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15 November 2019

Book Beginnings #84

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman.
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman cover
Mom doesn't show up. 
I shouldn't be surprised - she never shows up - but I can't get rid of the empty, twisted feeling in my stomach. Emery always says that being alone isn't the same thing as being lonely, but sometimes it feels like they're exactly the same thing.
I'm reading Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman for my final prompt for Triwizardathon (it has animals on the cover). It's a book that'd been on my radar since it came out, and I have heard so much about it. I'm a bit nervous going in because hype can be so damaging on my perceptions of a book, but I love the first lines. I love the way that Kiko's disappointment comes through, as well as her lack of surprise.
Because my borthers and I can't all be strong. Somebody has to be on Mom's target board - i think Taro would rather it was me than him.
This bit from page 56 just hit me right in the feels. Poor Kiko. This book is an emotional ride, that's for sure, and I feel so much for Kiko. It's also beautifully written and although I'm taking my time I can't put it down.

I'm excited to see where the story goes.

What are you reading this week?

07 November 2019

Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR

The Triwizard Tournament Readathon will be split into three week-long rounds, each themed around and representing one of the tasks from the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Everyone taking part will be selected as a champion for one of the three schools and will be given reading challenges to complete in order to compete to win the Triwizard Cup.

It sounds like a nice and chilled readathon, with plenty of time between the tasks to help lift the pressure I will doubtless put myself under.

Follow the official page on twitter – @triwizardathon!

Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR

The school you will represent is determined by your birthday.
Beauxbatons: January – April
Durmstrang: May – August
Hogwarts: September – December

So I am representing Durmstrang, and I am going to desperately try not to let my school down and remember to actually update the score sheet. The page count for each school counts as the score, and each challenge must be a separate book so no sneaky combing is allowed. The score for the first take determines your first challenge for the second task.

With that in mind, I'm going to set out a bit of a TBR so that I'm not caught out by the various challenges as the readathon progresses. I'm going to keep a note of the page count for each book too.

Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR - First Task - Dragons


Monday 11th November – Sunday 17th November 2019

Challenge One - The Dragon

Each school will battle a certain dragon. Beauxbatons will defeat the Hungarian Horntail, Durmstrang will defeat the Swedish Short-Snout, and Hogwarts will defeat the Common Welsh Green.

Swedish Short-Snout: These dragons are sought after to use their skin to make shields and gloves, re-read a favourite that makes you feel protected.
  • Fashionistas: Laura by Sarra Manning - 320
    • I love rereading books and usually my top rereads are a little more... Hard hitting. And make me cry. And also I've already reread them this year. Except for the Fashionistas series by Sarra Manning, so I'll be picking up book one to make me feel amazeballs for the first task.

Challenge Two - The Method

What method are you going to use when you face your dragon? Pick one or do more for extra skill points.

Conjunctivitis Curse: Temporarily blind your dragon by reading a book with eyes on the cover.
  • Fashionistas: Irina by Sarra Manning - 336
    • This was a late addition to my TBR after I read Fashionistas: Laura by Sarra Manning, I just knew that I had to read on. Also Irina's eyes are on the cover so it fits the prompt perfectly.
Bewitched Sleep: Send your dragon to sleep by reading a whole book in bed.
  • Jane Eyre: A Retelling by Tanya Landman - 128
    • So when I'm in bed I tend to fall asleep. In order to read a whole book in bed it needs to be a short book. I recently read Jane Eyre for the first and fell in love with the story so I can't wait to read Tanya Landman's retelling.
Speed: Race past your dragon to retrieve the egg by reading a graphic novel.
  • Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman - 320
    • I knew that I was keeping this back for a reason, and apparently it's because my wee witchy brain knew I'd need it for this readathon. And I can't wait.
Distraction: Distract your dragon by transfiguring a rock into an animal, read a book with an animal on the cover.
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman - 352
    • I have been meaning to read this book since it came out. I have heard so much about it and I have a feeling it will be a tough read, but the cover has a jellyfish and a starfish and a turtle, so animals.
Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR - Second Task - The Lake


Monday 25th November – Sunday 1st December 2019

Challenge One - What Was Taken

Who do you need to save from the lake? You can find out which one you have to do by submitting your score for the first task, or checking back here once the first task is over. Want extra points? Rescue your own loved one, pick the method, then rescue the others too!

Significant Other: Read a book with a romance. 
  • A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan - 464
    • I absolutely adore Sarah Morgan's Christmas books, so I can't wait to read A Wedding in December. If I don't have to save my Significant Other in this challenge I will definitely rescue them after my own loved one!
Sibling: Read a book about siblings.
  • Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart - 320
    • A couple of hours before writing this post I read Charlotte, Somwhere's mini review of Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart and it got me excited for it. So what better excuse?
Friend: Read a book about friendship.
  • Remix by Non Pratt - 304
    • Friendship, music, and lies. I can't wait to experience it all over again and reread Remix by Non Pratt - it's been a long time since I first read it!

Challenge Two - The Method

How are you going to get through the lake in order to save the person that has been taken from you? Pick one method for this challenge!

Gillyweed: Gillyweed will allow you to breathe and move underwater, read a book with water on the cover.
  • The Alibi Girl by C.J. Skuse - 384
    • The cover for The Alibi Girl is bright pink with a cloud of black in that looks as though it's been dropped into water, so imma class it as water, because close enough. And also if this is anything as dark as Sweetpea then I'm desperate to read it.
Bubble-Head Charm: This charm gives you a continuous supply of oxygen, read a book set in space where this charm could also be useful.
  • Collision by Victor Dixen - 736
    • This book is a BEAST at over 700 pages long so I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that I can actually finish it haha. I absolutely loved Ascension and Distortion, the prior books in the Phobos Series by Victor Dixen.
Transfiguration: Partially transfigure yourself into a sea creature by reading a book about a sea creature.
  • The Bone Ships by RJ Barker - 496
    • I mean... I think The Bone Ships by RJ Barker has a sea creature? Do the dragons live in the sea? Fingers crossed!

Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR - Third Task - The Maze


Monday 9th December – Sunday 15th December 2019

Challenge One - The Obstacles

You will face many obstacles within the maze, you must complete at least one of these challenges, but may complete as many as you can for extra points.

Blast-Ended Skrewt: This is a hybrid creature, read a book outside your comfort zone.
  • Roaring Girls by Holly Kyte - 464
    • This is a British Historical Social & Urban History Biography so... Yeah. Not in my comfort zone, I'd say!
Boggart: Read a book that contains something you fear.
  • Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton - 384
    • I saw this book described as Black Mirror with a touch of Westworld re-wiring and... Well. Nope. Nope nope nope.
Acromantula: You may need help to defeat this creature, read a book recommended by a friend.
  • I need help with this prompt! Please leave me suggestions.
Sphinx: Solve its riddle by reading a book about or with a puzzle.
  • Unleashed by Amy McCulloch - 352
    • I absolutely love Jinxed by Amy McCulloch when I read it last year so I've been itching to fit Unleashed into my TBR to see where it goes next. Lacey wakes up in a hospital room with no recollection of how she got there, so it'd definitely going to be a puzzle to solve.
Golden Mist: The mist turns everything upside down, read a book with something upside down on the cover.
  • The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg - 464
    • One of the castles is upside-down like a reflection so I'm counting it haha. I started this ages ago on the train back from YALC but had to put it down and for Reasons never picked it back up, so I'm going to start again.

Challenge Two - Get The Cup

You made it through the maze, but can you take the cup?

Make sure it’s not a Portkey and read a book that involves travel of any kind for your final challenge to take the cup and complete the Triwizard Tournament!
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski - 384
    • I couldn't resist. At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world, and so it fits this prompt perfectly.

Are you joining the Triwizard Tournament Readathon? 
Which school are you representing? 
What's on your TBR? 

05 November 2019

Ten Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes
As I have said before, autumn is my favourite season. And these covers just give me such autumnal vibes, and not just because it's the season when I first read them. The final one I think is the ultimate Autumn Vibes cover, I'm sure you'll agree.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls
The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
Widdershins by Helen Steadman

The Familiars by Stacey Halls   The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin   Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick
Sanctuary by V.V. James
The Witch's Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick   Sanctuary by V.V. James   The Witch's Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow
The Devil's Poetry by Louise Cole
Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow   The Devil's Poetry by Louise Cole   Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling
Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling

Which book gives you Autumn Vibes?

31 October 2019

My Halloween Plans

This time last year, I was sharing My Halloween Rituals, with all sorts of self-care and new beginnings. I am in a very different place this year so it's bit... Different.

I'll still be setting out my usual reflective to do list (it's very similar to last year) and doing a three card draw on Golden Thread Tarot.

My Halloween Plans

My Halloween Plans

Read A Book

I finally have my hands on The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh and it's going to be my Halloween read. I am so excited for Vampires and history and food, and I can't wait to get stuck in. After listening to the author talk about it at YALC earlier this year, I have a feeling that The Beautiful will make me hungry.

Visit a Castle and a Church

We're heading out for a wee drive and plan to stop off at Brancepeth Castle and St Brandon's Church and have a little wander. The church has been beautifully restored after it was all but destroyed by fire in 1998, the windows are breathtaking and I enjoy looking at the grave-markers and trying to figure out the stories of the people buried there based on the clues on the headstones.

St Brandon's Church, Brancepeth

Do a Face Mask

I have been saving up a Garnier Moisture Bomb Chamomile Hydrating Face Sheet Mask especially for Halloween, as my little self-care treat. Also, this autumn weather is taking its toll on my poor wee face, it needs some soothing hydration.

Watch a Film or Two

We have two films lined up for Halloween. We like to watch stuff that's a bit funny and almost parodies itself, especially when it comes to horror. This year we've added Hellbenders and Cannibals and Carpet Fitters to our Watch Lists on Amazon Prime Video.

Drink Some Wine

We call Co Op's California Rosé "Juice Wine" because it's so quaffable and it used to come in a box (juice box, anyone?). I'm being extra fruity and dropping some watermelon into my glass to make it extra tasty.

Eat Some Takeaway

We found a Lebanese takeaway that delivers super quick and does the most delicious Shawarma, lovely homemade chips, and fresh chili sauce. So we're going to treat ourselves while we're watching our films.

30 October 2019

What's In My Bag?

This is something I used to do a lot about ten years ago - share whatever was in my bag at the time on a roughly monthly basis, using it as a chance to get rid of the build up of receipts and show off whatever bag I'm using.

What's In My Bag?

This month I'm using the gorgeous tote bag from September's Witches Be Crazy Fairyloot box.


What's In My Bag?

  • Book
    • I'm currently reading The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons and it's a bit of a beast at over 700 pages long.
  • Book Sleeve
    • I'm using a book sleeve from a previous Fairyloot box, it matches the vibes from my book and looks pretty good with the design on my bag.
  • Caramel Wafer
    • I always try to have a wee emergency snack in my bag, and it's currently this Tunnock's Caramel Wafer. You can take the girl out of Scotland...
  • Hand Cream
    • My current favourite is Co Op own brand Moisturising Hand Cream - it's really light and soaks in quickly, and doesn't leave my hands greasy.
  • Hand Sanitiser
    • I don't use this often as hand sanitisers sting my hands, but I'm using one from Aldi's Lacura range that doesn't dry me out too much.
  • Headphones
  • Keys
    • I feel like this should be obvious, but it's so I can get in and out of my home and work. I have a really cute Books Rule! enamel keyring that I got in a book subscription box and one with a picture of my nephew dressed as a penguin.
  • Kindle Paperwhite
    • I have my kindle on my at all times Just In Case. It's in a pretty battered Book of Spells case from Klever Case that I got in their pre-release years ago.
  • Lip Balm
    • Usually I have a Shimmer & Luxe lip balm from a Wildest Dreams box but I've used them up! I'm currently using Blistex as wait for payday so I can order more.
  • Notebook
    • This notebook is primarily for noting down where I go on adventures. It's gorgeous and small, and I won it in a giveaway.
  • Hufflepuff Pen
    • I bought this at the Platform 9 3/4 shop at Kings Cross one year on the way back from YA Shot, and it just feels lovely to write with.
  • Purse
    •  This one was a gift from my sister and I love the colour, it holds my membership cards for National Trust, English Heritage, Beamish Museum, and Alnwick Gardens.
  • Tissues
    • Gotta keep the sniffles at bay!
  • Water Bottle
    • I drink around three litres of water a day on top of my tea consumption, so this bottle is constantly by my side. I bought it in Primark earlier this year and it came with a removable infuser.
What's In My Bag?

I'm using quite a large tote bag at the moment, so I don't need to carry a reusable bag with me unless I know I'll be buying something substantial at the shops. Usually I just raid the reduced section at Co Op on my way home from work for dinner, and that tends to fit even in a handbag. I am good at handbag jenga.

What's in your bag?

29 October 2019

Top Ten Witchy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Witchy Books
There's been a wee bit of a theme to my reading recently. I've apparently read A Lot of witchy books  over the years, and now I'm going to share my ten favourites and my five word descriptions for them. If the title is a link then click on it to go to my full review, they're in alphabetical order.
  • Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow
      • Magic, survival, family, love, responsibility.
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao
      • Family, power, magic, control, love.
  • Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood
      • Magic, mystery, poison, realism, AMAZING.
  • Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew
      • Isolation, survival, magic, secrets, power.
  • Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
      • Family, love, sisterhood, childhood, magic.
  • Sanctuary by VV James
      • Family, community, secrets, belonging, magic.
  • The Forest Wife by Theresa Tomlinson
      • History, family, poverty, bravery, Robin-Hood.
  • The Witch's Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr
      • Family, magic, expectations, evil, love.
  • Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
      • Magic, friendship, power, justice, secrets.
  • Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
      • Magic, history, power, control, danger.

What's your favourite witchy book?

28 October 2019

Q&A with Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

I recently reread The Witch's Kiss and The Witch's Tears by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr, and I'm currently rereading the final book in the series, The Witch’s Blood. Rereading them has reminded me how excellent I think the whole series is, from the characters to the world building, the relationships to the lore.
Q&A with Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

Q&A with Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

Can you describe The Witch's Kiss (series) in five words?
Argh, that's hard! We think: siblings, witches, fairy-tales, family, sacrifice.

What inspired you to write the The Witch's Kiss, and about witches and curses in particular?
A mixture of things. We wanted to do a gender-reversed retelling of Sleeping Beauty, where it's a prince who gets saved. But we're also fascinated by the history of witchcraft, and particularly the way that 'witch' was used as label to attack any woman who didn't fit into societal norms. And we love that witches in fiction are so often powerful women who are challenging the patriarchy. So it made sense to have our Sleeping Beauty (Jack) saved by a witch.  In terms of curses, it's interesting how often as humans we trace our current day problems back to things in our childhood or even to things we've inherited from parents or grandparents; writing about an inherited curse seemed like an interesting way of considering that. Are we constrained by our past and our inheritance, or are we free to make our own choices and (as Merry discovers) our own mistakes?

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
We've been arguing about this. It would be nice to chat to Merry and find out what she's been up to since the end of the trilogy! Otherwise, we'd probably choose Gran (though she can be a bit scary), or Cormac, the healer and wizard who comes into Leo's life in The Witch's Blood. He's such a sweetie and we think he'd be a good listener. Definitely not Finn, because he probably makes terrible tea. 

Do you think that you would be able to survive in the world of your book?
It kind of depends who we meet first! Lacking any magical powers (sadly), we suspect our days might be numbered unless we lay low, though we would hope Merry would try and help us out; she and Leo are always looking out for their friends and family. One of us (not saying which one) is VERY clumsy, so accidently stumbling into some deadly black holly is a real possibility. Of course, the real question is what would happen if we were trapped by Gwydion or Ronan: go down together, or throw the slower sister under the metaphorical bus and do a runner???

Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does this come in to play when you write together?
Luckily we are both planners, or it would probably be quite hard to write together - we have to (literally) be on the same page. Having said that, our plans are never set in stone. They evolve and sometimes change quite radically as we write: plot points alter and characters refuse to behave as we expect them to...

What is your favourite thing about writing?
Escaping into a different world. Sometimes it's not always possible to physically escape from problems, but writing allows us to mentally escape, to be in a different space with different people and different issues to worry about or, hopefully, to inspire us. It's amazing.

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
Our next book is A Throne of Swans, a YA fantasy inspired loosely by Swan Lake with hints of Hamlet and Game of Thrones; think mad kings, deadly revenge and nobles who can shape-shift into birds. It's going to be published by Hotkey on 9th January 2020, so not too long now! It's the start of a duology so the second part will be out in 2021. We're working on more YA to follow and also a couple of MG ideas, so lots in the pipeline hopefully!

The Witch's Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr cover  The Witch's Tears by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr cover  The Witch’s Blood by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr cover

I am very excited for A Throne of Swans next year, as rereading The Witch's Kiss trilogy has reminded me what excellent story tellers Katharine and Elizabeth are. I can't wait for their Swan Lake inspired duology.

Have you read any of their books?