O.W.L. 2020 Readathon TBR

I’ve decided to take a detour from my Popsugar 2020 challenge because I stumbled across this Magical Readathon and was too tempted to resist. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s a readathon that takes place for the month of April, based on the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. tests of the Harry Potter series. You can find all the info on the readathon’s webpage Magical Readathon.

Since this is my first time participating I decided to go for something pretty simple – the Aurologist, which needs to pass the Astronomy, Divination, and History of Magic O.W.L.’s .

I wanted to try and prevent overlap between this readathon and my Popsugar 2020 challenge, so I picked separate books that I hadn’t picked out for the latter yet.

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Astronomy: Night Classes
Read a majority of this book when it’s dark outside

What more fitting than to read a book titled The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern in the dark? I’m excited to read my first book from the author of The Night Circus.

 

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Divination: Third Eye

Assign numbers to your TBR and and use a random number generator to pick your read

Most of my TBR was planned out for the Popsugar 2020 challenge, so I only had a few books in my TBR that didn’t fit into any prompt. Out of these I rolled The Institute by Stephen King, which will be my second King novel.

 

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History of Magic: Witch Hunts
Read a book featuring witches / wizards

This one was a little harder but thank goodness there are hundreds of YA witches and wizards out there begging to be read. I chose Uprooted by Naomi Novik because the blurb was captivating and I’m a sucker for fantasy.

 

Wish me luck everyone! And let me know what your O.W.L. careers are!

WWW Wednesday: April 1, 2020

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words! All you have to do is answers the following three question: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

 

What are you currently reading?

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Goodreads

This is shaping up to be a very, very good read. The world building is just fantastic, and Adeyemi creates a magical world that manages to mirror many of our world’s failings. The characters are all on point. I’m excited to see what else lies in wait for Zélie and the rest.

 

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Goodreads

I’m halfway through this one and am pretty conflicted about it so far. The characters are more than a little frustrating to read and ‘the farm’ doesn’t seem to be anything special. I’m hoping there’s some character development soon.

 

 

What did you recently finish reading?

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Goodreads

This one was…pretty disappointing to be honest. I was expecting a creepy, chilling thriller but the ending was a huge let down. Props to the narrator Imogen Church for making this as entertaining as she could.

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Goodreads

With the way Children of Blood and Bone is going, I’m definitely going to want to read the sequel as soon as possible. This has been nothing but a nail-biting ride!

 

 

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Goodreads

I’ve been itching to read a graphic novel without committing to 20 volumes and found this standalone gem. It’s been praised as powerful and touching, and I’m ready for the tears to come.

 

 

What are you guys are reading?

March 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

This month has been a whirlwind that feels almost surreal. COVID-19 has caused my university to essentially shut down, and all instruction has moved online. Friends and classmates are all flying home in the face of a ‘shelter in place’ imposed in the Bay Area. Wherever you are, I hope you stay safe!

With all my time at home, I’ve had a chance to read a few more books for my Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge:

 

Finished Reads

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An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

Read for:
Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR reading challenge  (2016, #19: A book from Oprah’s Book Club)

Review
RATING: ★★★★★

 

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Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou

Read for:
A book by or about a journalist

Review
RATING: ★★★★★

 

 

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Exhalation: Stories
by Ted Chiang

Read for:
An anthology

Review
RATING: ★★★☆☆

 

Life Updates

UC Berkeley is a ghost town – everyone’s left for their homes, and campus is shut down. All classes are held online, and Berkeley just put out an email that all classes would be pass / no pass for the rest of the semester. My family in the Philippines is okay, so hopefully we can weather the storm.

In the meantime, I’ve been having fun spending time with my boyfriend (who is also stuck on campus with me), and we’ve been playing games together without school to worry about. He’s going to be stuck carrying me through my Overwatch games, but those are the things you do for love <3.

Facing the Future

I start my job in June! Hopefully it all goes well despite the virus. I also want to take this time to read some more – other people book blogging are reading 10-20 books a month, it’s intimidating! Maybe while I can take a breath I can take the time to read some more.

Also, I crochet now! I’m slowly learning the stitches. My current project is a granny square, and I’m planning to make a snowflake after and use them as coasters. If you guys have any crochet tips, let me know! I need all of them I can get.

Well that’s the month of March for me. See you all next month, and stay safe everyone!

Book Blogger Hop: March 27 – April 2, 2020

The Book Blogger Hop is a book meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer where you answer a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. This way you have a chance to check out other people’s blogs and gain new followers yourself.

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

Share a photo of one section of your bookshelf randomly selected or go ahead and share the entire bookshelf.

Time for a huge throwback to my elementary and middle school days!

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I still remember reading the Percy Jackson series, Gregor the Overlander, and the Secret Series when I was younger. Ah, those were the days!

 

Book Review: Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang

I wanted to commit to something more “bite-sized”, and decided to read a famed anthology. All in all, Exhalation had some interesting theories on the nature of the universe, although the novel may have been better written as a series of speculative essays rather than attempting to disguise them as fiction stories using flimsy characters and plot.

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Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang

Pages: 352

Genres: Science Fiction, Short Stories

RATING: ★★★☆☆

 

Goodreads
Book Depository
Barnes and Noble

 

 

This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. And in “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over twenty years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: “Omphalos” and “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom.”

In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth—What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?—and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.

An exploration of technology reminiscent of Black Mirror. With each story is a completely new world, brought about by a series of “what ifs” proposed by Chiang and reimagined as the future of mankind. Chiang’s imagination runs wild with each story, dreaming up a magical gate that transports you through time as well as a world where humans have progressed to the point that they are now built by machinery and run by air. I was always left in awe of the innovation and creativity apparent in every dystopian story Chiang penned.

A plethora of innovative ideas but little else. My biggest gripe with Chiang’s writing was the lack of depth present in the characters and plot of most of his stories. He is entranced with world-building and places a lot of focus on describing the intricacies of the imaginative technologies or transformed world order he’s proposed – the nature of its conception, the science behind how it works, its limitations, etcetera. Oftentimes Chiang would pause the story altogether to go on a long exposition that felt abrupt and out of place in an effort to tell you more about the world he so lovingly created. His shorter, narrative pieces felt like excuses for a character to go on a monologue describing a lengthy thought experiment. Without interesting characters or plots to hold on to, these stories felt meaningless and empty.

Several standouts worth mentioning. I found that I generally appreciated Chiang’s longer novellas as opposed to his short ones. “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” is a moving story of a woman who grows attached to an AI pet and her heartfelt efforts to ensure his survival in a rapidly evolving digital world. “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” echoes the episode “Shut Up and Dance” from Black Mirror, and explores the impact of using a recording device to preserve all one’s memories on the relationship between a father and his daughter. “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom” delves into the negative emotions of anger, jealousy, and sadness that could arise with the ability to observe other parallel timelines, and questions what looking at these timelines could reveal about one’s moral character. With these stories I got to know the characters and grow attached to them, and there was real character development stemming from their interaction with the novel technologies Chiang spins up in these stories. When Chiang focuses on the people in his stories and allows the technology to stay in the background, they become a lot more emotionally appealing and compelling to read.

If you’re a fan of science fiction and dystopia, Chiang delivers an plethora of stories that is sure to sate your appetite!

WWW Wednesday: March 25, 2020

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words! All you have to do is answers the following three question: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

 

What are you currently reading?

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Goodreads

I’m currently listening to the audiobook narrated by Imogen Church, who I must say is very talented, and I’m enjoying the way she portrays different voices. I’m midway through the book and I’m still waiting for the plot to speed up, hopefully there are more interesting developments going forward

 

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Goodreads

I’ve been stuck on this book for forever. The premise is so interesting, but the large cast of characters and jumbled timeline keeps confusing me, especially since I read this book on and off. Hopefully things clear up as I chug along (or maybe I need to pay a little more attention)

 

 

What did you recently finish reading?

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Goodreads

It’s hard to talk about an anthology, because there are bound to be some stories that are better than others. In Chiang’s case, I liked his longer stories though some of the short ones fell flat for me. Review coming soon!

 

 

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Goodreads

Just wrapped up this one yesterday, and I need some time to mull over it before writing anything. I have mixed thoughts about this one, because I was so excited for the concept but some parts just didn’t feel right.

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Goodreads

So excited to have a buddy read with the amazing Sophie @ reading women writers worldwide! Haven’t started yet (oops) but I’m going to finish up by this weekend and let you know what we think.

 

 

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Goodreads

Been dying to read this for awhile because of the raving reviews. I haven’t read a lot of YA recently, so I wanted to dip back into my guilty pleasure. Also the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengance, was just released a few months ago, and I’m hoping I can read that next.

 

 

What are you guys reading? Let me know!

 

Book Blogger Hop: March 20 – 26, 2020

The Book Blogger Hop is a book meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer where you answer a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. This way you have a chance to check out other people’s blogs and gain new followers yourself.

This is my first time trying one of these! Book memes have always been fun, and I love discussion posts and questions and suck with sticking to a weekly timeline so this is the perfect one for me.

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:

If you could add one interactive feature to reading books, what would it be?

If you watch a TV show on Amazon prime and pause it at a random moment, at the left of the screen you can find a list of the actors and fun facts related to the scene. I think this would be an interesting feature to add on ebooks, like a sort of interactive ‘footnotes’ section you can access when hovering over the page. Behind-the-scenes looks like author inspirations and character motivations would be so fun to read throughout the book.

Thanks for reading! What ideas did you come up with?