Failing? Winterween 2021

Last week, from Jan. 4 to Jan. 10, I participated in the Winterween readathon this year. It’s a challenge created by Oliviareadsalatte and Gabbyreads over on Youtube. The overall idea of the readathon is that just because it’s winter and not Halloween does not mean we can’t read some scary reads. Honestly, part of the reason I wanted to do the readathon was because this week I started school, and I wanted to read as many books as possible because I was too busy to read as much.

Unfortunately, the week did not go as expected…

But first, here were the challenges for the Winterween readathon of 2021:

  • read a book with ‘haunt’ in the title
  • read a book with blue on the cover
  • read a book with a winter setting
  • read a book in the dark
  • read a novella/short book (200-300 pages)
  • buddy read, The Haunting of Brynn Wilder

I knew I wasn’t going to do the buddy read, but I was hoping to read seven books. I sadly ended up only finishing two…

Though technically, those two books completed all the challenges for the readathon. While I completed the challenge, I was disappointed that I didn’t feel motivated enough to finish more books. I did keep a daily vlog on YouTube if you’re curious to watch that (I’ll put it at the end of this post), but I will introduce you to the two books I did end up reading and finishing, as well as the one book I ended up dnfing.

The Dollmaker of Krakow

The first book I read was The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero. I raved about this so much on my vlog, but this book was amazing! And it’s made me want to read more middle grade books, because I feel like people discredit them for being for kids when they can be just as deep as adult books.

Anyway, this book follows Karolina, a living doll from the Land of the Dolls who escapes to the human world after her home is taken over by massive rats who are burning the dolls. She finds her way to Krakow, Poland, to the home of a lonely dollmaker with no friends just before the Nazis invade Poland. Eventually, the dollmaker and Karolina befriend a Jewish man and his daughter.

I went into more spoilers in my video, but let’s just say this was such a moving story, even if the ending had me sobbing.

This book fulfilled two of the challenges: read a book with blue on the cover and read a book with a winter setting (while the entire book wasn’t set during winter, it covered several years and several winters).

The Haunting of Sunshine House

The second book I finished was The Haunting of Sunshine House by Dominika Best. I’ve owned this book for a long time on my phone (I tend to collect Indie books from Kindle and then never read them) and so I was happy to finally get to read it. However, I had pretty mixed feelings about it.

It’s mostly set in the Sunshine House, a famous LA hotel turn assisted living for the elderly, where healthy people are dying from mysterious heart attacks. Psychic Sara Caine, who has been able to see ghosts since her parents died in a car crash and she was the only survivor, is called in to investigate. I ended up giving this book three stars.

I was really interested in the mystery aspect, as well as the ghosts, but I didn’t think the two fit well together. You could have removed the ghosts entirely and had a good mystery, or you could have removed the mystery entirely and had a good horror, but together they didn’t mesh well. Also, there were so many perspectives (over seven), and honestly the book could have gotten away with three and not lost anything.

This book fulfilled the other three challenges: read a book with ‘haunt’ in the title, read a book entirely in the dark, and read a novella or short novel.

The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare, #1)

The final book I tried to read was The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow. I ended up DNFing it about fifty pages in (thus why it doesn’t appear on my Goodreads page, because I rarely review and rate books I DNF). This is another book I’ve owned for years, and I thought I would enjoy it because I love steampunk books, especially those which combine magic and the Victorian era.

This book follows brilliant mentath Archibald Clare and sorceress Emma Bannon. Mentaths, brilliant minds who use deduction a bit like Sherlock Holmes, are being mysteriously killed and Bannon and Clare must work together to solve the mystery before they too are killed.

I really was fascinated with the world, but I couldn’t stand the two main characters. Clare was bland, with none of the intellectual intelligence I was expecting from someone described as being brilliant at deduction. Bannon was intolerable. She was, forgive my language, a bitch to pretty much everyone around her, and yet she also seemed incredibly weak all the time. With me disliking both of them so much, I decided just to not finish this book.

Sadly, after DNFing it I didn’t feel like continuing the challenge, so I finished it two days early on Friday instead of Sunday. So in my view I failed the challenge even if I technically completed all the challenges.

Have you heard of Winterween? Do any of these books look interesting to you? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

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