Thursday, April 30, 2020

April Reading Wrap Up and O.W.L.S Readathon

What a strange time we live in. The COVID19 lockdown for South Africa started on 26 March.  Being confined at home with all the reading time in the world didn't sound all that bad. All the reading time we could ever want. Wasn't this what we always wished for?

Turns out being in the middle of a pandemic isn't all that conducive to reading. For the first two weeks I couldn't even pick up a book. Dealing with the anxiety, stress and guilt of the situation just sapped all my energy both physically and mentally. Normal went out the window and all I could do most days was nap.

Thankfully participating in the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon during April seems to have reignited my reading. Turns out having some definite reading prompts to complete is a great motivator. Checking them off the list was just so satisfying and just the distraction I needed.

I managed to complete all 12 of the O.W.L prompts.
Ancient Runes: Heart on the cover or in the title -  Every Heart A Doorway
Arithmancy: Read something outside your favorite genre - Immortal Hulk Vol 3
Astronomy: Night Classes: read majority of this book when it's dark outside - Immortal Hulk Vol 4
Care of Magical Creatures: Creature with a beak on the cover - Misspent Youth
Charms Lumos Maxima: White Cover -  The Cabin at the End of the World
Defense Against the Dark Arts: Book set at the sea/coast - The Skinner
Divinitation: Assign Numbers to your TBR. Use a random number generator to pick your read - Red Moon
Herbology: Title starts with an M - Micro
History of Magic: Book featuring witches/wizards  - Carpe Jugulum
Muggle Studies: Contemporary - Funny, You don't look autistic
Potions: Book under 150 pages - Spider-Men
Transfiguration: Book/series that includes shapeshifting - If It Bleeds

It seems my brain is slowly adjusting to the new normal and April turned out to be my best reading month ever. In the end I read 11 novels, 1 novella, 1 novella collection and 19 graphic novels for a grand total of 7840 pages.

While I'm able to read for fun, I'm still struggling to get back into reviewer mode. I only managed to do a full review for Stephen King's If It Bleeds. Hopefully with time that will sort itself out as well.

Some brief thoughts on the novels and novellas I read during April:

Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson: A good enough read, but very politics heavy and slow. Unlike what the title would suggest, half the book takes place on the Earth and there is constant ping pong between the Earth and the Moon. Not quite what I hoped it to be. 6/10 

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin: Interesting take on the vampire mythos set on steamboats in the Mississippi. A bit slow at times and nothing truly innovative. 6.5/10

The Skinner by Neal Asher: Just as brilliant as the first time around. Fascinating biosphere, loads of action and snarky drones with that distinctive Asher flair. 8/10

Micro by Micheal Crichton and Richard Preston: Honey, I shrunk the Kids with a thriller makeover. A fun, popcorn read which takes some huge liberties with the science. 6/10

The Cabin at the end of the World by Paul Trembley: Good psychological thriller with some surprising twist and turns. Not at all what I expected, in a good way. 6.5/10

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett: My third re-read and still as fun as ever. Vampires face off against the Witches and it doesn't end well for them. A fun, comfort read. 7/10

Ghostland an American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey: An interesting exploration why certain places are reported to be haunted. 6/10

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic by Micheal McCrelary: A funny, informative look at the life of someone on the autism spectrum. 6/10

Misspent Youth by Peter F. Hamilton: Experimental rejuvenation therapy gives a man a second chance at youth. Sadly it also seems to turn him into a nymphomaniac which detracts hugely from the few interesting concepts at play. Not one of Hamilton's best works. 5.5/10

The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O'Meara: Part memoir and part history lesson, it shines a light on the forgotten work of Milicent Patrick and exposes the rampant sexism and prejudice still at play in the entertainment industry. 7/10

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire: A wonderful novella exploring the lives of those that have to cope with living in the mundane world after visiting fantastical worlds. Great concept and captivating characters. 7/10

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