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

Reindeer Readathon 2020 – Reading experience and thoughts

One of the most fun and engaging reading challenges I participated in 2020. was Reindeer Readathon in December. There were five teams and there were interesting ways to participate trough live reading videos and discussions. My team was called Candy Cane! For all those interested in more detail here is the link for the main announcement HERE. In the end my team finished in the golden middle out of all five teams and some prizes were dealt to the luckiest participants!

Here are the books I read for this reading challenge and how I liked them:

DASHER – 15 PTS – A book with one word title

Pride (Shifters #3) by Rachel Vincent ★★★★★

There were so many options for one word title books on my shelves I was surprised by so many different choices to choose from. I loved the excuse to continue reading this cute urban fantasy book series. The main character is very much young adult material but the rest of the content is more for the adult audience. I like the tone and the pace of the book and how the fantasy elements were set into the world described. This was one of the first books I read in December and made for a great start of the months.

DANCER – 10 PTS – A companion novel or a sequel (as in a dancing partner)

Prey (Shifters #4) by Rachel Vincent ★★★★★

I could not resist the option to continue this book series right away. I have great appreciation for the flawed main character. So far, I am very pleased with how the plot progresses in a series as a whole. This book series is evolving into quite a guilty pleasure and a joy to read.

PRANCER – 15 PTS – A book with a map in it

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire ★★★

This was one of the books I read last in the month. I did not find many options for a book with a map on my bookshelves that I have not read already or recently. I was mesmerized with all the green on the cover and pages. I was in a hurry and the pacing of the narrative was good enough. What I did not like were some rather crude descriptions that were contrasted with religious symbols. The book at times felt flat and not that enjoyable to read. With all that being said I am still curious about the musical version of it and how much of the book base material managed to fit into it?

VIXEN – 25/20 PTS – A book with a fox on the cover. (Alternatively, a strong female lead)

Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #10) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★

I had to push this book in my reading schedule regardless of the many other books I had already on my TBR for December. I could not find a book that fit the fox prompt on my bookshelves so I chose to go with strong female lead instead. This book is a part of my second reading trough the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series. It is one of my favorite bookish haunts and favorite reading material. There are plenty of books to enjoy, lots of characters to love and hate and more than a few plot points to dwell on. This particular book seems to be the tipping point for many other readers and I did enjoy being reminded of how some characters were introduced and how they evolved in this book as well!

COMET – 30 PTS – A book you find intimidating

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu  ★★★

I found this book intimidating because of its writing style and a rather long introduction I could not get much past the first time I tried reading this book. I have a strong appreciation for books written in times removed from this we live in and books that describe cultures different than those I am closely familiar with. I was shook by some parts of this book for the explicit content that was only hinted at. I had trouble with all those things that are generally morally dubious I kept reading about. I am not a squeamish reader but this book caught off guard. I really cant pint point the things that made me react this way without revealing and spoiling too much of the plot.

CUPID – 10 PTS – Read a genre that you love

Naked City by Ellen Datlow (Editor) ★★★★

My favorite genre is urban fantasy and choosing a short story collection for this prompt was a pleasure! It is only after I started reading this book that I have realized that I have three books I choose to read for different challenge prompts that are 500+ pages long. Getting only 10 points for a book that is this long seemed a bit unfair but I chose no to dwell on it. In the end this book turned out to be one of the few book I made a review on last year. You can check it out HERE.

DONNER – 15 PTS – A book with something hidden inside (under the dust jacket, chapter heads, art etc.)

Saga (Collected Editions) #7-9 by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples ★★★★★

Hidden content for this one were many interesting interviews and art pages after the story. This ended up being the best book I read in December. I was mind blown by the story plot twists and curves. The art of this graphic novel seemed much more clear and straight forward than ever before!

BLITZEN – 20 PTS – A book with some sort of struggle (internal struggle, war, battle etc)

The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo #3) by Rick Riordan ★★★★

Each book of this book series describes a battle and overcoming of the obstacles the main characters face. When I first started on this book series I struggled with the main narrator since I was used to reading point of views of many different characters that came before in the other book series connected with this one. This change of pace slowed me down quite a bit until I could get used to the new narrator.

RUDOLPH – 20 PTS – A book where the main character doesn’t seem to fit in (outsider, misfit)

The Tyrant’s Tomb (The Trials of Apollo #4) by Rick Riordan ★★★★

In continuation of the previous book I decided to expand on the reading about a character that most definitely stands out – a fallen god Apollo punished into puny mortal form. I find most of Rick Riordan books informative and full of interesting historical and cultural references I never managed to pick up in school. The narrator started to seem much more endearing in this book and I enjoyed reading it! While I am divided on most covers between US and UK editions of these books I must admit that this UK edition cover looks cool in a very satisfying manner!

After reading all of the above nine books for the mentioned prompts I turned to the possibility of earning more points for my team Candy Cane. I had three books over 500 pages long to choose from and I decided to use Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire as my entrance for 15 extra points. I did not think I would manage to get the extra book for Sleighing it but in the end I did it!

Sleighing it! – 50 PTS – A redo of: RUDOLPH A book where the main character doesn’t seem to fit in (outsider, misfit)

The Color of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett ★★★

I choose to read this book for another reading challenge in December and when I started it I realized it could have been used for a RUDOLPH prompt. Since it was the last book I read in December and all other books I had for Reindeer Readathon have been finished I was very happy to add it for this last prompt worth 50 points! There are two main characters and both seemed to be out of place wherever they go. So this seemed very fitting indeed!

These are all the books I read for Reindeer Readathon 2020. Participating in the reading challenge was an interesting experience. I would have loved to be able to engage with other readers from my team but since most people that participated were not in my time zone I ended up watching recordings of live videos and exchanging messages in group chat on Instagram. I was happy with my team leader Amanda and how she handled things for our team. She was one of the most active team members during the reading challenge. You can give her some love on her YouTube channel HERE.

Naked City – Book Review

Naked City

by Ellen Datlow (Editor)

★★★★

Expectation

I was very excited when I first bought this book almost a decade ago now. Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I had high expectations from this short story collection. I really love the cover and I am a big fan of Daniel Dos Santos cover art! I like the dreamy and intriguing quality of the characters on the cover and the misty setting that gives of fantasy vibes in an urban setting. I put this book on my personal reading challenge for the year and did finally picked it up for the Reindeer Readathon for the prompt that required me to read a book of my favorite genre! The names of the authors on the cover made me giddy with expectation of some good stories!

Summary

There are twenty short stories in this 500+ pages book. I did not realize just how big it was when I decided to finally pick it up. I expected fast paced short stories in urban fantasy but what I got was so much more. The stories of my favorite authors were excellent and I found some new authors to explore. I was reminded again of my interest in Dresden Files book series by Jim Butcher!

1. Curses by Jim Butcher ★★★
I liked this short insight into the world of Harry Dresden. Dresden Files book series is on my TBR for years now but I keep pushing it back and not there are so many books in the series I feel it would be a chore for me to collect them all. This short story presented me with a good feel of the authors writing but I can’t seem to get into the whole baseball and sport sin general vibe. While I was reading I got flashbacks to another story with the same theme and that made my reading experience less enjoyable.


2. How the Pooka came to New York City by Delia Sherman ★★★★
Gritty story with feeling. I liked the charm and depth of the characters. Would not mind reading more of the adventures of Pooka 😊

3. On the Slide by Richard Bowes ★★
The fantasy elements were barely in this story. The feel of a PI noire drama and lives of cops were not that appealing to me. I understand the homage to the TV series that this collection was named for but I wish there could have been some more fantastical elements to the story that I could relate to.


4. The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner ★★★★
Outside of a medieval feel to the timeline of the story there were not any evident fantastical elements here. Other than that the story was intriguing and the characters were interesting. This story is an excellent example of passionate characters presented trough PG rated narrative and I don’t mind it one bit. It actually seemed very hot in a rather spartan way. I have some issues with the choice of the narrator but overall I really loved this story and would be interested to read more about the characters involved.


5. Oblivion by Calvin Klein by Christopher Fowler ★★★
This story was full of symbols that had me triggering and I was not sure what I was triggered by. I could not help but think of it as a prelude to something bigger and just beginning to bloom. I would love to have a bit clearer insight into some questions that were put out there.


6. Fairy Gifts by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★
This was the second time I was reading this story and I loved it even more than the first time. The clarity of well made characters and narrative jumped at me from each scene. Author has a way of making it easy for me to picture and understand everything she presents on pages and is a definite favorite!


7. Picking up the Pieces by Pat Cardigan ★★★★★
It started out suspicious but turned out to be an amazing story. I loved the theme and the setting. There were some minor things I had issues with but the historical content was rather endearing. Great story!


8. Underbridge by Peter S. Beagle ★★★★
This was more an insight into human nature than fantasy. At times it was rather unnerving and I must say the ending was not what I expected. For some reason I find the idea of the story thought provoking not for its fantastical elements but for its depiction of human condition!


9. Priced to Sell by Naomi Novik ★★★★★
Pace of this story was a bit faster and more lighthearted than those before and I loved it for that alone! This one has all the elements that I love in my urban fantasy books: wide choice of supernatural creatures, faster pace in sync with the urban setting and a good dose of practical quirkiness.


10. The Bricks of Geleck by Matthew Kressel ★★★★
This story almost had an Arabian nights feel to it. I liked the melancholy approach and event the philosophical vibe it made me feel. Thoughtful and pensive.


11. Weston Walks by Kit Reed ★★★
Another philosophical and introspective story with all the urban fantasy elements. I could not help but feel detached from the characters and how they were presented. More questions were poised than were answered.


12. The Projected Girl by Lavie Tidhar ★★★★
Historical references of this story were eerie. Main character seemed innocent enough but the amount of ambiguity he was surrounded with actually scared me. There were so many unsaid thoughts and references between the lines that the authors ability to blend them in so effortlessly amazed me. Rich story, composed in an intriguing way.


13. The Way Station by Nathan Ballingrud ★★★
I was not prepared for the amount of drama and serious stuff in this one. The symbolism is making my head spin. My expectations were very much different and it is starting to impact my reading experience.


14. Guns for the Dead by Melissa Marr ★★★★★
I am not a fan of western theme in any form or format. That being said this story was cute and interesting. I like the idea and how it was presented. This short story peaked my interest and I would like to read more of it.


15. And go Like this by John Crowley ★
This story, if it can even be called that, reads like a train of thought of a person who makes lists for a living. I was presented with an idea, but for idea to become a story some literary finesse is required. This essay of words put together had no literary value for me. I did not enjoy it.


16. Noble Rot by Holly Black ★★★★★
Twisted in a delicious way. I found this story romantic and sweet. I keep being surprised at how much I like the writing style of this author. There is something about the way she writes strange and weird that make them terribly appealing.


17. Daddy Longlegs of the Evening by Jeffrey Ford ★★★
This was the first story with a kind of macabre feel to it. I was waiting for a story with a bit more horror elements to it and this one did not exactly rise up to my expectations. There were some scary elements for sure, but the visuals I got from the descriptions had a Burtonesque feel to them. Not enough to scare me but just enough to confuse me. The idea of the story seemed like an urban legend.


18. The Skinny Girl by Lucius Shepard ★★★★
I liked the cultural references. I know nothing about the geography of Mexico City and this was a scary interlude. Interesting story and intriguing use of supernatural elements.


19. The Colliers’ Venus (1893) by Caitlin R. Kiernan ★★★
I liked how this story started. Then there was a dream sequence and it all went blurry for me. It got better at the end but I don’t think I understood the point of the story at all.


20. King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree by Elizabeth Bear ★★★★
There were so many interesting characters in this story and the amount of mysteries left me intrigued. I liked the idea and the concept. The end of the story was kinda choppy but that was in the spirit of the main character and the theme I guess.

Conclusion

I did not expect the philosophical quality of the stories to be so intense. Many of the stories had a quite serious vibe to them. They reminded me of some classics of the speculative fiction genre form half a century ago. Most of the stories had a pensive and thought provoking agendas and challenged the reader to think about reality using some fantastical elements. Some stories were even Kafkaesque in their sombre characters and introspective aim. There were some definite favorites among these stories and there was a one complete dud as well! The story I liked the best was Noble rot by Holly Black simply because it held my attention the longest after reading.

I am glad to have finally read this book. It has given me a definite direction towards reading some other books and it is another short story collection from my bookshelves I have finally read!

Reindeer Readathon 2020

After realizing that being idle will not help me get close to achieving my personal reading goals by the end of the year I have decided to keep myself busy by participating in some fun and exciting reading challenges in December. Enter Reindeer Readathon 2020! I have found it by accident and I really loved the idea and the merry prompts. You can find the official announcement HERE. The main creator of this readathon is Erik from Breakeven Books and you can go and show some love for his YouTube channel HERE. Together with four other wonderful people he is hosting this readathon and leading the team Mistletoe. This is the second year of this readathon and this year there are five official teams. Team Snowflake leader is Hilary and you can check her channel HERE. Team Nutcracker leader is Donna and you can check her channel HERE. Team Stocking leader is Savy and you can check her channel HERE. And last, but not least, my designated team is Candy Cane and the leader of my team is Amanda and you can check her channel HERE.

There is a satisfying number of prompts and each have a certain number of points. Since this is a reading challenge with teams competing the goal is to read as many prompts to get the most points for your team.

Here are my book choices for the prompts:

DASHER – 15 PTS

A book with one word title

Pride (Shifters #3) by Rachel Vincent

DANCER – 10 PTS

A companion novel or a sequel (as in a dancing partner)

Prey (Shifters #4) by Rachel Vincent

PRANCER – 15 PTS

A book with a map in it

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire

VIXEN – 25/20 PTS

A book with a fox on the cover. (Alternatively, a strong female lead)

Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #10) by Laurell K. Hamilton

COMET – 30 PTS

A book you find intimidating

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

CUPID – 10 PTS

Read a genre that you love

Naked City by Ellen Datlow (Editor)

DONNER – 15 PTS

A book with something hidden inside (under the dust jacket, chapter heads, art etc.)

Saga (Collected Editions) #7-9 by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

BLITZEN – 20 PTS

A book with some sort of struggle (internal struggle, war, battle etc)

The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo #3) by Rick Riordan

RUDOLPH – 20 PTS

A book where the main character doesn’t seem to fit in (outsider, misfit)

The Tyrant’s Tomb (The Trials of Apollo #4) by Rick Riordan

I like the possible bonus and the additional rules and I plan to use Christmas Star as Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire for those 15 PTS since it is over 500 pages long. I don’t think I will be able do get those 50 PTS for Sleighing it to read additional book for any prompt after being done with all of those above. But in case I make it I have few options left from my personal reading challenge list. Wish me and my team luck!

Go team Candy Cane!

Sbooktober Readathon – October 2020

There was a bunch of reading challenges this October and I tried making a list and adopting several different reading challenges. I made lists and tried fitting in books but was having trouble filling in the prompts and books until I found Sbooktober Readathon announcement! YouTuber Paper Faerie is leading this reading challenge along with many other hosts. You can check it out and give her channel some love HERE. What I love about this reading challenge is how easy it makes it for anyone to participate and offers plenty of options to join in!

I picked out one book for each of the four categories and it left me room to maneuver with the Bookopoly rolls I did with my friend for October!

Costume Party! – Besties Costume

Misadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures #2) by Shayla Black

For the first time ever I had someone to do a buddy read with! It was a welcome opportunity for me. After some debating we decided to try out something light and went with Misadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures, #2) by Shayla Black. It is the second book in a series that can be read out of order and is surprisingly translated into Croatian language. We both got our copies from the library!

Dance Floor Playlist! – Time Warp

 Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos

I decided to use this opportunity to use a book I have crossover from Bookopoly TBR because I’m apprehensive about reading this book. It has a certain feel to it that reminds me that I’m behind on reading The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas. The are both from French authors and I’m expecting a similar writing style.

Refreshments! – Candy Bowl

The Chosen Half-Elf (Elfes #4) by Éric Corbeyran, Jean-Paul Bordier

Another crossover and I decided to get on track with this graphic novel series more! It is a feast for the eyes as well as a good story! It fills my need for a fantasy reading these days as well!

Festivities! – Hang Out With The Pets

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve been waiting for a chance to get this book on some reading challenge! I had plans for another prompt in a reading challenge I decided to pass on for October. When I saw that I could easily fit it with an animal on the cover prompt I was very happy to bump it up on my reading pile finally! Also I’m getting a lot of books with snakes on the cover lately…

I feel very motivated by this reading challenge and I hope to do more reading done this October!

N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon – Experience and Thoughts

When I caught this last train for N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon I was torn between being happy and sad for it. In one hand it was announced to be the last O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s year and on the other hand it was my first time participating in this multifaceted reading challenge. O.W.L.s were held in April and I was kinda lost in them but trying my best to participate. You can check out my O.W.L.s Experience and Thoughts post HERE. I was not sure how things were gonna work out so I went all in trying to read as much categories and prompts as I could but I had no real direction. This left me with a couple of hurdles on the way of becoming a Librarian because I missed out on the needed prompts for it. After a lot of thinking and weighing of options that were left to me I decided to try and go for the noble profession of Mind Medic.

In order to achieve my goal I had some reading to do for five different categories of subjects: Charms – 3 books, Defence against the Dark Arts – 3 books, Muggle Studies – 2 books, Potions – 2 books and Transfiguration 2 books. Which brought my total of books up to 12!

Here is the complete list of subjects by the number of books needed for my grade and my thoughts on books I’ve picked up for them:

Charms: grade needed Outstanding – 3 books

A: Cheering Charm: read a humorous book

Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret ★★★

This was my book club reading pick for August. It was a library copy. It is a book written by an Israeli author and it is a short story collection. All the short stories were small insights into a sometimes tragic and sometimes ludicrous daily lives of different characters. This was supposed to be a humorous book but I found it more sarcastic than funny. Stories were short and simple in writing style but complex and thought provoking.

E: Glacius: Freezing Charm. Rad a book set in winter

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden ★★★

This prompt was a bit tricky for me. I’m very cautious of the prompts that require knowledge of the book plot before reading it. I don’t like to research to much into the books before reading them. I considered few options and ended up with this book I had for well over a year. I got the luxurious edition form a small Croatian publisher with actual wooden blocks for hardcover, I even got the box for the book, I got the whole trilogy as a matching set with same publishing number since there was only 500 of these books made. I even got the author to sign the book for me. I invested a lot in it and was hopeful with all the positive reviews and the good reputation the book has among bloggers and booktubers. I read it and did not think it was anything that special. I could not connect with the characters and I was not moved by the story nor setting. There was winter, it all began in winter and it all ended in winter. I thought it was average and average made me feel kinda let down for all the investment I put into these books – monetary and otherwise. I even thought about selling it but have not made any decision yet…

O: Finite Incantatem: reverse spel! Read a manga!

One-Punch Man, Vol. 1 (ワンパンマン / Onepunch-Man #1) by ONE, Yusuke Murata ★★★★

I am not a fan of action manga editions but I remember watching an anime for first few episodes and some of my friends really liked it. I got the first volume of manga as a present and thought this could be a got time to read it. If I understood it correctly the story was first a web comic and then anime and after that it was translated into manga. What little I remember from anime is very well adapted in the manga as well. The characters are not very eloquent and kinda unreal but they bring out some interesting perspectives on life. It was no something I would choose for myself but it was a positive surprise.

Defence Against The Dark Arts: grade needed Outstanding – 3 books

A: Boggart: read a horror/thriller

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix ★★★★★

I was very intrigued by this book that gave me Sookie Stackhouse book series by Charlaine Harris vibes. When I read that it is about a group of middle-aged women that gather in a book club and battle a vampire I was sold! I was not prepared for what I got in this horror – thriller. This is not my usual genre. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a well rounded book with family drama and suburban horror. I was rocked by some scenes and was blown away by the whole story. What gripped me was the nineties setting and the brazen inequality between the sexes. Some characters spoke to me more than others but I was left wondering at some racial issues as well. I wanted to know the background of this author who wrote the story and was surprised to find out that he writes satirical paranormal books. I was left with so many questions and I am still glad I read this book.

E: Kappas: water demon! Book with demons or water theme

Angel & Faith: Daddy Issues (Angel & Faith: Season 9 #2) by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs ★★★★★

Grabbing this graphic novel series makes me uneasy. The reason for that is that I don’t have the opportunity to buy next volumes after I read this one. I love these characters and I loved this story with them. I was a bit skeptic about graphic novel continuation for both Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV shows. The artwork did not agree with me at first but I barely noticed things to complain about in this volume! The story was really good and I would love to continue reading these graphic novels!

O: Red Caps: read an epic fantasy

Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie ★★★★★

This was the first book by Joe Abercrombie I read and I hope it will not be my last. I have a strong affinity towards underdog characters and Yarvi was an excellent example of such a character. He reminded me of Maia from The Goblin Emperor by Catherine Addison (You can check out my thoughts on The Goblin Emperor HERE ) I loved reading about the journey the main character goes to and I loved brittle humor the book is filled with. The sea adventure part of the story was my favorite part and it really clicked with me this summer even though the book is not really set in summertime at all. I am apprehensive about reading the next book in the series because it centers around different characters and I would really love to read more about Yarvi. This was one of the best books I’ve read in August.

Muggle Studies: grade needed Exceeded Expectations – 2 books

A: Read a comic

White Elf, Black Heart (Elfes #3) by Olivier Peru, Stéphane Bileau ★★★★

Technically this is a graphic novel not a comic. I loved reading this graphic novel and I’m glad my friend pointed me to it. It is a series of high fantasy stories beautifully made. Each volume has different characters and the authors and artists vary from volume to volume. All volumes so far center around different types of elves and bring in stories from different parts of the same world. As I’ve been told it is all an interlude for some big fantasy showdown in latter volumes. Each story is well rounded and feels quite complete on its own so far.

E: Read a book written by an author of a different race than yourself

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie ★★★★★

This was one book I already tried and failed reading for O.W.L.s back in April. I was deeply ashamed for not reading this book sooner. It clicked with me and I loved it! Which is kinda strange because it is far from my usual fantasy or romance genre. Book is based on real events. It made me wonder about different cultures and policies. When a book brings out my inquisitive spirit I know it was a great book! I plan on pushing it for further reading for my book club and I’m looking forward to talking about it with my bookish friends.

Potions: grade needed Exceeded Expectations – 2 books

A: Ingredient: Flying Seahorse – book with the word “sky” in title, or sky on cover

Fantastic Hope by Laurell K. Hamilton, William McCaskey ★★★★

This was one of the books I bought a month before and I just had to include it in this reading challenge because I was so eager to read it. I was a bit worried how well I would pace my reading to book have enough time to read trough all twelve books I wanted to read trough. I was very eager for some of the stories by my favorite authors and I even made a review post for it. You can check my thoughts on this book HERE.

E: Doxycide: Author name starts with a letter D

The Autumnlands Vol. 1: Tooth and Claw (The Autumnlands #1-6) by Kurt Busiek, Benjamin Dewey ★★★

This prompt proved to be a bit tricky for me. As it turned out finding an author whose name starts with a letter D on my shelves was a real challenge. At the end of my options I decided to pick a graphic novel whose one author’s surname starts with the letter D. The graphic novel did not appeal to me at first. I had issues with the visual representations of animals with human physique – hands, feet, clothes …It took some time to get used to that. Story was interesting enough and it really intrigued me. This graphic novel was a present and I don’t think I will be continuing it since I don’t have the rest of the parts.

Transfiguration: grade needed Exceeded Expectations – 2 books

A: Lapifors Spell: animal on the cover/title

The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat (Bob The Cat #2) by James Bowen ★★★

This prompt I had several options for. I keep getting surprised at just how many animals are on the cover of the books on my bookshelves. This book was a birthday present from a friend few years back. We did not know this was a second book in a series. I was happy to say this did not influence much on my reading experience. The story is again based on the real life events. The drama was what I expected it to be and I thought the book was okay. I will probably try out some more stories with real life cats in them!

E: Draconifors Spell: book with dragons or fire (title or cover)

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

This was the book that did me in this August. No matter how hard I tried I could not concentrate on reading more than a few page sin one sitting. This made the reading feel extra slow since most of the other books that had a lot more pages than this one I went trough in a few days reading. I’m still not done with this one and it will probably be a very slow year until the end of the year.

Final thoughts on my reading experience:

I think I did pretty well on this reading challenge. I even managed to read trough categories in order of the grade I needed to make progress on. As it turned out the one book I did not finish was the last book of the challenge and I feel lucky about it. If I had started reading it sooner I might have lost even more time and would have probably have more than one unfinished book for the challenge. On the positive side, reading nine books I already owned was a great score! I feel like I’m really digging into the books I own on my TBR and that makes me feel good. Most of the books I read from my own shelves make me glad I picked them up in the first place and I am making progress with culling some books I don’t feel so strongly about anymore. All the books I read for this challenge were first time reads and I feel good about that too! I’m trying to keep positive about this reading challenge and I am glad to have been a part of it. Once again if you would like to check out some content from the awesome person behind all the Magical Readathon’s from the last three years it was on go show some love for Book Roast on her YouTube channel HERE.