on it HERE. This book is also on my currently paused TBR Jar Draw. I don’t know how to feel about revisiting this book series…

Prompt: LGBTQ+

Book: Mogla je biti prosta priča by Ajla Terzić

Third roll for June was 4 and landed me on LGBTQ+ tile of the board. By chance of luck this prompt was perfect for my June book club pick by Bosnian author Ajla Terzić. Balkans in general are a hard place to live in no matter ones sexual orientation or preference; but this topic put into this geographical context intrigues me and scares me at the same time. I have one week to read this book and it just might be the first book I will read in June! This book is also available in English by the title This Could Have Been a Simple Story if anyone is interested in it 🙂

Prompt: First in a series

Book: The Last Wish (The Witcher #0.5) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Another roll of seven and I got a prompt that was the most difficult for me to choose a book for this time. I had few options for choosing a first book of the series. In the end I decided to pick another book from my own shelves and one that is also a part of my buddy reading list for the whole year. Buddy reading list I am currently seriously slacking and am behind on! Reading the first/prequel book for the Witcher series might be a good idea right now because I had just enough time between the first season of the TV show and the announced second season! I expect to like this book!

Prompt: Gifted

Book: I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider

The last stroll of my little polar bear across the board was to a spot with the Gifted prompt. I was actually reminded that it might be a great time to read this book. I love taking pictures of it and I love showing it to my bookish friends. Because of this I already have a few people interested in borrowing it to read. I don’t like borrowing books I have not read first and it just might be time for this book!

Wish me luck with this small but eclectic pile of books!

May Book Wrap Up 2021

Monthly reading review – May 2021

This May I have read:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling ★★★★★

The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga #5) by Lois McMaster Bujold ★★★★★

Prolaz za divljač by Iva Šakić Ristić ★★★

Incubus Dreams (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book #12) by Laurell K. Hamilton  ★★★★

Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark #17) by Kresley Cole ★★★★

Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show
by Glenn Yeffeth (Editor) ★★★★

Proklete Hrvatice : (1&2) : Dvadeset životopisa by Milana Vuković Runjić ★★★

Clockwork or all wound up by Philip Pullman, Zdenko Bašić (Illustrator) ★★★

First I would like to address my lack of activity on the posting in the last month and more. Life happened and then my mobile phone got messed up and I could not take pictures and upload them the way I wanted to. It all filled me with anxiety and I was inactive for most of the time. I have not realized I relayed on my phone this much. I hope to make some more posts in June to make up for all the things I wanted to post about and more!

1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

In May I finished reading eight books. This leaves me with only The Count of Monte Christo as currently “reading in progress” book that I keep dragging on from one month to the next. Eight books in a month is a nice number and I will try to keep up with it!

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in May? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

Revisiting first book in the Harry Potter series was nice even though I read it only last year. I keep being surprised on how much I enjoy The Adventures of Miles Vorkosigan and this slow pace at which I read trough the series in whole is more like a guilty pleasure for me. I am glad I finally got to reading Seven Seasons of Buffy book of essays and enjoyed it for the most part.

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

There were not bad books in May, just a few that did not rise up to my expectations. Prolaz za divljač by Iva Šakić Ristić made me long for stronger characters and less philosophical approach to the theme. Proklete Hrvatice : (1&2) : Dvadeset životopisa by Milana Vuković Runjić I am happy to have read but feel that the author could have done a bit more in highlighting the females from the history – some stories were done greatly and some lost the focus in comparison.

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

I approached my reading plan for May with caution because I wanted it to be successful. I managed to read all the books I planned to read and even finish one of the books I had started before May. Only thing that would have made it better would have been reading trough more of The Count of Monte Christo which sadly did not happen. I finished booth the Bookopoly TBR game and May The Force Read with You readathon!

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

I got one book series up to date with finishing Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark #17) by Kresley Cole. My reareading trough Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series is taking a back seat for a while but I do plan to add the next book to my reading plans soon. Finishing The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga #5) by Lois McMaster Bujold has made another step small step in reading trough this truly enjoyable space adventure book series.

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

I read two nonfiction books in May and I always feel a certain satisfaction when I finish reading one of those. My recommendation this time is to read more books that give your inner reader feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. In my case these were the books I made plans to read and even have been on my TBR for quite some time so it felt really good to finish reading them!

Final thoughts on May 2021 reading

I am happy with my reading in May. I read six new books and two more books I read before already. For the first time in a long while a number of books I’ve read in one month in English language is the same as the number of books I read in Croatian language. I already have plans for more posts and reading options in June and I am excited for that! Here are some illustrations by Zdenko Basic from the Croatian edition of Clockwork or all wound up by Philip Pullman.

May The Force Read With You – 2021 Readathon

After a small break I decided to get back into reading challenges and the one reading challenge that made me excited to get back on track is May The Force Read With You Readathon by Breakeaven Books on YouTube. Here is the link to the announcement video: May The Force Read With You Readathon. The owner of the channel is Eric and he is a really cool guy that reads lots of great books and has some amazing content. I’ve been following his channel for a while now and this is the second reading challenge from his channel I am participating in! First one was Reindeer Readathon back in December 2020. where I was inspired and read an astounding ten books for it in December! Here is the link for the my Reindeer Readathon post and a link to Eric’s YouTube Breakeven Books channel. Give the guy some love and recognition because he deserves it!

I am not that an avid Star Wars fan but I do love a great reading challenge with an interesting theme. Most of the visuals for this post were taken from the materials created by the author of the reading challenge. I love the simplicity and the style of the info materials for the challenges he makes. While I was reading trough the materials I got stuck at the first fork in the road – choosing my reading path between the Light Side and the Dark Side. In the end I made two lists of books – one for each side and compared them to what I was more eager to read this month. I really wanted to be a Jedi and go with the Light Side since there are more people there to keep me company where as with the Sith on the Dark Side you get only two people (since there is only two of them at all times according to Star Wars lore). I don’t feel the need to be that special and isolated and would much prefer the company of other cool Jedi. It took some tweaking since the lure of the Dark Side and the books I managed to put on the list for the challenge were slightly more convenient for the Dark Side path BUT here are the books I picked out for my reading journey on the Light Side!

Light Side

Jedi Council – Sequel or book in a series

Book: The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga #5) by Lois McMaster Bujold

I love the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. It is one of the rare science fiction books I truly love. Like Star Wars it is a story set in a vast universe with lots of interesting characters and political intrigue. This book also fit another prompt in the Dark Side path – Force Vision Manipulation – A book with political intrigue or royalty. The whole series has been translated into Croatian and has unique illustrated covers by Esad T. Ribić. The illustrator has even done some work for Marvel and made some amazing covers. I like the intriguing cover and this book seems like a great start for Star Wars themed readathon even if it is not a Star Wars themed book!

Force Spirit – A book with paranormal elements

Book: Prolaz za divljač by Iva Šakić Ristić

Another unique cover and this time a book by an author I have never read before. The title of this book roughly translates as: Passageway for wild animals. I can be a very harsh critic with Croatian authors sometimes, but I hope I will like this little novel. I am not completely sure what it is about but it should have some paranormal elements and a friend recommended it to me. She liked it so much that she even gave me this book as a present. I can’t help but wonder at the strange cover though…

Healing – Read a book from your favorite genre

Book: Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark #17) by Kresley Cole

My favorite genre is urban fantasy with romantic elements and this book is the last published book in a series I used to love reading. I find the cover more appropriate for Dark Side path and I even had a ready prompt for this one as well: Seduction – Romance book. It is a dark type of urban fantasy romance and I hope I will enjoy it enough to be more upset about the next book of the series not already being published!

Knowledge – Read one of the oldest books on your shelf/TBR

Book: Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show
by Glenn Yeffeth (Editor)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer used to be my favorite TV show. I loved the witty dialogue and the characters. Lately there has been some rumors and accusations to the series director and it has made a dark mark upon something I really loved and the guy I really admired. In order to get back to something I enjoyed I picked out this book of essays on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an impact it had on the popular culture. The authors of the essays are some of the most famous science fiction and fantasy writers out there. This book has been on my TBR for more than a decade and that is about as long as I have it as well. I hope this book reminds me of the things I loved about the TV show and how much I enjoyed it.

Cleansed – Book with a white cover

Book: Proklete Hrvatice : (1&2) : Dvadeset životopisa by Milana Vuković Runjić

I had a few options for this prompt but decided to go with this one and claim that this sepia cover counts as white! That is my story and I am sticking to it! I must admit this is one of the books I had ready for the Dark Side version as well as a part of a duology since it is a book that collects two parts that were separately published before this edition – Rule of Two – Read a book from a duology. This one is also part of a buddy reading list of book for this year I am doing with a friend. I am a bit worried on how long it will take to read trough it.

There are some more options to add to the list of books that can be read in this challenge that I may opt to include later. These first five prompts are mandatory to be able do read the extra ones and there is even an option of spicing it all up by finishing both Light Side prompts and Darks Side prompts with the addition of a set of five neutral prompts. A reader who is on a Light Side path can spice it up with some books form the Neutral prompts list. Only after one finishes all five books on the chosen path can one start on the opposite path prompts. To illustrate better on how it all looks here is the complete list of all the prompts. I already have some books left aside in case I finish these mentioned above and add more. My main priority here is to get back into the reading and to stay motivated by finishing books in general. I don’t wont to set too high goals at this time.

For those who want even more extras and have a bigger reading appetites there are some additional prompts and goals for after finishing a chosen path. There is a group read book option and some Companions list for the each path. The rules are simple and straightforward. I did not go with the group book option since I don’t have it on my shelf and I already have one other book from the library on the list.

Here is my five book pile for the May The Force Read With You – 2021 Readathon. Wish me luck!

Bookopoly TBR – May

Spring was never my favorite time of the year. It always seem to catch me unprepared and I had to take some time off from reading and books in general. My mind kept wandering and I had to clear my head a bit. I was still reading some books but in a much slower and kinda chaotic pace. I will make a separate post on the books I have been reading in March and April later. I decided to make a fresh start with Bookopoly in May.

Here are my reading goals for Bookopoly in May:

Prompt: Dark Cover

Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

Fresh start and a first roll got me a seven and a Dark Cover prompt! I was looking for something from my shelves and then I remembered I have Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling as a book club assignment for May and it clicked! I read this book just last year for the first time but I am so very happy with my Hufflepuff House Edition books that I am glad to have a reason to read trough my very own copy one more time! The first time was magical and I hope I can get more observant the second time!

Prompt: Disability representation

Book: The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga #5) by Lois McMaster Bujold

Second roll landed my polar bear marker on a Disability representation space. I searched high and low on my TBR on Goodreads and my own shelves and I had something completely different in mind for this prompt. In the end I decided to to with something I always enjoyed reading – Vorkosigan saga book! I have a whole shelf of them and they never disappoint! I picked up the next book in chronological order: The Vor Game. Miles is one of the most inspiring characters I have ever read and I could use some of his strenght right now!

Prompt: Adult

Book: Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark #17) by Kresley Cole

Third roll was an eight and got me one of the prompt what gives the most freedom to choose a book from my shelves. Strangely I had quite a bit of trouble with picking a book for this one! I guess I had too many good choices of books I had for a long time and the ones I’ve only recently acquired. I don’t know what happened with Immortals After Dark book series. It has been four years since the last book and two others were announced but never published. I guess this is the reason I was never in a hurry to catch up with the last published book of the series and just got it this year. This is book number seventeen and I hope that the other two announced books get published as well!

Prompt: Go to the Library

Book: Proklete Hrvatice : (1&2) : Dvadeset životopisa by Milana Vuković Runjić

My fourth roll landed me on one of the new prompts I’ve added with the new board I made. I added this prompt to make myself read more books in Croatian since I almost stopped reading books in Croatian unless they were specifically for my book club and I could not get them any other way. Promoting the work of my local library is important to me and this will give me a chance to do that. For this prompt I decided to pick a book from the list of books selected to ready with a friend during this year. She is way ahead of me on the list of books she already read and I need to catch up! This is a collection of biographies of Croatian women trough history and it roughly translates into “Cursed Croatian women” due to their mostly tragic lives. This book is in two parts and this edition collects both parts with twenty biographies and interesting information.

Prompt: Friend Pick

Book: Clockwork or all wound up by Philip Pullman, Zdenko Bašić (Illustrator)

My fifth roll was a double roll and that means I get to roll one extra time after this one! The prompt that I got from my fifth roll was a Friend Pick. And since I have a great and understanding friend she picked out a rather short novella book by Philip Pullman and illustrated by a rather famous Zdenko Bašić that does some really dark and interesting art accompanying fantastic books and fairytales. I am using this novella to give Philip Pullman another chance since I did not like his The Golden Compass book enough to continue the series…

Prompt: Random Shelf Pick

Book: Prolaz za divljač by Iva Šakić Ristić

My last roll for may was another interesting prompt that adds more randomness into my picks! I simply picked out a bunch of books from my shelves and with a help of a friend got my last book for Bookopoly in May. This book was a present from another friend who liked it very much. Just few paragraphs before I was writing about the need to read more books in Croatian and now I got one very original by Croatian author. I hope to like it.

February Book Wrap Up 2021

Monthly reading review – February 2021

This February I have read:

The Book of Lies (Twins Trilogy #1-3) by Ágota Kristóf ★★

The Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy ★★★

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven ★★★★★

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★★

Eidolon (Wraith Kings book 2) by Grace Draven ★★★★

Master of Chains (Forgotten Realms: The Fighters #1) by Jess Lebow ★★★

MOR – Plodovi osvete by Josip Kralik ★★

1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

In February I have read seven books and made some progress with my small pile of “currently reading” books. I finished off some books I’ve been dragging on and I am generally happy with the amount of books I read in a month I decided to take it slow.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in February? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

The most enjoyable book this February was Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton. I loved how many of my favorite characters got page time and I like the concept of where this long book series is going from the perspective of this book. One other book that came as a nice surprise was Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven. It was a spur of an impulse romance read I stumbled on a Goodreads recommendation list and I love it!

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

There were some books that were hard for me to read this month and the one that gave me most grief was The Book of Lies (Twins Trilogy #1-3) by Ágota Kristóf. As usual this was my book club pick for next month but since our book club meetings are held at the start of the month I read it in February. The topic was very heavy and I really did not like the narrative style. The other book I did not like in February was MOR – Plodovi osvete by Josip Kralik. I think I had higher expectations and I let it drag out as leftover from last year. All together it made a not so great impression on me.

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

My plan for February was taking it easy and trying to catch up and finish up some of the books I was in the middle of reading of. I managed to finish two of those books and made some progress with the other two I still have in my back log. With all this I read my book club assignment and even got four other books in.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

I got Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series up to date in the month the new book came out and that made me very happy. I found a new Kindle book series that caught my attention and have read two out of three books available which is great! I finally got to Forgotten Realms: The Fighters book series that has been on my shelves for a very long time now and I will have to wait for the next opportunity to get to the next book in the series.

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

The best book surprise for me this month was Wraith Kings book series by Grace Draven. I love how I gave it a try after finding it on some random recommendation list on Goodreads. I also love that it is an older book – it came out in 2015! My recommendation is to give new books and authors a try anytime you get the chance! Chances are you have probably never heard of Grace Draven or many other authors that write romance fantasy since there are so many of them and most don’t get the spotlight or the print book deals. Show them love by giving their books a chance and spread the word when you find a book or an author whose writing you enjoy! I hope to read the next book of the series The Ippos King (Wraith Kings book 3) by Grace Draven soon!

Final thoughts on February 2021 reading

I am glad I opted to take the time in February to slow down and reevaluate my reading goals and take some time to get my books under some semblance of control. I think this gave me some new ideas and energy to put them to work. I would have loved to have finished off at least one more back log book but I feel like I made some progress and that is what is important to me. February was an eventful reading month for me and I hope to continue to March with my vigor renewed!

Bookopoly TBR game – March 2021 And New Board

This February I’ve taken a break from any types of TBR games and missions and decided to take it slow in order to get my back log of books I am in the middle of reading under some semblance of control. I went over the Bookopoly board with a friend and we made some changes to accommodate it to our needs better. We had some ideas that required a bigger board that we decided not to go with in the end but now we have a bigger board! I am still working on some finishing touches to the design. The tiles and prompts are ready so we did a test run for March already!

After I finish with the coloring and stuff I will go over all the tiles and make a little preview for the board itself. Hopefully this will happen sometime in March. The changes we did were related to the type of books we have on our TBR and I decided to play with the colors on the board a bit as well. So here are my books for March:

First roll of the dice already got me to try out one new prompt we decided to include in the game. My first prompt is EX YU Author so let me provide some insight into out choice to include this prompt in the game. Most of the popular literature we read are originally written in English language with few notable exceptions. Also, most of the books I decide to include into TBR games are written in English and this makes me read a lot of books in English and most of them are what I consider foreign authors. The term EX YU Authors is used for authors that come from the six countries that used to belong to Yugoslavia: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro. Due to long coexistence of languages of the fore mentioned nationalities it is possible to understand and read the language of them all to some extent or other. This prompt is used to cover reading books in my mother tongue and the language of the close neighboring countries which helps in building my vocabulary and keeps me in touch with authors I would not read as much otherwise. For the first book in the new season of Bookopoly and for this prompt I decided to go with a rather rare edition of a collection of science fiction, horror and fantasy short stories called Priča o Anđeli Novak: essekonska zbirka 1 edited by Davor Banović. There are twenty short stories by authors all over the EX YU region and this collection doesn’t even have a Goodreads entry – something I plan to change as soon as I finish reading!

Prompt: EX YU Author

Book: Priča o Anđeli Novak: essekonska zbirka 1 edited by Davor Banović

My second roll led me to a prompt we decided to keep unchanged: LGBTQ+ representation. Reading is a great way to explore the points of view of others and let us evolve empathy. I had a few options for this prompt but in the end I decided to go with Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston because I wanted something light hearted. I hope to really like this book!

Prompt: LGBTQ+

Book: Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Third roll got me to one of the most open and most usable prompts for me – Sequel! I have lost count of all the book series I am reading at any moment. I decided to pick a book I have already decided to read sometime this year with a friend: Castle in the Air (Howl’s Moving Castle #2) by Diana Wynne Jones. I have recently reread the first book and this one has been on my shelf for years! The book is even yellow with age…

Prompt: Sequel

Book: Castle in the Air (Howl’s Moving Castle #2) by Diana Wynne Jones

I used to read a lot more graphic novels while I was working in a bookstore and had more access to them. I have a small collection of Graphic novels and manga editions on my shelf and there are some I have been meaning to read for a while now. This fourth roll had me pick out one of the last manga purchases I made last year: Kitchen Princess Omnibus, Vol. 4 (Kitchen Princess #8-10) by Natsumi Andō (Illustrations), Miyuki Kobayashi. This will be the finishing of a manga series!

Prompt: Graphic Novel / Manga

Book: Kitchen Princess Omnibus Vol. 4 (Kitchen Princess #8-10) by Natsumi Andō (Illustrations), Miyuki Kobayashi

On my fifth roll I got a double and another new prompt: Boyfriend Pick! The double was snake eyes – both dices landed on a one and we decided to keep the rule that any double rolls mean another roll for another book! The Boyfriend Pick is a new prompt altogether and since I used to have small reading challenges with my boyfriend one would think I would be a bit less apprehensive about his pick for me. Before I explained the rules to him – he needs to pick a book for me to read in March his choice was The Complete Lyonesse (Lyonesse #1-3) by Jack Vance. A monstrosity of a book with over 1000 pages… After I told him that I have one month to read all the books he decided to choose another book: Railsea by China Miéville. I am going with the second book but I made a note for the first one.

Prompt: Boyfriend Pick

Book: Railsea by China Miéville

My extra roll got me another prompt I decided to keep unchanged – Highest Rated. I liked being surprised by the books I find on my Highest Rated and Lowest Rated TBR on Goodreads. I was pleasantly surprised by finding that one of the highest rated books on my TBR was actually one of the books I missed reading for last year challenge: Hellboy, Volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil (Hellboy #1-2) by Mike Mignola, John Byrne. I’m reading the Croatian edition for this one.

Prompt: Highest Rated

Book: Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil (Hellboy #1-2) by Mike Mignola, John Byrne

First book haul of 2021

Earlier in December and January I preordered and ordered some new books. The preorders were mostly the continuation of the book series I follow and the rest were on my wish list for a while now as well. I even indulged and got some new Kindle books I found recommendation on some of the Goodreads lists for Valentines Day! Due to Book Depository deliveries being exceptionally slow due to Brexit and Covid, and lets not forget the usual end of the year Christmas madness with packages, this led to a slow and anxiety filled waiting on the postman and my books each morning. All things considering these were the sweet pains to endure after all. Last of the books I bought was from a Facebook seller and since it was my first time buying used books in English this way I was a little apprehensive about that too. Lots of sweet pains later and I have a not so small a pile of books that spark joy!

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is one of the books I preordered before Christmas and the publishing date was 9. February this year! Usually I’m forced to wait for months before I get my copy of the new book when it comes out since I buy the US mass market paperback edition. In case of the book prior to this one – Sucker Punch, I’m still waiting for it to come out! So this book was a real treat. I was not that thrilled with the last book I read from the series and while I love the characters and I’m really interested in the world the author has build I did not have high expectations from this book. I already read it! I even made pauses for the book to lasts longer. I have many comments on it. so much so I might need to write the whole review for it soon just to get it all out of my system!

This book series is starting to outgrow my shelving solution and I will need to figure a better way to store all the books. Maybe even separate the two boo series by LKH I own and keep together currently…

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

Second preordered book that was published and arrived on the same day as the previous one is another next book in the favorite urban fantasy series. I did not get to read this one right away – but it has only been about a week since I got it! There are more reasons why I love this book series and can’t wait for every next book.

The cover art of these books I have already gushed about few years ago. This is another author that I have two book series from but unlike the LKH, Patricia Briggs is more consistent with both book series and I get at least one book from either of the series each year. When one book series gets a new hardcover edition book the other one has a mass market paperback edition I collect out as well. This makes the wait for the next book more exciting and somehow sweeter and easier to pass.

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

I have a soft spot for short story collections and lately I have been doing great with reading trough most of short story collections on my bookshelves. In the sea of many new editions and books the title of this one caught my eye! There are few other books that I was interested in but this one really got me with a beautiful cover and an all female authors team.

This will fit nicely with other similar books on my shelves until I start reading it! I might even give it a go next month as a March contribution to female authors 🙂

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven

My Paperwhite Kindle does not give this cover justice! I found out about this book by randomly clicking on a Goodreads Valentine theme banner for romance book recommendation. I went trough the link and on the one of the lists I was browsing I stumbled on this book. I was cautious enough to try the sample first and it got me really interested in the story and characters. I devoured the book in a day and a half and had to get the next one as well!

While I’m going a bit slower with the next book of the series I still love it and now that I’m invested in the fantastical setting and the future of the fantastical world the author created. I will be looking up for other books by this author as well as finding out how this trilogy(?) of books ends.

Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark book 17) by Kresley Cole

This book has been on my too buy wish list the longest. It first came out almost four years ago now and it was a part of the book series I was collecting. In the meantime I read all the books in the series before it and since a few new books were were supposed to come out after it but they never did I just never got to getting this one before.

This urban fantasy romance book series is the one with the most “beefcake” and shirtless guys covers I own. As some previously mentioned urban fantasy book series I won I have been posting about this one before. The stories are a bit cheesy but I find them wonderful for the underlying message that there is someone for everyone and no matter how sad, bitter or angry we are because of what happened to us, there will always be a chance for a happy ending,

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons book 1) by Leigh Bardugo

This is the single book from this pile that I bought as a second hand book from one of the sellers in Croatia. I found it in one of the Facebook groups and this was the first time I was buying a book that way. I had the opportunity to buy this book before in paperback but I really wanted the hardcover edition and it has been on my wish list for a while now. The book turned out to be in excellent condition and I am glad I got it.

I have been a big fan of Wonder Woman long before Gal Gadot took on the role and they revamped her whole character. My SO brought me Batman: Nightwalker ( DC Icons book 2) by Marie Lu in hardcover a few years ago from one of his trips. Since then I have been meaning to get the other as well. Getting them in hardcover proved to be a bit pricey and I just keep postponing it. I love the concept of popular YA writers writing the background for these well known characters. The fact that Leigh Bardugo wrote this made me want it even more!

The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

In the last year Leigh Bardugo has become my favorite author. This book is a fictional book from the Shadow and Bone trilogy come to life with some extra content. It has been made to look like the prop they are going to use in the TV series and I think that is cool as well.

I read everything else Leigh Bardugo has written and published so far and getting this book was a natural thing for me to do. I love her characters and her fictional world. The illustrations by Daniel J. Zollinger look great and I am looking forward to binging on this one while I wait for the TV series on Netflix in April!

Just as I got the last book in the mail my SO decreed it was time to preorder another book as a gift for Valentines day! The book I choose as my present was another one of Leigh Bardugo Grishaverse books:

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

I am now properly hyped for the TV series and books and completely enchanted with Grishaverse world and characters!

Also while I was writing this post and looking for the images of books I remembered reading in one of the Facebook groups about one other book I was interested in some decade ago and is now on a special discount!

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1)

by Christine Feehan

This is an older urban fantasy romance book with vampires and a first book in a long and popular book series I wanted to try out for a very long time! The price and the Author’s Cut edition were enough for me to get it right away. I need to stop looking at new books for some time or at least until I make another bigger dent in the books already on my TBR and already on my bookshelves – virtual AND physical! Although I might give in to Wraith Kings book 3 after I finish the second book…

January Book Wrap Up 2021

Monthly reading review – January 2021

This January I have read:

Elminster: The Making of a Mage (Forgotten Realms: Elminster #1) by Ed Greenwood  ★★★★

Sucker Punch (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #27) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★

Vitez slavonske ravni by Marija Jurić Zagorka ★★★

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin ★★★★

1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

This year started depressingly slow and I had problems with finding the will to read anything. I have read three whole books and finished one I got left from Bookopoly TBR picks from December. This makes it 4 books finished and another 4 I started. I am not happy with the amount or the books I read…

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in January? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

The book that made my reading experience more livelier in January was Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin. It was a 500+ pages long book I finished off in about three days as opposed to some other books I’m dragging on for weeks and months now. I connected with the drama and the tragic quality of the characters in Serpent & Dove and would like to continue the series sometime this year.

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

I had really high hopes for Sucker Punch (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #27) by Laurell K. Hamilton and in most ways it let me down. I built my own high expectations for it and needed it to be that good. After it fell flat I kinda lost most of my drive for reading. Next book I read after it I dragged on for almost two weeks. I missed the excitement of picking up a book to read and diving into it.

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

I had humble plans for January from the start. After reading thirteen books in December I knew I needed a bit of a break to slow down my pace. I went with only five books for Bookopoly TBR game and did not manage to finish even those. I finished one book I got left over from December, read another three for Bookopoly TBR and got stuck on the fourth book. I got one book I did not even start at all. All my reading was planned and I find it telling that I did not even got to read anything interesting beside those books I set out.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

Elminster and Serpent & Dove were technically first books of two new series. I got up to date with Anita Blake the Vampire Hunter series by reading Sucker Punch – the book 27! The book I started on this month Master of Chains (Forgotten Realms: The Fighters #1) by Jess Lebow is also first book of a series which makes a lot of new book series for a really slow reading month!

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

My recommendation from January is just to keep reading and finish books in general. My score sheet for January left me with four books finished and another four I started and did not finish. This is starting to frustrate me and I need to clear my reading pile soon!

Final thoughts on January 2021 reading

I tried out some new authors for me and the results were warried. At one point I even got to the dazzling revelation that I don’t like books without emotional conflicts, love or sex in them. Without those I just can’t seem to keep my interest for the book. I have been toying around with reading only romance books for the whole month or even a year to see how would that work out! Right now I am left with battling to do just that or to take a whole month off any new book and just finish off all the books I am in the middle of reading.

To give myself some books to indulge into or to work trough the books I have already started and feel like a chore that needs to be finished?

Here are the books I have started at some point and are still going as “in the middle of reading“:

Master of Chains (Forgotten Realms: The Fighters #1) by Jess Lebow

Started it out this month. It has been on my shelf for over a decade. Also have two another from the series. I don’t seem that inspired with the plot but the reading is going better than expected – I am about 1/4 in.

Draconomicon: The Book of Dragons by Andy Collins, Skip Williams, James Wyatt

Started it in August last year for the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon. I did not expect to take so much time to read it trough. It is not a novel but a guide supplement for Dungeon and Dragons players I have had for over fifteen years. It is large in format and has many details that players of the game might want to read trough. The illustrations are very nice and detailed. I have been reading it on and off since August and I am not even halfway trough!

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I started this book courageously for my birthday last year – July 2020. Since then I picked it up a few times out of guilt since it was one of the books I was planning to read last year for my personal reading challenge. I decided to postpone reading it in favor of some other books and challenges since it is a probably the longest book I have read in years if ever! From 1055 pages I am on 295 currently! The weird thing is I find the book interesting and easy to read considering the style and the adventure theme. The sheer number of pages and the weight of it in my hands while I am reading it and holding it feels oppressive.

MOR – Plodovi osvete by Josip Kralik

I barely started this book in December since it was another book from my personal challenge list for 2020. I read the first chapter and left it at that. I am not sure what to expect from it still. It is a new author that works in a local history museum. The thing that drew me in was a dark fantasy story set in my hometown.

There is also one more book I was supposed to read this January that I did not even get to:

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #2) by Anne Rice

There are some ideas and fantasies I have about myself as a reader. One of them includes reading the classics of the urban fantasy genre and Anne Rice is on top of that list for sure. I remember having problems with reading the first book of The Vampire Chronicles series – I dragged it on for months and months unable to finish it and unable to separate the book from the movie which I have watched a lot of times. I am worried that this will happen again with the second book. I have a big collection of books by Anne Rice and from the seventeen books I own from Anne Rice I have read only one! The book series are all over the place and I should probably write a guide on the order of reading them…