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 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.

The Olympic Games reading challenge 2021

This year I am happy to participate in The Olympic Games reading challenge second year in a row. I had a lot of fun last year and I like the thematic ties with Percy Jackson universe by Rick Riordan no matter how small they may seem – anyone who did not read the books would have no trouble participating. You can check out the YouTube Challenge Announcement HERE and give Ishi Time and her channel some love and attention.

I like the mythology theme a lot! Last year I went with Hades as a patron god of choice. You can check out my thoughts and experiences for it HERE. Some of the prompts this year are a bit more tricky to fit a book in but I decided to stick with Hades once more! There is a bit less focus on the undead in the prompts this year and my choice of books is all over the place.

Hades prompt 1 – Read a stand alone

Kako ste? by Barbara Matejčić

This book has a relatively dark cover and is a stand alone. It is also my book club pick for the month of July so I’m fitting it in here as well! The theme is a bit on the heavy side and deals with life issues and stories from people who are dealing with hurt, pain and prejudice in general. I was warned of the content being hard and serious. This is definitely not a light summer read but I hope the book discussion on our meeting is worth it.

Hades prompt 2 – Read a book with a dark cover

Time Weaver (Drakon #5) by Shana Abe

The last book in a fantasy series about dragon shapeshifters. Some of the books from the series I absolutely loved and some were underwhelming. I stayed with the book series and I am hoping this last book will be a good one! The cover has a dark background with a pale hand and some dark read flower and some jewelry in the center. It looks dark enough for me.

Hades prompt 3 – Random TBR book

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

I pulled this book out of my long forgotten TBR Jar Draw. I am not that pleased with this choice but it fits the dark undead theme. I am not a fan of horror genre and this book might prove a real challenge for me in July! What worries me the most is the Croatian translation that is considered beyond bad. I might even be tempted to find an edition in English and get rid of my copy of the book permanently if I find it to be that bad.

Hades prompt 4 – Book with a character that hides their identity

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

The main character of this book series is a AI unit that has hacked its module and escaped. It refer to itself as “Murderbot” and likes to procrastinate and watch futuristic soap opera. It is unlike any other SF I have read and I liked the first part a lot! Murderbot is incognito and is on a journey across the wast space in the distant future. If anyone is to find out that its module has been hacked they would probably hunt it down and reprogram it back again. I think this fits the category of a hidden identity.

Hades prompt 5 – Book with a wealthy character

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Of all the prompts and books for this reading challenge this one I had the hardest time choosing. In the end I went with the main characters being a king and a future queen as a point of them being wealthy. I got this book for my Kindle when it was on sale because I had it on my wishlist for a hardcover edition. The reviews are either hate it or love it mostly. I like when the books have that kind of range among audience. This book has a dark cover, is a stand alone and has what I consider wealthy characters.

Like last year there are some bonus challenges to be read after these first five books. There is only one change in prompts for them from last year. But unlike last year they are not limited to certain patron gods – last year each patron god had two offered bonus challenges and now they are all available to everyone no matter what patron god they choose.

I chose a few books that fit the bonus challenges I liked and added them to the list below. I have listed them in the order I want to read them in. I am also aware that I might not get to read all of them and will probably read them in completely different order by the time I start reading them at all…

Bonus challenge prompt: Pegasus Riding – A book published within the last 5 years

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

This book is a graphic novel created and self published as a Kickstarter project back in 2018. That was less than 4 years ago and it fits the prompt. I like seeing a Kickstarter project do so well and get published and translated like this one did. I bought the printed version and I hope I will like it!

Bonus challenge prompt: Archery – A book shorter than 200 pages

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

I had to look hard to find a book under 200 pages on my book shelves. The one I was going to pick was just slightly over with 208 pages! Then I had another choice but in the end I went with this one since it is one of the never books on my shelf and I am curious about it.

Bonus challenge prompt: Climbing the Wall – The next book in the series

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

I decided to add another book from this series to this month! I have first four books in The Murderbot series and at this pace I might be buying some more sooner than expected!

Bonus challenge prompt: Sword&Shield – A book featuring a character I would not get along with

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

This is a part of my second reading trough the Anita Blake book series and my attitude toward the main character is very complicated. I would definitely not get along with the main character but I do love reading this series! This book is a bit on the chubby side and I might not be bale to finish it in time or even get to it.

Bonus challenge prompt: Capture the Flag – One of your most anticipated books

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

Now we are threading deeply into the territory of wishful thinking! This book is coming out in the first week of July and I have preordered it. I have no clue if it’s going to even arrive by the end of the July let alone if I am going to read it by then. I just wanted to add it to the list because I could!

I hope I get trough all of the books I want to read this July. They make a really big pile and I still have to add the books from Bookopoly and my next posts! Wish me luck for I will need 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!

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.

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