N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon | TBR

Let the NEWTs commence!

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently, but there’s nothing better than a readathon and challenges to kick me into gear. Enter Book Roast’s NEWTS readathon.

So, my soft goal is to go for Hogwarts Professor, with will mean reading 7 books. That’s super manageable if I’m in a normal mood, but on par for my reading recently. I’ll focus on Transfiguration exams, but also include Potions and Charms exams. (For the full list of challenges and other details, check out Book Roast’s list here.

But if I get my ~groove~ back soon, I’ll shoot for the stars 🌌 and attempt earning enough NEWTs to be an Alchemist (aka reading 19 books).

But for this TBR’s purposes, I’m going with the Hogwarts Professor path:

Into the TBR!

Transfiguration

Book with Queer Rep: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Book in a Series: The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang

Book over 500 pages: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

Potions

Book that’s a friend’s favorite: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Book that’s black under the dust jacket: Packing For Mars by Mary Roach

Book that First Comes to Mind: TBD

Charms

Book with a Beautiful Cover: Rosewater by Tade Thompson


So, let the reading begin! Are you participating in the NEWTs readathon? What career are you working toward?

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kay Howard | Mini book review

I judged a book by its cover, and unfortunately got exactly what was coming to me, if not what I was expecting.

An Unkindness of Magicians follows a competition among the underground magicians of New York City. This time around the competition that determines which house rules the Unseen World has come years early, and it comes at a time when magic starts going wrong. The power is fading. And we follow multiple magicians as they compete, some trying to maintain control and others who want to see the status quo crumble.

This sounds like an EPIC story right? A mix of the deadly consequences in the Triwizard Tournament of Harry Potter, the intrigue of the game in The Night Circus, and the magical atmosphere of the Element Games in A Gathering of Shadows. But boy did it not deliver.

This story suffered in terms of pacing, in terms of writing style and in terms of development. There’s nothing wrong with dropping readers in the middle of a story and expecting them to learn the stakes and about the world as you go along. But there is something wrong when a reader walks away from what was supposed to be the resolution of the main conflict and thinking “That’s it? That SENTENCE is what we get on this battle?”

There was a lot of potential here. The bits of the world that the author actually developed were fascinating and original. I really loved the dark nature of some of the characters and the secret of what was happening to the magic. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the plot was completely surface level. It felt like a story pitch to an editor rather than a final product. I so wish this story was put in the hands of a better writer.

So goodbye, beautiful book. You will soon be rehomed to the nearest Little Free Library.

What was the last book that you were disappointed by?

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler | Mini book review

I would say what characterizes my read of Kindred the most is the looming threat. This historical fiction (with fantasy elements) starts with its main character Dana having lost her arm. You don’t know how, other than the fact it happened “the last time she went home.” But quickly, once the main story gets underway, that looming threat of disfigurement is replaced with the bigger threat: life as a Black woman in the Antebellum South. That looming threat provides a great tension that really pushes you through the rest of the story.

Octavia Butler manages to explore a lot of themes through the fear of these threats, both big and small. She looks at mixed-race relationship dynamics, and how they both view this old world in different ways based on their lived experiences (both in race and gender). She looks at Dana’s guilt: for being able to escape, for feeling compassion for her slave-owning ancestor, for not being able to help everyone. These were all really interesting things to explore through the lens of a modern (to 1976) Black woman.

The one aspect I haven’t settled my feelings on yet is the style and whether it completely worked for me. The straightforward writing style made for a quick moving plot. Every time something terrible would happen, there was no lingering over its existence — the story simply moved on (because in the Antebellum South, you had to). You feel the trauma of the story through its ramifications on the plot. I think that part works. But at times that same matter-of-factness felt like a distancing from the characters and an unsubtle play on the themes.

I’ve read that, while this was among her first novels, her style holds throughout the rest of her work. So it’ll be interesting to see how she adapts it to work in the context of telling longer and more imaginative stories in her later sci-fi series.

Overall, I enjoyed my reading of Kindred (as much as you can enjoy such a dark story) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and I’m glad I finally started on Octavia Butler’s work. I think my next will likely be Parable of the Sower before moving on to Lilith’s Brood. Have you read any other Octavia E. Butler books? I’d love to know your favorites!

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden | Mini review

WTF did I just read? 3.5 Stars ⭐️, rounding up.

The first description that comes to mind with this book is fever dream, but given the hallucinogenic drugs in here I’ll change that to acid trip. This is one hell of an acid trip of a book.

The Prey of Gods is a sci-fi/fantasy story set in a future South Africa. You follow a bunch of different characters from a young girl coming into new abilities, a delightfully ruthless demi goddess trying to reclaim power, and several characters who experience a new hallucinogen sweeping the country.

To start with what I love is how much humor and different tricks to the tropes that Nicky Drayden accomplished. Her characters and her mix of storylines were some of the most original I’ve ever read.

That being said, it sometimes reads like 6 separate short stories that the author just set in the same place and time. When she starts to combine them, things get a bit messy. Several times in the second half I found myself thinking “wait, what? What’s happening? Did I miss something??” I think this could’ve easily been longer or split into separate books to try to sort everything out.

All that being said, I loved all the disparate parts of this mix of science fiction and fantasy. I just wish the execution was a bit more polished. And I’m eager to see what the author does next.

Magic 2.0 Series Review (so far) | Sunday in Review

Synopsis: Magic 2.0 is a comic science-fiction/fantasy series of books written by Scott Meyer. The series so far consists of five novels, the first being Off To Be the Wizard. The series follows Martin Banks, a programmer from 2012, who uses a computer file that allows him to alter reality to time travel to medieval England where he joins a community of other computer programmers posing as wizards.

My history with this series goes back to hearing Book Roast talk about reading the first book nearly a year ago. At the time I searched my libraries and none of them had a copy, so it stayed on my Goodreads To-Read shelf, perhaps to be forgotten. But I finally got my chance when I saw Scribd had the first 3 books on audio, which I read in August, and I got the latest two books on Audible, which I finished up this weekend.

Continue reading “Magic 2.0 Series Review (so far) | Sunday in Review”

WWW Wednesday | Weekly Wrap Up

I saw this type of post of From Cover to Cover and thought, what a great way to do a weekly wrap up. After doing my massive August wrap up I knew I needed a more frequent wrap up schedule, and this is just perfect. It’s WWW Wednesday, a tag hosted on Taking on a World of Words It’s easy to do, just answer the three questions below!

This first post I’ll be wrapping up the first two weeks of September, and then I’ll be weekly going forward. Into the wrap up!

Continue reading “WWW Wednesday | Weekly Wrap Up”