O.W.L.s Magical Readathon – Experience and thoughts

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This year I decided to try the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon for the first time. I looked it up last year but it was a bit too confusing for me at the time. After going trough the announcement video ( you can check it out HERE ) I was still a bit lost and like a newbie that I am decided to go all in and see how I will manage. The twelve prompts for the book picking were these:

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There are threads and helpful lists people contribute to and use as a help with picking out books for the prompts. There is also a counter where people can write down and contribute the books they read towards one general goal of the number of books read for the challenge.

I decided not to be a part of it. I was unsure about my picks being appropriate for most of the people that join the challenge since I read a lot of mature content and was planing to read some of it for the challenge as well.

Before I go over my picks let just clarify some things first. My main goal was to use the books I already own or have on the reading lists from other challenges as much as possible. For over a year now most of my reading challenges were focused on reading the books I already own. For this reason I did not use the helpful lists that people offered for the prompts as well. In some of my choices I was also guided by the availability of books on Kindle as freebies as much as possible. In some cases I got lucky and some were a complete dud. Here are the choices I ended up reading for the challenge:

 

Ancient Runes – heart on the cover/or in title

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✔ Kitchen Princess Omnibus, Vol. 3 (Kitchen Princess, #5-7) by Natsumi Ando ★★★★

I was very eager to get this one into the challenge. I did not actually notice the heart on the cover right away. Hint: there are hearts on the cooking glove. I was happy when I managed to pair it with this prompt since this manga is on two of my other reading challenge lists. The manga is and omnibus edition that collects three volumes in one big book. I had to continue and try getting into the story after a few years pause since I rad the last volume. The experience of reading was much better than expected. The story and the characters are easy to understand and the food recipes that accompany every volume are something I still want to try out!

 

Arithmancy – something outside my favorite genres (not romance or fantasy)

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✔ The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han Kang ★★★★

Choosing a book outside my comfort zone that I already own was a task I was not looking forward to. I got this book on my first visit to Bratislava few years ago. I found it interesting and was eager to read a book by a Korean author. When the book was translated into Croatian I got the idea to push it in for my book club reading some time. I still plan to do that after reading it. Some parts of this book were a bit traumatic for me to read since they dealt with animal abuse. Most of it was cultural and generational gaps that I was sensitive to. The book deals with some sensitive topics and provoking thoughts. It has given me a lot to think about and I can’t wait to get the discussion going for it.

 

Astronomy – read the majority of the book at night

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✔ Bite Me (Bitten, #1) by C.C. Wood ★★★

Picking a book for this prompt for me was just about picking a book I can read on my Kindle before sleep. It was a random pick out of free urban fantasy for adults that were available at the time. It was okay book and I can’t pick out anything that was especially great or bad about it. Even now after reading I need some time to remember what it was really about since I read a lot of similar stories in this genre with vampires. I decided not to continue the series and later on I realized there were so many other books I could have picked for this prompt.

Care of Magical Creatures – creature with a beak on the cover

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The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2) by Rick Riordan

I had a lot of issues with finding a book that fits this prompt. What made me frustrated is that in March I was reading a book that would have been perfect for it! After much frustration I ended up picking the book above. I decided to count the Festus mechanical dragon as if he had a beak instead of a snout. In the end this decision did not sit well with me at all and I ended up pushing it to the end of the month and then not reading it at all.

 

Charms – white cover

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✔ Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga #1) by Orson Scott Card ★★★★

It was a surprise at just how many books with white cover I read this year so far. This book was an excellent choice and I was so proud of picking it out for this prompt. It was a book I wanted to read for a long time and it was also a book I had leftover from another challenge. There was some controversy about the author of this book and some of his opinions but I decided to try really hard not to let those affect me. The book was very good and even though I expected dark themes I think I was prepared for more graphic writing that it was for me. I loved reading the foreword and learning more about the impact of the book as well as reading it.

 

Defence Against the Dark Arts – book set at sea / coast

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✔ Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh  ★★★

I am not a fan of challenge prompts that make me do much research for the book. I like going into the book without knowing too much. At first the prompt for sea setting was daunting. I was relived when I browsed my shelves and found this book. It is a YA book my boyfriend got for me on his trip to Jamaica. The book won a Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. I check just to make sure the setting fits the prompt and added it. Ir would have been a usual YA adventure book if not for the huge cultural chasm that stood before me. I had no issues with reading about poverty and fantastical elements but some real life issues made it hard for me to connect with the book.

 

Divination – random TBR pick

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Balzac i kineska mala krojačica by Dai Sijie ( Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse chinoise)

I never used any apps that generate random numbers. Instead I want over my TBR for this year and made my boyfriend pick a number. Under the number he picked was this book. After reading the Vegetarian I was less motivated to read this book since I have a feeling that it will be one of those hard to process books. I generally love book drama but this book might be too serious for me right now. I ended up not reading it in April but it is still a part of my reading list for this year.

 

Herbology – title starts with the letter M

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✔ Maneuver (Men of Inked: Southside Book 1) by Chelle Bliss ★★★

For this prompt I was searching the Kindle freebie section for any book that starts with letter M. This is the first one that popped out! I don’t find the beefy cover that appealing and it made some of my friends snicker at it. After reading this I was a bit surprised. Even the short description of it hinted at some bad boy main character. The main male character is tattooed and muscled and that’s about all of the “bad boy” it gets. Targeted audience seemed to be single moms, otherwise not a bad read for a Kindle freebie.

 

History of Magic – book featuring witches / wizards

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

I had a few choices for this prompt but since I wanted to start reading my very own Hufflepuff editions I picked up a Harry Potter book for the Harry Potter themed reading challenge. It was only much later that one of my friends informed me that everyone was picking a Harry Potter book for this prompt. There are some great books about witches on my shelves and if I had known I would have made an effort to include one of them instead. Reading this book was a dream. Even little stars around every chapter title gave me butterflies and lots of Hufflepuff details and the very design of the book made me very happy and more intent on collecting the whole series in this edition!

 

Muggle Studies – contemporary

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✔ Fork In The Road by J. Coyne ★★

This is one of the prompts I had most problems with picking out a book for. As it turns out I don’t read or buy many contemporary books. I excluded urban fantasy from contemporary and it left me empty handed mostly. Again this is one of the prompts I turned to Kindle freebies for help. It took me a while to find something that interested me and in the end I settled on this one. Reading this book was like reading someones idea or romanticized memoires. It felt mostly rough around the edges and not really good.

 

Potions – book under 150 pages

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✔ Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ★★★★

For this prompt I decided to use a very old edition I had since I was little. It also coincides that this book was a reading assignment for my book club in April. I was actually surprised to fit it with this prompt and as shocked to find it was under 150 pages. In the book I found my elementary school notes. Reading them made me feel a bit embarrassed about how naive I was back then. We had an online book discussion and I loved it.

 

Transfiguration – book with shapeshifters

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✔ Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11) by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

I read a lot of books with shapeshifters in general. This is one of my favorite book series and authors. In the sea of urban fantasy books there are a few who can keep my interest and have adult characters with adult issues and lives. It was one of the books I enjoyed the most in April. The main character shifts into a coyote and is married to a werewolf. The series includes lots of supernatural creatures of all kinds and it keeps surprising me in a good way.

My thoughts on my O.W.L.s Magical Readathon experience

First of all I’m glad I did this. Some questions could be asked did I really participate or just used the prompt to get myself another reading challenge to try out. I’m kinda divided and still feel that some of my choices would have been inappropriate for most of the readers who participate in this challenge. I felt weird and at first I wanted to put down some of my books toward the general Readathon book count but in the end I did not do it. I guess I’m not much of a group person even when I want to try to be one.

I will take a month off and then latter in June will try to come up with some books to fit the next part of the challenge for August. I still have to go trough a rather big PDF file that explains how to try out for a profession out of the reading prompts I managed to pass – you can check them out yourself HERE.

I’m pleased with the pile of books I’ve read for this challenge and consider the experience a good one. The fact that I did not manage to read all twelve prompts does not bother me as much as I thought it would. Ten out of twelve is a good score considering I had no direction what so ever.

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April Book Wrap Up 2020

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Monthly reading review – April 2020

This April I have read:

 

Kitchen Princess Omnibus, Vol. 3 (Kitchen Princess, #5-7) by Natsumi Ando  ★★★★

The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han Kang  ★★★★

Bite Me (Bitten, #1) by C.C. Wood  ★★★

Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga #1) by Orson Scott Card  ★★★★

Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh  ★★★

Maneuver (Men of Inked: Southside Book 1) by Chelle Bliss  ★★★

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

Fork In The Road by J. Coyne  ★★

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  ★★★★

Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11) by Patricia Briggs  ★★★★★

The Last Blackstone Dragon (Blackstone Mountain, #0.5) by Alicia Montgomery  ★★★★

Master vs. Mistress (Red Chyrsanthemum Series) by Em Brown  ★★

Mastering the Virgin (Mastering the Virgin Box Set Book 1) by Simone Leigh  ★★★★

The Naughty List (Make Mine A Menage, #1) by Jodi Redford  ★★★

Zog by Julia Donaldson  ★★★★★

Alpha’s Blood (Midnight Doms #1) by Renee Rose  ★★★

A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #25.1) by Laurell K. Hamilton  ★★★★

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

This April I have read 17 books. This is the most I have read in one month for a few years now! I pushed myself and challenged myself to read more. For some reason I am a bit apprehensive to congratulate myself and be happy for it.

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

The books I enjoyed the most were Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11) by Patricia Briggs and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling. I feel happiness and comfort when I read my favorite book series and read about my favorite characters. Mercy Thompson has once more proven herself to be one of the best characters I have ever read! Also reading the first book of the Harry Potter series for the first time ever in my wonderful Hufflepuff edition was a dream come true!

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

This April I have gone overboard with Kindle freebies – mostly erotica Kindle freebies and some of the were not so great. Fork In The Road by J. Coyne was more of a blurb than a real story with severely underdeveloped characters and very visible “new writer” style.

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

The whole month was dedicated to the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon reading challenge which I decided to try out for the first time. I choose the books for all twelve prompts and ended up reading ten out of those twelve. I even squeezed in some books to fir for my other challenges and I feel very good about those. I was escaping the plan all the time by getting some Kindle freebies and reading those instead.

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

I finished the last Mercy Thompson book I had and got the series up to date – now I I can wait for the last book Smoke Bitten to come out in mass market paperback. I read all the Kitchen Princess manga I had as well. I tried a lot of new book series on Kindle and have finally started the Harry Potter series in my own hardcover Hufflepuff edition which I plan to continue on reading.

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

The Vegetarian was well off my comfort zone and it has stayed with me. I would like to try to push it for my book club reading when I get a chance to since I want to discuss it more but have decided not to make a review on it just yet. Harry Potter was a dream to read!

Final thoughts on April 2020 reading

April was a weird month in general I hope I will spare some positive energy for some May reading. I’m still in awe for the number of books total I’ve read. I’m hoping my thoughts will settle better for O.W.L.s Magical Readathon walktrough post I’m planing to write soon!

O.W.L.s Magical Readathon – April 2020

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This April I have decided to join YouTube Book Roast’s O.W.L.s Magical Readathon for the first time You can check this year’s announcement for more information HERE.

It is a reading challenge she is organizing a third year in a row. I’ve been looking at it before but for someone who is not that much into Harry Potter YouTube fandom I had some trouble understanding how it works. In order to get a better understanding of how it all works and how I’m going to participate I will try to explain how I decided to choose books for the challenge.

First a little bit on this reading challenge as I understand it. There are two Harry Potter thematic reading challenges that are put up a year. First is the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon based on the Ordinary Wizarding Level Examinations from the Harry Potter books. They represent a sort of an entry challenge. There are twelve reading prompts based on the subjects at the Hogwarts school. These prompts are different each year and this year they are loosely based on the third book of the Harry Potter series.

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The reader chooses the prompts from the list and finds a book that fits the the challenge prompt. Later on in August the subjects that were chosen for the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon will be eligible for the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon and the choosing of a magical career accordingly.

The O.W.L.s Magical Readathon lasts trough whole month of April. As I am new to this and since I am kinda drifting in my reading endeavors AND life in general – I decided to go with all the available prompts in a rather optimistic and arrogant push to read twelve books in April.

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I’ve chosen my books and picked some of them from the from the already existing reading lists I made as much as I could since the twelve books is a lot for me now and I want to keep up with my other reading challenges as much as possible.

Here are my choices:

Ancient Runes – heart on the cover/or in title

Kitchen Princess Omnibus, Vol. 3 (Kitchen Princess, #5-7) by Natsumi Ando

Arithmancy – something outside my favorite genres (not romance or fantasy)

The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han Kang

Astronomy – read the majority of the book at night

Bite Me (Bitten, #1) by C.C. Wood

Care of Magical Creatures – creature with a beak on the cover

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2) by Rick Riordan

Charms – white cover

Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga #1) by Orson Scott Card

Defence Against the Dark Arts – book  set at sea / coast

Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh

Divination – random TBR pick

Balzac i kineska mala krojačica by Dai Sijie ( Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse chinoise)

Herbology – title starts with the letter M

Maneuver (Men of Inked: Southside Book 1) by Chelle Bliss

History of Magic – book featuring witches / wizards

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

Muggle Studies – contemporary

Fork In The Road by J. Coyne

Potions – book under 150 pages

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Transfiguration – book with shapeshifters

Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11) by Patricia Briggs

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Due to explicit nature of some of the books I will probably not enter my choices to the Hogwarts library form that readers use to count their books and participate in the community challenge. For now I’m opting to keep this challenge for myself alone in that regard. As for the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon I will have to see how I will do with this challenge.

Wish me luck?

Reading in June 2017 – Bratislava edition

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This June I joined my boyfriend on a business trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. While he was busy with work in the mornings I wandered the city for bookstores and did some reading.

The first picture shows one of the few bookstores I visited located in the immediate center of Bratislava – Oxford Bookshop. While it holds books in many various languages it had by far the best selection of books in English. The reason the street looks empty is that all the shops in this street open after 10 AM and I went a little earlier. Just a few hours after this picture was taken this street was one of the busiest in the city with hordes of tourist groups walking around.

I loved that the opening hours were from 10 AM to 19 PM. And was actually jealous and envious of the people who worked there for having such working hours. I browsed for a long time and treated myself with a book that I noticed earlier this year on GR.

51UfFXHe9ILThe Vegetarian by Han Kang

This book by Korean author recieved The Man Booker International award last year and has not been translated into Croatian at all. I was intrigued by contemporary story from a Korean cultural perspective. I liked the cover quite a bit too.

19092899_10155759539809026_643437314163476352_oNext I visited two bookstores in two different shopping malls. Both were part of the Panta Rei bookstore chain. While in the company of Starbucks and Cinema City both bookstores had a small Coffee Shop inside the actual bookstore premises. It looked quite cozy and casual. While most of the books were in Slovakian they had a pretty decent selection of bestsellers in English.

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As an avid reader I had to take some books with me on the trip. I could not decide which I would like more so I’ve packed four different ones. I also packed one additional for my boyfriend to read just in case.

Books I’ve brought with me were:

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Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles #1) by Anne Rice

I’m very happy with my progress with this book. This was actually the third time I started reading and have gotten more into the book. I used to have real issues with separating the book and the movie since they are completely different. I’ve seen the movie many times and I’m glad I’m finally getting somewhere with this book that’s been on my TBR for years!

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The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan

Apollo was the name of the hotel in Bratislava that we were supposed to stay in. We ended up in a different hotel but I brought this book with me anyway. Sad part is that I haven’t really gotten to reading it on the trip at all!

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Žena s drugog kata by Jurica Pavičić

This is a book by Croatian author and columnist we had as a RL book club assignment. I’ve read this book earlier this year. I brought the library copy with me to brush up on since we had a meeting just after I came back from the trip.

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The Scar by China Mieville

This book I brought for the boyfriend to have something to read. It is the chubbiest from all the books I brought with around 800 pages. Boyfriend barely started it during the trip.

As an added bonus I brought my tablet for some Kindle reading just in case and I also ended up reading:

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Captured by Gerran (Dragons Take a Princess  #2) by Dalia Wright

None of the books above are actually finished reading yet and I hope to get to them soon. I am glad that I can say: “I read Interview with the Vampire in Bratislava!”