The Reading Rush ‘20 Wrap Up

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today, I’m here to talk about the books that I read for The Reading Rush readathon that took place 20 July to 26 July. There were many different challenges to complete, however, I’m going to take the opportunity to discuss some of the problems which have arisen.

The reading prompts were released on Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the emancipation of those who have been enslaved. This seemed a little insensitive, considering how vocal the hosts and sprint partners have been about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Secondly, there were prompts which were ableist, especially for those who were unable to leave their homes in light of the Coronavirus Covid 19 pandemic, are disabled in some form, or have monetary problems. Thirdly, there was little to no promotion of a group book (I was unaware of this like many), which in an Instagram live show was glossed and joked over – and this book was written by a Black author. There have been other issues arising from the readathon, so I’m unsure what the future will hold.

This being said, I have read some books during this time. So without further ado, let’s begin, and fair warning, there may be spoilers.

Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birthstone. For this challenge, I read an eBook, and that was Room by Emma Donoghue, which is an adult contemporary. This follows Jack, a young boy, was has spent five years of his life in Room. All he knows is the world within in it, until his Ma tells him there is a world out there, and that they will get to it… This is a hard hitting novel, based on real life cases of abducted women, who are held prisoner and are impregnated by their captors. This was a little hard to read at times, not just because of the topics discussed, but also Jack’s simple language. There are times that Jack becomes an adult in how he phrases things, which can also be jarring. I would love loved to learn more about Ma, who is never named – to see her perspective would be a lovely contrast. This being said, I did enjoy this and I rated this 4 stars.

room

Read a book that starts with the word ‘the’. For this, I deviated from my original TBR at the behest of my boyfriend, and I borrowed one of his graphic novels. The book I read was The Batman Who Laughs by Scott Snyder, which collects a seven issue miniseries, and a short known as, The Grim Knight. This follows a Batman from an alternate dimension (the Dark Multiverse), and how a war among Batmen begins. The question remains – who will have the last laugh? This is an incredibly dark take on one of comic’s greatest heroes. I really enjoyed this, although I’m not too familiar with the Dark Multiverse – things can be very confusing. The use of red text in the narration and speech can sometimes be difficult to read. There are so many dark colours and panels, to match the psychological elements. My boyfriend has been angling for me to read this since he bought it, and I finally have. In the end, I rated this 4 stars, simply because I think I need to read other stories from the Dark Multiverse to understand it better.

the batman who laughs

Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen. For this challenge, I read an eBook that I was gifted to me by my best friend, and that is The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, which is an adult horror. This follows a family who are terrorised by horrific creatures that come forth from an interesting puzzle box… This inspired the 1987 film, Hellraiser, which is horror. The book is relatively short, more like a novella, but it packs a punch. Barker’s descriptions were so enthralling – I was drawn straight in with his writing style. The characters felt real, even when there was something creepy happening. This is not for children or young adults – there is a wealth of blood, demons and sex. The film is a faithful adaptation too, which I was presently surprised at finding out. My only complaint is that it was too short – I would have loved this to be longer. This being said, the films are able to give me that, even though there are deviations. I rated this 4 stars.

the hellbound heart

Read the first book you touch. For this challenge, I read one of my most anticipated reads, and that was Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst, which is a YA fantasy. This is the first book in the Of Fire and Stars series, which follows Princess Denna, who is betrothed to the Prince of a neighbouring country. Denna is soon swept up in politics and intrigue, and her burgeoning feelings for the Prince’s sister… I was disappointed with this. I felt the plot was quite generic, and it felt like there was too much at work. The names of characters and places is flung at you, and I was instantly confused – my senses were full on assaulted. Denna and Mare’s growing chemistry was nice to see, although I would have appreciated more depth to this, especially as the Prince himself is absent for most of the plot – we never really see him and Denna interacting and being given a chance. There is murder, but sadly, I did guess who was responsible. The LGBT+ romance element was a lovely take on the fantasy genre, but I didn’t live up to my expectations and ultimately fell flat. I rated this 3 stars.

of fire and stars

Read a book completely outside of your house. This was a challenge that had to be adapted, simply because of the Coronavirus Covid 19 pandemic – it simply wasn’t safe to read outside. I had planned to read a book with the word ‘house’ in the title, but sadly, I got 5% into the book (Safe House by Chris Ewan, an adult thriller), and I didn’t connect with the plot or writing style. Instead, I decided to read a book next to the window, and so I picked up a graphic novel – Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd. This is a collection of short comics that follow the romance between Catana and her boyfriend. I had bought this for my boyfriend, after seeing so many similiarities between their lives and ours. This was a book I read in one sitting, and it was so adorable! There’s not much to this – it’s short, sickly sweet, and was the perfect read to cheer me up, and brighten the gloomy day. I rated this 5 stars.

little moments of love

catana

Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of. For this challenge, I read an eBook, and that is Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, which is a Gothic novella classic. This follows a young girl, who is preyed upon by a female vampire… This is a relatively short classic, and was simple enough to read – the complexities were explained and worked in the stories favour. The characters were distinguished, and had good interactions. There were plenty of vampire tropes that I recognised and enjoyed, making this a good read. There isn’t a lot to say about this – it was a classic I enjoyed, and really helped me understand the genre more. This being said, I think I would have liked it more if it was longer… I rated this 4 stars.

CARMILLA

Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live. For this challenge, I read another book that I had been gifted from my best friend, and that was Japanese Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn, which is a collection of classic Japanese short stories. This is an interesting collection – there are a lot of stories about samurais, which I enjoyed. There is a mixture of short and long, and a few traditional illustrations, which really highlight the strangeness of the tales. This being said, some of the stories are told weirdly – like the author is explaining how he learnt of the tale, then the actual story, then how he felt afterwards. I didn’t really like this writing style, and was a little jarring to read. Additionally, the stories weren’t scary – there were a few that were memorable, but nothing that stood drastically out. Maybe I’m harder to scare? Maybe it’s because I’m so far removed from the culture? This being said, there are plenty of footnotes to explain unfamiliar language or geography, which can be helpful. I ended up rating this 3 stars.

japanese ghost stories

So that’s it for the Readathon, and my wrap up! I hope that things will be more inclusive for the community in years to come, and that those who have been affected will be listened to. Did you join in? What did you read?

– ReadWriteZoe.

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