In the Midnight Room

Another NetGalley read finished for the month!

This vacation week hasn’t just been all play and no work. Ok, so maybe it MOSTLY has been all play and no work. There’s just something relaxing about being able to stick your toes in the sand and unwind to the sounds and smells of the ocean while diving into a good book.

In the Midnight Room by Laura McBride was one I got through NetGalley, just because. I honestly didn’t expect when I signed up for the site to be approved for nearly every single read that I requested. It is a lot different than those near impossible Goodreads Giveaways. Seriously has anyone out there won one of those?

But anyone, this one had the earliest pub date (which I missed by about a week) so I went for it. And this one was pretty good.

In the Midnight Room

Three women from different decades with diverse backgrounds find their lives intersecting in unexpected ways. All set against the backdrop of Las Vegas and the up’s and down’s that encompass this area.

We first meet June, a free spirited woman who left a small town in Jersey for the bright lights and excitement of Las Vegas in the 1960s. June’s story was intriguing given her aversion to segregation in the casino she ran with her husband. She was a trailblazer, someone who truly didn’t care what people thought of her differing opinions. I found her sections the most enjoyable to read and got through those ones the quickest.

Following June we meet Honorita, a Filipino mail order bride, who ended up striking it rich in America. Her story was tinged with sadness, but her stony exterior made it hard to feel a deep connection to her. Still, I was glad for how things ended for her.

We also have Coral, who isn’t mentioned in the original synopsis, but she has a critical role in the story. I honestly thought her character was more deeply explored than our third protagonist, Engracia. I really enjoyed her familial relations and the scenes she had with her siblings and then nieces and nephews.

And then there was Engracia. While we understand why Engracia was the way she was or acted the did, there was a lot lacking with her character. For as much time as McBride spent flushing out the other three characters, I felt like Engracia’s story was rushed and left the most holes in the plot. I wanted to know more about her.

All in all, McBride created interesting and diverse characters with realistic problems and brought them together in both unexpected and expected ways. Not only do her characters and their lives draw you in, but In the Midnight Room, also touched upon a lot of important issues in America’s history. Alluding to critical events during the Civil Rights movement, and then turning it into a personal struggle for a couple of our primary characters. In addition to racism, this book also mentioned immigration issues, particularly those surrounding sex trafficking and illegal immigration.

The writing wasn’t lush with descriptions, leaving the reader room to interpret scenes to their liking. The style didn’t show much, but rather told the reader about a lot of things the characters experienced. It was also a little introspective at times, jumping back and forward in time. Everything had purpose and meaning and came together in the end, but there were a couple of things that could have been edited out.

The pacing was a little slow at times, but there were moments of suspense that made me want to plow through multiple chapters at a time. I thought this was a solid 3 star read, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a female oriented drama that spanned several decades and included characters with diverse backgrounds.

What is everyone else reading to close out their summers? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time bookworms!

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Best Friend Book Club Update!

(feat. Emma & Lynn)

As some of you know, my bookish (and Belgian) best friend Emma and myself began a little book club of our own to stay in touch in spite of the thousands of miles of ocean and six hour time zone between us. Last year, we started with The Fiery Cross from the Outlander series (side note: Emma spent the entire previous summer reading books 2-4. Seriously, I have no idea how she read all those pages to be honest, 1 of these books easily takes me two months). Then we moved onto The Book Thief to quench our thirst for a historical fiction. And we just finished up the next book in the Outlander Series: A Breath of Snow & Ashes.

10965I have to say, A Breath of Snow & Ashes is probably my favorite Outlander book since the third installment, Voyager. It was jammed packed with action and adventure, along with the usual familial drama that descends upon Fraser’s Ridge. I gave it a solid 4 star rating.

As long as it was, I didn’t often feel like it dragged on and on for decades of my life.

*cough*The Fiery Cross*coughcough* I’m looking at you *coughcough*.

Sure, sometimes I feel like some of themes and tropes utilized are a bit repetitive from time to time. I believe I wallowed, “Another abduction?” at Emma with an eye roll emoji. But for the most part, DG (our nickname Diana Gabaldon) does everything for a reason.

As Emma says, if someone doesn’t die in front of your eyes while reading, they will come back sooner or later. Which is good because I am all about a story with purpose in it.

Anyway, as featured in my Booktubeathon Results post, I shared summary pages from my bullet journal of the different books I read.

This one is a little different because it is apart of the best friend book club reading series. In this one, I decided to include some quotes that Emma and I shared with one another as we read on. I really thought this was a cute idea to commemorate this experience and to set these books apart from the other ones we might be reading. So I thought it made sense to share this with you all, since this is a key component to my blogging experience. Please be advised that some of the language might be strong (I probably gave her my terrible swearing habit), so if that is something that offends you feel free to look away.

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Also, I feel like it is some kind of unwritten rule of bullet journaling that washi tape will somehow save all the mistakes you make. But hey, this one actually fit the cover the title so I thought why not take advantage of that?

Our third read for the best friend book club was a success (but honestly I wouldn’t expect anything less from us)! Usually we decide to break between Outlander books because they are so cumbersome and time consuming. But due to the nature of how A Breath of Snow and Ashes ends, we’ve decided to jump right into book seven, An Echo in the Bone.

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Emma’s beautiful cover is featured here because mine is just a plain, boring lime green one. Let’s just take a minute to appreciate the gorgeous cover above.

As far as other reads this month, I’m not entirely sure I will get to them. I go on vacation starting Friday, so I might just want to take it a bit easy and continue on with this one. But I promised my Mum I would give her my copy of Crazy Rich Asians to read on the beach, so that one might also get read. I also planned to bring along my BOTM pick: Goodbye, Paris. We shall see what happens, but for now I am content with starting my fourth best friend book club read!

What is everyone else out there reading? Any other Outlander fans? Let’s connect! Emma and I love fangirling with new people! 

Until next time bookworms!

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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…

The Orange Girl

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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