So I have decided to go ahead and join the O.W.L. Exams – Magical Readathon which was created by Book Roast (see her video here). The readathon is essentially about “sitting” your O.W.L.s as you would in the HP universe and hoping to get the best grade that you can in the subjects you’ve chosen. You can choose the subjects (books) based off of what you like, attempt to secure yourself a job post-graduation or attempt to do them all if that’s your vibe.
I decided that I want to attempt to do the subjects that are required of you to become a Healer. According to the Harry Potter wiki the subjects required are; Potions, Herbology, Charms. Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts. However while the first three sound like subjects I would have chosen had I actually gone to Hogwarts, Transfiguration and DADA are more obligatory subjects. So, if you have obligatory subjects you also have electives, right? And that’s where I went a little nuts. My elective subjects in addition to the ones required to become a Healer are (in order of preference): History of Magic, Astronomy, Ancient Runes, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination and Muggle Studies. I never really liked numbers so I deliberately left Arithmacy out since I’d hate every moment of it.
So that leaves me with a total of 11 subjects that I’m going to do my O.W.L.s in. Should I pay most attention to those which will secure me a job later? Probably. Will I? Uh, probably not no.
We’ll start by going through the subjects required to become a Healer first, then move onto the ones I’m calling “electives”.
Healer Specific Subjects:
The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
Her vengeance. His vision.
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
So I had a devil of a time finding something that dealt with alchemy that I already owned. So I settled for this which at the very least features the word in the title. How much alchemy is in this? No clue, but I own it and want to read it and it features the word so I’m sticking with it.
Jade City by Fonda Lee
FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.
Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.
So this one might be considered a little bit of a reach. But jade is a kind of stone found in nature so…. We’re going with it. Besides I really, really want to read this book and I needed to fit it in somewhere so here we are!
Bane and Shadow by Jon Skovron
NOTE: In the interest of not spoiling anyone who hasn’t read the first book, the summary below is from the first book Hope and Red.
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose. A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.
I knew what I would choose for charms the moment I saw what the genre was, I loved the first book and I’ve been dying to read the sequel so here we are. Finally!
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.
As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.
Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.
Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….
So I really struggled with finding something that dealt with transforming characters or shape-shifting that I a) wanted to read and b) already owned so when I turned this over and saw the mention of “and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world” I pretty much decided that this was the one. It at least uses the word shape, whether there’s shape-shifting I have no idea, but this is what I’ve got that I want to read (though if you’ve got any alternatives for me, feel free to drop them below since I probably won’t read this until next week or the week after).
Defense Against the Dark Arts:
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.
Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.
So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.
So this book serves a multitude of purposes by being on this list. First of all I’ve been wanting to read anything by Robin Hobb for a good while now and The Name of the Book (a book club/group. Social media: IG, GR.) is reading this book in April and then this readathon popped up and I feel like assassins kind of belong to a secret society by default since you don’t (typically) go around announcing that you’re going to assassinate someone or that you happen to be an assassin.
So that’s the “obligatory” subjects if I want to become a Healer later on. However, like I said, I’ve chosen some electives which you’ll find below.
History of Magic:
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.
I’ve had The Alice Network for a while and it’s a book where I’ve more or less been looking for the right time to read it. Which as you know, never tends to happen so now I’m just deciding that right now is the right time and so I knew I was going to choose this one when I saw the genre for History of Magic. I’ve been so excited to read this and I can’t wait to see if it lives up to expectations!
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
I bought Steelheart last week after I’d been at the dentist and was feeling sorry for myself. I’ve kept coming back to it whenever I’ve been in the bookstore and this time I finally decided to go ahead and buy it. So when this readathon came along I knew I was going to include this somehow so this is my pick for the sci-fi genre or Astronomy if you will.
Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman
Note: Because this is a sequel I’ve invluded the summary of the first book, Brother’s Ruin, below so that I don’t spoil anyone.
The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.
But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.
When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.
Brother’s Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman.
This was actually the first book I picked out for this readathon. I was going to try and pick a few shorter reads but then it turned out that I don’t actually own any other shorter books. Fortunately, this is one that I’ve really wanted to read so it works out, but it does mean I don’t rally have anything shorter to break things up which might not work in my favour, but oh well.
Care of Magical Creatures:
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Stormdancer is the first in the epic new fantasy series The Lotus War, introducing an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. When hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a legendary griffin, they fear their lives are over. Any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, the girl Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
Picking a book for CoMC was probably one of the easier ones since this particular book has been on my TBR for quite some time now and I’ve been feeling like reading it for some time now. As a bonus it even features the creature on the cover so that’s nice!
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.
So this doesn’t outright say prophecy but I feel like a horoscope that promises a marriage of earth and destruction qualifies. Finding fantasy books dealing with a prophecy of some sort is… pretty easy. But I wanted a break from series so I decided to go with this one as it’s a stand-alone with a companion novel in case I fall head-over-heels in love with this one (I might have some expectations of this one).
A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley
Murder – a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very British obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves?
In A Very British Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nation-wide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria’s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, puppet shows and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern Britain, murder entered our national psyche, and it’s been a part of us ever since.
A Very British Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime, and a riveting investigation into the British soul by one of our finest historians.
I’ve already read some of Lucy Worsley’s books (Courtiers, Jane Austen At Home) and this one has been sitting on my shelf for awhile. It’s hopefully different enough that it’ll provide a nice break should I need one. However out of all the subjects, Muggle Studies is the one I’m most likely to fail simply because of the time I tend to spend reading non-fiction books compared to fiction books. So we’ll see how I get on with it.
So there you have my picks for this readathon, are you participating this? What are you reading? Are you reading anything I’m reading?
That’s it from me for now, I’ll probably have a Weekly TBR up later (which will be very short since this will be taking up quite a bit of my reading time), but until then, I hope you’re reading something nice!