Believathon II: Journey to the Stronghold


Believathon II: Journey to the Stronghold


Last November, Gavin Hetheringon, local bookseller and international booktuber, ran his first readathon, the Believe in the Impossible Readathon, or Believathon for short. I took part in it, and really enjoyed it, as did an awful lot of people. This has encouraged Gavin to run a second Believathon in May 2020, and I was thrilled when he asked me to help him with some book recommendations.

Now I've recently had a couple of people approach me and ask me "What is a readathon?" and honestly, before Believathon in November it wasn't something I was too sure about myself, so:


What is a Readathon?

A readathon is a reading marathon, a way of adding an element of challenge and fun to choosing what you read and how much you read. There are prompts to help you decide what to read, and targets to keep you reading. Other people are participating at the same time, so there's a lot of mutual encouragement going on. It's not about who does best, or a race to the finish or anything competitive like that. It's all about having fun and enjoying the books.


What is Believathon II?

Believathon II is a specific readathon created by Gavin Hetherington (Twitter) (YouTube)

It's basically like a "Choose your own adventure" book, where each location you turn to prompts you to read another book. There are twelve prompts and a map-based challenge, though it's only necessary to read two books to complete the challenge. If you choose to you can complete all twelve prompts.

You can find out a lot more about Believathon II in Gavin's YouTube announcement video, which is here.


When is Believathon II?

Believathon II is taking place between May 11th and May 24th, 2020. However there's nothing to stop you from doing the challenge whenever you like. It's there for you to have fun with.


Sounds great! How do I sign up?

There's no formal sign-up process. You can download Gavin's compendium here or even order an actual physical copy from Amazon here or by searching Believathon in your country's Amazon homepage. That contains all of the information you need. Then just choose your books to match the prompts and join in. If you do, it would be great if you told Gavin and myself on Twitter that you were taking part. There'll be a Google form at some point where you can fill in the books you read, but while it would be great for Gavin to have that info, it's not obligatory. Also, if you can, share your experiences at Believathon.


What are your recommendations?

Gavin asked me to come up with two recommended books for each prompt, so I immediately roped in my daughter for some help. We ended up coming up with one book each, for each prompt, and it was really interesting to see her recommend some of my favourite books and some books I've never read. I'm listing both of our recommendations below, with comments on the ones I'm familiar with.

Poacher’s Pocket - The first in a series 

Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse by Laura Wood 
I love Laura's books, but I've never actually read her first series. Believathon feels like a really good opportunity to put that right.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket 
The first of a series of unfortunate events. I've not read this either, though I've seen snippets of films and TV series over the years.


The Yellow Brick Road - A book you should have read years ago 

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave 
I bought this for my daughter a few years ago, when we were first starting to read together. On the same day I bought her Robin Steven's Murder Most Unladylike, and we've spent most of the subsequent years reading our way through that series, and the poor girl of ink and stars has been badly rejected. I recently bought myself a copy when I saw Kiran at an event, so I have no excuses!

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo 


Baba Yaga’s House A book featuring a family relationship 

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison 
The Widdershins sisters are one of my favourite groups of sisters in literature. This is their first magical adventure, and the combination of love and infighting is just wonderful.

Mo, Lottie and the Junkers by Jennifer Killick 
This was a really interesting choice. My daughter originally had this down for the sci-fi prompt, before changing it to this one. It has one of the best, and most positive, depictions of a blended family I've come across.


The Wonderfalls A book featuring a disability 

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy 
Arthur Brightstorm isn't going to let the fact that he's missing an arm stop him from having fantastical adventures aboard the Aurora, and I love how his sister Maudie is always there to support him.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher 


Mermaids’ Lagoon A book featuring a female bond 

The House of Hidden Wonders by Sharon Gosling 
This book is released in April, but I was lucky to get an early read. It has the most beautiful depiction of homeless girls coming together in sisterhood, in a Victorian Edinburgh setting.

The Golden Butterfly by Sharon Gosling 
While we did try to avoid repeating authors, this was too good a choice to reject. The Golden Butterfly is a story about a young girl in Victorian London, and has powerful and emotional female bonds at its heart.

100 Acre Wood A book with yellow on the cover / spine / back 

A Witch Alone by James Nicol 
I read book one of the Apprentice Witch trilogy for Believathon I, and need to return to Lull in this book which happens to have a bold yellow cover.

Holes by Louis Sacher The Deepwoods 


A book published before 2000 

The Midnight Folk by John Masefield 
One of my favourite books as a child, a classic tale of magic, witches, smugglers and cats.

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy 
Another childhood favourite. Jill Murphy's witch school novels have timeless appeal.


The Brolly Rail A book featuring transport or on the cover 

First Class Murder by Robin Stevens 
It's murder on the Orient Express for Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong! A tense murder mystery set aboard a train.

Wave Me Goodbye by Jacqueline Wilson 


Orion Found A sci-fi book or related to Space

The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James 
This short book from Barrington Stoke, experts in producing the most readable books for readers of any ability, features some of the most imaginative and creative alien species I've ever come across, with a beautiful story about a robot looking for new purpose.

Wildspark by Vashti Hardy 
A second appearance in our recommendations by the Queen of Adventure, Vashti Hardy. Wildspark blends magic and steampunk tech to create a thrilling mystery.


Black Ice Bridge A book featuring an expedition or an adventure 

The Eye of the North by SinĂ©ad O’Hart 
When Emmeline Widget receives a note from her parents informing her that she's now an orphan, it's just the start of the most amazing expedition, that'll take her to Paris and the Arctic, with new friends and terrible enemies.

Skysong by Abi Elphinstone 
Another fantasy Arctic adventure, Abi blends the Snow Queen fairytale with her own love of nature and the wild to create the most beautiful adventure.


The Book-Keeper’s Stronghold The next book in a series 

Simply the Quest by Maz Evans 
I read book one of Maz's series, Who Let The Gods Out, for Believathon I and it is absolutely hilarious! I'm looking forward to continuing my quest here.

Alex Rider: Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz


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