A Game of Booksathon & Simsathon | TBR

As we’re coming to the end of May and I’m (hopefully) coming to the end of reading Les Misérables I decided to look to the future outside of long French classics. However, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve decided taking part in two readathons immediately afterwards is clearly the sensible thing to do. Luckily in June there are a couple of really great sounding readathons with challenges that (thankfully for my sanity) overlap quite well – A Game of Booksathon and Simsathon.

As you can probably guess from the title of the first one, A Game of Booksathon is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series and is hosted by Noura and will be taking place from 1st June to 1st July. For this readathon the challenges are based on houses and places from Game of Thrones so you have reading prompts such as ‘Westeros’ or ‘House Stark’. You also pick a house to belong to during the course of the readathon and each book you read wins points for those houses. I found it a little tricky to choose a house because any personality quiz I do online tells me I’m a Targaryen. Whilst trying not to be alarmed by that fact, I was watching the Blackwater episode of Game of Thrones earlier and exclaimed “ooo WILDFIRE!” so perhaps I’m not not a Targaryen after all. So I’ll be reading for them during this readathon.

The second readathon is taking place between 1st and 30th June, the Simsathon, hosted by Bianca Reads, and is clearly based on the computer games series The Sims. I have a confession: I’ve never really played The Sims properly or for any length of time. I never really got the point of it much. Sorry/not sorry. (If it’s a saving grace I did enjoy comparable games like Theme Hospital?) However, regardless of how much I do or don’t like the game itself, the idea of a readathon based around its challenges sounds fantastic so I’m taking part.

Let’s see what books on my devised TBR will do for what challenge, shall we?

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Review | The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

flatshareTitleThe Flatshare (2019)
Author: Beth O’Leary
Publisher: Quercus Books
Read: 30th April – 21st May 2019
Genre: contemporary; romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Tiffy and Leon share a flat. Tiffy and Leon share a bed. Tiffy and Leon have never met… Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Les Misérables Readalong | Week Three: Marius #MiserablesMay

Bonjour mes amis et bienvenue à la troisième semaine de #MiserablesMay! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, long story short: I decided reading Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in the space of the month of May would be a good idea. (I was wrong.) If you’re curious about the intended weekly schedule and organisation of this, be sure to check out my announcement post or the post of my co-host Liz.

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Despite the fact that “week two” ended up extending into quite a lot of the third week, I knew that we were reaching a part of the book that I had read (and studied) before so I was hopeful that this would be a saving grace when it came to catching up to my (in hindsight, rather optimistic) reading schedule for Les Misérables. This week I also went to see a couple of shows at the theatre and whilst you think that would mean I struggled more to keep up, in fact, it helped; I went to see Ian McKellen’s tour when he swung by Liverpool on Friday night and I had a good two hours to kill between work and heading over to the theatre so I camped out in Pret and read some of the Brick. I’m glad I did because it meant I’m here, on Sunday afternoon, not as stressed as normal whilst I frantically try to catch up with my reading.


Recap of Volume Three: Marius

The last volume finished on a potentially optimistic note: Valjean had firmly become a Fauchelevent and he and Cosette were semi-safely cloistered (literally) in a convent, so it wouldn’t be ridiculous to presume that we’re setting up for Valjean to have yet another miraculous transformation in Paris. Speaking of Paris, the volume opens with ‘Paris Atomized’, that is to say, Victor Hugo explores the city of Paris of the time through the figure of the gamin, the street urchin, which he says expresses the city and the city expresses the world. Although these semi-digressions have absolutely nothing to do with the story itself, I kind of love getting lost in Hugo’s prose when he talks about Paris.

Hugo refocuses his attention to one particular gamin, Gavroche, whose parents deserted him to the streets but whom he still goes home to visit, at number 50-52, the Gorbeau building. Because Hugo never reveals a number of a prisoner or house without it being important, it’s safe to assume the building and its occupants (the wretchedly poor Jondrette family and a very poor young man named M. Marius) will be vitally important to the rest of the tale.

This is where the narrative takes a detour, however, to the character of M. Gillenormand who is one of those “grand bourgeois” sorts that this section of the book is named after. Basically he’s very rich and pompous and he doesn’t bother to let his servants have their own names – he calls all the female servants Nicolette, presumably so he doesn’t have to bother remembering more than one name. I think saying that tells you everything you would need to know about the man. He had two wives by whom he had a daughter each, one of whom remained unmarried and kept his home for him and the other of whom married (for love) a soldier who had served at Austerlitz and made a colonel at Waterloo, something Gillenormand considers a disgrace to his family. Despite all this, he took in his grandson from this union and the quiet little boy could often be seen trailing M. Gillenormand at church.

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Avengers Readathon 2019 | Wrap Up

If you saw my previous sign up & TBR post, you will have seen that, despite taking part in the month-long OWLs Readathon in April, I decided last-minute to also take part in the Avengers Readathon. Taking place between 14th April to the 14th May, the readathon was hosted by Noura from The Perks of Being Noura. I was a little sad to realise that I only discovered the readathon just before it started otherwise I would have tried to better calibrate my two readathon TBR to fully commit to this readathon too. Still I was determined to at least complete one of the Avengers’ character missions, and set out my TBR in my sign up post to focus on the prompts for Thor. Even though I devised this TBR with all confidence, I ended up actually changing a few of the books mid-readathon. Quelle surprise!

avengersreadathon_thor

Norse Mythology: mythology book
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell

Thor: Book with one word title
Jackaby by William Ritter

Thor & Loki: book with siblings
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

(1 of Iron Man’s assignments) Tony’s Suit: book with a red cover
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

(1 of Doctor Strange’s assignments) Master Sorcerer: book with magic/symbols
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Personally I’m quite surprised I managed to organise it to read enough to fulfil the challenges for the Avengers Readathon after already having fixed on a TBR for the OWLs Readathon. Although I wished I could have taken part more in the readathon (especially on social media and interacting with other participants), I’m still glad I managed to take part in a small way. Plus, I got to read some fantastic books too and that’s all that matters in the end!

Did you take part in the readathon? Or is it something you’d like to take part in if it happened again? (I know I would!) What have you been reading lately?


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Les Misérables Readalong | Week Two: Cosette #MiserablesMay

Bonjour mes amis et bienvenue à la deuxième semaine de #MiserablesMay! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, long story short: I decided reading Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in the space of the month of May would be a good idea. (I was wrong.) If you’re curious about the intended weekly schedule and organisation of this, be sure to check out my announcement post or the post of my co-host Liz.

miserablesmay

Last week was something of a challenge. Due to the bank holiday on the Monday I felt suitably lazy to kick off the week… which is never a good thing when you’re on a tight schedule! Then, on Saturday both Liz and I’s day was entirely taken up by a trip to London to see a couple of shows (Hamilton again which was fantastic as always and Betrayal which was surprisingly enjoyable!) so the entire day was spent driving to/from Milton Keynes, getting the train into Central London, watching two theatre productions, and then doing the same journey in reverse. It meant we didn’t get home until the early hours of Sunday and though I thoroughly enjoyed the day, it meant Sunday was a little bit skew-whiff too since I woke up later than I ordinarily would and was tired so didn’t really want to pick up Les Misérables as a relaxing Sunday afternoon read! All this is to say this post comes to you a day late for all these reasons, as I’ve only just caught up. But, still, caught up I have so let’s have a look at where Volume Two took us…


Recap of Volume Two: Cosette

We left the last volume on a suitably depressing note: on Fantine’s death. This volume, optimistically titled Cosette, suggests that her daughter may just fare a little better than her mother did. True to form though, the volume doesn’t open with what it says on the proverbial tin – instead, we’re treated to a 50+ page breakdown of the Battle of Waterloo. I kid you not. Now, I don’t know how, but Victor Hugo made me not care at all about a distinctly important battle. Throughout the entire thing I must have muttered ‘but why do I care? I don’t cARE’ so many times that I actually lost count. Genuinely. I was going to do a funny ‘number of times I muttered why do I care’ counter… and then the counter broke. Much like my experience with War and Peace, the war bits were distinctly less interesting that I thought they would be. There’s a reason why long epic battle scenes look so incredible on-screen but are difficult to pull off on the page. Victor Hugo proved that. The only bit I enjoyed hearing about was the (not so surprising) revelation that Thénardier skulked around battle scenes after the fact and stole from the corpses of dying soldiers. Classy af. Basically, he tries to steal a ring from a not-quite-dead corpse and Hugo bothers to have the dying character tell Thénardier his name so he will become Important I’m sure. (Ok, ok, I already know it’s Pontmercy, which is Marius’ surname so the revelatory family connection isn’t going to be so revelatory when I finally get to it.)

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Review | Jackaby by William Ritter

jackabyTitleJackaby (2014)
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Read: 4th – 10th May 2019
Genre: YA fantasy; historical; mystery
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local authorities–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–seem adamant to deny.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Down the TBR Hole #32

Welcome folks to the thirty-second round of Down the TBR Hole! For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the previous posts via the tag or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

Why is it there? The entire concept of the book intrigues me: Medelsund is a book jacket designer and the book considers how we visualise images whilst reading books such as Anna Karenina or Moby Dick. How people visualise characters and scenes differently to other readers and perhaps how the author even intended it is kinda odd but I think it would be interesting to read a book about it?
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Keep

2. The Accidental by Ali Smith

Why is it there? I’ve never read Ali Smith. I don’t know where to start when trying Ali Smith’s writing but I picked up this novel at a charity shop so it made its way onto my shelves and so onto my Goodreads TBR. Is this a good place to start this her books? Enlighten me if you’ve read her!
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

3. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Why is it there? I actually know next to nothing about this book, it’s a historical… fantasy, I think? I’m not sure but I actually don’t know how it got onto my TBR in the first place so this is an easy one.. Convince me I’m wrong?
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

4. Blackout by Connie Willis

Why is it there? I think this has something to do with time travel and WWII and that’s about all I know/remember. As far as I can see, no one I know on Goodreads has read it, and the reviews on there aren’t too great either so yikes…
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

5. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Why is it there? A while back you couldn’t move on Booktube or the book blogging world for reviews of this, a historical fiction set in WWII about a Lithuanian family. Aaand that’s pretty much all I know about it. I’m told it’s harrowing… which is what will probably make me constantly put off reading this. (I know, I’m a terrible person for wanting to ditch this.)
Do I own it? No
Verdict? 
Ditch

6. Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood by Kathryn Sutherland

Why is it there? This is another one of those books that I probably added to my Goodreads TBR when I optimistically still thought I’d be reading critical analysis and academic essay collections even after leaving university. That delusion has quickly shattered and I no longer have such a huge yearning to get to this anytime soon.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

7. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Why is it there? I don’t know how I came to know about this book, much less feel compelled to add it to my TBR, so I presume I was taken in by the gorgeous cover. Sounds like a reasonable explanation. However, I haven’t seen any particularly glowing reviews for it and although it’s allegedly “an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self” I’m just not gripped by the prospect of that? I’m clearly quite picky when it comes to literary fiction…
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

8. The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Why is it there? Will I ever get around to trying out a Michel Faber book? I don’t even know if I’m likely to enjoy them. However, when I’ve looked into this particular book I’m told it’s light on the sci-fi detail and actually focuses on themes about marriage, religion and humanity and I’m just… that doesn’t really grab me?
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

9. Prudence by Gail Carriger

Why is it there? I put this book on my TBR shelf when I first read Soulless, the first book in Gail Carriger’s adult series. I’ve actually never read further than that first book so it seems a bit optimistic of me to put the first book in a different series on my TBR too!
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

10. The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

Why is it there? This book first came across my radar because of the incredibly colourful cover and the name – I loved Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World when I read it as part of a university course and I presume this book is somewhat based on/inspired by that? It’s basically because of that that this survives the chop this time, even though I very rarely ever prioritise literary fiction, oops.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Keep


This round:
Kept – 3
Ditched – 7

Overall:
Kept – 155
Ditched – 165

That’s all folks for the thirty-second round of my Down the TBR Hole project. I’ve become a lot more cutthroat nowadays with getting rid of books from this Goodreads TBR shelf, but it’s still at 670 books so I foresee many more rounds in the future.

But have I made a terrible mistake in ditching some of these titles? Or have I kept some that really aren’t worth my time? Let me know in the comments below!


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Les Misérables Readalong | Week One: Fantine #MiserablesMay

Bonjour mes amis et bienvenue à la première semaine de #MiserablesMay! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, long story short: I decided reading Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in the space of the month of May would be a good idea. (I was wrong.) If you’re curious about the intended weekly schedule and organisation of this, be sure to check out my announcement post or the post of my co-host Liz.

miserablesmay

Now, week one was always going to be a challenge; my desire to basically separate the book via May’s Monday-Sunday chunks meant that I had to read an entire volume of the book’s five-volume story in the space of five days. When that volume amounts to some 300 pages, that’s no easy feat, but I hoped the excitement of starting the book would encourage me to read. Reader, I won’t lie to you, it didn’t quite work out that way but I knew I had a long weekend (thank you, UK bank holiday) to catch up if needs be. And that’s exactly what I did. But now, let’s talk about the story of volume one, shall we?


Recap of Volume One: Fantine

Volume One: Fantine does not start with the eponymous woman; instead, Victor Hugo’s epic novel starts with the figure of Monsieur Myriel, known as the Bishop of Digne by 1806, and situates this first section in the year 1815. From the very outset the author takes time and (many) words to tell us that even someone as upright and pious as a bishop may have rumours following them, whether true or not. But,  very quickly, these rumours fall away as Monsieur Myriel quickly proves himself worthy of the nickname Monsieur Bienvenu. It may seem overkill to start listing the good bishop’s household expenses but Victor Hugo goes out of his (and the readers’) way to have it be known, in no uncertain terms, just how Truly Good the Bishop of Digne is. He has a wobbly moment when he talks to an old, dying man, an ex-member of the National Convention (someone the rest of the countryside deems a monster, obviously), but within the space of a chapter the bishop comes to understand the old man’s point of view and admonishes himself for his previous ill-natured thoughts, asking only for his blessing before the man dies before him.

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Wrap Up | April 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my April Wrap Up! April saw the dawning of the first bit of the Magical Readathon for 2019: the OWLs Readathon. Because of the readathon I got a lot of books read and I’m actually really proud of everything I managed to read this past month because I enjoyed pretty much all of it. Taking part in this readathon is always fun because G, the host, is SO extra and puts so much extra little bits and pieces into the readathon to make it feel truly magical and bring all the participants together as a community. Speaking of readathons, I also found out late in the game about the Avengers Readathon so obviously I’m taking part in that too, in a more low-key way.

Speaking of the Avengers, April was also important for one very good reason – Avengers Endgame, the culmination of over 10 years of the MCU. To be honest, I’m still processing what happened in the film and I’ll probably need to rewatch it a good few times before I can decide what I thought about everything. I wish I could write a blog post about it but, to be honest, it’s hard to sum up that many years of films and emotions even slightly concisely. It sounds like an exaggeration but when I thought about it, the MCU films have been basically the main/only films I’ve seen in the cinema for the past 8 or so years so, you know, it’s been an important part of my consumption of culture and entertainment and that’s a lot to take in.

May brings the very first readalong I’ve ever hosted: we’re reading Les Misérables in a month (hopefully anyway) so be sure to check out #MiserablesMay and join in if you’re interested! But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s take a look at my reading in April:


In April, I read a total of 13 books 13 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 4320 pages in total.

In terms of format: 4 were hardbackwas a paperbackwere ebooks, and was an eARC.

As for genre, was fantasy, 4 were YA fantasywere contemporary/romancewere graphic novels1 was drama, and was historical fiction.

Onto the books themselves…

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OWLs Readathon 2019 | Week Four Progress

Hello my fellow witches and wizards! I hope you’re all doing well. This week I’ve yet again been working very hard on revising for my OWL exams.

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about and think I might have finally cracked and started hallucinating about going to a fictional wizarding school, don’t worry, it’s just a Harry Potter/Wizarding World readathon but hey, let’s make like Disney World and protect character integrity, shall we?)

If you saw my earlier entry about my revision schedule or you saw my week onemy week two or my week three progress updates, you will have seen that I’m studying hard because, once I graduate, I want to be a Hogwarts Professor, specifically teaching Charms. There are specific OWL and NEWT exams I will have to take to fulfil this dream so I thought, to keep me accountable, I’d do periodic weekly updates of how my studying is going! This is going to be my last weekly update, since we only have a few days left of the readathon/exam preparation but my monthly wrap up will basically be the final word on how I did with the readathon/my exams! For now though, here’s where I’m at, at this present moment in time:

OWL Requirements for Hogwarts Professor

Must pass 7 O.W.L.s in total:
A subject you wish to teach
Defence Against the Dark Arts
+ 5 additional subjects of your choice

TBR – Prerequisites 

✓ Charms – Age-line: read an adult work
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

✓ Defence Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: title starts with an “R”
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

✓ Arithmancy – work written by more than one author
Shades of Magic: Vol. 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab

✓ Astronomy – “star” in the title
The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford Smith

✓ History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago
Betrayal by Harold Pinter

✓ Potions – Next ingredient: sequel
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

✓ Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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So I’ve officially passed all the necessary requirements (at least at OWL level) to become a Hogwarts Professor once I’ve finished school – yay! But, because I’m making like Hermione Granger and trying to get a full set of exams (because why not be an overachiever, right?), I also have been “studying” for many additional subjects too and I’m curious to see if I can finish off my revision in the remaining days of the readathon/month:

TBR – Extras

Ancient Runes – Retelling
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

✓ Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on cover
Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

✓ Divination – Set in future
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

✓ Herbology – Plant on cover
These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

✓ Muggle Studies – Contemporary
Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren

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In these dying breaths of the readathon, I just need to finish a book which is a retelling. Now, I could be a diligent student and read A Thousand Ships, as planned, or even one of my backup books (A Curse So Dark and Lonely or To Kill a Kingdom), or I could be a bad student, take a shortcut, and read a much shorter book, in the form of Odd and the Frost Giants which is kind of a retelling. Only time (i.e. the last couple of days of April) will tell.

Have you been taking part in the OWLs/Magical Readathon this year? How have you done so far? Even if you’re not participating, let me know what you have been reading this week because I’d love to know. Leave a comment below!


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