August + N.E.W.T.s Book Wrap-Up [Career : Healer]


N.E.W.T.s are officially over! This is the first year I've taken part in the Magical Readathon - otherwise known as a readathon that speaks to all the Harry Potter fans. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm referencing, check out the host's video HERE. Everything that you could possibly need is in her information box. The students of 2019 have already sat their exams, but if you're interested, I'm sure there will be a 2020 edition! We're talking Wizarding career booklets, a letter from Professor Minerva McGonagall, and so many prompts. The students of 2019 have already sat their exams, but if you're interested, I'm sure there will be a 2020 edition! I chose the career path of a carer, so here were the necessary studies I had to complete.

E in Herbology

A. Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audio book (if not - green cover)

E. Read a book between 350-390 pages

E in Charms 

A. Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover

E. Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or a book under 150 pages)

E in Defence Against the Dark Arts 

A. Read a book that's black under the dust jacket

E. Gilderoy's memory charm - (grab a pen!) first book you remembered just now from your TBR

E in Potions 

A. Pollyjuice potion: read your friend's favourite book

E. House ingredient: read a book with a cover in your Hogwarts house colour

E in Transfiguration 

A. Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation

E. Read a book that's not a first in the series

So, yup, you counted right. I had to read a total of  10 books to successfully pass my N.E.W.T.s. Not at all daunting! Here are the books I read for each grade, and mini wrap-ups to go alongside them.

Subject: Herbology
Grade: A
Prompt: Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audio book (if not - green cover).
An Anonymous Girl 
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

“We all have reasons for our judgements, even if those reasons are so deeply buried we don’t recognise them ourselves.”

Following a duel narrative of two women whose lives couldn't be more different, this domestic thriller covers the most basic of plots disguised by an interesting premise; When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.

Sounds interesting, right? Having already read the authors best-selling debut novel The Wife Between Us, I had high hopes for this. But sadly the longer the story went on, the more basic it got. This isn't a groundbreaking thriller nor is it in anyway surprising. Not once did I feel surprise at a reveal in the story, it only got more predictable. I did still rate it a solid 3 stars, because the first half held my interest. If you enjoy thrillers, I'd say give it a read anyway. It definitely isn't the worst I've read. But if thrillers aren't usually your jam and you're trying to get into the genre, this wouldn't be a great starting point.
Rating: ★★★

Subject: Herbology
Grade: E
Prompt: Read a book between 350-390 pages
Three Wishes 
by Liane Moriarty

“Baths, she thought, were just like her relationships, all "ooh, ah" in the beginning and then suddenly, without warning, she had to get out, out, out!” 

The Kettle sisters - Gemma, Lyn and Cat - have always been inseparable, which makes sense given the fact that they're triplets. This year they're turning thirty-three. What's defining their year? Divorce, pregnancy, the beginning of a relationship, a raging toddler, career woes, and an overall loss at what to do with their lives. Smashing.

This is the definition of a chic-lit novel but having read a good few of Liane's books prior to this, I still went in with high hopes. Sadly, it kinda fell flat. The story was well written and though unrealistic at times, enjoyable. My problem was with how insufferable our main three women were. They were selfish, whiny, and I honestly couldn't care less what happened to them. I expected more from the author who brought us Big Little Lies.
Rating: ★★★

Subject: Charms
Grade: A
Prompt: Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover.
The Goldfinch 
by Donna Tartt

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”

When an explosion in a museum kills his mother, 13-year-old Theo finds himself still standing, concussed, with the notorious painting The Goldfinch in his bag. Worth millions and mourned for by the art world, the teenager doesn't know how to go about returning it. In this book by the author of The Secret History, we follow Theo as he becomes a man and the trails that goes hand-in-hand with ageing.

This is one hefty book, with an even heftier story. The writing was beautiful, I devoured Donna Tartt's way of describing near about everything. Which is good, as she does describe literally everything that Theo comes into contact with. I vastly preferred the first third of this 500+ page novel, as the last portion dragged at times. Though I think that's to be expected. The characters were written wonderfully and I found myself truly caring for Theo - even when he was being a complete dumbass. If you enjoy literary fiction that's been made to be all pretty in the writing, then pick this up. If over writing bothers you, run like hell.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Charms
Grade: E
Prompt: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or a book under 150 pages).
Chi's Sweet Home Vol. 2 
by Kanata Konami

When Chi is found wandering the world with no place to go, he gets taken in to live with the Yamada's. In this second volume of the story, Chi has gotten comfortable with his new family so curiosity and making his own opinion ne heard now comes naturally to him. How naughty can a little kitten be?

This is the first manga series I've read, and it is adorable. Who doesn't love illustrated cats getting up to no good?
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Defence Against the Dark Arts
Grade: A
Prompt: Read a book that's black under the dust jacket.
by Neil Gaiman

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Like any young girl, Coraline is a curious child. She loves to spend her days exploring the garden of her home, finding new adventures to occupy her mind. When a door that 'leads to nowhere'  in her house suddenly opens, she gets sucked into a world of terror that may keep her from ever returning home.

I just don't think I like Neil Gaiman's style of writing. I know, the controversy! This book was okay, not great, not terrible.. just, okay. I didn't get swept up into the world, the illustrations didn't keep me interested, and the characters didn't hold my interest. What author can you just not get into?
Rating: ★★★

Subject: Defence Against the Dark Arts
Grade: E
Prompt: Gilderoy's memory charm - (grab a pen!) first book you remembered just now from your TBR.
A Man Called Ove 
by Fredrik Backman

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”

Ove has a routine that help define his days. He wakes up, makes coffee - real coffee, not the hipster type people drink nowadays, goes on his morning neighbourhood check, goes to work, comes home, eats a dinner of meat and potatoes, goes to bed. It's a routine that works. But when he suddenly becomes unemployed, everything is thrown into shambles. He wants to die. But when a new strange family moves in on the street and continuously gets in his way, his story takes an unexpected path.

I enjoy Fredrik Backman's writing, and this was no exception. I loved this book, it made me laugh, cry, and do everything in between. It was a literary roller coaster of emotions. Ove was a loveable ass, and his story was one that touched my heart. The only downside I couldn't look past was the repeated fat shaming that grew frustrating and stopped this from being a 5 star read.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Potions
Grade: A
Prompt: Pollyjuice potion: read your friend's favourite book.
A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet 
by Becky Chambers

“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.” 

The Wayfarer is a tunnelling ship made up of an array of species, all of which add something vital to this crew. We have the tough but loveable captain, the sweet-natured pilot, the respectful navigator, the quirky engineers, the foul-tempered algaeist, and the heart of the ship. When Rosemarie comes on board as their new book keeper, things begin to change. She's human and is hiding a secret that has impacted the galaxy.

We all have books on our TBR that we know we're going to enjoy, yet we're reluctant to pick them up as they become too..  familiar. This is one of my husband @BilliamSWN's favourite books. He sold it to me as a more varied version of Firefly, which instantly sold it, of course. And I loved it. It was exactly what I expected, which could've easily made it boring but instead made it feel homely.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Potions
Grade: E
Prompt: House ingredient: read a book with a cover in your Hogwarts house colour
The Help 
by Kathryn Stockett

“I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good.” 

After sitting on my TBR for way too long, I finally picked up this modern classic. Set in the 1960's in Mississippi, society girl Skeeter decides to put together a book interviewing all the black women living in the town who have spent their lives raising and serving the white women.

I didn't know what to expect going into this as I haven't seen the movie, but I absolutely adored it. I loved the characters, and I so badly wanted to know most of them in real life. Despite it being written in multiple POV's, I never felt disappointed when jumping from character to character - a rarity for me. I'd most definitely recommend you giving this a go.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Transfiguration
Grade: A
Prompt: Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation
Every Heart A Doorway 
by Seanan McGuire

“You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. Moving into a school for children like her, who have returned, she tries to adjust to the 'normal' world again. But when students start dying, her and her group of friends have to try and figure it out.

This is the first novella in the 'Wayward Children' series written by a woman who writes literal marmite. Everyone either loves or loathes her style, my husband being on the latter end of this. Check out his... heated.. review HERE. I on the other hand enjoyed this short, wacky, but weirdly readable book.
Rating: ★★★★ (3.5)

Subject: Transfiguration
Grade: E
Prompt: Read a book that's not a first in the series
Down Among The Sticks And Bones
by Seanan McGuire

“Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.”

Set before the events in Every Heart A Doorway, we follow twin sisters Jack and Jill as they go through their personal doorway into the moors.Choosing to follow their 'true' selves, Jack finds herself working for a doctor who seeks to conquer death, while Jill becomes a princess to The Master. A mysterious man who dines on thick red liquid and nothing else.

I 100% would've put off picking up this sequel if it didn't revolve around the only character I truly liked from book one. However, I'm indecisive on how I felt about it. Though it gave us as readers an opportunity to jump straight into the world without the introduction to a bazillion characters, it somehow still felt slow. It didn't give me the eerie True Blood style of world I wanted.
Rating: ★★★★ (3.5)

To go alongside my N.E.W.Ts I somehow managed to pick up another four books. Yay for insomnia! In the spirit of the readathon I chose to give Harry Potter another try in audiobook form. (Guess I'm going to have to give my Goodreads bio a refresh!) Brace yourself for an unpopular opinion, I didn't wholeheartedly love it. Keep reading to probably hate me a little more.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 
by J. K. Rowling 

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Harry Potter finds out he's a wizard. It's a good time for all.

Though I liked this, I didn't necessarily love it. I think a huge factor in this is that it very closely resembled the movie, which I've seen a fair few times. It made it a little.. boring to me. It was too familiar and as I haven't yet found the Hogwarts world to be comforting. I will say that the narrator did an excellent job, if you excuse the whiny Hermione voice that ought to be illegal.
Rating: ★★★★

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J. K. Rowling

“When in doubt, go to the library.” 

Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts. Once again, things go tits-up.

I had similar emotions toward this book as I did with the first. It was familiar and because of that, a little.. 'haven't I read this before?' and slow paced. I will continue with the series, as I'm already more interested in some of the characters. I didn't know that Ginnie had a personality! But I haven't yet hopped onto the Hogwarts Express fangirl train.
Rating: ★★★★

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” 

Written though a collection of letters to God, Celie is an underprivileged black woman who has spent her childhood being raped and abused by her father. Now a married woman (though force) to Mr_____, she talks about her new found friendship with renowned singer Shug.

For it's time, this is a beautifully written book covering the topic of feminism, race, and what it was like to be a woman of the past. However, after I finished, I just can't put my finger on the purpose of the story. Celie undoubtedly grows into herself throughout the book, but I don't think that benefits any of the others characters very much. Unlike say, The Help, I didn't feel connected to The Color Purple. I didn't ache for the characters, and in all honesty, the constant 'button' talk felt quite.. out of place.
Rating: ★★★

Into The Water
by Paula Hawkins

“She felt it when she woke, not a presence but an absence.” 

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Having read The Girl On The Train and disliking it, I wasn't too sure what to expect with this. It was exactly as I expected, a B-type thriller that I wouldn't necessarily recommend but not one that I loathe. It was just.. okay.

Rating: ★★★ (2.5)

And there we have it! I don't think I'll be taking part in any readathon's during the month of September, so I'm looking forward to reading whatever I want. How was your reading in August? Find a new favourite book? Let me know!

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