NEWTs 2018 Wrap-up: What I Read in August with Mini-reviews

August was the month of NEWTs, Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests! The reading challenge was hosted by Book Roast and the goal was to read books that fit prompts and achieve grades in different wizarding school subjects.

In the beginning of August, I constructed a TBR for the NEWTs and I pledged to achieve an Outstanding grade in one subject and at least an Acceptable grade in another. Well at least one thing did not go according to plan: I didn’t follow the TBR AT ALL. My mood drove my reading choices but I did manage to pick only books that fit the challenge prompts even though I wasn’t planning to read the books that I ended up reading.

oops

 

I’m awful, I knowΒ πŸ˜‚Β I can’t even follow my own plansΒ πŸ˜‚

As I did my OWLs in Arithmancy, Charms, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration, these are the subjects I was also working on in NEWTs.

(If you haven’t got the faintest what I’m talking about you can watch this, or you’re good just by knowing that A=Acceptable, E=Exceeds Expectations, and O=Outstanding)

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Books I finished

Arithmancy

A: Book of at least 300 pages

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

21853621

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I wasn’t really in the mood for historical fiction when I picked up this book about two sisters from a WW2 tormented France. Nevertheless, the Nightingale turned out to be so engaging and easy to read that I was immersed although my mood demanded fantasy. This is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story, and I loved how different the sisters were from each other. It didn’t take the spot of my favourite WW2 historical fiction from All the Light We Cannot See because I found the Nightingale somewhat predictable and I expected it to emotionally destroy me when I was only somewhat emotionally damaged by it.

E: Ends on an even-numbered page

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

303128555_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

The Last Magician is a deliciously twisted timetravel story about a world where magic is despised. To control the power of magicians, a border has been installed around New York that forces the magicians to stay in the city. In case they try to cross the border, their skill is sucked away leaving the individuals disarrayed, mad or dead.
Esta is a talented thief partly due to her ability to grasp time and bend it to her will. Due to her unique skill, she will be tasked to go back in time to 1902 to steal a book of magic that might reveal how to destroy the border.

I really enjoyed this book and especially the characters in it but I had this strange feeling that something was missing. At times I was confused about what was happening and sometimes I found it difficult to grasp the point of some characters and their actions. I’m still excited for the sequel!

Charms

A: A book with magic

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

334643

5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

I listened to the Abhorsen as an audio-book. Although I think I should rather say that I devoured it as an audio-book. This is the third installment in the Abhorsen series and hands down my favourite so far! I loved the characters and how everything came together. I started to feel at home in this terrible terrible world. The disreputable dog is my absolute favourite.

 

E: A book with a cover that charmed you

State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury

34640572

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

I read State of Sorrow during the magical allnighter, and gosh did I love it!! I made a full review because I was so giddy with its greatness.

Basically State of Sorrow is an amazing fantasy including relatable, intelligent characters, twisted politics and beautiful, atmospheric writing. And look at that cover?! I could frame this book! (but I cannot because I want to reread it).

O: A book you think will leave a mark

Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism

36697146

5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

Women of Resistance is a feminsit poetry collection by various poets and I was certain that it would be one of those books I keep coming back to. Unfortunately, it was not. I have a full review of it here, but basically only very few of the poems made me feel much anything. There were about 100 poems in the collection but I only fell in love with 9 of them. Nevertheless, it is a diverse collection from people from various cultures, sexualities and genders so you could try it out to see if it works better for you.

Herbology

A: A book with a green cover

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

24485589

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Hatred is a fire only a man feels. He does not hate the beast that comes in the night. Mankind fears it, fights it, drives it off, but he does not hate it. No one hates the bear, the wolf. They don’t hate the wind or the snow. They don’t hate the death.
They hate each other.Β 

Like many other books in this list, I wasn’t planning to read Hunted. But I’m so glad I did! It was the beauty and beast retelling I have been craving to hear. It was so beautiful!

E: A book with illustrations

Language of thorns by Leigh Bardugo

34076952

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

We were not made to please princes.

Language of Thorns includes six fairytales from the Grishaverse. The stories are surrounded by breathtaking illustrations by Sara Kipin that live and change with the stories. The illustrations deserve 100000/5 stars. I liked all the stories but some more than others. Overall they were all eerie but still empowering.

 

Potions

A: A book with a name of colour in title

All systems red by Martha Wells

32758901

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Murderbot is a self-aware SecUnit that has been assigned to protect scientists on a dangerous planet. SecUnits are property, not living and feeling beins, but Murderbot has hacked its own governer modules making it an essentially free being. And it hates social interaction with humans, preferring to binge watch soap shows instead. All systems red is one of those rare short stories that doesn’t make you think ‘aw I just wish it was longer’. This one stands on its own. I really enjoyed it! Murderbot is a funny main character and the plot kept me positively terrified.

Transfiguration

A: A book with a grey colour

Down among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

31450908

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

This is the sequel to Every Heart a Doorway but I enjoyed it a lot more than the first book in the series. In fact, DATSAB (lol this shortening) offered me the things that I missed from the first book, a deeper insight into a magical world and deeper understanding of the children who went through it all. I’m hoping to read the third part in the series soon!

 

 

E: A new author

Vicious by V. E. Schwab

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5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_two thirds_stars(That’s supposed to be 3.75 stars)

Vicious is a realistic fantasy about two ambitious friends who turn into rivals in their search for superpowers through near-death experiences. Vicious is completely, utterly entertaining. Time flew by at the airport when I read on an uncomfortable chair for hours. I even forgot the chair and my painfully squashed bottom. The only downside for me in Vicious was that it went by so quickly. I wanted more of these characters, more of the backstory and why the hate between Eli and Victor just kept on burning. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Vengeful. And I’ll definitely start reading loads more by V.E. Schwab.

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Books I did not finish

The above section gives the expression that I pretty much loved everything I read in August. However, I really struggled with two books and ended up DNF:ing them. I want to stay strict with the NEWTs reading challenge and I’m not counting these books towards any challenges.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken10576365

DNF @ 55% / page 270

In anticipation of the movie, I rushed to pick up the audio-book of the Darkest Minds but I simply struggled to get into the story. In my 24hr readathon, I live-blogged my struggle with this book and how I eventually decided to drop it. I felt like I just wasn’t interested in anything that was happening and continuing it might have driven me to a reading slump.

 

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton37795682

DNF @ 34% / page 200

By the 200 page-mark I had struggled with this book for what seemed like a long time. I found that I couldn’t stand to read this book for more than 15minutes at once or I would start nodding off. My biggest problem with it was the lack of plot and the excessive repetition of things. Basically nothing had happened yet and I was constantly given irrelevant and uninteresting flashbacks. In fact, as soon as the events started to get even a tiny bit interesting, the author decided to transport us back 11 years in the middle of an uninteresting scene instead. Such fun. But I might have enjoyed it more than I did if I had read King Lear by Shakespeare.

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Stats and Grades

august wrapup

Arithmancy: Exceeds Expectations

Charms: Outstanding

Herbology: Exceeds Expectations

Potions: Acceptable

Transfiguration: Exceeds Expectations

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I think I did very well! I’m happy with my progress and pretty proud that I managed to get that one Outstanding.

taptap

If you missed this round of NEWTs, don’t worry! I hear that this (and the OWLs!) will be an annual thing so we get to do it again next year. YAY! In future, I’ll probably try and add some mid-challenge updates to keep myself on track.

Did you part in NEWTs? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above or are some in your TBR? How was August for you as a reading month? I would love to know!

Thank you so much for reading!

– Pauliina

 

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8 thoughts on “NEWTs 2018 Wrap-up: What I Read in August with Mini-reviews”

  1. Oh wow you did really well!! I totally get you, as I did switch around my TBR a lot too, as I was just more in the mood for certain books and decided to go for it πŸ™‚ I’m very sad that the Readathon is already over now, but at least this is supposed to be an annual thing πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You did super well!! And don’t worry, I never follow my TBR schedule–I don’t even know why I make one up every month πŸ˜‚ And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t finish Innis Lear. The writing was beautiful but it got a little too much at times? Like trying to eat an entire chocolate cake by myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AH EXACTLY! I felt exactly like that when I was reading Innis Lear!! It was pretty but pretty alone doesn’t cut it in the bookish world πŸ˜… I’m the same about TBRs, I just keep making them cause I like making them but they serve next to no purpose at all haha

      Liked by 1 person

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