Better two weeks late than never? I really enjoyed the O.W.L.s Readathon so even if it is super late, I wanted to wrap up so that I could pick back up with the N.E.W.T.s in August!
In the end, I passed 8 O.W.L.s, which I’m super pleased with! Exceeded Expectations isn’t too shabby 🙂 I had to change up my TBR mid-month as my original pile proved a little ambitious but even so I’m happy with what I read, not least because there were books I picked up that I really enjoyed that I’d had on my shelves for years.
Potions – Read a sequel – Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
I flipping loved this one. I read the first book in the trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, last year and liked it but was a bit lukewarm about the romance thread. The series features some pretty kick-ass angels and a war between them and the chimaera (the ‘demons’ of the world). I really like that Taylor is playing around with good and evil and all of the grey areas in between and her world building is just incredible. Surprisingly for a middle book in a trilogy, this was actually stronger than the first and I can’t wait to see how the series wraps up soon.
Defence Against the Dark Arts – Read a book with a title beginning with ‘R’ – Reckless by Cornelia Funke
This was a bit of an odd one. I’ve had it on my shelves for about 4 years without realising that it’s translated fiction, fitting this read neatly into my goal to read more translated fiction this year. In some ways, this was beautiful – it has a whimsical fairytale feel to it, set in a world reached through a mirror that is full of fairies and other magical creatures. The plot was a little bit too runaway for me in the end though. It follows Jacob trying to find a cure for his cursed brother and it barrels wildly through encounters with man-eating creatures, jealous fairies, dragons and cottages belonging to carnivorous witches. It’s easy reading and fun in a way but just a bit off the wall.
History of Magic – Read a book published at least 10 years ago – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Another one that I really enjoyed! I actually wrote a full review of this one so won’t say too much here. It made me cry and I can absolutely see why it’s generally regarded as a sci-fi classic.
Charms – Read an adult novel – The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson
This was where I went off script. I’m not usually a short story fan but I am a Shirley Jackson fan so thought it was worth a shot. There are three short stories in this Penguin Modern mini and I kind of liked two and think I was missing something on the other. At less than 60 pages, it’s probably handy if you want to try out Jackson’s style but I wasn’t blown away.
Divination – Read a book set in the future – Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
I was expecting more from this than I ended up getting, unfortunately. It’s set in a future where abortions have become illegal and women are arrested for either having one, performing one or even attempting to have or perform one. The novel follows a few different characters – a pregnant teenager, a miserable wife, a woman who is desperate to have a baby and a woman who performs abortions (among other things). I liked some narratives more than others, which meant that there were whole sections that I eventually just stopped enjoying. The wife in particular drove me bonkers. It makes some fascinating points about what it is to be a woman and what defines what a woman is but it’s a little bit off as a novel.
Herbology – Read a book with a plant on the cover – The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
This was a huge book in 2016 and everybody seemed to love it. Now I really liked it a lot but I didn’t quite love it. The writing is gorgeous and the characters are excellently developed and balanced but (and I do hate to say this) it was a bit dry in places. It felt just a bit too long to me. Cara, a newly widowed young woman, moves to the country and meets William, a pastor in a small village congregation. The story of their relationship is charming and I’m always there for a story of women in Victorian England trying to live independently. It’s not one for you if you’re all about pace and action but it’s absolutely worth a read.
Transfiguration – Read a book with sprayed edges or a red cover – Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: Essays by various women collated by Scarlett Curtis
The older I get, the more I find myself identifying as a feminist. This book (with delightfully pink end sprayed edges) is a collection of essays, poems and other writings from a whole host of women about what being a feminist means to them. There are some that are hilarious, some that are so inspiring and others that are moving. I read it throughout the month, picking it up for half an hour here or there, and every time I picked it up, I found myself feeling uplifted and really positive. It’s a great collection and one I think should be required reading for young girls and women.
Muggle Studies – Contemporary – Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
This wasn’t on my original TBR but I borrowed it from the library and it fits into this prompt so bonus! I haven’t read a poetry collection since I was about 17 but I heard a lot about this one last year and I was curious to give one a try. I wasn’t prepared for how genuinely emotional I’d find reading it. Danez Smith is a gay black man who is HIV positive and his writing is unflinchingly direct, raw and hugely impactive. It’s absolutely for adult readers but I’d really recommend it if you’re not usually a poetry reader but fancy giving some a try.
What have you been reading recently? Let’s chat in the comments!