Posted in dewey's 24 hour readathon, readathon, reading, reading challenge

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: October 2018

This is my third go at this readathon. I’m shooting for the stars today in terms of sheer words consumed!

Getting to Know You Survey from the official blog

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Los Angeles! This is my first Readathon in PST and I have to say starting at 0500 instead of 0800 is quite a change.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’m buddy reading this with a bookstagram friend and hoping it will fit into the general spooky vibes of my October TBR.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Leftover chili from last night. Chocolate cat cookies from Trader Joe’s. Probably not at the same time though.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m a novelist, an obsessive reader (and readathon-er; this is my fifth readathon of the month), and an analytical know-it-all. I’m also a bookstagrammer and hoping to be a booktuber Very Soon.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

This is my third Readathon. Last April was super successful, so I’m not sure if I can top that experience, but I’m going to try! This go round I’m attempting to vlog my experience… Which I have never tried before. Yay, new experiences!

My TBR stack and bullet journal spread

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Posted in readathon, reading, reading challenge

Magical Readathon 2018 – O.W.L.s Wrap-Up

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I suspect that I should cease making specific TBR plans altogether as I never seem to follow them! In my last post, I made such a TBR for the O.W.L.s readathon that I completed with a few friends on Instagram, and I basically ignored it. So what did I read? Because of course I managed to pass all 12 of my O.W.L. exams. (I’m totally going to be Head Girl of my year.)

ANCIENT RUNES (Read a book with a symbol on the cover) I read Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. There are hieroglyphics on the cover. 5/5 stars. One of my all-time favorite books since I obtained it at a Scholastic book fair in fifth grade.

ARITHMANCY (Read a book with a number on the cover or in the title) I read The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. 5/5 stars. I loved this reread even more than I was expecting to, and I want to continue on and reread the whole series.

ASTRONOMY (Read a science fiction novel) I read The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. It’s a YA sci-fi novel, although tbh it’s pretty light on the sci-fi. 3/5 stars. It was fun and had a semi-unexpected twist.

CARE OF MAGICAL CREATURES (Read a book with a creature on the cover or magical creatures within) I read Julies of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. 5/5 stars. The first in a trilogy that I loved and reread many, many times when I was a kid. I forgot how sad this first one is. I cried twice before finishing it!

CHARMS (Read a fantasy novel) I read Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang. 4/5 stars. Okay, I slightly fudged this one by reading a very short graphic novel. It was the last thing I finished for the month. But I really wanted that Charms pass! And I need to get on with reading these post-show storylines already.

DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS (Read a book about or featuring secret societies or clubs) I read The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. The kids in it play a secret game where they are ancient Egyptians. 5/5 stars. Another all-time favorite! I LOVE THIS BOOK. READ IT. But seriously. If you ever played “imagination games” as a kid, you need to read this book.

DIVINATION (Read a book featuring prophecies) I read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. A gnome makes a prophecy to the main character early on in this wonderful Cinderella retelling. 5/5 stars. Yet another all-time favorite. I think I might reread this every year of my life from now on. It always makes me so happy.

HERBOLOGY (Read a book with a nature related word in the title) I read Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. 4/5 stars. Beautiful and meditative non-fiction about the sea and the nature of human relationships.

HISTORY OF MAGIC (Read a historical fiction novel) I read The Last Camel Died At Noon by Elizabeth Peters which is the 6th Amelia Peabody novel. It takes place in the Victorian era. 4/5 stars. This was my favorite in the series since the first book. So much happened! And Ramses is becoming my favorite character.

MUGGLE STUDIES (Read a muggle non-fiction book) I read Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick. 4/5  stars. This was extremely enlightening on the topic of infamous American traitor, Benedict Arnold. I loved it.

POTIONS (Read a book about/with alchemy) I read When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. There is a brand of magic in here that is essentially alchemy. 4/5 stars. WOW this book was fascinating and beautiful and unlike anything else I’ve read. Magical realism done right.

TRANSFIGURATION (Read a book with transfiguration/shapeshifting OR read a book with a cat on the cover) I read Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly. There are cats on the cover, and – bonus – the cats have magical powers. 3/5 stars. This is the first in a cozy mystery series with a magical twist. I enjoyed it. Excellent turn-off-your-brain reading.

Passing all 12 exams was not easy. I feel as exhausted as a real 5th year at Hogwarts! But I’ve set myself up for success when I take my N.E.W.T.s later this year. 😉

 

Posted in readathon, reading, reading challenge

Magical Readathon

Have you been listening to the Binge Mode: Harry Potter podcast? If not, get on that! Mallory and Jason are hilarious and I love their adult deep (deep!) dive into the HP universe. Anyway, my boyfriend and I have been listening to them all summer, and particularly during our cross-country road trip a few weeks ago. Travelling from Boston to Los Angeles took awhile, and Binge Mode kept us both laughing (and occasionally tearing up) as we drove. And then I remembered that LilyCReads on Youtube is vlogging her experience of reading Harry Potter for the first time. So I’ve been watching those videos too… All of this is to say that I’ve been in a very Harry Potter frame of mind lately.

Another favorite booktuber of mine, G at Book Roast, put together two amazing Harry Potter themed readathons this year. She made the first one as if you’re taking your O.W.L.s, and then the second is the N.E.W.T.s. So they build off each other because you’re only allowed to take N.E.W.T.s for the O.W.L. subjects you’ve passed. She put so much detail into creating these readathons, and I’ve been super bummed that I missed out on both of them (the O.W.L.s were in April and they just finished up the N.E.W.T.s in August). Here’s her announcement for the first Magical Readathon so you can see what I mean:

I was moping about this when I realized… All of the information is there, so why not just do the readathons myself?? I mentioned it on Twitter and Instagram, and a bunch of people thought it was a great idea and that they’d even be up for trying it themselves. So here we go! I’ll be sitting my O.W.L.s in September and then proceeding on to my N.E.W.T.s in October. Because – why not?

To achieve an Outstanding for the O.W.L.s one must pass at least five subjects. I’m pretty extra when it comes to readathons, so I’m attempting to pass all twelve subjects if I can. And I’m trying to primarily read books I already own on my Kindle to help me clear my ebook TBR.

Here’s my current O.W.L. TBR:

Ancient Runes | Read a book with a symbol on the cover | Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Arithmancy Read a book with a number on the cover or in the title 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

AstronomyRead a science fiction novelThe Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James <– I’ve already finished this one! 3/5 stars

Care of Magical CreaturesRead a book that includes magical creatures or has a creature on the cover The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (dragon on the cover)

CharmsRead a fantasy novel | I haven’t settled on one yet as I have a boatload that could work for this. Possibly Destined a By the Fates novella by Patricia D. Eddy.

Defense Against the Dark ArtsRead a book about/featuring secret societies/clubs Blood-Stained Tea by Amy Tasukada (features the Yakuza)

DivinationRead a book featuring propheciesThe Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Herbology Read a book with a nature related word in the titleThornfruit by Felicia Davin

History of MagicRead a historical fiction book | I have a bunch for this too. Right now I’m considering: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, Justine by Lawrence Durrell, or Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian.

Muggle Studies Read a muggle non-fiction book Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft by Natalie Goldberg

Potions Read a book about or with alchemy | This is the only one I’ll have to deviate from my Kindle for. I just bought a second copy of The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss to annotate so I might use that because I know there’s alchemy in it. (And I desperately want to reread it.)

Transfiguration Read a book dealing with transfiguration/shapeshifting OR read a book with a cat on the cover | Either my audiobook loan for Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly will come in, or I’ll finally read The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud featuring everyone’s favorite shapeshifting demon, Bartimaeus.

So there’s my tentative TBR. All books subject to change with my moods. Oh! And because I went the extra mile to think about it… If I went to Hogwarts and I got my Career Advice session, I’d choose to follow a path to become a wandmaker. I think that would be incredibly interesting as a profession.

 

 

Posted in grave of the goddess, writing

Rachel Is Writing… for her life!

Okay, maybe I’ve been watching too much RuPaul’s Drag Race… But writing for my life sounds awfully close to what my goals are these days. Or, if you’re a fellow Hamilfan, I’m trying to write like I’m running out of time. Because maybe I am running out of time.

I am now in my early 30s. I’ve been working on the same YA fantasy novel for the past five and a half years. It took me two years to write the first draft. Ever since I finished that first draft, I’ve been editing and redrafting in the midst of trying to figure out the best way to handle my sometimes shaky mental health. This novel has happened through two jobs and three moves and it’s about to come with me in this unfinished state as I drive across the entire country for a new adventure this summer.

The length of time it takes to write a novel and get it published obviously varies drastically from author to author. I’m 31 now and I’ve been dabbling in writing novels since I was about 10. I’ve long since put aside the projects I once thought would be my first published work. It took me years (and, in one case, more than a decade) to realize that all of those early novels I wrote were practice novels. I loved writing them. Parts of them were good. Vast swathes of them were dreck. The characters and settings continue to live on in my heart. But that is probably where they will stay because their stories and the way I wrote them were part of the process of me figuring out how to even write a novel in the first place.

Grave of the Goddess is not one of those projects. This is my “finally I’ve figured it out” project. And I feel quite certain that the story and characters are good enough and important enough to sit on the shelves beside the like of my favorite YA fantasies. This is the first novel I’ve written that I feel that strongly about. It’s incredibly difficult to develop that kind of self-confidence, I’ve found. So when I found it with this story, I deliberately decided to hold onto it as tightly as I could. I mean, if I end up peddling this to like 50 different agents without anyone showing any interest, perhaps I’ll reconsider my evaluation, but until that happens, I’m operating under my arrogant assumption that I am a GOOD writer who has a GOOD enough story to get published.

But I have reached a point in my life (not just my writing life – which I have previously separated in my mind) where I need to push the hardest I have ever pushed myself. My boyfriend and I are moving 3000 miles across the country this summer (he got a new job) and if I want to make a go at a career as a novelist, this is my make it or … not break it necessarily because it’s never too late to pursue dreams like this, but reevaluate how I go about making it happen most certainly.

I have the next 5ish weeks to accomplish as much as I can before the true upheaval of travel and moving into a new city takes over much of my daily life. Once there, I will have to establish a new routine in a new place, and historically this has taken me quite awhile to do. NOT THIS TIME. I’m shouting that because I need to keep my motivation for making it different this time. Ideally, I should be writing while we travel. I should be writing while we move in. While we settle in. Etc etc. I don’t want any of this to be an excuse for me to stop writing, to stop working on my path to becoming a full-time novelist.

I do have some current concrete plans for making this happen. My BFF has been working on a short story for most of this year, and back in March we were doing a lot of writing together. But we both fell off the wagon the past few months. So when I realized I have a tangible timeline before leaving her, I suggested we make the most of that time and motivate each other to finish our projects. We have a schedule for meeting a few times a week and doing Skype sessions on the other days. It’s been three days since we made those plans, and I’ve already been more productive than I have been for the past… three months? Wow. I seriously fell off that wagon, didn’t I?

But now is the time to make this happen. I want to published. I want to call myself an  author in addition to being a writer. I want to help my BFF on her own writing journey. I want my boyfriend to feel that all of his time and effort in supporting me lately has been worth it.

Mostly I want to write the way I’ve always told myself I want to write. I want it to consume my waking moments and follow me into my dreams. I want to be able to churn out all of the story ideas I have floating around in my head. I know I am capable of all of this. I know that I want it. So now I just need to make it happen.

Why do you write like you’re running out of time? Because you never know when your time might be up.

 

Posted in bout of books, HugoNebulaChallenge, readathon, reading, reading challenge

Rachel Is Reading: May 2018 TBR

Greetings, book dragons! What are you reading in May?

I’ve got an ambitious TBR list this month. I’m participating in two readathons (one of which is going on this week), have a couple of unrelated buddy reads, and also have a few books I started in April that I still want to finish. All told I’ve got 15 books on my list and I’d love to get to a bunch of graphic novels as well.

Like I said: ambitious.

Since it’s already a week into the month, I’ve already finished my audiobook reread of Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher, the first book in his Codex Alera series. I reviewed this in on my Instagram stories; you can find it in my IG profile if you missed it! And I read The Wicked and the Divine, Volume 3: Commerical Suicide, the first of hopefully 8 graphic novels I plan to read this month.

I’m in the middle of a reread of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, the first book in the Wheel of Time series. I said over and over again that I wasn’t going to reread this series this year as I wanted to focus more on SFF books I haven’t gotten to yet, but here we are. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes at my lack of self-control. Maybe I’ll just read this one and wait until next year for the rest….? Who knows!

I’m also in the middle of The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, the gigantic companion book of history for his A Song of Ice and Fire series. This is one of 10 books I’ve made it a priority to read in 2018. I’m way behind on said priority reads, so I put Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte on my list this month as well. As a lucky coincidence, a booktuber I follow is buddy reading these two classics this month. Here’s a link to her GoodReads group: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/516094-readalongs-with-ange If I pick up the reading pace and get through those, I might start Kindred by Octavia Butler or The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde to help me catch up on that list a bit.

Buddy reads: I’m buddy reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin with a friend on bookstagram. This is a winner of both the Nebula and Hugo awards so it will help me make some progress on that personal challenge, not to mention finally introducing me to an author I should’ve read from a long time ago! And then I’m continuing my buddy read of the Percy Jackson books with another IG crew. This month I think we’re slated to get through books 4 and 5.

As if that wasn’t a long enough list, I decided I really wanted to participate in the Buzzword Readathon. The buzzword for this round is “girl” so I looked up all the books I own with girl in the title. I own four, so I figured why the heck not!? Those four are: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (also a Hugo-Nebula winner, YES), Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos, and Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I know I am definitely going to read Bacigalupi and Blos, but if I can fit in the other two, I will.

And last but not least, I’m listening to Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first book in The Dresden Files. Another reread that I blame my boyfriend for as he is constantly rereading Butcher’s books and I broke down and joined him.

Second readathon I’m doing is my first stab at the Bout of Books! Hopefully I’ll be posting to this blog all next week during the bout. I should be done with my “girl” books, but everything else I just mentioned is fair game during that week.

More info from their site: The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 22 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Like I said, what are you reading in May? Are you doing any readathons? I’m so happy it’s warming up here and I can read outside again.

 

Posted in readathon, reading, reading challenge

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon 4/28/18 Wrap-Up

Check out my last post if you have no idea what this is about! I’m going to wrap up the readathon (a few days late, oops) by doing the closing survey from the official readathon site.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hours 21 and 22 were the absolute worst. I live in EST so this was 4-5 in the morning for me. When I did my first Dewey’s Readathon back in October, I threw in the towel at 0530. This time I was utterly determined to stay awake, so I made tea and switched my reading genre from fantasy to YA contemporary romance. Oh, and most importantly I sat upright in a chair with the window open instead of lounging on the couch or my bed.
2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!

I finished two graphic novels: Rat Queens Volume 3 and Bitch Planet Volume 2. Both were great – Bitch Planet moreso. (Because I’m not a big fan of Hannah’s storyline in Rat Queens.)

I also read the entirety of The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan, which is the 3rd Percy Jackson and the Olympians novel. This was so fun to read; I’m really glad I decided to one shot it for the readathon even though I’m technically supposed to be pacing myself for the buddy read it’s a part of. Oops!

I picked up The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin in the late afternoon and read the first 30 something pages of it. Which should really count as 60 something pages because that book is physically twice as large as my other books and the font is the same size. I adore this book and hope to finish it in May.

My audiobook for the day was The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher, which is the first book in his Codex Alera series. This is a reread for me. I haven’t picked up these books since reading the final volume when it was published in 2009, but it’s a magnificent fantasy series where each book is better than the last so I thought it was high time for another go at it. I managed to listen to 200 pages of it, so I’d say I was pretty into it.

And finally I read 292/320 pages of Geekerella by Ashley Poston. I put this on my TBR for variety as I figured having something contemporary and generally fluffy would be helpful. And wooooow was I right! I never would’ve made it through the wee hours if I hadn’t been reading this book. It was fun and surprisingly touching. And also a total nostalgia trip for me as the main character and I share a childhood steeped in fandom. The romance was cute, and I rooted for both of them throughout the story. In short, I loved it and I was so annoyed that when the end of the readathon came I only had 30 pages left. Obviously I finished it before letting myself finally fall asleep.

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?

Of what I read? All of them! In general? I think short books are key to Readathon success. Especially action-packed short books with moments of humor and sadness. I got that from both of the novels I read this time and it made the readathon so much more exciting.
4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile?

I’d love some reading sprints on Twitter!

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?

100% going to do the Readathon every time it comes around. It’s so much fun reading alongside so many other people. And a great personal challenge. I might be interested in volunteering next time…? It’d be good to give back to such a great community.

Hey, if you read all this and you did the Readathon, tell me what you read in the comments! And if you didn’t do the Readathon, might you do it next round? October 20th will be here before you know it. 😉

Posted in readathon, reading, reading challenge

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon April 2018

Last October I did a blog post about my Dewey’s experience that I updated every hour (find it here), but it took a lot of time away from my reading. This year I’m posting this opening post to say hello and hi and JOIN US. And I’ll have a wrap up about my experience for the next 24 hours sometime later this week.

What is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon? Well, you read as much as you can for 24 hours… with bookworms all over the world at the exact same time! I adore this readathon. Today honestly feels like a genuine holiday to me.

Enough with the chatting! Here’s the opening meme of the ‘thon:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Massachusetts! Luckily it’s sunny and warm today so I’ll be able to take a walk with my audiobook later. 😉
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Is it weird to say veggies and hummus? I got some salmon for dinner too to treat myself.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m a writer, an army brat, avid bullet journaler, wannabe booktuber, Ravenclaw, INTP, glasses and long hair sort of girl.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Definitely more caffeine spaced out more evenly. More walks. More audiobook time. Also relying on graphic novels to give me quick finishes to motivate me into the wee hours. I made it to hour 22 last time and fell asleep and I’d really like to get all the way to the end this time. Wish me luck.

And good luck to all of you out there participating!! Let’s tear up some pages!!! Well, not literally. But you know… Let’s read… a lot. Ahhhh, I wish we could all hang out in a big cozy castle and read together. READ ON, BOOK DRAGONS!

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My bujo spread with my TBR 

I’ll have more updates on my Instagram and maybe Twitter throughout the day. @RachelIsWriting for both. Links in my bio!