Time for #25inFive!

And just like that, another read-a-thon is here! Seriously, August is the month of read-a-thons for me. Between booktubeaton, #25inFive, and Bout of Books, I’m thinking it might also end up being my ‘most read,’ month. And I might even break through my goodreads challenge *fingers crossed*

For those of you not familiar with this particular read-a-thon, #25inFive is a more relaxed read-a-thon than say, booktubeathon or Dewey’s. It’s where you try to read for 25 hours in a 5 day period. It starts today and ends next Monday, August 13th. Simple and stress free enough, yeah?

Also they have a great insta presence, so if you want to catch my ‘live,’ updates then check me out here. Here I will just be posting the starting and end points for you to enjoy. 🙂

So predictions and goals for this one…

Well, I believe I might be able to actually read for 25 hours within the five day period! I do try to read for a couple hours in the morning and then I can also during three lunches. And then of course there are evenings and for a few hours on the weekend. Although this weekend I SERIOUSLY need to clean and organize sections of my house. Seriously bookworms, if I am just appearing to be lagging behind on this task, I will need you to yell at me to take a reading break and do other responsible, adult things.

I don’t know if Emma & I will finish A Breath of Snow & Ashes by the end of this reading challenge, but I am at least shooting for at least 300 pages of this read by next Monday. Emma, can you believe we are already on Book #6 of Outlander? Granted it’s taken us 3 years, but here we are!

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I’m going to attempt to finish Still Lives. It is still a read in progress (RIP, is that an acronym? Like WIP? Haha, in this case, I should use it because this book has almost been dead to me with the neglect I’m displaying). Anyway, this is supposed to be a murder/mystery, so I am hopeful that it is full of suspense that will keep my interest and urge me to read on. 36681184

I also want to try two of my NetGalley reads that I also just received this past week. The first pick is Jane Doe, which just celebrated its pub date a week and a day ago! Congrats to author Victoria Helen Stone, and a big thank you to Lake Union Publishing for sending me an e-copy of the book!

Another one I might try to get into is a sample of The Paris Seamstress. Through NetGalley, Forever (Grand Central Publishing) was kind enough to give the first 4 chapters of this one. This book will be celebrating it’s publication date in a couple of days (August 11), so I wanted to give it a shot in the event that I want to go out and buy it this weekend. 😉

It should be noted that these are subject to change. As you all know a TBR isn’t always set in stone. But any changes will be announced either via Instagram or Twitter. So check it there throughout the course of this reading challenge.

Ever complete a #25inFive read-a-thon? Have any tips for a first timer? I’d love to hear from you all on this!

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The Last Booktubeathon Read

In my post from yesterday, I mentioned that I read 3.5 books. But I only wrote about the 3 that I completely finished in my previous post, so I thought it was fitting to give the same courtesy to the book that fell between booktubeaton and my August reads.

Brace yourself readers, this one has some beautifully aching quotes that are worth mentioning.

Also, ignore the clumsiness of this page. I was covering up bleeding pen marks with the tape, and then my gold pen bled through and created kind of a sloppy look, prompting me to switch to the orange and yeah. This one definitely isn’t A-quality for artistic talent.

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It was happened when I came across the last quote that I realized this, THIS is why the book is titled Tin Man. One of our poor protag’s (Michael/Mikey) is metaphorically “the tin man,” from The Wizard of Oz. And our title and all the themes wrapped inside of it is an allusion to this single character from another work.

(Look at me now English teachers from years past! Remembering all those literary devices and their functions, aren’t you proud? Ok, so admittedly I didn’t remember what an allusion was, but I did remember that there was a word that fit the definition. So half credit? 😉 Seriously feel free to ignore this aside here haha.)

Upon picking up this book, I knew there would be a friendship turned into a forbidden romance just from the sleeve jacket. And admittedly this thematic element is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. I just feel like friendships can be really complex. Especially now that sexuality is (mostly) openly accepted as being a fluid thing. So the idea of purely loving and romantically loving a friend can be blurred.

Maybe this is wrong that I romanticize this, and I apologize if it offends anyone out there. But trust me, it’s not just this type of relationship I romanticize. I romanticize ALL complex relationships. I have since I was sixteen. (Flashback to the early days of Grey’s Anatomy and my favorite character was Addison Montgomery–adulterer and ‘villain,’ almost. And yes, I wanted to her ). Yeah, so no discrimination here.

But their complicated friendship aside, this book was beautifully written. There isn’t proper punctuation with the dialogue, so there were moments of did this person say this or think this or…? And I think that was part of what made this story flow so well.

The first part of the book is a little jumpy with the narration. Our other protag, Ellis, thinks both of his life in the present and also his childhood and there are allusions to the years before his marriage that are a little murky. But if you can hang in for that part of it, Michael’s section answers any questions and illuminates any confusion you might have previously experienced. And boy is Michael’s part of the tale heartbreaking.

I didn’t cry. In fact, it is so rare for a book to make me cry, but I felt my heart ache at this one. Definitely a solid 5 star read (yes, I changed my mind after writing this review lol). Definitely a strong recommendation to all my bookish friends who like complex relationships that both break and bind our hearts.

Any of my other followers read this one? Love it? Like it? Dislike it? Let’s talk about it! 

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Booktubeathon Results!

So what is your results number for booktubeathon? Do you belong to the spectacular seven of reading gods/goddess, who managed to read through seven books? Or are you just like the rest of our mere mortals, setting lower goals in the hopes of not disappointing yourself or inducing anxiety?

I definitely fall in the second category. And if you follow me over on Insta or Twitter, then you already know that I successfully read 3.5 novels during the week of booktubeathon! Yay me for beating my own prediction! Of course, it was only by half a book. But if I was running a race for the second year in a row and ran .5 miles further than I did the first time, I still ran further. (Can you tell I’m already thinking about my next race? ;))

So I will give myself a moment (or several) to be proud of myself for this achievement. Read-a-thon’s are definitely not for the faint of heart. And definitely not for people who struggle mentally like me. Of course, I’m not saying that if you have a mental disorder you can’t participate in a read-a-thon, many of us do I am sure! I’m just saying that for me personally, it is a bit of a struggle at times.

I fidget, I have difficulty focusing, and depression hits me like a ton of bricks. So yeah, the odds are rarely ever in my favor when it comes to read-a-thons. Luckily, the mental health gods were benevolent on me this time, and I was able to complete some challenges.

In keeping up with my initial theme of mental health, it is important to note that my way of conducting this wrap up through my bullet journal was meant to get me back into the journal scene. I recently got a new one and thought: new journal, new opportunities.

Opportunities both for me to explore creativity in my journal and to share them here on this blog. So below you will find some mediocre photos taken with my iPhone 6 (I think…honestly I can’t keep track) of my latest book summary spreads. I also figured I could continue with this format for all the books I read this year, not just the ones from this read-a-thon.

The Sunday before booktubeathon, I sketched out and (poorly) colored this page. It was a summary of all the titles I planned to read for booktubeathon. In retrospect, I wish I had indicated what challenge they were for, but I guess my brain was feeling more “artsy,” than “let’s just organize this,” that day. Anyway, enjoy the crudeness of this page!

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Now onto the summary pages of the books I read for this read-a-thon. You will see that I only included the 3 that I finished entirely, .5 book will be featured during my mid-month update. 🙂

I included a very rough shooting star emoji to indicate the number of stars I gave each read. Then I included the challenge each book was for along with the dates during the read-a-thon I read them. And then of course, I wrote a favorite quote or two and my overall thoughts on the read.

This was a fun way for me to write out my thoughts by using a different part of my brain for that. I also got to experiment with different kinds of typography and use some of my new markers and pens.

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The Orange Girl was a delightful and touching read that warmed my heart and soul. As you can see I gave it 5 shooting stars and high praise. Reading this book first for booktubeathon was helpful due to its relatively short length. I finished it in one day and felt motivated to forge ahead at full speed and onto my next book. EvelynHugo

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then came this shooting star of a read! I knew that The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo must be special due to the high praise it received on bookstagram. So of course, I bought it and told myself I would one day read it. But when there was a challenge that asked for a book with green on the cover, how could you not choose one with a sweeping silk green gown across the front? I expected to like this one, but I didn’t expect to love it like I did. It is full of so many relevant themes and feelings that so many people today can relate to. I think everyone who loves women (platonically or romantically or somewhere in between) needs to read this one! BigLittleLies

This one was a bit of a struggle. I think I summed up my feelings pretty sufficiently in my journal page for Big Little Lies. I kept loving & hating both the novel and the show. I think the novel’s ending was more hopeful and made one feel better about the characters intentions, whereas the show ending…I honestly don’t remember much about it. I know there is a second season planned, but I doubt very much I will take the time to watch it.

So what do you all think of tracking your reads in this way? Does anyone else keep a journal and a blog? Or do you tend to gravitate towards one or the other? How do you organize your reads? Tell me all your reading tracking/organizing secrets!

Until next time, bookworms!

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The Seven Challenges of Booktubeathon!

I am definitely NOT a booktuber (seriously I am so awkward when attempting to vlog & I’d suffer so much second hand embarrassment trying to watch myself during the editing process). But I think this readathon is open to everyone? At least, that is what it seems like from the few followers I have on bookstagram who announced their intent to participate.

For those of you who know me, I am always trying (and seemingly failing) to organize my life into the organized chaos that it is. Emma and the hubster refer to me quite a bit as a ‘hot mess.’ But I don’t mind, I embrace the chaos and attempt to make sense of it. Hence my proclivity for tracking the various readathons and other reading experiments (i.e. this blog) that I try to participate in.

So are you really surprised that I am going to give Booktubeathon a go?

I’m sure most of the bookish community already knows a bit about booktubeathon. But in case you don’t, it takes place the week of July 30th-August 4th. And it sounds like a ton of people participate (so good chance of connecting with new bookish friends-yay!) and everyone attempts to read 7 books in a week! Now that’s a bit much for me, but hey, why not try and fail then not try at all?

And of course, like with most other readathons, there are giveaways and challenges to participate in along the way.

But unlike most readathons where you can declare your own TBR, this one appears to be a bit different. While you can still choose the books you want to read, there are specific parameters that each book must meet. What a cool & different way to declare your TBR though? I always struggle with deciding what to read & end up changing my mind half way through because what I originally selected is either a) way too ambitious or b) not diverse enough in terms of content. More so point a than point b, but I think someone out there might understand what I’m trying to say. Ja?

Anyway,  here are the categories & my reads for each for this year’s booktubeathon read!

One: Let a coin toss decide your first read. I decided that if it came up heads then I would read The Myth of Perpetual Summer. Or if it ended up as tails I would read The Orange Girl. And the winner is…

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Two: Read a book about something you want to do. The English Wife Part of me also wishes I was the sleuth sister in this one, breaking gender barriers at a time when women were just regarded as property. It would be pretty awesome to be a badass in a petticoat, just saying.

Three: Read a book & watch the movie screen adaptation. Big Little Lies My Insta buddy, Lena, recommended this. Shamefully I haven’t had a chance to get to it. Until now. 🙂

Four: Read a book with green on the cover. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Highly acclaimed & so much beautiful green on the cover. Also, who doesn’t want to lay back seductively in a beautiful silk gown?

Five: Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time. Daughters of the Night Sky I just feel that this has an authoritative tone that demands a hat to be worn. Since I don’t own my floppy beach one that I have been searching for all summer, I suppose I will go with the cap that got me through the marathon. Stay tuned via my Insta for photos.

Six: Read a book with a beautiful spine. Tin Man So much gold on shiny gold. And ok, I am a sucker for the gold & turquoise combo on the front cover also well. Just a lovely book cover & spine all around.

Seven: Read 7 books. The Myth of Perpetual Summer Because it lost the coin toss. And because I really want to read it now.

Like I said, I doubt very much I will get through seven books in seven days. Especially since I have two other reads I am currently engaged with. But if I can get through at least 3 of these within the week, and 4 the rest of August, then I will be satisfied.

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As far as tracking goes, I think it will be a combination of stuff up on my Insta (mostly within my story), Twitter (if I can think of something clever to say), & here (most definitely here).

Who else is doing booketubeathon? How are you tracking it? Any advice for a first timer? Leave a comment below if you want to cheer each other on! I’m always looking for moral support & have plenty to give! 🙂

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The Beauty of Besties & Books!

Another month gone by, another update!

How have my fellow bookworms been this last month? What is everyone reading?

I have been rather busy the last several weeks.

Firstly, my massive work project that has dominated the majority of my life is almost at an end! I couldn’t be more excited to finish it. Finger crossed, good vibes, and/or prayers that the follow up meeting goes well with the leadership team!

And then perhaps, the more exciting reason for my lack of reading & updates. After 3 years of waiting (not so) patiently, I finally met my Belgian Bestie! I think I might talk about her a little bit, or maybe every other post or something lol. But yeah, Emma & I finally met this summer, and it was honestly the best 10 days of my life!

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(P.S. I made this creepy/excited face in nearly all of our selfies. And Emma looked hella cute in all of them haha)

She just gets me, guys & gals. We’re like the same person minus the fact that she’s from Belgium & I’m from the US. But all of those little cultural differences aside, we really just click. So yeah, I was soaking up all the time I possibly could with her because it might be another 3 years before we get a chance to meet up again. At least…that is our plan 😉

Now that she is gone, we are back to our Best Friend Bookclub activities & this time we are reading A Breath of Snow & Ashes from the Outlander series! I’m so excited we chose this book because so far, we are absolutely loving it!

It’s much better than it’s predecessor, although I think Emma still sound something to like within that book because that’s just how kind/awesome of a person she is to be honest.

And since this is another monster book, we decided to do another competition of sorts and get our followers involved by hosting a giveaway! We are still working out the details, but will make an announcement in a few hundred pages.

Anyway, how has everyone’s summer going? Do you find that your reading slows down during those summer months or is that when you pick up the pace?

Until next time bookworms!

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Ruth Ware, Everywhere!

I am SO excited to talk about Ruth Ware’s latest novel: The Death of Mrs. Westaway!!

But first, I wanted to share something a little personal with you all.

Ware’s books are really special to me because my one aunt, the one who has always fostered and supported my love of reading and writing, introduced me to them!

Two years ago for my birthday, I was living in a pretty dingy, dirty apartment. I felt depressed more often than not, and really craved anything that would either literally or mentally transport me to another place.

I don’t know if she ever knew that or not, but she definitely made a point to talk to me about books, my writing projects, and everything that kept me centered in my life. And then, one crisp day in fall, in a rundown coal town in Pennsylvania, a brown package arrived.

It wasn’t anything special really. My husband and I furnish our hobbies and home with stuff from Amazon. I thought it was just another piece of sports memorabilia or one of the hundreds of books that I purchased that year. But no, it was a birthday package from my aunt.

As I opened it and read the card, it became pretty clear that she had taken the time to really think this gift through. I was, of course, touched, In her card she wrote about how Ruth Ware started out working all kinds of jobs that weren’t really her passion (definitely the previous chapter of my life, and often at times the present too) before she wrote two books and made a name for herself.

And then she went on to gush about In A Dark, Dark Wood, saying it was one of the best books she read in a long time. And alongside it, she included The Woman in Cabin 10.

Now, I believe The Woman in Cabin 10 was once offered as a BOTM option because the title sounded familiar to me. For some reason, I didn’t select it that month. But it hardly mattered to me because my aunt generously gifted it to me.

Now I feel compelled to return the favor. You see, my aunt’s son passed away this year. He, like myself and a few others in our family, suffered from depression. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with it and took his own life shortly after the new year.

She’s doing all that she can to get through it. And while I cannot begin to understand her grief, I know what it’s like to feel depressed and like you’re stuck.

So I’ve decided that I am going to repay her for her generosity and gift her with her own copies of The Lying Game & The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I’m hopeful she likes them as much as I did, and this is an author we can gush over whenever we  get together.

Also I can totally pass it off as a thank you gift because she’s letting me stay at her house for a couple of days this summer while I pick up & drop off my Belgian bestie at the airport. But that’s a story for another post. 🙂

Now onto my thoughts and feelings on Ware’s fourth read, The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

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“She had the truth. And that was all that mattered.” 

As you read this, you are probably going to ask yourself more than once: “What is the truth? What is real?” 

Ware creates another heart pounding tale built on deception & lies. Which is pretty typical for a Ruth Ware novel. However, she deploys the use of the unreliable narrator in a different manner than in her previous novels. Something I greatly appreciated whenever I noticed it.

Our protagonist, Hal, is a bit of an underdog. She’s been dealt kind of a raw deal in life, and is barely hanging on whenever we first meet her. You definitely feel for her, and even when she does some morally questionable things (to ensure her own survival), you feel she truly is a good person whose been thrust into a hard life.

And things just keep getting harder for her, right up until the very end of the novel. But it makes you as a reader commit to seeing her story through. Because in typical Ruth Ware fashion, you have some idea of how things will end, but not everything.

I also felt like Ware has grown a lot as a writer. Once again, we see a host of unique characters, all with well rounded out personalities. Her writing is descriptive when necessary, and heart pounding through nearly all 368 pages. There’s also a lot of literary elements that make this a well crafted read.

Like the nods to Agatha Christie. It’s almost like she’s accepted the title the bookish community has given her.

I really enjoyed this one, and thought it deserved 5 stars! I highly recommend to anyone who likes suspense and mystery, even if you’re a first timer to Ware’s novels.

Anyone else out there a Ware fan? What’s your favorite novel? Or are there any good mysteries your recommend? Let me know! 

Until next time, bookworms! Happy reading!

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Week 24 Reading Update!

Since it is an ungodly hour on my side of the world this Saturday morning, I thought I might as well make myself useful and post a weekly reading update! As far as my reading goals that I outlined in my BuJo go, I did accomplish (or will shortly accomplish) them!

Yay! I actually set a goal and finished one of them! *pats self on the back*

They weren’t lofty. I merely wanted to finish my current read: Small Country & to start a new book, which I will here shortly with The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

I also discovered this week that I think I need to take a hiatus from my Throwback Thursday: Classic Reads Edition. I got about 66% through my current read for this (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), and then I decided WHAT AM I DOING?

I really just don’t think I have the mind for classic reads. I struggle with focusing, retaining information, and not allowing my mind to wonder a lot with reading as it is. The classics just seem to amplify these deficiencies, and as a result I am continuously frustrated and disappointed. I might try again later in the year, but I am relieving myself of that pressure to do one classic read a month.

And also, as I discussed with my bookish bestie, classic novels are a bit outdated for our modern minds. We’re used to short snippets, or direct communication. The circumspect style of writing doesn’t really suit the modern reader, unless one is on point with focus and lives and breathes for this sort of writing.

So I am up to 7 on my list of abandoned books. But this is only the second book I abandoned in 2018, and it was also, my second classic read.

Anyway, onto the book I DID finish this week. Small Country: A Novel by Gaël Faye is actually originally in French, but the translation in English read beautifully to me.

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A coming of age story set against the backdrop of a country on the verge of civil war. Our protagonist is ten year old Gaby, a quiet, thoughtful as well as mischievous boy. His childhood is full of pranks he pulls with his friends on their neighbors as well as secret meetings where they smoke cigarettes and drink beer in their fort built out of an abandoned van.

Except the small privileges of childhood that he enjoys are on the verge of ending as the first democratic election has dire consequences in his mother’s homeland of Rwanda, and eventually, in his rather picturesque cul-de-sac.

Told through the eyes of a child, Gaël Faye’s story is full of innocence and humor. His writing style uses rich, descriptive language that makes you feel transported to the suburbs of Burundi.

Each section is short, and employs meaningful anecdotes that drive the action of the plot forward. The story was heartwarming, horrifying, and beautifully written all in one.

It is rare for me to give a story five stars, but this one felt entirely deserving. It’s one of those stories that stays with you and touches your heart deeply after you finish it.

What are some of your 5 star reads for 2018? I am always looking for recommendations! Well if you stumbled upon my blog post, thanks for reading! 

Catch you later, bookworms!

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