Reading Challenges

ARC August 2020 TBR

It’s time for Read. Sleep. Repeat.’s ARC August! I did this challenge last year and it really helped me to get through a good portion of my backlogged ARCs. I’m ready to tackle some more this year and hopefully find some new favorites in the process! Here is my TBR for this year’s ARC August!

Are you participating in ARC August this year? What books are on your TBR? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments and we can cheer each other on!

Book Reviews · Broadway Book Chat · Monthly Wrap-Ups · Reading Challenges

April 2020 Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

Hi everybody!  Well, the world is still topsy turvy, and we’re all still in hermit mode.  With the future so uncertain it can be hard to stay positive, but I am so lucky to be surrounded by the best people.  I am incredibly thankful for the technology that lets us feel closer to our people in this crazy time.  I’ve begun a new online D & D campaign with my crew, had too many virtual happy hours to count, and today I even got to be there for one of my best friend’s weddings virtually!  One day this will all be behind us, but for now I am feeling so grateful for all of the people I love and cannot wait until I can squeeze them all again.  I’ve gotten some good reading done thanks to the 2020 Magical Readathon, and I really fell in love with some of these stories.  I’m sending happy and healthy vibes to all of you and hoping we’ll be on the other side of this mess soon! ❤


Books Read:

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★

Among Shadows by Nina Walker ★★★★

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton ★★★★★ BOOK HANGOVER

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger ★★★★

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke ★★★★

Insurgent by Veronica Roth ★★★

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong ★★

Songs of Love and War by Santa Montefiore ★★★★★ BOOK HANGOVER

Favorite Book of the Month:

I can’t pick.  I loved them both so much.

Currently Reading:


Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge: 29 of 30

Classics Club Challenge: 9 of 50

Beat the Backlist: 18 of 50

2020 Magical Readathon OWLS: 7 out of 7 (COMPLETED)

Broadway Book Chat: Ahren Victory from Cats

April Reviews

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. MaasThe Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

April Posts

2020 Magical Readathon: O.W.L.’sCleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #22The Stay at Home Book TagTop 10 Tuesday: Books I Enjoyed But Rarely Talk AboutTop 10 Tuesday: Books I Wish I Had Read As A Child2020 Magical Readathon: O.W.L.’s Update


Reading Challenges

2020 Magical Readathon: O.W.L.’s Update

Hi guys! As this month draws to a close, so do the 2020 Magical Readathon O.W.L.’s.  This was the first real readathon that I have participated in and it was so much fun!  Thanks so much to Book Roast for hosting it and I cannot wait for the N.E.W.T.’s later this year.

As a recap, The Magical Readathon is a month-long reading challenge hosted by Book Roast, based on the wonderful Wizarding World we all know and love.  You pick a wizarding career path and based on your choice you have certain O.W.L.’s that you need to pass.  Each O.W.L. class has a specific prompt for a book to read to “pass the exam.”  The N.E.W.T’s happen later in the year and are a step up from the O.W.L.’s.  You can check out the readathon in more detail here.


The career that I picked was Hogwarts Professor, leaning towards a focus in Charms.


For this career, I needed to pass 7 O.W.L.’s: A subject I wish to teach (Charms), Defense Against the Dark Arts, and 5 additional subjects of my choice.  I have chosen Herbology, Potions, Transfiguration, History of Magic, and Divination.  I am happy to say that I passed all of my exams! 🙂

Charms– Lumos Maxima: A book with a white cover


THIS. BOOK.  You guys this book was so beautiful and had such a unique way of story telling that I adored.  Definitely gave me a book hangover.

Defense Against the Dark Arts– Grindylows: A book set at the sea/coast


OMG.  I am IN LOVE with this book.  It takes place in Ireland, which I have always felt drawn to, during my favorite time in history to read about, WWI-1920’s, and it was the perfect scandalous family drama that I lived for.  I am so excited that there are two more books in the trilogy and can’t believe I haven’t discovered it until now!

Herbology– Mimbulus Mimbletonia: Title that starts with an “M”


I read an ARC of this book for this OWL, and it was rough.  The main character is entirely unrelatable and it was hard to root for her.  I’ll have a full review of this coming out soon!

Potions– Shrinking Solution: A book under 150 pages


I had taken an unintentional break from The Color Alchemist series, and reading this novella made me excited to get to the final book.  I love this world and this form of magic, as well as the characters.  More people need to read this series because its fantastic.

Transfiguration– Animagus Lecture: A book/series that includes shapeshifting


I love SJ Mass so much.  I was nervous at first because this one took me a while to get fully invested in, but I wasn’t disappointed.  Its such a cool world and I love the mixture of all the different supernaturals.  Read my full review here.

History of Magic– Witch Hunts: A book featuring witches/wizards


For this OWL, I read an ARC of The Scapegracers.  It was spooky, snarky, and badass and I really enjoyed myself.  It definitely has a darker vibe, which was different to the other things I have been reading lately.  See my full review here.

Divination– Third Eye: Assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read.


This book has been on my TBR for so long and I am thrilled that I finally got to read it.  It was super fun and scandalous, definitely gave me real-housewives vibes, and it was cool to revisit with some favorite characters.

How did everyone else fare in this years Magical Readathon?? Let’s chat in the comments! 

Reading Challenges

2020 Magical Readathon: O.W.L.’s

Hello everyone! As you all know, I’m a huge Potterhead.  I found Book Roast’s  Magical Readathon last year during the N.E.W.T.’s, and I was so sad to have missed the start of it all.  This year I get to participate, and I am so pumped.

The Magical Readathon is a month-long reading challenge hosted by Book Roast, based on the wonderful Wizarding World we all know and love.  You pick a wizarding career path and based on your choice you have certain O.W.L.’s that you need to pass.  Each O.W.L. class has a specific prompt for a book to read to “pass the exam.”  The N.E.W.T’s happen later in the year and are a step up from the O.W.L.’s.  You can check out the readathon in more detail here.


I was struggling to pick which career I wanted to do this year, but I finally settled on Hogwarts Professor.  As of right now, I’m leaning towards teaching Charms, which I have always thought would be my best subject at Hogwarts, but we’ll see what happens as we go along.  I might have bitten off more than I can chew with 7 O.W.L.’s to pass, but I figured what better to do with my quarantine time than study for my O.W.L.’s?

For this career, I need to pass 7 O.W.L.’s: A subject I wish to teach (Charms), Defense Against the Dark Arts, and 5 additional subjects of my choice.  I have chosen Herbology, Potions, Transfiguration, History of Magic, and Divination.

I will update each O.W.L. as I pass.  I don’t wanna make a TBR for this since I am such a mood reader and it will be fun to search out the books for each prompt.

My Prompts are:

Charms– Lumos Maxima: A book with a white cover


Defense Against the Dark Arts– Grindylows: A book set at the sea/coast


Herbology– Mimbulus Mimbletonia: Title that starts with an “M”


Potions– Shrinking Solution: A book under 150 pages


Transfiguration– Animagus Lecture: A book/series that includes shapeshifting


History of Magic– Witch Hunts: A book featuring witches/wizards


Divination– Third Eye: Assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read.


Are you participating in The Magical Readathon this year? Let’s cheer each other on!  Post in the comments if you have any good ideas or recommendations for any of these prompts 🙂 Here we go!

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges · The Classics Club

Classics Club Challenge: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

151Summary:Anna Karenina” tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel’s seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. While previous versions have softened the robust, and sometimes shocking, quality of Tolstoy’s writing, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have produced a translation true to his powerful voice. This award-winning team’s authoritative edition also includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes. Beautiful, vigorous, and eminently readable, this “Anna Karenina” will be the definitive text for generations to come.

I’m still processing my feelings about this book.  I started off absolutely loving it.  I loved the big mix of characters, multiple perspectives, and where the plot was going.  While Anna and Vronsky’s relationship escalates really quickly, I felt their connection, and the introduction of their passion seen from Kitty’s eyes was incredibly brilliant.  Anna is a very elusive character, and I find it interesting that the entire book is named for her when she is the character that I find to be the most mysterious.  However; all of the other characters are related through her, so it makes sense in that regard.  My thoughts about all of the characters changed over the course of the novel drastically.  I was so enamored with Anna at the beginning, but as the story went on, while I felt for the difficulty of her situation, her behavior was driving me nuts and I even found it hard to empathize with her and I felt bad for Vronsky as she crumbled.  My favorite characters ended up being Kitty and Levin, who I felt that we got to see and understand the most.  While I loved sweet Levin for most of the book, his whining towards the end started to annoy me.  I also enjoyed Anna’s sister in law, Dolly’s, character and the juxtaposition her relationship with her cheating husband posed with Anna’s infidelity.  The double standard with men and women is super apparent in this time period in society, and the use of the Oblonksy siblings as an example of this was brilliant.  About halfway through, the story started to lose me and became a bit of a chore to finish.  This book is so long.  It was easier to read than I had anticipated, and don’t get me wrong, I did like most of it, but I was left with a bit of a “blah” taste in my mouth.  I feel like you could probably cut half of it, preferably all of the parts about Russian farming and some of the Russian politics that were over my head, without losing any of the plot.  The ending was a little strange, and I would have liked to have felt a better sense of closure with all of the characters, but I guess that feeling is part of the tragedy of the story.  I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment for having finally finished this book that I have had on my list forEVER and overall really enjoyed the experience.

Reading Challenges

Let’s Do This: Beat The Back List Challenge 2020


Hello everyone! It has been a bit since I have participated in a new reading challenge (other than The Classics Club Challenge which is ongoing), and I have decided to join NovelKnight‘s Beat The Backlist 2020 Challenge!  I have an insane number of books on my shelves that I have not read yet and it is time to make a dent in them.


The book must have been published in 2019 or earlier to count. It can be in any format (including an ARC/eARC) as long as the release date is 2019 or earlier (i.e. 2020 releases are not allowed).

You have to start and finish the book in 2020 to count it. Any books started in 2019 and finished in 2020 do not count. Any books started in 2020 and finished in 2021 also do not count.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020
(your local time)

Everything beyond these 3 rules is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL and designed just for fun so you can put in as much or as little as you want into this challenge.

I have also decided to join the TBR Stackers Team for the Team Mini Challenge to compete for points and will probably participate in the bingo because, why not?  It sounds fun to me!


Official Challenge Tags

#BeatTheBacklist     #BeatTheBacklist2020     #BTB2020

I’m not going to make a specific TBR, because I am such a mood reader, but I will make a goal! Since my Goodreads Goal is 100 books, I am going to aim for half of those to be backlist books- hopefully as many from my own shelves.  I’ll add books here, and on the Beat The Backlist page, as I read them to keep track 🙂




Reading Challenges

ARC August 2019 TBR


It’s time for Read. Sleep. Repeat’s Annual ARC August! I love this challenge because it really kicks my butt into gear in catching up on all my ARCs.  I have 10 on my list this year, knowing I most likely won’t be able to get through all of them with my crazy schedule, but I figured I’d aim high.  Here is my TBR for the month, a bunch of upcoming releases and a couple backlogged books too.

What books are you guys reading for ARC August this year?

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges · The Classics Club

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann Review

581811Summary: Dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight-for Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry-only to find that there is no place left to go but down-into the Valley of the Dolls.

My Thoughts: Y’all. THIS. BOOK. I can’t get over it.  It was completely and utterly addicting.  As a musical theatre actress, I can’t get enough of Old Hollywood and this book was everything I wanted.  I loved this view into the entertainment industry of the 1940’s-1960’s, and what I loved most was that it didn’t shy away from the darker side of the industry.  This book caused a huge stir when it was published in 1966, and I can see why.  It was still pretty explicit today, so I can’t imagine the scandal it would have caused upon its release.  The thing that I found so revolutionary about it, was the way it explored the female psyche and sexuality.  Looking back on it from today’s perspective, it really highlights the misogyny and what women were brainwashed to accept as reality, especially in terms of relationships.  This gave us a very interesting perspective into the three distinct and vibrant main characters, who all handle these situations very differently.  I loved all of three of them for so many reasons.  Their journeys were thorough and developed, and I understood each of them completely.  The plot was as addicting as the pills the girls consumed, and I could not put the book down.  This has easily become one of my favorite reads of all time, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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Book Hangover

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Netgalley Review: Toil & Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe

36426163Summary:  A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

My Thoughts: What a cool book.  As everyone knows, I love witches, so I snapped up the chance to read this collection of short witchy stories as soon as I saw it on Netgalley.  It is a collection of 15 short stories, all written by different women, involving magic, witches, and femininity.  The most amazing thing about this collection is the diversity.  Every story is vastly different from the one before, including the characters, writing styles, forms of magic, concepts, etc.  We got so much variety, and yet they all worked well together as a cohesive collection.  There were definitely some stories that I enjoyed and connected to more than others, but I think there is truly something for everyone in this collection.  My favorite stories were “The Gherin Girls” by Emery Lord, “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” by Jessica Spotswood, and “Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth May.  “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” was so captivating, and I loved the system of magic and the plot of the story.  I could have easily read (and want) an expansion of this story into a novel.  “The Gherin Girls” I loved because of the sisterly relationship (I really connected to these characters) and the subtle, yet well developed magic in it.  “Why They Watch Us Burn” was an incredible way to end the anthology.  It was completely haunting, terrifying, and scarily relevant.  I rated each story with a star rating and then averaged them to get my overall rating for the collection and it came out to a solid THREE STARS, but some of these stories are worth so much more to me.  There was a quote from “Why They Watch Us Burn” that really resonated with me, and I’m sure will with a lot of women.  “The most terrifying thing in the world is a girl with power.  That’s why they watch us burn.”

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Reading Challenges · Tags

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #4

I joined Goodreads a few years ago, way before I started blogging, so my profile is kind of a mess.  I really want to clean it up so I can make better use of it.  I thought what a better way to do that than to join the Down the TBR Hole meme started by Lia @Lost In a Story! I am going to do it once a month instead of weekly, and hopefully make my Goodreads a pleasant place to be again. 🙂

Here is how it works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Down the TBR Hole #4

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 151

Acclaimed by many as the world’s greatest novel, Anna Kareninaprovides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature – with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author’s own views and convictions.

Throughout, Tolstoy points no moral, merely inviting us not to judge but to watch. As Rosemary Edmonds comments, ‘He leaves the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope to bring home the meaning of the brooding words following the title, ‘Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.

My Thoughts: This one is actually on my TBR for this year, and I have wanted to read it for so long.  This one was easy for me.  Verdict: KEEP

128029A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed The Kite Runner, but for some reason I really don’t have any desire to continue on with A Thousand Splendid Suns… I know I would probably like it if I read it, but there are so many other books that are going to take priority. Verdict: TOSS

Life of Pi by Yann Martel4214

Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

My Thoughts: I added this because everyone seems to love it, but to be honest I’m just not that interested in reading it.  Verdict: TOSS

1103Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.

As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

My Thoughts: I think I added this because my mom had it at home… It’s definitely not something I am particularly interested in anymore.  Verdict: TOSS

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult14866

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge. 

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families. 

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who — if anyone — has the right to judge someone else?

My Thoughts: I like Jodi Picoult most of the time.  This book sounds like it would probably be really good, but I just feel like I have so many other books that I am more drawn to.  Maybe I’ll get to this eventually, but as of right now… Verdict: TOSS

What do you think about my decisions? Was I too ruthless this time?  Did I toss some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!