Magical Readathon 2021 – The Novice Path wrap-up & good stuff of September

In September I participated in the Magical Readathon created by G @ Book Roast. I love all the creativity and work she put in this readathon. So a big thanks to her! I am already looking forward to the next part of the Magical Readathon in April 2022.

During this first part of the Magical Readathon we followed the Novice Path. Our goal was to reach the Orilium Academy. There were seven reading prompts, but we only had to complete two prompts to succeed. So by reading three books I successfully ended my journey. I also wanted to read Descendant of the Crane by Joan He for The Mist of Solitude prompt. Sadly I wasn’t able to borrow the book at my library on time. Read my thoughts about the books I read below.

The Novice Path and the books I read


The Novice Path Entrance: read a book with a map

Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire, #1) by Natasha Ngan4 stars
In four words: captivating, dark, hopeful, considerate
What I liked: This book totally hooked me from the start. Only twenty pages in the book our main character Lei is taken from her family to become a Paper Girl at the court. The Paper Girls are eight girls from the lowest caste, yearly chosen by the demon king as his courtesans. The world in this book is fascinating with its three castes varying from fully human, to humans with animal-demon features and fully demons. But what really makes this book stand out are the characters. I admire the strength and courage of the Paper Girls. The sexual abuse they have to face is quite frightful. So I appreciate the thoughtful way in which Natasha Ngan writes about it. And although the book deals with dark themes, the story is also hopeful and empowering.
What I disliked: The ending disappointed me a little. Since the story will continue in the sequel, the book ended of course with a cliffhanger. It did fit the story and was well-written. I just hoped for something more original. I’ve come across several other fantasy trilogies with the first book ending like this. There isn’t anything wrong with it. But personally I’ve seen it too much.
Trigger warnings for rape, abuse, torture and murder

Ashtorn Tree: a book that keeps tempting you (or top of your TBR)

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1) by Graeme Simsion3,5 stars
In four words: funny, enjoyable, easy read
What I liked: This book was recommended by a colleague. It wasn’t on my TBR, but her enthusiasm made me eager to read it. The story kept making me smile and even laugh out loud. Our narrator is Don, a hyper intelligent genetics professor who is looking for a wife. He is easy to like, endearing and has a unique way of thinking. After multiple failed dates, Don concludes that dating doesn’t seem to work for him. So he creates an extensive questionnaire to find the perfect wife. Then he meets Rosie. She wouldn’t qualify as a wife at all. But she’s on a quest herself and Don decides to help her.
What I disliked: Near the end the story examines the question if Don has to change himself for love. I wasn’t entirely happy with how the book deals with this issue. I also expected a kind of heart-warming and uplifting ending where everything comes together. Instead the ending was rushed and I felt a bit indifferent about it.

Tower of Rumination: read a five star prediction

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes4 stars
In four words: historical, heart-warming, romantic, bookish
What I liked: I loved that this book is inspired by the real Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians. They delivered books to remote regions in the Appalachian Mountains from 1935 till 1943. Despite my eagerness to read this story, it took a while before I started to like the book. But the characters definitively won me over. The women who work at the travelling library in Kentucky are all admirable strong and brave characters. Especially Margery is a tough and independent woman who refuses to do what is expected of women in the 1930s. The main character of the book is Alice, an English girl who married a wealthy American man. The hard work for the library provides an escape from her unhappy marriage. I didn’t immediately liked Alice, but she grew on me. I enjoyed seeing her character development.
What I disliked: The beginning felt somewhat slow and haphazard. The story also didn’t seem as bookish as I expected. Later the books do get a bigger role. However, the focus of the story is mostly on friendship and romance. This isn’t a bad thing at all. But personally I would have liked to read more about the library and the books.
Trigger warning for domestic violence

Good stuff in September

  • September 23th was Bi Visibility Day. To celebrate this day, Sia @ Every Book a Doorway and Kat @ Bookish Blades recommended books with bi protagonists. Kat also shared her own story about labelling and being bi.
  • On Epic Reads I found a list with Historical fantasy book recommendations. I haven’t read any of them, but a lot of them sound interesting.
  • I went on a school trip with the elementary school where I work. Our destination was the Dutch amusement park Duinrell. It was a great day and all the children had a lot of fun!

Magical Readathon: Orilium – The Novice Path TBR

G @ Book Roast is back with the Magical Readathon! She created an updated version of the readathon set in an amazing new world. Definitively watch her announcement video on Youtube to get all the information.

In September we have to prove ourselves on The Novice Path to reach the Orilium Academy. We need to complete two out of the seven prompts to succeed. The reading prompts are:

  • The Novice Path Entrance: read a book with a map
  • Ashtorn Tree: a book that keeps tempting you (or top of your TBR)
  • The Mist of Solitude: read a standalone
  • Ruin of the Skye: read a book featuring ghosts/haunted house, or other supernatural elements
  • Obsidian Falls: read a thriller or a mystery book
  • Tower of Rumination: read a five star prediction
  • Orilium Academy Arc: book with a school setting

I aim to complete at least three of these prompts in September. The books I want to read:

The Novice Path Entrance: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
I heard a lot of good things about this book. So when I was at my favourite book shop it caught my eye. I looked through the book and read the author’s note. That convinced me to buy it. I loved how Natasha Ngan sees books “as safe places to explore difficult topics”. She promises the story to be dark but with positive messages.

The Mist of Solitude: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
This is a Chinese-inspired fantasy. I love to read more fantasy books that are not set in or inspired by European countries. The story is about a young girl who suddenly has to be queen of an unstable kingdom after her father is murdered.

Tower of Rumination: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Books about books are really my thing. So I think I’m going to love this story about the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. It’s inspired by a real group of women who brought books to isolated part of the Appalachian Mountains between 1935 and 1943.

Women’s History Month Readathon 2021 wrap-up

I felt so busy this month! Again I read two books. I am currently reading a third book, but I wasn’t able to finish it this month. Despite not giving it more stars, I enjoyed the books I read this month. They triggered me to learn more about the women the stories were based on. And I think that is the purpose of Women’s History Month. As part of Women’s History Month Readathon, I also made a themed post about six women in history that inspire me. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. I want to thank Margaret from Weird Zeal for organizing the readathon! Here are my thoughts about the books I read:

Kleopatra (Kleopatra, #1) by Karen Essex3,5 stars
In four words: interesting, well-researched historical fiction
What I liked: From the start I wondered how much the Kleopatra from this book resembles the real Cleopatra VII. This part of the duology is about her youth. Not a lot is known about that period of Kleopatra’s life. On her blog the author writers that the research process took her five years. So I believe that Kleopatra’s character is pretty realistic. My first impression of Kleopatra in the book was that she isn’t a very likable child. Of course this makes sense regarding the family and circumstances in which Kleopatra is born. Throughout the story I did start to like and respect her. Early in her life many people close to her die (sometimes in violent ways). At a young age she gets a lot of responsibilities. So she learns that she has to be cunning and sometimes ruthless to survive. It was interesting to see Kleopatra grow from a young girl into a powerful woman.
What I disliked: The book has many side characters. Most of them stay quite one-dimensional. This made it sometimes hard to keep them apart. It also made me less interested in the plot. Because Kleopatra is still young in this part, many important plot points revolve around other characters. If I had cared more about the side characters, the multiple political intrigues in the book would have been far more intriguing.
Trigger warnings for murder, rape and graphic violence

Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica, #1) by Manda Scott3 stars
In four words: vivid, detailed, slow-paced, well-researched
What I liked: The main character of this book is Boudica, a Celtic queen who lived during the first century AD. Very little is known about her life. Yet, the writer made me feel like I really got to know the young Boudica. The story vividly describes the characters and the world they live in. It’s clear that the story is based on a lot of research.
What I disliked: The amount of details was a bit overwhelming. Especially the landscape and weather descriptions slowed down the story and made me lose my attention. That’s why I sometimes missed a plot point or the introduction of a new character. It was quite hard to keep track of the many characters, Britain tribes and their alliances. You need to read this book meticulously (or have some background information) to fully comprehend the story. Less irrelevant details would have helped me to focus on details that are actually important for the plot.
Trigger warnings for war, murder, slavery and graphic violence

Blog posts I liked in March
Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den wrote a great post about fantasy jobs she would like to apply for
Jess @ Jessticulates made a list with five of her favourite SFF short stories. I especially liked ‘And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands.’
– Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books published a very helpful post about how to write a blog post people will actually read.
Imyril @ There’s Always Room For One More shared this year’s prompts for The Wyrd and Wonder Challenge in May. I am really looking forward to participating!

TBR Women’s History Month Readathon 2021

March is Women’s History Month, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8. In celebration Margaret from Weird Zeal organizes the Women’s History Month Readathon. The only requirement to participate in this readathon is to read books written by women. Margaret also created a bingo card with challenges you can use. My TBR-list isn’t really based on the challenges. I decided to focus on historical fiction this month. I have chosen two books that are based on the lives of real women, because I love to learn about women in history. In history class we most often talk about important men. Women’s History Month is of course a great opportunity to learn about important women in history!

Kleopatra (Kleopatra, #1) by Karen Essex
This is the first part of a trilogy about Cleopatra’s life. I have always been interested in Ancient Egypt and already know something about this Greek queen of Egypt. I heard this book is well researched and has many historical details. So I’m looking forward to learn more about Cleopatra.

Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica, #1) by Manda Scott
This story is based on the life of Boudica, warrior queen of the Celts. She sparked my interest when I heard about her in the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. My parents happened to have a book about Boudica.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
I discovered this book for my SFF Countries Project, my attempt to read a science fiction or fantasy book from all the countries in the world. This is a historical fantasy book set in 19th century Malaysia. It’s written by a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. The story is about a girl from a poor family who receives an unusual proposal.

N.E.W.T.s Readathon 2020: Results

This month I read five books for the N.E.W.T.s, the second part of the Magical Readathon. A big thanks to G from Book Roast for organizing it! My favourite book of the month was Shadow of the Fox. Here are my thoughts about the books I read:

Ancient Runes

A – Bathsheda Babbling: author name starts with a B (first or last)
Passenger (Passenger, #1) by Alexandra Bracken
3,5 stars
This story has a slow start. We first read about Etta, a passionate violinist, getting ready for a concert. That night she is thrown hundreds of years back in time. Even after this, it takes a while before it’s explained what exactly happened. But when we finally get to hear about the mechanics of time travel and what is at stake, I wanted to know more! The world building is amazing and made me want to travel to the places and times myself. I liked both main characters, although I didn’t really feel connected to them. While reading,  I couldn’t pinpoint what it was that made me feel like a bystander. I actually loved how fierce and fearless Etta is. The other main character, Nicholas, is a former slave and also has a strong personality. Reflecting on the book, I realize the writing style is the problem. The book can be very descriptive and has a lot of inner monologue. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this! The time travelling is very well executed, I only wished I was more emotionally invested in the story.

E – Read a classic
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
 – 4 stars
Trigger warning for muder
Before reading this story, I knew only a few things. I did know Frankenstein is the professor, not the monster. But also heard that you could ponder who the monster really is in this story. The book is said to be the first science fiction book, but also categorized as horror. I personally didn’t find the book scary. It’s rather a character-driven story of a man that doesn’t take responsibility for his creation. It was especially interesting to read the part narrated by Frankenstein’s creature. The “monster” appears to be lonely and longs for a connection with humans. Because of his hideous appearance everyone is afraid of him. It’s actually kind of a sad story. The book is beautifully written and amazingly enough still interesting 200 years after it was written.


A – Cheering charm: read a humorous book
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
3 stars
Trigger warnings for violence, war and death
This story has a kind of humour that doesn’t seem to suit me. Most of the time I just didn’t really get it. The book was interesting, but a bit too absurd for my tastes. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter the world will end next Saturday. But Aziraphale, an angel and part-time bookseller, and Crowley, a daemon, rather like it on Earth. And if they don’t stop the apocalypse from happening, the Earth will be destroyed. First they have to find the Antichrist who is now a young boy. The problem is that someone has misplaced him as baby… That’s the main plot, but there are many side plots and minor characters. For me there were too many characters that didn’t really add something to the story. Yet I can imagine that other readers would love Good Omens if they like this kind of humour. I did like the friendship between Aziraphale and Crowley and I enjoyed reading their conversations.

History of Magic

A – Read a historical fiction
The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka
4 stars
Trigger warnings for rape and torture
This is the beautiful and sad story of a Malaysian family. I immediately loved the writing style that perfectly balances poetic sentences with realistic descriptions. The first hundred pages of the story are narrated by Lakshmi. When she is fourteen years old, she is married off to an older man. In the following five years Lakshmi gets six children. Later in the book the perspectives alternates: her children, husband and grandchildren all tell a part of the story. These different perspectives are so interesting! We really get to know the characters. Some of them are actually quite unlikable. But the story helped me to understand them and the characters grew on me.

E – Read a book with a mainly black cover
Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa
4 stars
Trigger warnings for graphic violence and murder
This book is about an adventurous quest through an amazing Japanese-inspired world. I loved to read about all the magical creatures that live there. The perspective alternates between Yumeko and Kage Tatsumi. Although their voices sometimes sounded a bit too similar, it was interesting to read the story from two sides. Yumeko is a kitsune, this means that she is half human and half fox. The temple where she lives is attacked by demons looking for an ancient scroll. Yumeko is forced to leave her home and protect the scroll. When she meets the mysterious samurai Tatsumi, they decide to work together. But he is looking for the scroll that she has hidden… I think the story has a great balance between action and character development. I wouldn’t say the book is slow-paced, but the plot slowly develops. So I am looking forward to see how this story will continue!

So with my O.W.L.s in April and N.E.W.T.s this month I meet all the requirements to become a Trader of Magical Tomes!

N.E.W.T.s. Readathon 2020: TBR

In August I’m going to continue the Magical Readathon organized by G from Book Roast. In this second part we do our N.E.W.T.s. Sadly this will be the last Magical Readathon. But I understand why G made this decision. The good news is that she is going to create a new readathon for 2021. I am very excited to hear more about it!

But let’s get back to the N.E.W.T.s. They work slightly different than the O.W.L.s. For the N.E.W.T.s you can get different grades for each subject: Acceptable (A), Exceeds Expectations (E), and Outstanding (O). For every grade you have to read a book. I want to become a Trader of Magical Tomes.

Trader of Magical Tomes - Magical Readathon

So I need to read two books for Ancient Runes, one for Charms and two for History of Magic. In total I have to read 5 books. For each grade there are different prompts, here is the complete list. I’m planning to read these books for the prompts:

Ancient Runes

Passenger - Alexandra BrackenFrankenstein - Mary Shelley

A – Bathsheda Babbling: author name starts wit a B (first or last): Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
E – Read a classic: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

A – Cheering charm: read a humorous book: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchet & Neil Gaiman

History of Magic

The Rice Mother - Rani ManickaShadow of the Fox - Julie Kagawa

A – Read a historical fiction: The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka
E – Book with a mainly black cover: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

O.W.L.s Readathon 2020: Results

I’m quite happy with the books I read this month. I found my first 5-star read of the year and I reread a book I loved! I didn’t get to all the six books from my O.W.L.s TBR-list, but I did read four of them. To become a Trader of Magical Tomes I needed to get O.W.L.s for Ancient Runes, Charms, History of Magic and Transfiguration. Here are my thoughts about the books I read for those subjects.

Transfiguration – Animagus lecture: books/series that include shapeshifting

Soulless - Gail CarrigerSoulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) by Gail Carriger5 stars
This book was just as amazing as I hoped! It’s a nice mix of fantasy, steampunk and romance. The story is set in an alternative version of Victorian London where werewolves and vampires are normal citizens. It’s an interesting setting that was well executed. The book starts when the soulless Alexia Tarabotti was attacked by a vampire. By doing this he totally broke all standards of social etiquette. Alexia accidentally kills him with her parasol. While unexpected vampires are appearing, and expected vampires are disappearing, she is determined to figure out what is happening. Alexia really is a great main character. She is intelligent, practical and independent. She reminded me of Miss Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a tv series you may have seen on Netflix. I also loved the writing style of the book. It’s witty and fits the story perfectly.

Ancient Runes – Heart rune: heart on the cover or in the title

Tash Hearts Tolstoy - Kathryn OrmsbeeTash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee4 stars
I wish I would be able to really watch Unhappy Families! It’s the fictional web series made by Tash and her friends, but it totally feels like something I can actually look up on YouTube. Unhappy Families is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina, one of Tash’ favourite books. I liked the references, but you can certainly enjoy this book without knowing anything about Tolstoy. What I loved most about the book was Tash herself. Kathryn Ormsbee really shows Tash’ personality instead of just telling about it. For example, I loved to read that Tash is vegetarian. This isn’t just mentioned once, it is used a few times in the story. I think small details like this make a character feel more real. The writer also did a great job in describing how Tash found out that she is ace and how she deals with this. I knew about asexuality and read about it on Tumblr, but I didn’t really realize how hard it can be. Of course this is just one perspective, but the book helped me to better understand the struggles of aces.

Charms – Lumos Maxima: white cover

De geniale vriendin - Elena FerranteMy Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1) by Elena Ferrante3 stars
For this prompt I actually wanted to borrow a book from my library. Since the library is closed at the moment, I looked for a book with a white cover at home. My Brilliant Friend was a book I wanted to love, but I ended up liking only parts of it. I liked the Italian setting. The descriptions of Naples and the people living there in the 1950s are very vivid. It was also interesting to see how their home town influences the personality of the characters. The characters themselves were a drawback for me. I do think they are well-written. Yet not very likable and hard to emphasize with. Central in the book is the friendship and rivalry between Elena and Lila. This first book in the series describes their childhood and teenager years. Elena is the narrator of the story. She idolizes Lila, who may be smart, but also is mean and quite egoistic. I’m not sure how to describe Elena, because her personality seems to be based on Lila. I really don’t understand why Elena wants to befriend Lila, and even wants to resemble her. Because I wasn’t able to connect with the main characters, I lost my interest in the story.

History of Magic – Witch hunts: book featuring witches/wizards

A Discovery of Witches - Deborah HarknessA Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harknessreread
I read this book four years ago and it became one of my favourite reads of 2016. I wasn’t sure if I would love the story as much as I did then. It turns out that I do! From the start I admire the vibes of studying ancient manuscripts in an old library in Oxford. If becomes even better when we are slowly introduced to a magical side of our world with witches, vampires and deamons. Diana is the descendant of a powerful witch, but refuses to use her power. Everything changes when she finds an ancient, magical manuscript. Every creature seems to want it. One of them is Matthew Clairmont, a vampire who is not only interested in the manuscript, but also in Diana herself. While reading the book, it’s clear that the writer is a historian. She does a wonderful job in describing the historical events Matthew lived through. And I totally forgot how much of an amazing rollercoaster the second half of the book is! Since the first time I read this book, I wanted to continue the trilogy. Wyrd & Wonder in May seems the perfect opportunity to do so.

So I’m on my way to become Trader of Magical Tomes! In August I will continue this Magical readathon with the N.E.W.T.s. Keep an eye on G from Book Roast for updates.

O.W.L.s Readathon 2020: TBR

Last year I loved to participate in the Magical Readathon organized by G from Book Roast on YouTube! This readathon consists of two parts: the O.W.L.s and the N.E.W.T.s. Hogwarts students in Harry Potter take the O.W.L.s in their fifth year and the N.E.W.T.s in their sixth year. We take the O.W.L.s in April and the N.E.W.T.s in August. I was immediately excited when I saw the announcement for this year. Of course there are new reading prompts. Just like last year you can choose a career. There are also new careers available! This time I would like to become

Librarian  OR  Trader of Magical Tomes

Librarion - Magical Readahton Trader of Magical Tomes - Magical Readathon
Click on the images to read the whole Wizarding Careers Guide made by G from Book Roast.

Which career I am going to choose depends on how many books I will be able to read. To become a Librarian I have to get five O.W.L.s, but to become a Trader of Magical Tomes I need only four O.W.L.s. I am going to try to read books for all subjects. So I can still choose what suits me best when I take the N.E.W.T.s in August. Here are the books I want to read in April for each prompt:

O.W.L.s Readathon 2020 TBR part 1

Ancient Runes – Heart rune: heart on the cover or in the title: Tash Heart Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
After buying it a few months ago, this book is still on my TBR-pile. This prompt is the perfect opportunity to finally read it. It’s about Natasha, “Tash”, who is a huge fan of Anna Karenina. She made a modern adaptation of the story. After a shout-out from a popular vlogger, her show goes viral. Next to this pressure, Tash also has to figure out how to tell her crush that she is asexual.

Charms – Lumos Maxima: white cover: In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
The Dutch edition fits the prompt with its white cover. This is the ninth book by Isabel Allende I will read. She writes beautiful and I always like her stories. I try to read at least one of her books every year.

History of Magic – Witch hunts: book featuring witches/wizards: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I read this book four years ago and really loved it. I wanted to read the sequel, but still haven’t. By now I don’t remember a lot about the first part and I don’t even know if I still love it. So it’s time for a re-read! I actually love to re-read books, but there are so many new books to read that it’s hard to find time for it.

O.W.L.s Readathon 2020 TBR part 2

Transfiguration – Animagus lecture: books/series that include shapeshifting: Soulless by Gail Carriger
I would like to read more steampunk, because I love the fact that steampunk is basically a mix of my favourite genres: fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction. I put this book on my TBR-list in SciFiMonth, and now I finally ordered it. According to the description one of the characters is a werewolf, so it suits the prompt. I really hope I will love it!

Arithmancy – Magical qualities of number 2: balance/opposites – read something outside your favourite genre: Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
Since fantasy and science-fiction are my favourite genres, I choose a contemporary novel for this prompt. I am currently reading The Testaments by the same author. She writes well, so I’d like to read more of her books.

Defence Against the Dark Arts – Grindylows: book set at the sea/coast: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
The main character of this book is violinist who turns out to be a time traveller. When done well, I think time travelling in books can be really interesting. At least a part of this book is set at sea, so it also fits the prompt.

Another plan for this spring will be to participate in Wyrd & Wonder in May. More about this in a few weeks! Because this post is a spring TBR, I tag along with Top Ten Tuesday. This weekly meme is managed by That Artsy Reader Girl. What are your spring reading plans? Tell me in the comments!

Pondathon wrap-up

In February I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Pondathon! This amazing readathon was organized by The Quiet Pond. I read five books and took part in a couple of side quests to help protect the Pond. With Bastet, my own Pondathon character, I managed to get two quest rewards. The first one is the Mark of the Brave for protecting Xialong. I achieved Recipe for Compassion by helping Cuddle.

Character card Bastet with quest rewards - Pondathon

As expected, I deviated a little from my Pondathon TBR-list. From the five books I read, three were on my TBR. I still want to read The Bear and the Nightingale and Tash Hearts Tolstoy. Mabye I will get to them in March. Here are my thoughts about the books I read for the Pondathon.

The Snow Child - Eowyn IveyThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey3,5 stars
Jack and Mabel’s dream of having a child never came true. Living in Alaska is also not what they hoped for. Both feel lonely and disappointed in their life. After hundred pages I didn’t know if I wanted to continue such a sad book. But the appearance of the snow child is a little light in the dark and cold winter nights. From that point onwards the story is more hopeful, but still made me feel a bit gloomy. Jack and Mabel and their relationship made this book worth reading. First I mainly pitied them. The couple is in a different life phase than I am and initially I couldn’t really connect with them. Yet I came to care about Jack and Mabel. It was interesting to read how their relationship develops. I did hope the story would have more magic. It’s limited to a few moments and in strong contrast with the hard reality found in the rest of the book.

Lilac Girls - Martha Hall KellyLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly3 stars
My mother’s boyfriend lent me this book and praised the story. It’s always interesting to read stories set during the Second World War. Most of them are based on real persons and events. Lilac girls too. The book has three main characters: the American Caroline who works at the French consulate, the Polish teenager Kasia and the German doctor Herta. Ravensbrück, a concentration camp for women, is what connects the characters. Kassia was my favourite character. I could easily sympathize with her and I was shocked by the things she went through in Ravensbrück. Herta’s chapters were interesting to read. Although I wouldn’t have missed them if the writer had left them out. Initially Caroline’s story was a bit boring. I didn’t understand why it was relevant. It took a long time before the three story lines finally came together. Usually I like books with multiple perspectives. In this case I wasn’t sure if all the perspectives were really necessary. I think Lilac Girls has a good story, but it could have been better told.

This Cruel Design - Emily SuvadaThis Cruel Design (This Mortal Coil, #2) by Emily Suvada4 stars
This sequel is exactly what I hoped for after reading the first part! It is just as fast-paced and thrilling as the previous book. So much is at stake in this story. Not just a couple of characters, but the whole world. It’s amazing that the plot still kept surprising me. Things we learned in the first book appear to be very different… We see unexpected sides of the characters and are introduced to some new ones. Most interesting is the character development of Catarina. Next to saving the world and fighting to stay alive, she is struggling with her identity. And that ending! I really don’t know how this will end for the characters. The third part was published last month. I can’t wait till I can borrow it at the library!

A Mercy - Toni MorrisonA Mercy by Toni Morrison3 stars
For black history month I wanted to read a book by this famous writer. It’s said that Toni Morrison writes beautiful and she’s even awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature. This book indeed reads like poetry. I did think that this made the story sometimes is a bit incoherent. Each chapter is told from a different perspective. The story starts when the Dutch trader Jacob Vaark takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner. Next to Florens, we also read about the other women in Jacob’s house: an older servant, another girl and Jacob’s wife. The book was interesting to read, because each character tells their own part of the story. The different perspectives did make it a little hard to connect to the characters. Despite not giving it more stars, I do think it was a good book. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped.

The Shadow Sister - Lucinda RileyThe Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters, #3) by Lucinda Riley4,5 stars
This third part is about Star. She has always been a quiet girl who let her sister CeCe speak for her. Just like her sisters, things also change for Star after Pa Salt dies. Her father’s clues lead her to an old bookshop with a curious owner. Of course I loved this bookshop just as much as Star! Her past has something to do with the English Flora who lived hundred years ago. She was an independent girl with a passion for nature and drawing. Flora’s quiet life at the countryside came to an end when she had to move to London. I could easily connect with both characters. Just like Star I am introvert and I share her love for books. Similar to Flora I love animals and I appreciated the fact that she is a vegetarian, just like me. The Shadow Sister is my favourite part of the series (so far). I already have The Pearl Sister at home, so that will be the next book I am going to read!

Pondathon: sign-up & TBR

The Quiet Pond is an amazing book blog with the most beautiful art, good book recommendations and multiple readathons! From January 24th to March 7th 2020 they organize the Pondathon. I totally encourage you to read the whole story set at the Pond: Something’s Wrong… & It’s Time to Protect and Fight.

I love how original and creative this readathon is! In short you can collect points by reading books in order to help the characters from the story. All the participants work together, but you must join one of the five teams: Team Xiaolong, Team Varian, Team Gen, Team Sprout or Team Cuddle. Each team has a different way to earn points. I am going to join Team Varian!

Team Varian banner - Pondathon

In this team we are challenged to read books of different genres. I will get 35 points for every book I read that is a different genre to the last book I read. Every time I read three books of a different genre in a row I get 20 extra points.

On The Quiet Pond you can also find all the resources to make your own Pond character. Of course mine is a cat! She is named after a goddess of ancient Egyptian religion that was often depicted as a cat. Meet Bastet:

Character card Bastet for the Pondathon

Pondathon TBR

I hope to read at least five books for the Pondathon. It wasn’t hard to find books of different genres. I always like to alternate between genres. As usual, this TBR is not fixed. It’s totally possible I will find other books along the way.

Pondathon TBR

This Cruel Design (This Mortal Coil, #2) by Emily Suvada (science-fiction)
This trilogy is set in a future when people are able to recode their DNA and change their bodies. It’s an interesting idea that was well executed. The first part ended with a huge cliff-hanger, so I am looking forward to reading the sequel!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (fantasy/historical fiction)
This is a perfect read for the winter. The story is set in Alaska during 1920. The childless couple Jack and Mabel are drifting apart. During the first snowfall they are in a whimsical mood and make a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone, but they do glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison (historical fiction)
February is black history month in the United States. I don’t live there, but I do want to read more historical fiction by writers of colour. Toni Morrison is famous for her beautiful writing style. I’d love to read one of her books next month!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (fantasy)
This book is described as a fairy-tale for adults set in medieval Russia.  Just like The Snow Child it seems like a good book to read when it’s cold.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (contemporary)
I found this book last year in a second-hand bookshop. It’s seems an interseting book after reading Anna Karenina myself. Natasha, “Tash”, is a big fan of the book and made a modern adaptation of the story. After a shout-out from a popular vlogger, her show goes viral. Next to this pressure, Tash also has to figure out how to tell her crush that she is asexual.