Belgian Buddy Read & Tossing My TBR!

Hi [d: Hallo] friends!

My Belgian Buddy aka Emma (whom I probably talk about in at least every single blog post–annoying yet lol?) and I just finished our fourth read in our best friend book club! Our goals were to read the rest of the Outlander series together (along with the Lord John Grey series because hello, who doesn’t love him?) and we are nearly there!

This year we read three (3) books in the series! Yes, you read that correctly! For those of you not familiar with the series, each book will set you back at least 1,000 pages of reading time. I think maybe the first one is the only one exempt from this category. But feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! My memory isn’t quite what it used to be.

Prior to starting this serial buddy read with her, I think I was averaging  one (1) OL book every six to eight months. Meanwhile Emma read three (3) in one month haha. So I suppose the 3-4 months it takes us to get through the next three books kind of evens out our reading paces.

An Echo in the BoneAnyway, this latest one was titled An Echo in the Bone. (See my previous post about it if you want to see her pretty cover. Mine is the one featured in this post). And just like  almost every other novel in the series, it leaves a lot of things up in the air at the end. I think you can kind of see through our commentary below (found in my bullet journal) that we were simultaneously amused, confused, and frustrated by everything that was jammed packed into this 1,000(ish) page read.

Yes, there are explicit words below, so consider this your warning.

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As far as my ranking of the books in the series, I think I find them all pretty much on even ground. The only book that felt torturous to read was The Fiery Cross. Good thing I didn’t start doing these commentary pages then, it would have been me complaining the whole time with Emma calmly telling me there has to be a reason for this. Drums of Autumn was hard to get through as well. I think a lot of this is attributed to the fact that Claire and Jamie take up residence in a “new world,” (sort of punny if you know where they end up in this book) so a lot of new world building needs to take place.

But all of that aside DG does a great job at world building, character development and slowly revealing the significance of seemingly insignificant details. I seriously recommend this series to my historical fiction lovers who love time traveling to different periods in history.

I gave this one four (4) stars. It’s fast paced and quick (well as quick as a 1,000 page read can be ;)), and there are several storylines that run parallel to one another, which I think helps break it up. Still, these books are a rather large time commitment to read, so I highly recommend the buddy read system for them! I definitely wouldn’t be this far along in the series without Emma.

Also, check out the television series as well! It very closely resembles the novels, which makes me as a fan verra (‘very’) happy. Season 4 premiers on November 4th! I know Emma and I cannot wait to begin watching it during our ‘down time,’ between books.

Anyway, onto my second mini announcement. I have come to the conclusion that I need to toss the idea of a TBR. I announced via Instagram some books I planned on reading this month, and as I tried to pick a couple of them up and read through them, I found myself stuck.

So I have come to the conclusion that establishing a TBR just doesn’t work for me. I’m an impulse/spontaneous/’read what I want’ type of reader. I think all those years of being forced to read things as an English Lit student have caused this sort of rebellion in me.

And I think that is totally ok to admit that TBRs aren’t for you. The reason this kind of came up is because of all the recent readathons that pop up when the weather gets cozy and people tend to retreat indoors.

Most of them encourage the whole ‘announcement of your TBR,’ and while that might be find to allow some people to focus. I don’t think I will be participating in those types of challenges. They are just unrealistic goals for me that I will likely never meet, and then, when I do fail, I feel it hard.

Also, I read a billion resumes at work each day. I don’t want siting down to read a novel to feel like a chore either. This is my fun hobby. My escape from the daily grind. Trying to force myself to read things that don’t appeal to me in the moment kind of sucks the fun out of the whole reading experience and turns into work. And I don’t want it to feel that way.

That being said, I did participate in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon for a few hours yesterday, and I read a really awesome book called Lincoln in the Bardo. This was a recommendation from a newer bookish friend (who, ironically is also Belgian–seriously am I a magnet for this country & its people?). I will be talking more about that experience in another upcoming post! It is definitely one that deserves a stand alone review. 🙂

How about the rest of you? Are you “planners” or “go with the flow” type readers? Do you create TBRs or have you long tossed this idea? 

Until next time book buds!

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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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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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The Pro’s & Con’s of The Book Thief

I have a feeling there will likely be unpopular opinions for this post. And that’s ok. Diversity is what makes the world go round, ja/yeah?

19063I really wanted to love this book. I wanted to rave about it in this review. I wanted to proclaim my undying love to it. And maybe it’s because I am reading this so late in life. Maybe because I saw the film first my opinion of the book was slightly tainted. (Although truthfully, it wasn’t even that memorable, so I didn’t have too many spoilers that came from the film to the book.) I could probably come up with more reasons/excuses to try and place blame on myself for not LOVING this book, but we would probably be here all day.

We’ll start with the bad & the ugly.

In short, it was long. The protagonist wasn’t all that interesting. Sure, she’s a little girl, and it’s a coming of age story, so I get there is a lot of development & realizations of “this is the world we live in, how terrible and unfair,” but I just didn’t feel a connection to her. Her suffering didn’t move me for the majority of the book. It wasn’t until the end when I felt anything for her, and again, most of my sad feelings were directed at other characters.

Another thing I noticed was that my mind drifted off several times when reading this, and I felt the full 547 pages of this book. It felt really, really long to me. And I get we need more connections with the characters, so perhaps that was why the length was what it was, but I just felt like COME ON, IS ANYTHING EVER GOING TO HAPPEN? too many times.

There were a few moments where I would breeze through chapters, anticipating what was coming next, but those moments were few & far between for me.

Enter the reasons for the if_star-4_47965if_star-4_47965if_star-4_47965if_star-2_47963if_star-0_47961 rating.

Now onto the good things that redeemed this for me & made me want to finish.

The writing was beautiful. It was lyrical and wrought with personification at every opportune moment. Everyday feelings, objects, etc., were given human dispositions that made sense, and added to the quality of writing.

The choice of narrator was unique and made for creative storytelling. I felt like having an ‘impartial,’ or ‘unbiased,’ narrator might have played into my lack of feeling for certain characters. But otherwise, I thought it was a creative aspect of the story. It made the pages go by quicker.

Another thing I liked about this, is something that I often struggle with as far as WW2 books goes. And that is the emotional toll a story takes on you. For me, this one this wasn’t super heavy on the emotions.

Sure, there were parts of it that were sad. And the descriptions of certain things were intended to be heartbreaking, but it wasn’t horrific or super dark like other books set in this era that I’ve previously read. It was just like “meh this is depressing,” but not debilitating where I would need a break from books set during this time period.

I did feel a certain prickling behind my eyes during Part 10. However, the resolution was kind of rushed and glossed over. Which is fine, it served it’s purpose. So there were some redeeming qualities in the final few sections.

I would probably recommend this to people. But I have read other books from this time period that I have enjoyed more, so this one would be just an “if you have the time,” or “if you want to read more experimental type writing,” sort of recommendation from me.

Anyone else not a fan of this one? Or do I stand alone? Any other good recommendations from the WW2 era? Or any other good books in general that you’re reading?

Let me know bookworms!

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#whatsinthebox18 Wrap Up! And Coming Reads!

That’s all folks!

I have completed the #whatsinthebox18 week long readathon. It was such a fun readathon, and I really did challenge myself to read more in a week than I normally would.

The original goal was 4 reads, and I am pleased to announce that I read 3.5 books! I definitely swapped out a monster length book for a shorter, more manageable one for my last reading sprint. (I will be discussing each of these reads in my live wrap up on Instagram that will take place in approximately 30 minutes.)

I definitely will participate in this readathon again. And hopefully by then I will have a couple more connections in the #bookstagram community that I will feel more comfortable in participating in the giveaway events (I felt weird just ‘making new friends,’ and then tagging them tbh).

But no complaints on not wining anything, really. I went into this with the mindset of wanting to finish some BOTM books that have been sorely neglected, and I did just that! I also wanted to meet and connect with some more people in the #bookstagram community, and I was successful in that also.

So all in all, it was a great experience! So if you’re looking to break into the bookish community on Instagram, or just want another week long readathon, participate in this one!

Seriously, wherethereadergrows & book.happy were AMAZINGLY generous hosts for this readathon. They were super active, and encouraging to everyone, even to a newb like me. And you don’t always have that in readathons, so I really felt welcomed in and included. Thank you for all your hard work ladies!

So now that I have finished up the following reads, what is next for reorganized-reading? Well, I am going to be doing another Best Friend Book Club read with my Belgian Bestie. A classic that has been on both of our TBR’s forever: The Book Thief!

I know, how behind the times are we on this one? It came out ages ago, right? But anyway, we’re both really excited to have another read to experience with one another. And also, there will be two giveaways this time! One when we meet the halfway mark, and the other when we sprint to the end. Stay tuned for more details on my Twitter & Instagram accounts!

And I will also be announcing my last Throwback Thursday Classic this coming Thursday, but I need your help in deciding which read to go with! Stay tuned as I will announce via Twitter & Instagram two options for you to choose from.

Thanks again to everyone who has made my reading experience so enjoyable thus far! I really am grateful to have had the chance to connect with some amazing individuals!

Until next time bookworms!

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Best Friend Book Club Giveaway!

The monster book is FINALLY complete! This morning I closed my exceptionally worn out copy of The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon and sipped my second cup of coffee triumphantly.

Triumphantly because this read has taken me the better part of two months and was a bit tedious to get through. TheFieryCross

Not so triumphantly because I lost a reading competition to my Belgian bestie. But, if I was going to lose to anybody it would be her.

I know I have teased that my Belgian bestie and I were reading a monster of a book together, and that I also teased that we started a best friend book club. But I don’t know if I actually went into detail of the experience. I think I intended to explain this in another post, but never got around to it. 

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