Les Misérables Readalong | Announcement & Schedule #MiserablesMay

Hello lovelies! Today I come to you with the announcement of a readalong I plan to host next month in May (along with co-host Liz from Travel in Retrospect)- reading Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables! I hope some of you will want to join me in tackling this classic book but as it is known (mostly fondly) as The Brick, I also understand any misgivings you may have! My job in this post is to convince you that reading along with me whilst I tackle this beast of a book sounds fun and also manageable. Let’s get to it…

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Review | Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

redwhiteandroyalblueTitleRed, White & Royal Blue (2019)
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 14th May 2019
Read: 19th – 20th April
Genre: LGBTQIA; romance; contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic. (Synopsis from publisher)

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OWLs Readathon 2019 | Week Three 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 one or my week two 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!

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

owls2019_2

You may have seen in my last post that I decided to make like Hermione Granger and be an overachiever? So there’s also some other books I’ve been working on, aside from my “priority” TBR.

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
Scythe by Neal Schusterman Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
(I changed my mind since I’m not a huge sci-fi reader and I was always thinking I’d struggle with this challenge. As I started to read Red, White, and Royal Blue I realised from the time-stamped emails that it’s set in 2020… which makes this book definitely set in the (very near) future. So I’m counting it for this challenge instead. Cop out? Eh, only slightly…)

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

✓ Muggle Studies – Contemporary
Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren

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So, I seem to be doing pretty well with my studies. I just need to finish off a couple of books/subjects and I’ll be well on my way to overachieving just like Hermione Granger. It will also mean my options are kept wide open for the NEWTs examinations later in the year which can’t be a bad thing. Wish me luck with the remaining two books?

Are you taking part in the OWLs/Magical Readathon this year? How are you doing 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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Avengers Readathon 2019 | (Belated) Sign Up & TBR

So, I did something ill-advised… I decided to join in with (yet) another readathon. I went back and forth on whether I was taking part in this when I found out about it 1 day into the readathon itself. In fact, I sternly told myself ‘no, Emma, one readathon at a time, concentrate on OWLs’ but I’m nothing if not indecisive so I changed my mind when I saw friend and housemate Liz post her TBR to her blog. So I’m doing this readathon too now apparently.

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The Avengers Readathon is hosted by Noura from The Perks of Being Noura and it is taking place from 14th April until 14th May. (For more details, especially on the challenges, be sure to check out Noura’s blog.) I’m a little bit late in posting up this TBR but, handily, the books I’ve read in the past week or so still count towards some of the prompts from this readathon anyway so I’m counting them.

As you may be able to tell from the readathon title, this is a readathon centred on the MCU. Since we’re eagerly (/worriedly) anticipating Avengers Endgame this readathon can be a nice distraction from the Thanos-filled terror for a little while at least. As my own journey with the MCU began back in 2011 with the first Thor film I decided it would be remiss of me to choose any other character’s assignments to follow other than the Asgardian himself (although Captain Marvel sure did tempt me!) so here’s my TBR for the readathon:

avengersreadathon_thor

Norse Mythology: mythology book
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Thor: Book with one word title
Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

If I somehow manage to finish all these books (which I hope I do because the majority also appear on my OWLs TBR!), I’ll move onto a different characters’ assignments. It would be fitting to continue onto Loki’s challenges (especially since he’s, unsurprisingly, my fave MCU character), but we’ll see how it goes…

Are you doing the Avengers Readathon? Which characters’ assignments have you chosen to follow? If you’re not taking part in the readathon, still let me know what you’re planning to read in the next few weeks because I’m curious/nosy!


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Down the TBR Hole #31

Welcome folks to the thirty-first 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. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Why is it there? You know when you go through a political philosophy course at university and you ambitiously think you’ll probably read all the set texts, well, this is one of those. Not only did I not read it (despite it being well under 100 pages), I didn’t feel like any Marxist critique applied in a literature essay really needed to have read the source material because it has become so ubiquitous anyway. (What probably helped this onto my TBR was that this, and some of the following books, were part of a series called Penguin Great Ideas and they were available in cute, handy little paperbacks.)
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

2. The Social Contract by Rousseau

Why is it there? See above tbh.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

3. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

Why is it there? See above.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

4. Of the Abuse of Words by John Locke

Why is it there? See above.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

5. The Spectacle of the Scaffold by Michel Foucault

Why is it there? See above.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? 
Ditch

6. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Why is it there? I was somewhat puzzled by how this random YA book had ended up on my TBR until I went on Goodreads and realised it’s a favourite of Booktuber extraordinaire, Ariel Bisett. Now I’m not altogether surprised it’s on my ‘to read’ list, but, having actually looked what it is about, I’m not sure I’m really into it any more. Happy to be convinced I’m wrong if anyone wants to take on the task.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

7. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver

Why is it there? I had an unfortunate tendency to add anything ex-Booktuber Barry Pierce was reading and vaguely recommended. (It’s still a source of great sadness that he’s no longer blessing YouTube with his cuttingly insightful reviews.) But I’m still yet to get to this short story collection which he recommended, largely because I’m not the hugest fan of short stories so it takes something really special to make me prioritise reading them over other things.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

8. Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Why is it there? Catherine Doyle is one of those authors I’ve seen on many an author’s Instagram and Twitter, I think she hangs around in the same UK/Irish YA crowd that I’m vaguely familiar with from their social media interactions at the very least. Unfortunately, I’m yet to even think about reading this, the first book in her ‘Blood for Blood’ series which is described as Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather which sounds very accurate from just this one line of the synopsis: “Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families”. Unfortunately, I don’t ever really see me being super inclined to prioritise this one on my TBR so I think it might be time to say goodbye?
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

9. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Why is it there? I’ve never read any Joan Didion, which is pretty much why it’s there, but I presume Barry Pierce also recommended it at some point. Have I read it? Nope. Have I even thought about reading it? Nope. I really must stop doing this.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

10. Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines by Samantha Hahn

Why is it there? I find it interesting when fellow readers fancast their characters, especially so when who they have been picturing in their head whilst reading a book seems vastly different to who I’ve been picturing in my head whilst reading the book. So, this book seems right up my street. It looks to be a really stunningly illustrated book and it has 50 portraits of well-known heroines from literature, from Mrs Dalloway to Anna Karenina. I’m really intrigued to see how Samantha Hahn has chosen to depict these infamous literary figures in her portraits, and to see if they are how I also pictured them. I’m not sure how I will ever acquire this book since it seems the ‘coffee table’/’gift edition’ sort, but I guess I’ll have to see if I can persuade a relative or friend to gift me it one birthday or Christmas.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Keep


This round:
Kept – 1
Ditched – 9

Overall:
Kept – 152
Ditched – 158

That’s all folks for the thirty-first round of my Down the TBR Hole project. I’m struggling more and more nowadays to ditch books, but maybe that means I’m starting to get to down to the books I actually do want to read without the extraneous titles? We can live in hope, anyhow, because I still have a hell of a lot of books on my TBR so let’s hope I never fall out of love with reading as my TBR currently stands at 678 books!

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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Review | The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

prioryTitleThe Priory of the Orange Tree (2019)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Read: 3rd – 28th March 2019
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens. The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door. Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic. Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep. (Synopsis from publisher)

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OWLs Readathon 2019 | Week Two 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 one progress update, 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!

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

owls2019_week1

Since I’m going to be away for a week at Easter to visit family, I decided to hold off on prioritising Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising since I have audiobooks and ebooks of both of those (as well as paperbacks… I’m obsessed, what can I say?) and I can easily pick them up when I’m at my parents’ house. This meant I needed something else to read though, and this is how I’ve ended up straying into doing “revision” for other subjects too. I guess you could say that, if given the chance at Hogwarts, I’d probably be an overachiever like Hermione Granger and want to study ALL THE THINGS. So that’s how I’ve read a couple of books that aren’t even on my priority TBR:

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
Scythe by Neal Schusterman

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

✓ Muggle Studies – Contemporary
Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren

owls2019_extra.png

Are you taking part in the OWLs/Magical Readathon this year? How are you doing 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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OWLs Readathon 2019 | Week One Progress

Hello my fellow witches and wizards! I hope you’re all doing well. This week I’ve 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 and careers aspirations, 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!

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

✓ 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

owls2019_week1

As you can see, so far I’m off to a flying start with my OWLs revision; I’ve managed to tackle studying for 5 out of the 7 exams I will be sitting. I’d call that a success, wouldn’t you? So much so, I’m starting to entertain the overachiever part of my personality that is saying I should look at maybe taking some extra exams. However, I still need to complete the all important obligatory subject of Defence Against the Dark Arts but, as Ruin and Rising is the third book in a trilogy, I’ll first need to read the second book/study for my Potions exam! Once those are done I’m going to speak to Professor McGonagall and see if I am allowed to sit any extra exams than the ones I originally signed up for – shall we see how that goes? Wish me luck?

Are you taking part in the OWLs/Magical Readathon this year? How are you doing 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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My 2019 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

Sometimes, I make resolutions/goals for the year. Mainly so I have something to write in the front of my bullet journal. Sometimes I succeed at them, sometimes I fail (spectacularly), but it’s always nice to have something to aim for and work towards. In recent years I’ve found that doing quarterly check-ins helps to keep me accountable to these aspirationally-set resolutions throughout the year, rather than just panicking and trying to do everything in December. So this is what it says on the tin, folks, this is a check-in of how I’m doing at my 2019 Resolutions after the first three months of the year.

ENTERTAINMENT GOALS

1. Read the 5 books on my ‘Books I Didn’t Get To In 2018’ list

Sooo, starting off strong, I’ve read precisely 0/5 books on this list so far. Good job, Emma, you’re doing really well with these resolutions already. I wish I could say this will change in quarter 2 but, let’s be real here, I’ll probably rush to finish those 5 books off in the final quarter of 2019.

2. Read at least 1 classic each month from my Classics Club list

To date I’ve read exactly 1 classic in 2019, and even that was waaaay  back at the start of January when I was full of aspirations about my reading. Since then I haven’t properly thought about including at least 1 classic on my monthly TBR so I’m majorly slacking on this goal. I will catch up though, I’m determined.

Anyone fancy buddy reading something that’s on my Classics Club list? Hmu!

3. Read at least 1 non-fiction book each month

Surprise, surprise, just like I’ve been ignoring the ‘put 1 classic a month on your TBR’ goal, I’ve also been ignoring this one too. In fact, I haven’t finished any non-fiction books this year. I’ve started them, sure, on audio I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Dolly Alderton’s What I Know About Love – the tone of the latter is super irritating me so I’m likely to DNF that, but the former I was really enjoying so I need to get back on my audiobook game and pick it up again!

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Wrap Up | March 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my March Wrap Up!

Two important and entirely unrelated events happened in March – Captain Marvel was released and I went to hear V.E. Schwab speak at Waterstones in Liverpool. Both of these things were awesome and experiences that I wish I could repeat. On the one hand, Captain Marvel was amazing – from its nineties-heavy soundtrack to Brie Larson kicking ass and doing it FOR HERSELF (not to prove anything to anyone, let alone a dude), I loved everything about it. And, on the other hand, hearing V speak about her writing process was great – she’s always so inspiring and this talk/signing was no exception. I made sure to get my unsigned books of hers signed too and let her pick her favourite of the Illumicrate ADSOM character tarot cards to sign – she picked Holland, for those who are curious!

Moving onto other bookish things, how did March’s reading go? Well, it was an odd sort of reading month as I felt like I was in something of a slump even though I know that, deep down, I was doing pretty well, I just happened to be reading reasonably long fantasy books. Considering the ratings I ended up giving these books I read, it’s clear to see that I was reading some really brilliant books too so I couldn’t be too disheartened by how long it seemed to take me to finish a couple of them. I was also very aware that the Magical Readathon and Camp NaNoWriMo were both on the horizon in April so I didn’t want to tire myself out with reading and writing too much in March.

But before looking to the future, let’s look at March in more detail, shall we?


In March, I read a total of 4 books 4 fiction and non-fiction – and was a re-read (marked by *). This amounted to 2267 pages in total.

In terms of format: 2 were hardbackwas a paperback, and was an ebook.

As for genre, were fantasy and was a historical fantasy.

Onto the books themselves…

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