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N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon Roundup

August brought the second part of Book Roast’s Harry Potter exam themed Magical Readathon – it was time to tackle our Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests to get the qualifications for our chosen careers.

If you remember from April, my Mum was studying to be a Broom Maker, Tori a Potioneer, and I was gunning to be a Magical Librarian.

Good news – we all passed!! Mum with distinction, going all out and getting top grades in all her subjects, whilst Tori and I just read the required levels for our Pass Grades because the Summer Holidays is not ideal reading territory! (Also, my brain decided to have a reading slump for no good reason, grrr.)

I figured I would tell you about the seven books I read to pass my N.E.W.T.s – they were mostly great, but there was one total duffer in the middle.

First up, my three Ancient Runes texts:

Grade A: Ehwaz (Partnership) – Read Recommended By A Friend

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

I really enjoyed this one – I like Karen McManus’ writing style a lot. I liked the murder mystery unfolding and linking up with past events in the town, and the creepy theme park was a great setting! It was a quick, easy, entertaining read that I didn’t want to put down. Also, the cover design is gorgeous – the metallic lettering and matching sprayed edges = Book Lust!

Thank you to my friend James for both recommendiing this to me, and letting me borrow his copy to read.

Grade E: Book Written In The Past Tense

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews

This book was as beautiful and brutal as the cover. The story follows Beck, a young lad who lives under his mother’s obsession with making him the next Big Thing in the piano world after she had to give up her own career. Except its not what Beck wants and, as he gets older, following her rules about not having any friends at school (to distract him from his training) and sticking to her strict training schedule starts being harder and harder. But he does his best out of fear that if he fails, his mother will turn her attention to his little sister and the last thing he wants is for her to be tethered to the piano for her whole life as well. As you would expect, things come to a head and it is not pretty, but the journey of self-discovery Beck goes through is something hopeful and wonderful. Well worth grabbing a copy if you see it.

Grade O: A Book That Has Been On Your TBR For Ages

Timebomb by Scott K. Andrews

Okay, so that isn’t actually the book I read, I read book 3 of that trilogy, The New World, but I forgot to take a photo of it before I lent it to Liberty to read.

The New World was a brilliant end to what was a fast-paced, high-octane time-travel adventure full of twists and turns that kept you constantly guessing and never entirely sure whether the heroes were doing the right thing, or just making stuff worse. I didn’t see the final twist coming at all and the end of the book had me crying happy-sad tears for ages after!

Then came my two History Of Magic reads:

Grade A: Read A Fantasy

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

Drink in that beautiful, beautiful cover… and then imagine it on fire. Because that’s what I wanted to do when I finished reading.

I barely know where to start with my rage about this book, although if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram you will have seen some of it as I read it… just, urgh.

Maguire tried to create an alternative version of Snow White, by blending the fairy tale with real history – namely the Borgia family and their escapades.

So firstly, there was a lot of incest. Lady Borgia, who took on the part of the evil stepmother, slept with her father, her brother and more than one of her own children, but honestly, by the end of the book that didn’t even feel problematic any more. And that probably tells you all you need to know.

There was a conversation about having sex with a large squid (ew) between an adult and a 7 year old (just no), an adult man tried to make an 11 year old touch him sexually (NOPE), there was a totally bizarre erotic encounter between a man and a unicorn (whyyyyy?), one character imagined his penis and balls falling off and crawling away to bury themselves after not having sex for years, the dwarves were boulders that only took on dwarf forms when Snow White looked at them, oh! and Snow White got her first period in a dramatic two-page spread that involved so much blood that it splattered on the floor/walls/dwarf-boulder’s feet and needed mopping up with a bucket the next day (when she had recovered from fainting).

The actual Snow White bit of the book was about 100 of the 300+ pages and was a pretty standard Snow White story, the rest of it was… unnecessary and often gross.

Do not recommend. Apart from as kindling.

Grade E: Read A Book That Includes A Map

Ink by Alice Broadway

This has been on my shelf since YALC… possibly the first YALC I attended now I think about it. Oops.

On the plus side, it was worth waiting because not only was it AMAZING, I had the other two books in the trilogy bought and on my shelf so I could read them all in quick succession as it was compulsive and I NEEDED to know what happened next. It made me think about how we as humans treat each other when faced with cultural differences – skin colour, religion, where we are born, class differences – and about how sometimes you have to look at both sides of a fight before you can find a solution.

I finished this when I was away in Ireland and it was beyond frustrating that the second book was back at home so I couldn’t pick it straight up afterwards.

Lastly, I read two Defence Against The Dark Arts texts:

Grade A: A Book That’s Black Under The Dust Jacket

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

This beauty was so unlike anything else I have read that I’m going to do a proper review of it later in the month. So for now you’ll just have to admire the cover!

Grade E: Gilderoy’s Memory Charm – The First Book You Remembered Just Now From Your TBR

Spark by Alice Broadway

Obviously this jumped straight to mind for this prompt having loved Ink so much earlier.

It was a brilliant continuation of the first book and as soon as I finished it, I picked up book 3 (Scar) so I could see how it all ended. There were laughs and tears and a current of hope throughout that buoyed you along. Very compulsive reading AND the most stunning set of covers ever ever ever!!

And with that, I passed my exams! Whoop!! Now to find me a library that needs a new recruit 😛

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