Merlin Readathon August 2021 – Experience and thoughts

Merlin Readathon I chose to participate this August was my first try at a reading challenge with the time limit shorter than a whole month. This reading challenge was set to last first two weeks if August – from 1. to 15. Generally I prefer whole month reading challenges because it gives me enough time to organize and take my time reading. I don’t do reading sprints or short reading challenges ( those that happen on the weekends and last for 48 hours or shorter).

As reading challenges go, this one was simple in the number of books I needed to read and had a twist on choosing a path trough the prompts that were set by the creators. When choosing the prompts participants were offered to join in a bit of roleplay and make choices as a character in the series setting would. See the offered choices below.

I choose my path and the books that fit the prompts AND I even went easy on myself by letting myself choose the last book as a partial read. You can check out my original post and my explanation on choosing the books HERE.

Let’s continue to the books I decided to read for this reading challenge and see how it all went!

Apprentice – Read an underhyped book

Book – Lord Mord by Miloš Urban ★★★

First book I have read was chosen as an underhyped book and I must admit that beside some historical details and intriguing place the story is set in. Most of the book was filled with probably historically accurate but still annoyingly misogynistic characters and character choices. This book left a bad aftertaste.

Magician – Read a book with snake on the cover

Book – Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

Second book I picked for this readathon was something I hoped to really enjoy – latest book in one of my favorite urban fantasy book series. I was not sure about the snake on the cover and after reading the book I am still not sure how much the prompt fits. The fantastical creature was sometimes serpent-like and I guess it could fit after all. But I did enjoy the book and loved reading it!

This is where I made a mistake and took a wrong book to read next. Instead of the book I should have been reading I picked up Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell. It is a book I had on my reading list for August for another reading challenge and I got my books mixed up…

I should have been reading:

Conjurer – Read a book that has been translated

Book – First Girl Child (The Chronicles of Saylok) by Amy Harmon

I managed to read this book but I got so upset that I mixed the books and their reading order and did not finish it by the 15th of August. This is why I try to avoid reading challenges with a particular reading order – I feel too pressured and cant concentrate on the actual reading.

Last book I was going easy on myself with by deciding to read at least a part of was:

Sorcerer – Read a book that intimidates you

Book – The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

And I ended up not making any progress on this one at all! Seriously I have not even touched this book at all…The Count of Monte Cristo is continuing to haunt me for I have been ” reading” it officially a year now!

My thoughts on my experience in Merlin Readathon August 2021

Strictly speaking my score on this reading challenge is not a failure and I have read my Novice level book as well as Apprentice level book. This was a different experience and I have learned something about myself. Even though things did not go as planned I am glad I have tried this type of a reading challenge. I might give similar reading challenges in the future another go but for now I will stick with reading challenges that give me more leisure with time.

Bookopoly TBR 2021 – July review and August books

For my Bookopoly reading challenge in July I got two double rolls of the dice which meant I got to read two extra books! I was actually happy and excited for the extra books and the total books read for Bookopoly being seven. Post for Bookopoly July review is a little latter than usual since I was waiting on some books and had to pick up another form the library. July was a very satisfying and fun reading month. In fact I was so busy reading that my posts were scarce and even though I had few ideas planned for July I opted to read instead! This meant less posting but more reading and needles to say seven books read for Bookopoly was actually half of the all books I read in July. Yes, I am bragging about my fourteen books and that is how much pleased I am with the number!

Seven books I have read bring total of 1680 pages. Again I managed to squeeze in one book from a buddy reading challenge in here as well which is awesome! Six out of seven books were under 300 pages long which makes them all on the small books side. Only one book was in digital form and all the rest were from my own collection which is always a good thing! Three books were in Croatian language and four of them were in English. Two books were science fiction genre and two were graphic novels. Two of the books were specifically by Japanese authors.

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan ★★★

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells ★★★★★

Antologija suvremene japanske novele by Kazuo Tanaka (Editor) ★★★★

Real World by Natsuo Kirino ★★★

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein ★★★

Elves: The Blue Elves’ Mission (Elfes #6) by Jean-Luc Istin, Kyko Duarte ★★★★★

Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper #1) by Alice Oseman ★★★★★

All the books I’ve read for Bookopoly in July were rated three stars or higher and a total average score is exactly four stars per book! Three star rated books usual flaw was the just plain bad translation to Croatian or in the case of the one three star rated book in English – not my typical genre of choice. For more info on the books that stood out an made an impression you can check out my July Book Wrap Up post HERE.

Here are my reading goals for Bookopoly in August:

Prompt: Random shelf Pick

Book: Lord Mord by Miloš Urban

My first roll for August were 3 + 6 summed 9 and landed me on a corner tile – Random Shelf Pick. I was thinking about this prompt and decided to modify it for the new board into TBR Jar Draw. It has been a while since I posted an update on it and I probably should do it this month. For this time I kept the random criteria by choosing five piles of five books I have not read from my shelves and making my boyfriend choose a pile and a reading buddy to choose a number from the chosen book pile. What I got is a book I almost forgotten about – Lord Mord by Miloš Urban. It is a Croatian translation of a Checz author about a Prague in the 19th century. The cover is intriguing. I have never been to Prague but I am always interested in Austro-Hungarian history from different perspectives. The main character seems a sort of anti-hero type and the mystery/thriller/crime genre combo is not my usual read. We will see how it goes!

Prompt: Dark Cover

Book: A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Second roll this month was a sum of six. This got me to a super easy prompt – Dark Cover. This prompt shows up relatively often and is quite easy to find a book for on my shelves. This might be the third time I am trying to give this book a chance and I still have high expectations from it. I hope to get to write a short book review on this collection this month as well.

Prompt: LGBTQ+

Book: Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell

This book finally arrived! I was hoping to include it in last moth Olympic games as a bonus read but I am still glad it is here. My third roll landed on a LGBTQ+ prompt and this one seemed a perfect fit (like I wouldn’t find an excuse to include it right away!). I love reading about Baz and Simon and the last book ended on a cliffhanger which makes me even more eager to read this one! I was a little surprised at how chunky this one is: it’s almost 600 pages! I am torn between wanting to read trough it fast and happy it is so big so I can enjoy it longer. Hope it is good as I want it to be!

Prompt: Adult

Book: First Girl Child (The Chronicles of Saylok) by Amy Harmon

The fourth roll was a five and it landed me on an Adult tile of the board. This prompt can be somewhat confusing sometimes. Adult fiction is a lot broader in scope and I am never sure when it comes to the scope of audience for some books. I’m going by the Goodreads classification on this one. I have not read any books by Amy Harmon and some that are translated into Croatian seem interesting. I was drawn into this one because of the almost Nordic mythology theme. Let us hope the translation is good.

Prompt: Standalone

Book: Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

My fifth roll was a double which means I will be adding one more book. The roll was a four and it got me to a Standalone prompt. This was actually harder prompt to find a book for on my shelves. I am always into many different book series and sometimes standalone books need more to draw me in. I picked a book from my Buddy reading list for this year. I have many friends that simply love this author and I have a few books by him on my shelves already but this one in particular is from the library. I am not sure what to expect from it.

Prompt: Favorite Author

Book: Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

My bonus roll and the last roll for August was a seven and got me another corner tile and prompt Favorite Author. Last book I was reading from another favorite author left me with mixed feelings and I wanted to jump to an author that has not let me down. There are lots of things I love about the books written by Patricia Briggs: interesting characters, beautiful covers, mythical background of the plot and a coolest heroine ever! (just to name a few) I am always crazy after reading one of books by Patricia Briggs because they come out once a year and waiting for the next one can be such a chore! I am hoping to love this book.

I must say I love how my August Bookopoly reading pile looks like! Not sure if having such high expectations from all of the books here is a good thing or not though…

What do you think?

Merlin Readathon – August 2021

I am always on the lookout for interesting reading challenges and when I realized that I only do a whole month reading challenges I wanted to mix it up and try a reading challenge that is shorter. Honestly I could understand why some people would have prefer shorter reading challenges – like a few weekend challenges I often stumble upon but so far they are not something that fit my reading schedule or lifestyle because on the weekends I am usually busy with friends and isolating myself to read for 48 hours to read just does not work for me.

There were a few two week long reading challenges I have thought about before but this is the first time I will be trying one out! This reading challenge starts at 1. August and lasts through 15. August. The TV show Merlin was a favorite of mine some years back and the theming appeals to me.

You can check out the announcement video on YouTube for more details HERE and give the bambina katarina and the resto of the creators some love and attention for their creative work. One of the reasons that I find the shorter reading challenges less appealing is because they are harder for me to present in blog post form since there are not very many visual content the creators offer with them.

The whole challenge is organized in “choose your own path” style and the final goal would be to read four books total which is great for two weeks time period. The challenge is supported by five tiers for the readers where each readers starts out as an Apprentice and each book read earns him the status of Magician, Conjurer, Sorcerer and finally Mage. There are four prompts to choose from in the first tier and from those readers have options for the next tier prompt.

I had a lot of thought for choosing my first prompt and had to improvise a bit. Here are my choices for the Merlin reading challenge in August 2021.

Apprentice – Read an underhyped book

Book – Lord Mord by Miloš Urban

This novel my Checz author Miloš Urban caught my attention when it first came out in Croatian translation. It is not well known but the theme is fascinating for me. It is a historical crime mystery set in Prague in the 19th century. The book description promises historical and political intrigues at the time as well as a intriguing main character with dark and fantastic elements. I am interested in that part of Austro-Hungarian historical background as well as the political commentary that many compare to more modern and contemporary issues. This book was a gift and I was very happy with it even though at first glance it might not be my usual reading choice.

Magician – Read a book with snake on the cover

Book – Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

I have very many books with snakes on the cover and last summer I read three different ones for a reading challenge by an accident! Now I wanted to read a book with snake on the cover that I did not already read and my options were limited. I almost had to change my whole pathing trough the prompt tiers because of it. In the last moment I decided to count this scaly serpentine shape behind Mercy on the cover as a snake! I even tried to find a plot summary of this book to make my claim stronger but there were surprisingly little spoilers and summaries about the plot out there. Even the Wiki page on this book was blank! And now I am even more pumped to read this book just to see if I was right about the serpentine form on the cover!

Conjurer – Read a book that has been translated

Book – First Girl Child (The Chronicles of Saylok) by Amy Harmon

I have been wondering about this book since it first came out in English. Imagine my surprise when it came out in Croatian translation since there are so many other hits that take years to get translated into my language. For that reason alone I wanted to read it in Croatian translation as a way of backing the decision of whomever chose it. I even decided to buy my own copy and I will get it in a day or two!

Sorcerer – Read a book that intimidates you

Book – The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

There it is – The bane of my existence for almost a year now. a book that has been waiting and judging me while I kept reading all other books instead. I wanted to finally give myself a sold reason to make more progress with this book. I started it last year and got somewhere around 350 pages out of 1100. The number of pages alone is not the main problem but the font is so tiny it makes it seem forever to finish a chapter and the adventure plot and intrigue I would normally have no problem reading trough just seem unnecessarily long. I might not be able to finish this book but getting seriously into it for a few hundred pages or even half of it would be a win for me!

These are my choices for the Merlin Readathon 2021. I will start on the first book this evening and we will see how this two week reading challenge thing works for me.

Wish me luck!

July Book Warp Up 2021

Monthly reading review – July 2021

This July I have read:

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

Kako ste? by Barbara Matejčić  ★★★★

Time Weaver (Drakon #5) by Shana Abe ★★★

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan ★★★

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells ★★★★★

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller ★★★★

Antologija suvremene japanske novele by Kazuo Tanaka (Editor) ★★★★

Real World by Natsuo Kirino ★★★

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein ★★★

Elves: The Blue Elves’ Mission (Elfes #6) by Jean-Luc Istin, Kyko Duarte ★★★★★

Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper #1) by Alice Oseman ★★★★★

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers ★★★★

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells ★★★★★

Danse Macabre (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #14) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★

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

This July I have outdone myself and read an amazing 14 books! I am actually surprised at the amount and the variety of genres and books that have been on my TBR for a quite a long time as well as some relatively new books for me.

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

Books I most enjoyed reading this month were from the Murderbot Diaries book series: Artificial Condition and Rogue Protocol . Usually I have some issues with reading science fiction books and following up with all the technical parts of the story but these are so easy to get into and I really love them!

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

There were few books that were a let down this month and some were even a source of frustration. Time Weaver was the last book in the Drakon series and The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Time Weaver was a messy ending to a book series that had me interested because of the unique dragon shapeshifter angle. Of this five book series each book I read was either a let down or really good and as a whole the series was a wild ride with high highs and low lows. The Strain belongs to a horror genre that I am not a big fan of. I had some serious issues with the translated edition and the general feeling was not good. The Strain is one series I will not be continuing.

I am glad that have read them and can move on from these.

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

For July I made plans for Bookopoly and Olympic Games reading challenge. I managed to read all the books for Bookopoly and all but one for the Olympic Games challenge. The only book I wanted to read and did not managed to read was Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell because my preorder has not arrived yet. I am hoping to get it in time for some reading challenges in August!

Actually all the fourteen books I have read in July were a part of reading challenges!

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

I have finished one book series and made a decision not to continue another – so that’s two book series cleared in July. I started one new graphic novel series I am very much enjoying. Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series second reading is moving along and I’ve finished book fourteen out of current 28. which makes me halfway trough! I managed to read two books in the Murderbot Diaries series and can’t wait to for an opportunity to read the next book! July was a very good month for reading book series!

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

This is a second month in the row that I am blown away with Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries book series and my whole outlook on science fiction is changing because of it. I love the short format, the artwork and the lovable main character. The main character has proven to be surprisingly insightful on everything about what it means to be human. So much story and emotion packed in less than 200 pages per book made these books best I have read this year so far and I hope the next books are at least as good!

Final thoughts on July 2021 reading

I have been working on making up for those spring months when I got a reading slump and I am still behind on my plans to read 100 books in a year. I am proud of how many books I have read this July and I have managed to cut the amount of books I needed to catch up by half!

In the fourteen books I have read 3656 pages. There were a lot of the genres I am not usually drawn to in July and four of the books were science fiction which is starting to be on my TBR more often recently. Only two of the books were graphic novels and only one book was over 500 pages long. Nine books I have read in July were under 300 pages.

I find this shorter format motivating and very satisfying.

Bookopoly TBR 2021 – June review and July books

June was a cool Bookopoly reading month with only five books. I have participated in one other reading challenge in June and filled up my reading list that way. Because when I say “reading challenge” I need more than just five books in a month to make it challenging!

In the five books I’ve chosen to read I’ve read 1542 pages. One of the books in my Bookopoly readathon for June was a part of a Buddy reading project and one was a book club pick for June. Four of the books were the books I own and were physical copies from my own shelf. One book was a book from the library. Last book I’ve read for this reading challenge was finished reading few days in July but I’m still counting it! Here is the list of the books I’ve read for my Bookopoly in June and how I rated them in short:

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 ★★★★★

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

All the books I’ve read for my June Bookopoly were good or great and none I’ve rated with less than four out of five stars. In fact most of the books I’ve read in June were the same with the sole exception of one book I DNFed. For more details on them all you can check my June reading review HERE.

Here are my reading goals for Bookopoly in July:

Prompt: Science Fiction

Book: Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells

My first roll for July was a meager four and landed me on Science fiction tile for the very first time! I loved reading the first part of Murderbot Diaries and jumped at the chance to read the second book. This series is fairly new in general and I got the box set of first four books as one of my latest purchases. I will try to update and make a post on the books I got recently by the end of July! At this rate I will be ordering more Murderbot books very soon! Also I am not very happy with how the tile for Science Fiction came out and I am thinking of redesigning the Bookopoly board again!

Prompt: Last Chance

Book: The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan

My second roll for the month and I got a double six. What this means is I will be adding one more extra roll for the July. This landed me on a Last Chance spot for the first time as well! I actually pulled this book at random for the Olympic Games readathon this month and I decided to use it for this prompt since I am thinking on culling it from the collection. The edition is said to be bad because of the translation and it is a cheap paperback with not a very inviting cover. The other two books in trilogy were never translated and probably never will be since the publisher no longer exists and the book did not attract that much positive reader attention to be picked up by any other publisher.

Prompt: Chance Card

Book: Antologija suvremene japanske novele by Kazuo Tanaka (Editor)

My third roll was another low number – three in total! This landed me on one of the most popular prompts on the board but to be fair there are two of these across the board – Chance Card. This is another one of the books from my own bookshelves I bought a few years back at a library sale. The translated title would be Contemporary Japanese novella anthology. This book has been published in the late nineties and it was not something that can be easily found which is the reason it caught my attention. If it is to believed to the GR entry for it, there is no translated edition for it which makes it original and unique. I took a peek at the rest of the Chance Cards I have left and there is only three of them. Out of those, two have been chosen for some other prompts in July which leaves me with only one left for some other roll of the die. I need to make another set of cards for next month!

Prompt: Other Culture

Book: Real World by Natsuo Kirino

Next roll was six and landed me on Other Culture tile. Since I prioritize all my books to check my own bookshelves first I got this little book I had for years. As it turns out I will be reading two books on Japanese culture and by Japanese authors for Bookopoly this month! I am slowly running out of appropriate books for this prompt and will have to soon turn to library for them or investigate and buy some interesting new ones!

Prompt: First in a series

Book: Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper #1) by Alice Oseman

Fifth roll was another double and got me an exciting prompt “First in a series”. Since I will be adding at least two extra rolls for July I decided to finally read a graphic novel I only recently got and one that is still very praised and popular. The more I learned about this graphic novel I liked it more. I just hope I will enjoy reading it too!

Prompt: Gifted

Book: Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

First extra roll for July landed me on a “Gifted” tile for second time ever. First time I got this prompt was last month. I am running out of books I’ve been gifted and I did not read on my bookshelves. This book was given to my by a friend when I helped him sort out books he wanted to sell and get rid off. This is an older paperback edition that is out of print in Croatian. I loved the movie and I wanted to read it for years now! Also this one is a part of my Buddy reading project for this year and it will be good for me to get some progress on that.

Prompt: Graphic novel / Manga

Book: Elves: The Blue Elves’ Mission (Elfes #6) by Jean-Luc Istin, Kyko Duarte

On my last roll for July I got another low number – three! This moved me to Graphic Novel / Manga spot. In June I was reminded how much I enjoy reading the graphic novel Elfes series and decided to continue reading it in July as well. These are short and beautiful. I love how they look and the fantastic stories they bring.

This is my handsome pile of Bookopoly picks for July. There are books I am really looking forward to reading here and there are some I am less excited about.

What do you think?

Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon 2021 – Thoughts and Experiences

In June I decided to join a new and exciting reading challenge called: Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon. You can check out my original post on it HERE and the YouTube announcement from the main creator HERE. This was the second time the challenge was on and the first time I was participating in it. I liked the idea of reading what ever you want and choosing how many books you want to read. There was a choice of teams to join in for the purposes of a friendly competition and offering various genre options. Readers were provided with a list of prompts what were optional and available for adding more points for each book read. Each book you read counts toward the reading goal every reader sets for themselves and each book read after the goal is worth double! In the honor of the Pride Month each book that had LGBTQ+ characters or theme had an extra bonus. Bonus points were added if the book was on the any of the ten hosts recommendation and favorite list provided for that purpose. In short there were so many options for you to gain points and feel good while reading the books for this challenge!

This proved dangerous for me. For whatever reason I decided to read TEN books! I was already doing my Bookopoly reading challenge with five books and for some reason I decided to make it double… Here are the books I put on my planned reading list for this 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

How did I do?

From the ten books listed above I read seven in time for challenge and turn my results in. Each book was worth 100 by default and that comes down to 700 points. All the books were optionally worth more additional points for up to three prompts listed below. Most of the books I managed to squeeze in all three prompts for full 75 points extra. I got 500 points for all of those prompts combined. Only one book was LGBTQ+ related and gave me extra 100 points. My chosen team was Comrades of Chaos and the team genre was everything not covered by the other teams (not: middlegrade, epic/high fantasy, contemporary or fantastical/magical) This gave me a lot of room to maneuver and I scored another 125 points there. None of the books I’ve read have been on the lists of favorites from any of the ten hosts so I got no points there at all.

7 books = 700 points by default + 600 points for prompts and bonus + 125 points for team genre

This comes down to 1425 points!

One of the books I ended up DNFing and I did not count that one for any points at all. One book I did not finish reading by the end of the month so I did not count that one either. One of the books I did not even start reading and it was not counted for any points as well.

There were two books I added to my reading that were not on the planned list and I finished them in time to count them in for the reading challenge. Those were:

Školski knjižničar by Dinka Kovačević, Jasmina Lovrinčević 

The Dynasty of the Dark Elves ( Elves Vol. 5) by Marc Hadrien, Ma Yi, Olivier Héban

For those I added 100 points each and 50 points and 75 points respectively for genre and prompt bonuses they fit in. This comes down to 325 points.

This brings my total score to 9 books and 1750 points! by the score chart at the beginning of this post I am a magician! I was surprised at the total amount of points and feel very magical with that score. The team that I choose did not seem to be that competitive and I was okay with that. I liked seeing this many content creators working together and having fun doing reading sprints and cooperating in general. While I am writing this post I did not get to see the team results and I am feeling high spirited. I am proud of my contribution for my team and was happy to participate as much as I did.

My thoughts on my experience in Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon 2021 reading challenge

What I loved most about this reading challenge was the amount of options to gain points for the books you are reading. In board games this is called a “point salad” approach and it makes for a more engaging experience. Different prompts and bonuses were available but optional. It gives a rather satisfying feel while choosing a book to read for the challenge and counting all the different ways you can score points for it. While I was choosing my books for June I did not focus on anything in particular but just added books that were available or part of some other reading project I am a part of!

The amount of freedom in choosing of the books and more importantly in choosing of the amount of books I planned to read proved dangerous since I got carried away and decided on a too high number right at the beginning. Ten was too much. I guess I wanted to make it challenging and set myself for a harder goal. I might have been able to finish all ten books and complete my planned list if the real life did not interfere and I had to set almost a week off for studying. I have also struggled with one book I had to not finish and it took me few days to decide to call it done then and there without finishing reading it. This DNFing books is something that is still hard for me to do and I am working on it.

I am very glad to have tried this reading challenge a have been inspired by the content creators and all the work they did for it.

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 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!