Time to be Accountable… My Off-the-Grid Readathon IV Review

Posted July 19, 2019 by Amber in Readthons & Reading Challenges / 2 Comments

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Good morning my beautiful monsters and happy Friday!

Last weekend, I participated in the Off-The-Grid Readathon.  I love this ruleless readathon, because it helps me bust through my TBR.  It’s a bit difficult to tell who is participating, because “off the grid” means put away your phone!  I’ve got to be honest – I didn’t do as well with the “put away your phone” aspect this time, but I did unplug from the television, so for me that was pretty good.

I had modest goals for this quarter’s readathon.  As you may remember from my TBR post, I worked all day Friday and knew I was going to be on call Saturday, so it seemed like I was only going to be able to really read on Sunday. In fact, I planned to extend to Monday because I had the day off with limited errands.  Ultimately, things worked out a bit better than expected!

My original TBR:

  • finish Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait by Alison Weir
  • read Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
  • start and (hopefully) finish The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

I’m really excited to announce that I finished all of these!  I ended up pushing myself and staying up late on Friday to finish Anna of Kleve and then being on call Saturday was very uneventful – I ended up working only about an hour and change.

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For this readathon, I usually go audiobook-heavy on Friday.  I don’t know what happened this time, but I never plugged in until my drive home.  My mind was elsewhere, I guess!  So the only book I finished Friday was Anna of Kleve.

Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait

Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait

by

Series: Six Tudor Queens #4
Publisher: Ballantine Books on
Genre: Historical Fiction

Check out this book on Goodreads

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to insure the royal succession. Now forty-six, overweight and unwell, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe’s most eligible princesses, but Anna of Kleve—a small German duchy—is twenty-four and eager to wed. Henry requests Anna’s portrait from his court painter, who enhances her looks, painting her straight-on in order not to emphasize her rather long nose. Henry is entranced by the lovely image, only to be bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. She is pleasant looking, just not the lady that Henry had expected.

What follows is a fascinating story of this awkward royal union that had to somehow be terminated tactfully. Alison Weir takes a fresh and surprising look at this remarkable royal marriage by describing it from the point of view of Queen Anna, a young woman with hopes and dreams of her own, alone in a royal court that rejected her from the day she arrived.

 

I had been looking forward to digging into this one, because I generally really enjoy Tudor historical fiction, and because a lot of people have recommended Alison Weir to me because I really enjoy Philippa Gregory.  Unfortunately, this book didn’t do it for me – I got through it, but I found the writing flat and overly detailed.  Anna herself was naive and silly, and generally not for me.

But that’s okay!  I’ve been having a bit of a bleh time lately so what’s another ★★ read in the pile?

After finishing Anna of Kleve, I was wiped.  Not only was it a long book, but it’s just exhausting to read books you aren’t enjoying and force your way through.  That’s a fantastic way to burn out.

I started in around 6am Saturday.  Don’t worry – I’m not usually up that early on Saturdays!  One of the joys of being on call.  I made some tea and started right in with Scars Like Wings that morning.  By the time I did need to work, I hit 84%.  But I can’t read and work, so it was then I switched to The Lost Years.

The Lost Years

The Lost Years

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Series: Merlin #1
Publisher: Philomel Books on
Genre: Bildungsroman, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Check out this book on Goodreads

When Merlin, suffering from a case of severe amnesia, discovers his strange powers, he becomes determined to discover his identity and flees to Fincayra where he fulfills his destiny, saving Fincayra from certain destruction and claiming his birthright and true name.

 

I was about 90% finished with The Lost Years when I plugged in Friday, so it feels a bit like cheating to include it.  The timing on this one worked out really well – the last 10% took about an hour to listen to, so I finished it just as I was finishing my testing for the work upgrades.  Yeah, my job is pretty exciting.

So, The Lost Years is a bit of a companion / retelling to Arthurian legend, working with the missing years in Merlin’s narrative.  I was expecting a little more Celtic mythology and magic, but it was largely set in a fantasy world.  It’s interesting enough, but it’s also the type of story that makes you wonder why the author bothered with a retelling when it seems like this is a completely different book anyway.  It was a perfectly fine book, but definitely a setup story without a lot of organic growth, so it’s only a ★★★ read for me.  I think I’ll give the next book in the series a go, but I have low expectation.

Scars Like Wings

Scars Like Wings

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Publisher: Delacorte Press on
Genre: Contemporary

Check out this book on Goodreads

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn't need a mirror to know what she looks like--she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be "normal" again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends--no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn't have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn't afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she's going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

 

After work, I curled back up with my cat and finished up Scars Like Wings.  I wasn’t expecting much from this book – it was actually one of those books I requested because I loved the cover.  I think I knew it was about a fire survivor when I requested it, but it had been a month since I received it on NetGalley and longer since i requested it, so when I dug in… all I remembered was “this is the next book on my ARC TBR”.  Pretty exciting, right?

I’m so burnt out on ARCs.  I’m a mood reader and these are killing me.  I think I would have burnt out if I didn’t revisit Tess of the Road last month by audiobook.

ANYWAY.  Scars Like Wings gobbled me up.  I wasn’t expecting anything, and I was treated to a great group of really complex and lovely characters with different wants and needs and a perspective I’ve never seen before.  I really liked Ava, and her group gets an easy ★★★★★ from me!  Finally!  A book that I loved!  It’s been a while….

I did start The Good Luck Girls on Saturday, but only got about halfway through before I ran out of juice on Saturday.  I was ahead of my goal by this point, so it was easy to put the books down and relax for a bit.  Instead, I finished that up Sunday morning.

The Good Luck Girls

The Good Luck Girls

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Publisher: Tor Books on
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal

Check out this book on Goodreads

The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls--they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a "welcome house" as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta's most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It's going to take more than luck for them all to survive.

 

Just so you all know, I am that jerk who goes out to breakfast with my husband and brings my book because I am ALMOST done.  And I married a perfectly wonderful guy who waved his hand and told me “yes, go ahead, read!”

So I did.  I’m totally that person.

I didn’t actually finish the book until I got home later that morning, but it was a wonderful book that I really couldn’t put down.  I had really high expectations for The Good Luck Girls and I devoured every word.  It’s such a wonderful feeling to give five stars ★★★★★ to a book that I really anticipated.  I loved it and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it in October!  Get read y’all – this one is good!

Having finished The Good Luck Girls and therefore my original readathon TBR, I just kept plowing through and read the next ARC on my TBR…

Homerooms and Hall Passes

Homerooms and Hall Passes

by

Publisher: Balzer + Bray on
Genre: Adventure, Humor

Check out this book on Goodreads

In the mystical realm of Bríandalör, every day the brave and the bold delve into hidden temples or forgotten dungeons, battling vile monsters and evil wizards to loot their treasure hoards for sweet, sweet magic items.

But in their free time, our heroes—Thromdurr the mighty barbarian, Devis the shifty thief, Vela the noble paladin, Sorrowshade the Gloom Elf assassin, and Albiorix the (good!) wizard—need to relax and unwind.

That’s why they meet up once a week to play Homerooms & Hall Passes: a role-playing game where they assume the characters of average American eighth graders.

But when the five young adventurers are magically transported into their H&H game by an ancient curse, they must band together to survive their toughest challenge yet: middle school.

Who knew that battling ogres would be easier than passing algebra or navigating the cafeteria social scene? They must use what they’ve learned from playing Homerooms & Hall Passes to figure out how to save their game world (which might actually be real...).

 

Honestly?  This is a book I would never have read on my own.  Homerooms and Hall Passes came from BookCon, and it isn’t a book I would have chosen.  This came from my husband and the first Epic Reads line on Sunday.  By the time he got to the front of the line, this was all that was left.  That’s what happens with a lot of the BookCon ARC lines – you know the selection of book that could be available, but there will be fewer of the highly anticipated titles and a lot of the ones people aren’t super interested in.

So, Homerooms and Hall Passes isn’t a highly anticipated novel, but since I got an ARC, I felt obliged to do a good turn and at least give it a try.  And you know what?  It wasn’t so bad.  A bit silly at times… okay, all the time… but it was an entertaining novel.  I ended up giving it ★★★★ and nobody is more surprised about this than me!

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My totally count here was five books, and of that there’s one eBook, one audiobook, and three regular books.  I think that the next time I do this (in October!) I’ll keep track of hours and pages.  I haven’t started another book since I finished Homerooms and Hall Passes, but I have The Beautiful queued up and ready to go.  I’ve also been listening to Stephen King’s 11/22/63, but I’m a far cry from finishing it.

If you like the idea of joining in the next readathon, the next one is:

October 11 – 13 // Click here for the rules!

Mark your calendars now!  It’s always good to unplug for a weekend and indulge yourself in a story.

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Do you find yourself putting down books during “reading time” to play with your phone?  I’ll admit – sometimes I go in to add a quote or make a note and get completely distracted!  Tell me what you do to stay focused. 🙂

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