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My Year in Books (and Owls) 2020

Burrowing Owl Books

Burrowing Owl Books

Now that we have settled into 2021, I’m going to be looking back at the books – all 63 of them – I read in 2020.

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a crappy year, with more and more crap shoved down on top of it nearly every week. But if you’re reading this, you survived it – or you’re spending your afterlife in a very dull way – so you can give it the finger and hope 2021 will be better. That’s what I’m doing.

But you know what was good about the past year?

Lots of time for reading! You gotta look on the bright side of being stuck at home for months on end with only a tiny, grumpy owl for company. So here you have Artemis the Owl presenting each book, with my brief thoughts on each of them.

If you just want a gallery of Bookish Owl photos, scroll straight ahead to the bottom of the post!

Books 2020

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising
by Leigh Bardugo

This was the last book in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, and I thought it was a great way to end the story. Though there was plenty of excitement all the way through, the author still managed to wrap everything up nicely and I was left with a great respect for even minor characters. I’m glad the trilogy is part of the larger Grishaverse, because I’m definitely up for more stories in this world.

The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

The Shepherd’s Crown
by Terry Pratchett

This was the last book in the Discworld series, and neither this post nor last year’s make any attempt at hiding my love for this series, so I read this with a certain sense of melancholy. Most of the book’s plot even felt like a goodbye, with the death of Granny Weatherwax being a central point.
The Shepherd’s Crown wasn’t particular good by the (admittedly sky-high) standard of Discworld books, but it felt like a suitable end to the series.

The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

The Lost Plot
by Genevieve Cogman

Gangsters and dragons. What’s not to like?

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic
by Terry Pratchett

I needed something light after a rough start to the year, so I went with a re-reread of the first book in the Discworld series. It has absolutely no plot, but lots of insanity and humor, so it’s my go-to book when I need a break from books that are either too gloomy or that force me to actually think.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone OwlHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
by J. K. Rowling

It’s been years since I last reread the Harry Potter books, and let’s be honest: it’s a little ridiculous that I have had my owl pose next to books for more than a year without doing Harry Potter. Talk about missed opportunities, huh?


The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchet

The Light Fantastic
by Terry Pratchett

The continuation of The Colour of Magic. Still has nearly no plot, but it has Cohen the Barbarian – the eighty-seven year old barbarian hero with arthritis – and that’s worth any number of rereads.

Baking Bad by Kim M. WattBaking Bad
by Kim M. Watt

This was delightfully weird. It read like an episode of Midsomer Murders, but suddenly people are talking about dragons like it’s completely normal.
Oh, and all the talk of scones made me awfully hungry…

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

The Discworld + All out wizard war. Throw in the Luggage exterminating every unfortunate lifeform it comes across because it’s pissed, and you got all the weirdness you could possibly ask for.

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

I had forgotten quite how awful Gilderoy Lockhart is… And honestly, it was a relief when Colin Creevey got Petrified. I know I should have saved my wrath for Umbridge in book five, but I kept thinking that if I had the power to magically curse someone and a kid kept following me around and taking pictures of me without my permission, I would have ended up in jail very quickly.

Eric by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

This book was another reread in my hunt for mindless stupidity to entertain myself. Discworld books about the wizard Rincewind are always good for some of that. In this one he accidentally gets summoned by a kid who thinks he (Rincewind) is a demon.
That’s it. That’s basically the whole plot.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson

Not sure what I think about this book. I read it because I absolutely loved the Netflix horror show loosely based on it, and while I liked the book well enough it suffers from the same problem as many other old classics (this one is more than 60 years old) – namely that most of the story seems to be told between the lines. You know, the kind of story you had to analyze in high school for hours to figure out what it’s actually saying?
I liked how the book was about Eleanor losing her grip on reality in Hill House, but I just wished there had been a bit more focus on the horror part, that is, the things that drove her insane.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites
by Terry Pratchett

Yet another Discworld reread (we don’t have that many more to go, I promise). This one is about witches, wizards, gender roles, and of course, horrible monsters from another dimension.
It also has Granny Weatherwax, who, in the eyes of the wizards of Unseen University, might very well be both a witch and a horrible monster from another dimension…

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban owl

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J. K. Rowling

I think I might be getting too old for these books. My thought processes are beginning to sound like Mrs Weasley. These kids are totally irresponsible, but even worse: what kind of headmaster urges thirteen year old kids to go back in time, dodge a rabid werewolf, steal a hippogrif out from under the noses of law enforcement, just so they can fly around to save a convicted murderer from soul-eating monsters?
Why don’t you do it yourself, you crazy old bat?!

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies
by Terry Pratchett

I know, I know, another Discworld book, but this one has Granny Weatherwax and Archchancellor Ridcully reminiscing about their past romance (I ship those two so hard), Nanny Ogg being Nanny Ogg, and Magrat suddenly becoming super badass and killing elves left and right, and scaring the shit out of poor Shawn.

Alanna by Tamora Pierce

by Tamora Pierce

A friend recommended this to me, since she thought I might enjoy a book about a girl who dresses up as a boy to become a knight.
I did.
It’s a short and entertaining read with likable characters and a simple story, and that’s something I think the high fantasy genre needs a bit more of. It doesn’t all have to be huge sagas with enough storylines to make your head spin (though I do like those as well).

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

I reread this because I adore Agnes/Perdita, and of course, Granny Weatherwax bossing everybody around.
It also makes me realize that I should really read/watch The Phantom of the Opera sometime…

In the Hands of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

In the Hand of the Goddess
by Tamora Pierce

The second book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, the sequel to Alanna, and just as enjoyable.
It’s so nice to read a book about a teenage girl falling in love and then not letting it rule her life decisions. The reason I avoided YA books with female leads for years was because I was getting fed up with the protagonists falling in love with some boy and then suddenly the whole book was about how they couldn’t live without them and nothing else in life mattered.
There’s only so much of that I can take.

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music
by Terry Pratchett

This isn’t my favorite Discworld book, since I consider the rock music plotline a bit lame, but it was worth the reread because of the scenes with Susan and Ridcully.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J. K. Rowling

Someone needs to slap Ron in this book, but otherwise it’s great. Well… except from the fact that Cedric, the Hufflepuffest Hufflepuff there ever was, didn’t deserve being cannon fodder.
I finished this with the knowledge that I was now getting to the point in the series where every book would leave me depressed and teary-eyed…

Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

Interesting Times
by Terry Pratchett

I reread this Discworld book for Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde. There’s just something about a group of old men wreaking havoc and creating terror wherever they go that gives me hope for my retirement.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss

I really enjoyed this. It’s an entertaining book that pays tribute to all the classics I used to read as a child – Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula…
Yes, I might have been an odd child.
The writing style was a little weird, but once you get used to the ‘author’ and characters injecting comments every once in a while, it works just fine.

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
by Tamora Pierce

I did not like this one as much as the first two books in the series, but it was still a good read. Jonathan is being a right asshole in this one, so I’m glad Alanna dumped his ass and got on with her life (for now). The book could have used a bit more plot, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The Mortal Word
by Genevieve Cogman

I was getting a little tired of this series by the time I reached this book, but it turned out to be fairly good. It’s possible it’s because the overall plot was similar to the book I myself was writing at the time, and I very much like kicking back with a book and calling it research, but no matter what, I enjoyed it. We got an insidious plot in the middle of a peace treaty negotiation between dragons and Fae, multiple suspects, and everyone having their own agenda.
Always nice with a healthy dose of secrets and drama.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J. K. Rowling

I had forgotten just how utterly creepy the scenes in the Department of Mysteries were. Water tanks with floating brains and Death Eaters with baby heads… Funny to think that this started out as a series of children’s books, considering I’m this creeped out reading this book as an adult.

I was, however, much better prepared for Umbridge. I remember how completely awful I found her as a kid, but rereading the book now, she’s honestly just a more extreme version of the various bosses and politicians you’re faced with as an adult. It’s hard to be amazed by how far the Ministry of Magic is willing to go once you have dealt with today’s political scene for a few years.

On a less gloomy note: Professor McGonagall was this book’s total MVP and I loved every single scene with her.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars
by Leigh Bardugo

Part of the Grishaverse where I loved the original trilogy. This one followed some of the supporting characters and it was really interesting to get inside their heads. I especially loved Zoya, a character way too complex to understand from the outside. She’s still a total bitch when you get inside her head, but it starts to make sense why she is that way and you also see the side of her that fights so very hard to protect her country and the people under her command.

I was a bit miffed to discover it was a duology and that I had to wait for the next book…

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Lioness Rampant
by Tamora Pierce

This book, the last in the Lioness Quartet, had a lot of potential, but I felt like all of it fell flat. In my opinion, there should have been a LOT more focus on Roger and his schemes, but all the important parts felt very rushed.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Owl

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J. K. Rowling

After more than a decade of obsessing over this series, I could appreciate this book much more when rereading it. There’s so many great little details that you won’t notice before you have read the last book.
However, I still hadn’t completely learned my lesson: During the scene with Dumbledore’s funeral I had to repeat “He’s an asshole, he’s an asshole, he’s an asshole” in my head to keep from getting all sad and teary-eyed…

Nation by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

I turned to a Terry Pratchett book because I needed to laugh, but instead I got a book that started out with the main character going around and burying everyone he knew after a natural disaster.
Don’t get me wrong, Nation is a very deep and enjoyable book. It just wasn’t what I expected!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J. K. Rowling

We all know this book is fairly depressing, right?
So I’m just going to focus on how great the Battle of Hogwarts is if you don’t take all the deaths into account.
The real badasses just don’t get enough credit. Neville literally went from an utterly useless and clumsy boy to the leader of an all-out rebellion against the Death Eaters. Elderly, stern Professor McGonagall enchanted a whole army of desks and led them into war while yelling “Charge!” (and I so need fanart of that…). Professor Sprout didn’t hesitate for a second when told she would need to fight, just rushing off to get every dangerous plant she could think of. Even Trelawney went berserker and cracked heads open by throwing crystal balls at them.
Screw Harry, Ron and Hermione. They wouldn’t have lasted a second against the pissed-off elderly women of Hogwarts.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir

This was a new author to me and I enjoyed the book. The romantic relationships between the characters seemed a bit juvenile when compared to the dark themes of the story and the situation the characters found themselves in, but not so much that I felt it distracted from the rest of the book.

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

This was another reread and not one of my favorites, but I was running out of books at this point and I decided to go for a full set of Discworld book photos.
It does have its bright spots, though – Teppic getting ready for his Assassin exam and then promptly falling over from the weight of all his hidden weapons is hilarious. Also his prophetic dreams: “There was seven fat cows and seven thin cows. One of them was playing the trombone.”

Arthas by Christie Golden

by Christie Golden

This was a novel tie-in to Warcraft 3/World of Warcraft, telling the story about how Arthas Menethil, Prince of Lordaeron, ended up becoming the Lich King, leader of an undead army trying to wipe out all life on Azeroth.
I have read it before, many, many years ago, but it was a nice revisit to one of the central stories from a game franchise I have played since I was 10 years old.

City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass
by S. A. Chakraborty

This book had great characters and a fascinating world with a rich history, but for some reason it took me 300 pages to really get into it. However, once I hit that mark, it suddenly got insanely exciting and the cliffhanger at the end meant I had to go out and buy the next book.

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Moving Pictures
by Terry Pratchett

This has always been my least favorite Discworld book, but I did like it slightly better upon rereading it. However, it would have been improved greatly by more wizard scenes.
The mental image of most of Unseen University’s faculty clinging to Windle Poon’s racing wheelchair while screaming their heads off is just great.

Dragon Age The Stolen Throne

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne
by David Gaider

This was a novel prequel to one of my all-time favorite games, Dragon Age: Origins. And it follows Prince Maric, the father of my all-time favorite character, Alistair, during his rebellion against the Orlesian usurper of the Fereldan throne. You also see a lot of Loghain, who is much less of a jackass here than he is in the game… but still a jackass.
It’s a good and well-written book, but I had hoped for a bit more of the charm you get from the characters in the games. I liked the characters in the book, but I didn’t fall in love with them.
Still worth the read, though!

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns
by Leigh Bardugo

This was a collection of fairy tales set in the Grishaverse, but you don’t need to have read any of the other books to enjoy them. The stories are wonderfully dark and the book is beautifully illustrated. I especially love how, initially, you think that each page of a story has the same illustration, but then you realize that each page the drawings change subtly in a way that hints about what is to come in the story.

Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save Mankind
by Terry Pratchett

This one might not have aged as well as Pratchett’s other books, but the overall message about how we’re numb to the horrors of war fits as well today as it must have done in the 90s. In the book it’s the Gulf War they’re referring to, but it might as well have been any of the wars over the last thirty years.

But despite the timeless morale, I think kids today would have a really hard time relating to this book, considering they have never known a time where space invader games were ‘cutting edge’…

War of the Spark: Ravnica by Greg Weisman

War of the Spark: Ravnica
by Greg Weisman

I have never played Magic: The Gathering, but when I was invited to a Dungeon & Dragons campaign set in the world of Ravnica, I felt I needed to read up on some of the lore, just so I would have an idea of who all those people trying to kill us were.

Turns out, MTG lore is actually really interesting!

And this tie-in novel was quite good. It was a little difficult to keep up with the large cast of characters at first, but the story was written in a way that made it easy to follow even for Magic noobs like myself.

And now I know more of the lore than several of my friends who actually play the game.

The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

I first read this one many years ago, and while I liked it well enough, the whole thing with the costumes and the interviews ruined it a bit for me, because I felt it was too far-fetched.
Upon rereading it this year, I didn’t feel the same way. Somehow, after America got a reality star who have dick competitions with dictators as President, I can TOTALLY imagine a government turning kids into celebrities before throwing them into an arena to kill each other.
Anyway… What I think I’m trying to say is that I loved this book far more the second time around and I should not analyze the reasons why that is so, because it turns out they’re slightly disturbing.

Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett

Johnny and the Dead
by Terry Pratchett

This was the second book in the Johnny Maxwell series and I liked it more than Only You Can Save Mankind, though I could not tell you what the morale of it is. I feel like there is a morale to the story, but it just soared over my head somehow.
But hey, it’s Pratchett and it’s funny!

Hard in Hightown Varric Tethras

Hard in Hightown
by Varris Tethras (aka Mary Kirby)

If you’re not familiar with Dragon Age: Varris Tethras is a character in the games who writes books when he’s not getting involved in whatever disaster or revolution the player character drags him into. One of his books is a noir detective story called High in Hardtown, which you can find and read chapters from in the third game.
Since I’m a total geek, I just got the physical, illustrated version.

I do think they could have made the story a little longer when they made it into an actual book, but I still enjoyed it, even though it’s short and rather predictable.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is a great follow-up to The Hunger Games. It’s fast-paced and filled with conspiracies, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Johnny and the Bomb Terry Pratchett

Johnny and the Bomb
by Terry Pratchett

This is the last book in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, and it was the very first Pratchett book I ever read, way back in middle school. It’s also by far the best book in the trilogy.
I adore crazy Mrs. Tachyon and her time-traveling shopping trolley, not to mention her insane cat Guilty.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows is a great Fantasy heist story set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and I absolutely loved it. Great plot, great characters, great world, and so many twists and turns that I could barely keep up. You follow a bunch of criminals, yet you still end up rooting for them and their insane mission.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

by Suzanne Collins

I don’t know whether this ending was a brilliant commentary on the nature of tyrannical regimes and revolutions, or simply the most pointless ending to a trilogy ever.

Either way, I cried.
A lot.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

This book follows a small-time criminal who makes a living from finding treasures in the sewers. Yet this smelly lad is a surprisingly charming protagonist, because he’s compassionate and oddly innocent in some ways, while being rather clever in others. There’s just something about Dodger that makes you fall in love with him, even as he’s punching people and stealing the silverware.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom
by Leigh Bardugo

The second book in the Six of Crows Duology, and an amazing conclusion to the story. This one might just have even more devious plots and unexpected twists compared to Six of Crows, and that’s saying something. And at this time, you’re incredibly invested in the characters, so the book takes you to the edge of your seat while you wait to see what end is in store for them.

Dragon Age Tevinter Nights

Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights
by multiple authors

This was an antrology with short stories from the Dragon Age universe. Most of the stories were much darker than I anticipated, but that’s a good thing! It’s clear to see that these stories are foreshadowing the events in the upcoming Dragon Age 4 game, and I’m all there for it, even though the story The Horror of Hormak gave me nightmares…
However, though I like the dark parts of Tevinter Nights, my favorite character had to be Lessef, the tiny old lady who just so happens to be a deadly Crow assassin. Her last line of the story is “Onward, to cookies!” and I love it.

Truckers by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

Garden gnomes from space trying to hijack a lorry. No, really. That’s what the book’s about.

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

The Kingdom of Copper
by S. A. Chakraborty

The sequel to The City of Brass has it all:
Politics, plotting, ancient djinn soldiers, scary-as-hell water demons, and a batshit healer or two.
What more could you want?

Girls of Paper and Fire Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire
by Natasha Ngan

While the themes this book deals with – sexual assault being the main one – are horrible, the author still manages to create a rather heartwarming story focused on girls in a terrible situation finding strength in each other.
And if you ignore the small epilogue, the ending is immensely satisfying.

Diggers by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

This was the follow-up to Truckers, and the second book in the Bromeliad Trilogy. This one is about the alien garden gnomes – the Nomes – stealing an excavator to scare the shit out of the humans.

War of the Spark Forsaken Greg Weisman

War of the Spark: Forsaken
by Greg Weisman

As the title suggest, this was the sequel to War of the Spark: Ravnica, which I read as part of my mission to learn more about the world of Magic: The Gathering. This book mainly focuses on the necromancer Liliana Vess, and since I’m fond of both bitchy women and necromancers, this was right up my alley.

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

The Court of Miracles
by Kester Grant

This story is a reimagining of Lés Miserables, which I have never read nor seen any of the adaptions of it. And maybe that’s why I enjoyed The Court of Miracles so much.
Or, maybe, it was because it’s a story about a criminal underworld and I love any book that has assassins in it…

Wings by Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett

This was the last book in the Bromeliad Trilogy. The alien garden gnomes go to Florida to find their spaceship, and learn how to fly geese.
That’s really all I have to say about it.

This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

This Savage Song
by V. E. Schwab

I really liked the concept of a world where committing violent crimes creates actual monsters. The main characters weren’t that memorable, but they were fairly relateable, and the ending was suitably bittersweet.

The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty

The Empire of Gold
by S. A. Chakraborty

The Empire of Gold was an amazing conclusion to the Daevabad Trilogy. Manizheh was crazy, Dara was a loyal idiot, Jamshid was the most precious thing ever, but the Favorite Character Award goes to:
Mishmish, the apricot-loving shedu.

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Small Gods
by Terry Pratchett

As always, this Discworld book is good for a lot of laughs, but it’s also a great commentary on the nature of organized religion.
But most of all, Vorbis is a great villain…
…who gets killed by getting hit in the head by a tortoise.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden

A beautiful story that reads like a Russian fairytale. It’s the perfect book for dark winter evenings when the snow is falling outside.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
by Natasha Pulley

Despite the amount of Discworld I read, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street takes the prize for weirdest book I read all year. It’s a good weird, mind you, but… weird.
The beginning is a little rough to get through, since the main character is initially very boring and leads a very boring life, but that changes radically before long. And I can say I honestly didn’t see the ending coming.

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

The Last Continent
by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett, Discworld and a ton of Australian jokes.
Add in a bunch of wizards that never listen to logic and ignore warning signs on pure principle, and you got yourself a tale that makes absolutely no sense.
And somehow, it works.

House of Salt and Sorrow

House of Salt and Sorrow
by Erin A. Craig

This book is an amazing mix of fantasy and horror, with several fairytale elements thrown into the story. It’s creepy and engaging, and at some point, downright horrifying.
I loved it.

Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden

Lord of the Clans
by Christie Golden

Another World of Warcraft tie-in that follows Thrall, the orc slave who ended up being the Warchief of the Horde.
Thrall was never one of my favorite characters, but Golden manages to make his backstory quite engaging even to someone who considers the main character rather boring.



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Of Bathtimes and Murderous Owls

Wet Owl Bath

Ever since the leg amputation, Artemis the owl has been doing remarkably well. He does, however, have trouble scratching away the loose feathers on his head. So what does a good owl momma do?

She gives him a bath, then take pictures of how absolutely pathetic he looks.

Wet Owl Bath

He looks like something you pull out of a blocked sewage pipe.

He also looks like someone who will kill me in my sleep, but I swear to you that he made his ‘happy sounds’ while he was drying in his cage, so I’m fairly sure it’s just the only expression available to a bird that’s mostly eyes and beak. If not, I might regret watching a lot of ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ with him…

He should be happy I didn’t  try to blowdry him. He would have ended up looking like a murderous Pomeranian and nobody wants that.

(Okay… Maybe I want to see it just a little bit…)

But it turns out that a lot of people relates strongly to the feelings portrayed in this photo, if the responses on Twitter are anything to go by. ‘Wet furious owl’ got ten times as many likes and comments as any of my new book announcements. It’s slightly depressing, but Artemis will always be the star of the show.


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The Tale of Artemis, the One-Legged Owl

One-Legged Owl

As I have mentioned in previous posts – and talked about at length on Twitter – my owl Artemis has been sick lately. After a couple of weeks filled with worry on my part, and fury from Artemis at having to take medication, this has now resulted in Artemis getting one of his legs amputated.

Before I tell you the full story: He is absolutely fine. The surgery went well and Artemis is nothing if not stubborn, so he’s doing everything standing on one leg, refusing to lie down even when it would be easier. If anything, I would say he’s merely a bit miffed at missing a leg, but otherwise unconcerned.

This is also why all the jokes in this post have been either a way of coping or caused by relief, not because I weren’t going crazy with worry all the way through the process. I am not as heartless as my sense of humor might suggest!

Let’s begin our tale:

It all started one Saturday afternoon while I was introducing a couple of friends to my feathery overlord, and we noticed that he wasn’t supporting himself on one of his legs. That in itself was not too unusual, since he has always enjoyed playing flamingo, but I decided to keep an eye on him.

On Monday he still wasn’t putting any weight on the leg and I noticed that his talon looked swollen and discolored. I asked my mom to come by in the evening, since it can be surprisingly hard to hold this tiny owl still long enough to get a closer look at his legs. She arrived, and I decided the best way to handle the situation was to give Artemis a bath. This might sound weird to you, but for some reason Artemis becomes far more docile when you drop him in a bowl of water. So I got out my brightly pink wash bowl, filled it with lukewarm water and held him while my mom started washing his feet like he was some kind of emperor.

Owl Bath

I couldn’t figure out WHAT was wrong, but from the swelling and discoloration it was clear something was off, so I called the vet first thing next morning and made an appointment the following day. When I got to the clinic, the vet took one look at Artemis’s talon and told me it didn’t look good, but that she would like to keep him for a bit to get a better idea of exactly how bad it was. At first we both thought it was an infection, but I had barely been home an hour before she called me and told me it was very serious. Apparently some small hairs had knotted together underneath the leather straps Artemis usually wear around his legs and had cut off the blood circulation, causing necrosis. She said she might be able to save two of his toes, but she didn’t know for sure.

She asked to keep him for at least another day, so I spent the rest of that day desperately trying to distract myself from worrying (as my tweets from that time will show).

It wasn’t easy. At first, I decided to continue my Polish course on Duolingo. But, seeing as Duolingo’s mascot is a small owl that will pop up and tell you you’re doing a good job all the time, that didn’t prove all that effective.

I decided to read a book instead. It just so happened that the book I was reading at the time was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And what was the very first scene in the chapter I was at?

Harry going to the Owlery.

Clearly there was a conspiracy going on, so I went to visit my mom. Well, I say I was visiting my mom, but really, I was visiting my parents’ two huge fluffy dogs… We took them for a walk and at one point my mom absentmindedly said, “The dogs have to go to the vet soon as well.” I said, “Huh… I wonder how many legs they come home with.” At my mom’s aghast reaction, I went, “It’s either worrying or turning to dark humor. You just gotta deal with my choice of coping mechanism.”

Now, I’m not superstitious, but when I drove home that night, something happened that I can only take as a sign from the universe. I drove past one of my parents’ neighbors out walking his dog. I don’t know the neighbor’s name, but I know the dog is called Mikkel. Why do I remember the name of one of my parents’ neighbors’ dogs?

Because Mikkel only has three legs and he’s freaking badass.

Mikkel is a Shiba Inu and the first time I met him was on one of my and my mom’s dog walks. Now, Aika and Shika, my parents’ Samoyeds, are each much larger than a Shiba Inu and they can get a little overeager from time to time. I was holding both of them while my mom chatted with her neighbor. I, of course, was only interested in the dog. I noticed the missing back leg and told Aika and Shika to “take it easy, because they had a large advantage in the leg area.” Even with that comment, my mother was totally obvious to Mikkel’s disability and that was because Mikkel kept up easily with her two huge fluffballs, totally unbothered by his missing leg. It was not before the neighbor made some comment about it that my mom took a closer look and finally noticed.

But the moment I truly knew Mikkel was a badass was when he had to pee.

Now, his entire back leg was missing. It would have been very easy to just turn that side towards the hedge and do his business. But no, Mikkel, like any other male dog, lifted his other back leg and then peed while walking forwards on his front legs to keep his balance. Like a champ.

So now you know more about Mikkel, you probably see why I took seeing him on that day as a sign that Artemis would be just fine, even if he did lose his leg.

Later that night, I also got a text from my mom that said, “Look at Hoothoot. He does just fine with one leg!” and I wasn’t sure whether that was encouraging or just a sign that my mom’s Pokemon Go addiction is getting out of hand…

The vet kept Artemis for another two days. When I went to pick him up, I told the nurse in the reception that I was there to pick up the Burrowing Owl with the bad talon, and she nearly cooed when she said “Oh yes. He’s a charming little thing, isn’t he?”

I almost asked her if we were talking about the same owl, since the one I was there for was a demon.

He’s my demon, mind you, but a demon nonetheless.

The vet talked to me about the state of the talon and showed me how to give Artemis antibiotics and rub ointment on his foot because I was going to get him home until we knew how much could be saved. She called him a ‘fighter’ and I agreed, even if the expression I personally use is “too stubborn to let anything slow him down”, and I got to take him home.

As soon as we got home and I tried to transfer him from his transport crate to his cage, he made an evasive maneuver and was gone by the time I turned around. I spent 10 minutes looking all over the house for him, until I eventually located him in the bathroom, hiding behind the toilet.

Artemis was clearly done with this shit.

Owl hiding behind toilet

The following two weeks consisted mostly of me forcing a very reluctant owl to take his medication twice a day, sending pictures of his talon to the vet, and constantly calling for updates. Finally the vet told me that there was no improvement and she had to amputate. By that time, I had made my peace with this and all I wanted was to get it over with so my owl no longer had to be in pain.

The vet told me she was going to remove the whole leg, since he had no use for a stump (squashing my hopes of getting him a tiny wooden leg and an eye-patch) and that leaving a stump would just mean he would get pain in it from time to time.

So I dropped him off and made myself sick with worry while I waited to hear something. But he made it through surgery just fine, and when the vet told me he was scowling at her every time she checked on him, I knew my little beast was back to normal.

I got him home already the next day and he was just as grumpy as ever. And as stubborn. When you have only been one-legged for one day, I think it’s fair if you lie down until you adjust to the change. But nobody has ever managed to get Artemis to change his ways, not even some mean vet lady who stole his leg. He did everything standing on his one remaining leg, and admittedly he did it remarkably well. He went about cleaning his tail feathers without ever losing his balance, but it was another matter when he had to rustle them back into place. I spent a good 10 minutes watching my tiny owl stubbornly try to rustle his feathers and nearly knocking himself over every time, hopping around like some feathery pogo stick to keep his balance.

He got back at me for that comment the next day when I came home from work, went to check on him and saw his remaining talon completely raw and bloody. I was already panicking before I realized he had merely covered it in guts from his food…

Who knew owls celebrated April Fool’s Day?

In case you think I’m kidding, just tell me if this isn’t the face of a bird out for vengeance:

Angry One-Legged Owl

It’s now been three days since the surgery and I’m finally breathing easy. Artemis is still stumbling and falling over when he tries to move around the small cage I’m keeping him in for now, but I’m convinced he will adjust fully in time.

And thus ends the tale of Artemis, the One-Legged Owl. But there will without a doubt be many future adventures.

Let’s hope he lets me live long enough to report on them…

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My Year in Books (and Owls) 2019

Burrowing Owl Books

Burrowing Owl Books

Now that 2019 is almost over, I thought I would look back at the 53 books I read this year.

This was the first time I tried keeping track of the books I read. I also vowed to read mainly short books – as opposed to the giant epic fantasy novels I have favored in the past – so that I would read more different books instead of being stuck with the same series for months.

Both things helped me tremendously to regain my love of reading. I quickly started reading far more because starting a book felt less like a commitment and I didn’t have time to get tired of an author or a storyline.

Of course, there were also the owl pictures. Friends and followers demand owl photos of me and I enjoy pictures of pretty book covers, so taking a picture of Artemis with each book I started reading was a win-win situation.

(He’s okay on all the photos, by the way. He’s just weird and sometimes flop down on his back when I try to put him down on the table…)

I didn’t do reviews for the books I read (I’m thinking I might start doing that with indie books, but I have none on my reading list right now), so I’m going to make a quick list here and tell you what I thought of each book.

Books 2019


  • Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)Carpe Jugulum Owl Book
    Well, a Discworld book is unlikely to be bad, right?
    I enjoyed this one immensely. The Witches of the Discworld took a while to grow on me, but in this one I realized that I had come to adore them. Imagine how I felt when I found out it was the last book in the Witches storyline, eh…?

  • The Last Wish (Andrzej Sapkowski)Owl The Last Wish Andrzej Sapkowski
    I admit that I only picked this one up because I love the Witcher games and wanted to learn more about the lore that inspired them. But it ended up far exceeding my expectations!
    The book consists of short, individual stories, in the form of flashbacks, and tells of the main character, Geralt, taking on different monster-hunting jobs. The writing style was nothing special, and the characterization limited (though I was very happy to see the same sarcastic Geralt I know from the games!), yet somehow these small stories pulled me in and kept me turning the pages. I never once stopped for a break in the middle of a story.

  • The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)The Fifth Elephant Terry Pratchett owl
    This was a Discworld book focused on the City Watch, and I don’t think I will ever not love a Watch book!
    This one takes poor Samuel Vimes out of Ankh-Morpork, but he manages to employ his usual messed-up (but very effective) brand of policework, even when hunted down by werewolves and dealing with dwarfs’ gender identity issues.
    We also get to see more of Sybil and you can never have too much of Sybil Vimes neé Ramkin.

  • Before the Storm (Christie Golden)Warcraft Before the Storm Christie Golden Owl
    This was a media tie-in to World of Warcraft, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the saddest book I have read in years.
    It was just one long line of misery and I can’t believe how much I bawled over the backstory of that NPC I have walked past in Stormwind for 13 years and never thought of as anything other than ‘that crazy old lady who keeps talking to herself’.
    I got all emotional about the last Christie Golden novel I read as well. I really think Blizzard should let her write something happy, just once!

  • The Truth (Terry Pratchett)The Truth Terry Pratchett Owl
    Another Discworld book. This one is part of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ subseries and I was surprised by how much I liked it!
    While I have liked every Discworld book I have read, the ones where the plot revolves around introducing some modern concept into the Discworld have been my least favorite of the bunch. Before this we have been over movies and rock music, but this one was about newspapers and journalism, and I thought it worked so much better.
    My favorite part was probably Otto, the vampire with a passion for flash photography, even though he turns to dust every time he takes a picture…

  • Mogworld (Yahtzee Croshaw)Mogworld Yahtzee Croshaw Owl
    This one was a reread, so I went into it with the knowledge that I would enjoy it…
    …Otherwise it would be pretty stupid to read it again.
    Mogworld is a parody based on the concept of online multiplayer RPG games, so obviously it caters to avid gamers like myself, but I do believe the story of a resurrected student mage on a quest to get himself killed for good is a great read for anyone who likes humorous fantasy.

  • Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett)Thief of Time Terry Pratchett Owl
    I read this in just two days, despite it being neither as interesting nor as funny to me as most other Discworld books (though still quite good by just about any other standard).
    Quite ironically, I don’t know where the time went!

  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (George R. R. Martin)A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms George R. R. Martin
    I loved this collection of prequel novellas to ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and the illustrations were great, but the first novella left me emotionally devastated and I’m not quite sure I’m over it yet…

  • The Last Hero (Terry Pratchett)The Last Hero Terry Pratchett owl
    This was short, but beautifully illustrated, and who doesn’t enjoy a story about an elderly barbarian hero on a quest to blow up the gods, just because he thinks they’re sort of assholes?
    And forgive me for channeling my inner giddy teenage girl, but O-M-G, the swamp dragon illustrations were the cutest thing ever!

  • Sword of Destiny (Andrzej Sapkowski)Sword of Destiny Andrzej Sapkowski owl
    This was the second book in the Witcher series, and like with The Last Wish I really enjoyed learning more about characters I already knew from playing the video games, and being introduced to characters I had never met before. Usually, when a book has been adapted into another media (be it movies, TV shows or video games) I have read the book first and then the adaption has had to live up to it (which is always hard), but here I went the other way around and found myself going “Hey, I know that guy!” when someone introduced themselves.
    However, I will say this: It was with this book that my love for the sorceress Yennefer got truly challenged. I’m a huge fan of bitchy and powerful characters, but when you learn more about Yen, you realize she is downright psychotic…

  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Terry Pratchett)The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents Terry Pratchett Owl
    This was my first time reading a Discworld book aimed at children, but it was all worth it for quotes like “—where she broke out of his Room of Terror and stabbed him in the eye with a frozen herring.”

  • Blood of Elves (Andrzej Sapkowski)Blood of Elves Andrzej Sapkowski owl
    Another Witcher book. Blood of Elves was special in that it was the one I read on my way to and from (and a little bit during, when my back was killing me and I had to go lie down anyway) my first Witcher School, so I got all giddy every time I encountered something I had just experienced in “real” life. I read the part with Geralt teaching Ciri fencing pirouettes in the evening after having trained pirouettes myself earlier that very same day.
    That’s some meta geekiness.

  • Night Watch (Terry Pratchett)Night Watch Terry Pratchett Owl
    This was probably one of my favorite Discworld books. It was a lot darker than Pratchett’s other books and there were a few scenes that had me turning a little pale.
    I’m used to dark fantasy, but seeing it in Discworld took some getting used to.
    But it still had plenty of funny moments and Sam Vimes is such a relatable character to me that the contrast between his dry humor and his darker side ended up working perfectly.
    Also, I love how, even when you throw the main character 30 years into the past, Vetinari will always be lurking and plotting somewhere in the shadows.

  • Coraline (Neil Gaiman)Coraline Neil Gaiman Owl
    This was my first time reading anything by Neil Gaiman (except for Good Omens that I read during my Pratchett bender last year) and I didn’t really know what to expect. What I got was creepy tale reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.
    It reads like a children’s book, but I think it would have freaked me right out as a kid.
    And that’s coming from someone who watched Scream with her big brother when she was 7 without batting an eye.

  • The Wee Free Men (Terry Pratchett)The Wee Free Men Terry Pratchett owl
    It took me 10 pages to love Tiffany Aching. 9-year old girl who sees a monster in the river, and her solution is to use her little brother as bait, then whack it in the head with a frying pan.

  • Illidan (William King)Illidan William King Warcraft Owl
    Another media tie-in for World of Warcraft. It was a good read, but I don’t feel it really answered the question I have had since the Burning Crusade expansion:
    Why the hell did we go through all that trouble to kill Illidan?
    He was just hiding away on another world, doing his own thing, and not bothering us.

  • Monstrous Regiment (Terry Pratchett)Monstrous Regiment Terry Pratchett Owl
    Another Discworld book, this one part of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ subseries. Never quite sure what to expect from those, but I ended up really liking Polly, the main character in this one. It wasn’t quite as funny as your average Discworld novel, but as with many of the later books, the social commentary really hit home.
    And how often to you get a fantasy novel where almost every single character turns out to be a woman?

  • Time of Contempt (Andrzej Sapkowski)Time of Contempts Andrzej Sapkowski Owl
    This was the continuation of Blood of Elves, and it went like this:
    Slow, slow, slow, suddenly there’s a coup and everybody is murdering everybody, then slow, slow, slow.
    I liked it, but even if you add a unicorn, it’s hard to feel excited about one of the characters wandering around in the desert for page after page, when you have already had the epic mage fight earlier in the book.

  • A Hat Full of Sky (Terry Pratchett)A Hat Full of Sky Terry Pratchett owl
    This was the second of the Tiffany Aching books in Discworld. Sadly I was mistaken about the identity of the old witch on the cover (I should have noticed the glasses and the high heels), but even without Granny Weatherwax in a main role, it turned out to be a highly enjoyable book.

  • Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)Howl's Moving Castle Diana Wynne Jones Owl
    This was a gift from a friend, so I didn’t quite know what to except, despite seeing the Studio Ghibli movie many years ago.
    It turned out to be a really fun and charming book, and I blew through it in less than 3 days. Sophie’s no-nonsense attitude towards both being cursed and turned into an old lady and having to deal with the arrogant and childish wizard Howl was amazing.

  • Going Postal (Terry Pratchett)Going Postal Terry Pratchett
    This was my first time being introduced to the Discworld protagonist Moist von Lipwig. I’m always a little skeptical about the Industrial Revolution books as I found the crash with the concepts of both Hollywood and rock music (in Moving Pictures and Soul Music) to be rather jarring.
    But postal service, just like newspapers in The Truth, fit much better into the fantastical mess that is the Discworld.
    Rather surprised it didn’t end with anything escaping from the Dungeon Dimensions, however.

  • Norse Mythology (Neil Gaiman)Norse Mythology Neil Gaiman
    This was a book that didn’t provide any surprises whatsoever, but I still enjoyed it.
    As I was born and raised in Denmark, I grew up with the stories of the Norse gods and their shenanigans, so Gaiman’s book was really just a way to return to stories I already knew.

  • Thud! (Terry Pratchett)Thud Terry Pratchett Discworld
    “That’s! Not! My! Cow!”
    While this book didn’t quite live up to the sky-high standards I have for Discworld’s City Watch books, I was still laughing my ass off at the scenes with Sam Vimes reading children’s books to his son. Especially the last one where he snaps and starts fighting off an army of – rather freaked out – dwarfs while yelling about not being able to find his cow.

  • Baptism of Fire (Andrzej Sapkowski)Baptism of Fire Andrzej Sapkowski
    Up until this point I had been very fortunate, seeing as I had liked every book I read. Some more than others, true, but this was the first book of 2019 that I felt I had to force my way through. It’s part of the Witcher series, so obviously I wasn’t going to abandon it, but it was just so slow. As mentioned, that was also the case with the previous book, Time of Contempt, but unlike that one, Baptism of Fire didn’t have an explosive climax. The only major event was the forming of the Lodge of Sorceresses, and even that happened with far less drama than usually accompanies the Witcher-verse’s mages.
    The whole book was basically just all the characters traveling and taking breaks to be gloomy or have philosophical discussions. Not even the introduction of the vampire Regis (a character I love from playing the Witcher 3 DLC “Blood and Wine”) could distract me from the fact that nothing was happening.
    The first books in this series were great, but at this point it was going downhill.

  • Wintersmith (Terry Pratchett)Wintersmith Terry Pratchett owl
    I really loved this one. This was another Tiffany Aching book and I honestly never expected to enjoy a series about a teenage shepherd-turned-witch and her gang of tiny, violent fairies this much. Throw in Nanny Ogg giving advice on how to seduce an anthropomorphic personification of Winter, and you got yourself a page-turner.

  • House of Many Ways (Diana Wynne Jones)House of Many Ways Diana Wynne Jones
    This was the sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle, and while I liked it, it didn’t quite measure up to its predecessor. It took a while for the protagonist to become likable, and after finishing the book I was left with a feeling of ‘Wait, that’s it?’
    However, it was still nice and quirky, and once Sophie and Howl made an appearance, it got a few good laughs out of me.

  • Making Money (Terry Pratchett)Making Money Terry Pratchett Collector's Edition
    Ah, the return of Moist von Lipwig. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t the main reason I enjoyed this book. Don’t get me wrong, I like reading about Moist’s shenanigans, but the best thing about this book was how heavily it featured Lord Vetinari.
    I’m sorry, but Scheming Benevolent Tyrant beats Smooth-Talking Conman every time.

  • The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman
    Some books should come with warnings not to read the last chapter in public.
    This was a heartwarming book, but so bittersweet. Yet it was the perfect metaphor for growing up.

  • Unseen Academicals (Terry Pratchett)Unseen Academicals Terry Pratchett
    I learned two things from this book:
    One, wizards and football don’t mix.
    Two, don’t read a 500+ pages hardback with a sprained wrist.
    Does it count as a sports injury if you hurt your hand while reading a book about football…?

  • The Tower of the Swallow (Andrzej Sapkowski)The Tower of the Swallow Andrzej Sapkowski
    I liked this a lot more than its predecessor. It was just as angsty, but contained a lot more real plot and action, as well as humor.
    A Skellige fishwife whacking Yennefer with an oar is a mental image I’ll treasure.

  • I Shall Wear Midnight (Terry Pratchett)I Shall Wear Midnight Terry Pratchett
    This was both a Pratchett novel and a YA book, so I was a bit surprised at how dark it started out.
    Chapter 1: Dead baby.
    Chapter 2: Prevent dead baby’s grandfather from hanging himself. Then bury dead baby.
    Chapter 3: Recurring character dies.

    However, it did get better, and the ending was really cute.

  • Castle in the Air (Diana Wynne Jones)Castle in the Air Diana Wynne Jones
    This was a companion novel to Howl’s Moving Castle, and honestly, it fell a little short.
    The plot was not that interesting and the book completely failed to make me care about any of the main characters.

  • Guards! Guards! (Terry Pratchett)Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett Collector's Edition
    This Discworld book was exactly as good as I remembered it being the first time I read it.
    I had completely forgotten quite how terrified Vimes used to be of Sybil. There’s not a lot of books that could make me laugh this hard even when reading it for a second time.

  • War Crimes (Christie Golden)War Crimes Christie Golden Warcraft
    I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, but I will say this for the characters:
    Wrathion is a little shit. Kairoz is a little shit. Garrosh is a little shit.
    And Sylvanas is absolutely batshit insane, even if she’s, for once, doing something out of love.

  • Mort (Terry Pratchett)Mort Terry Pratchett Collector's Edition
    Another Discworld reread. This is the first book in the Discworld’s “Death”-series, and who doesn’t love Death?
    (Eh… Anyone who hasn’t read Discworld, probably.)
    This book is worth it just for the scene where the wizards summon Death and he shows up wearing an apron and holding a kitten.

  • Tempests and Slaughter (Tamora Pierce)Tempests and Slaughter Tamora Pierce
    This was a new author to me, so I didn’t know what to expect. I ended up really liking both the world and the characters, and Pierce writes beautifully.
    However, it’s been years since I last read an ongoing series, so this book left me with the thought “You’re telling me I now have to wait for the next book to be released to figure out if that Chioké guy is as much of a bastard as he appears?”

  • Men at Arms (Terry Pratchett)Men at Arms Terry Pratchett
    Yet another Discworld reread, yet another City Watch book. My favorite parts in this one have to be Nobby raiding the Ankh-Morpork armoury and sweet, simple  Carrot manipulating Vetinari.
    And, of course, the friendship between Detritus and Cuddy, but I’m still not okay with how that story ended…

  • The Invisible Library (Genevieve Cogman)The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
    This was a really weird book, but it was the special kind of weird where you just had to find out what happened next. Usually I would say robots and dragons is a bit too much, but I really regretted only getting the first book in this series after I was done.

  • Feet of Clay (Terry Pratchett)Feet of Clay Terry Pratchett
    On to the next book in my Discworld reread. This has got to be my second-favorite City Watch book. Not only does it introduce Cheery Littlebottom, but it also includes Vimes terrorizing assassins and Vetinari being totally delirious from poisoning.

  • Shadow and Bone (Leigh Bardugo)Shadow and Bone Leigh Bardugo
    This book was the result of me foolishly thinking I only needed to bring one book with me on a 5 day trip and then having to track down an English bookstore in Budapest.
    But though it was bought in desperation, I ended up really enjoying it and finishing it in a day. I loved the concept of the Unsea and I enjoyed the characters.
    The twist was fairly predictable, but it was the kind of twist I love, so I’m totally okay with predictable.

  • Jingo (Terry Pratchett)Jingo Terry Pratchett
    Yep, it’s another City Watch reread. But really, how can you not love a Discworld book that contains Lord Vetinari as a street performer and Nobby Nobbs as an exotic dancer (what else could strike more terror into the hearts of enemies?)?
    And I absolutely adore the ending, with Commander Vimes leading a parade through the city before he suddenly starts chasing a criminal and ends up with the entirety of Ankh-Morpork’s high society running after him because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do.

  • We Hunt the Flame (Hafsah Faizal)We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
    I’ll admit that this was a book I bought mostly because the cover is freaking gorgeous, but… it turned out to be one of the most well-written and engaging books I have read in years.
    It’s filled with deep and likable characters, the world is fascinating, and the plot keeps you curious all the way through. Plus, if you, like me, have been reading mostly fantasy based on western folklore, it’s cool to read something with its roots in Arabic mythology.

  • Wyrd Sisters (Terry Pratchett)Wyrd Sisters Terry Pratchett
    So many Discworld rereads… but at least we started on the Witches now!
    I was looking forward to this, because it was a book I didn’t really appreciate the first time I read it. I still don’t think it’s as great as the later books about Granny Weatherwax and her gang, but I did like it more the second time around.
    You gotta love the scene where Death is at a loss for what to do when dealing with a man thinking he’s a ghost before he’s actually dead.

  • The Lady of the Lake (Andrzej Sapkowski)The Lady of the Lake Andrzej Sapkowski
    This one had more story-progression than the last three books in the series combined, but the constant flashbacks and flashforwards (I have no idea which time this book intended to be the ‘present’) made it nearly impossible to truly keep up with it all. It wasn’t as bad in the second half of the book, but in the first half you sometimes got narration from three different timelines in a single page.
    That’s too much.
    Funnily enough, once the plot started featuring literal jumping in time and space, it got easier to keep track of what was happening.
    All in all a decent book, but with dubious narration. It was also a lukewarm conclusion to the story of Geralt and Ciri, so I’m glad the Witcher games picked up where it left off, and at least did something with Ciri’s ‘destiny’ in Witcher 3, instead of just talking about it constantly and then not have it lead up to anything, like the books.
    However, I do look forward to replaying Witcher 3 after learning more about the relationship between Emhyr and Ciri. I have a feeling I will see a lot of characters and interactions in an entirely different light after reading the books.

  • Witches Abroad (Terry Pratchett)Witches Abroad Terry Pratchett Owl
    This one was much better than I remembered. This is Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg at their finest and funniest.
    The locals always fear tourists, but when those tourists are two elderly witches with a total disregard for everyone else and a total lack of understanding of other cultures, it just gets so much better.
    Yes, I know Magrat is also there, but she’s still very much a wet hen in this book. She doesn’t become useful for another couple of books.

  • The Masked City (Genevieve Cogman)The Masked City Genevieve Cogman
    While not quite as good as the first book in the series, this one still had me turning the pages to see what happened next. The plot lacked a bit of mystery, and the Fae weren’t as interesting villains as Alberich, but all in all still a good book.

  • Reaper Man (Terry Pratchett)Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
    I had forgotten how weird this book is. Sure, most Discworld books are weird, but the whole thing with the shopping mall was just so utterly random.
    But I did enjoy the wizards’ stubborn and hilarious attempts at killing Windle Poons!

  • Siege and Storm (Leigh Bardugo)Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
    I’m pleased to say that this book was just as great as the first in the trilogy, Shadow and Bone, and I finished it in just two days even though I barely had time to read. Both old and new characters were excellent and interesting, and the world and its mythology were still fascinating. The main character’s growth also made her much more appealing to me, as it added a lot of layers to her motivations.

  • Snuff (Terry Pratchett)Snuff by Terry Pratchett Discworld
    I truly hate referring to a Discworld City Watch book as anything but ‘fantastic’, but Snuff was just good. The writing in the beginning was rather convoluted, and it was a little hard to follow, but it did get better once the plot got moving. And while I adore Sam Vimes, I would have liked more scenes with the rest of the Watch.
    I did really enjoy Vimes channeling his inner Vetinari in order to bully his suspects, though.

  • The Burning Page (Genevieve Cogman)The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman
    This was the third book in the Invisible Library series. It was better than the second, but still not quite as good as the first one. But it did have a lot more Alberich scenes, which was really great.

  • Raising Steam (Terry Pratchett)Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
    This one lacked something for me. It was not a bad book by any stretch of imagination, but it seemed more like a study of the steam engine’s influence on society rather than a Discworld novel. I think it was just all together too sensible and had far too few insane moments.
    But I absolutely loved the mental image of Lord Vetinari whacking dwarf assassins with a shovel, so it wasn’t a total loss!

  • Season of Storms (Andrzej Sapkowski)Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski
    I liked this one a lot more than many of the Witcher books from the main storyline. It had a lot less sulking and a lot more action. And I liked how all the seemingly random events in the book ended up tying together nicely.
    But I still want to smack Geralt… How come that every time he sees a sorceress, he thinks to himself “This woman is dangerous and no sane man would have anything to do with her?” and then 3 seconds later, he’s falling right into bed with them? And then accept it all graciously once he finds out they have been manipulating him to use him in some horrible scheme?
    Be less of a victim, Geralt!

  • Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
    This is the closest thing I have to a Christmas story, so of course it was my Discworld reread for the holiday season. I just adore reading about Death trying to do Santa Claus’s job, while his granddaughter is convinced he’s lost his mind and is becoming a crazy cat lady that she can’t dump in a nursing home.
    “One of the symptoms of going completely yoyowas that they broke out in chronic cats.” 

Those are the books I got through in 2019.
Did you get a lot of reading done this year, or did life get in the way? Were there any books that made an impression on you?

I’m open for recommendations for books to read in 2020!

Want to see all the owl pictures? Here’s a gallery of Artemis looking grumpy next to books!

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Weird Ways I Injure Myself

Owl Bite

I’m quite good at getting hurt.

Don’t worry, I don’t do it on purpose!

I do all the standard things – stubbing my toes against doors, falling down stairs, slamming drawers shut on my fingers – but mostly people get an answer they didn’t expect when they ask, “What did you do to your hand?” or “Where did you get that bruise?”

Let’s start with the most common cause of injury:

The Dangers of Super Glue

I use a LOT of super glue, so you would think I would have learned something by now, but alas… I still accidentally glue myself to everything. When crafting cosplays or doing other weird hobby projects, I always manage to attach myself to something: Tables, laptops, myself, and a few times even unfortunate con-goers while doing emergency fixes at my author table.

But getting super glue all over your hands is something you get used to. It only stings slightly and burns through a couple layers of skin. And who really needs fingerprints?

Never mind that I have trouble navigating touchscreens for a few days.

Yep, getting super glue on your hands is not a big deal.

Absentmindedly biting your nail before the glue on it is completely dry and getting super glue on your tongue…?

Nooooope. Not a good idea.

As I said, super glue burns. A burned patch on the surface of your tongue feels both unpleasant and weird.

But the worst thing is really that this has happened to me on at least four different occasions and I’m not getting any smarter…

Super Glue Loctite

Burn, Baby, Burn

I once sat in a staff meeting, paying absolutely no attention to what was being said, and looked down at my arm before wondering, “Where did that burn mark come from?”

I eventually came to the conclusion that it must have happened when I knocked my heat gun over 3 days earlier and I simply hadn’t noticed.

That’s how often I accidentally burn myself. It just doesn’t register half the time.

As a kid and teenager, I mostly did it by being careless while maintaining the wood stove at my parents’ place or burning myself when taking stuff out of the oven. Lately, however, most of my burns are caused by cosplay. I work a lot with a material called Worbla, which is a kind of thermoplastic, meaning I have to heat it up to use it. The burns I get from handling the material itself are insignificant (like with the super glue, it mostly just burns the fingertips and they’re kind of numb by this point), but as shown with the example above, the heat gun can be rather dangerous. The top of it remains searing hot for a long time, so it’s very important to put it somewhere you won’t accidentally bump into it.

I also recently experimented with a variation of Worbla called Crystal Art. I literally wrote instructions for a webshop selling this stuff, instructions that focus on how Crystal Art’s melting point is a lot higher than ordinary Worbla, and as such SHOULDN’T BE HANDLED WITHOUT GLOVES.

…Guess who heated up a big lump and then just stuck her whole thumb into it?

And that’s how I ended up running around with a bag of frozen kebab wrapped around my thumb for a few hours that day.

Heat Gun Worbla Crystal Art

Other Geeky Casualties

As you can tell, I really wouldn’t get injured all that much if I wasn’t a geek. Cosplay is a dangerous hobby, and not just in the crafting phase. I have lost count of how many times I have stabbed myself (and others, but who cares about them?) with a spiky pauldron or helmet. Once, I accidentally hit myself in the head with a prop Gorehowl I nicked from a friend (and I hope he doesn’t read this blog, because he would never let me live it down).

Lately, I also returned to doing a bit of LARP’ing when I went to Witcher School in Poland. They taught us fencing and archery, let us throw around sharp axes, taught us how to make fire with a knife and steel, and had us fight huge monsters, so honestly it’s amazing that I didn’t lose a leg or set my hair on fire. I even only got ONE bruise and that was not my fault, as I got tackled by a striga.

Which just makes it more embarrassing how much I have injured myself with the wolf medallion they gave me… Turns out that if you’re lying on your couch, playing around with a spiky medallion made of pure metal and then drops it on your collarbone… It hurts. I also discovered I was getting bruised along my ribs from where the medallion was bouncing against my body through thin t-shirts while wearing it all day.

Cosplay Pauldron Witcher Medallion

And Then, Of Course… the Owl

It wouldn’t be a true Louringnese blog post if it bore no mention of Artemis, the Feathery Terror.

This tiny owl usually only bites me (when out in the public, he’s the perfect gentleman), but he can do an impressive amount of damage if you let him get his beak into the skin between your thumb and index finger.

There have also been a few cases of poor navigation, and there’s really no way to prepare yourself for an owl suddenly colliding with your face.

Owl Bite

I don’t know why I just did a whole post about how accident-prone I am. Maybe I should do a post about something I’m good at?

I’ll let you know when I figure out what that is.