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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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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Aggressively Trying

Ok, so I posted a single update for my contribution to #BoutofBooks this year. And then the rest of it kind went into a downward spiral of nothing. Same with the 8inFortyEight (stemming from 25inFive). I’m pretty sure I read two hours this weekend and even less last week.

Not to mention I totally didn’t do a bullet journal spread for this week, so I just feel like a disorganized jumble of parts and pieces. I hate weeks when I am unprepared like this. I feel like a little mouse scurrying from item to item on a string of post-it’s that make me even question why I try with the bujo. And then I get mad for wanting to give up on it.

Life has been so hectic the last couple of weeks, I don’t even know how to keep up with everything. I’m sure this isn’t the best day for me to update my blog because I just got my monthly parcel from mother nature. So my emotions are more polarized than normal.

But gosh, it’s really hard right now to focus on one single thing, finish it, do a good job & feel good about it. I can’t be alone in feeling this way, right?

Anyway, I am going to try and end this post on a positive note. Some things I did this past couple of weeks that I really should be proud of even if they aren’t contributing to my side projects and such.

Work Related:

  • I developed outlines for new ancillary benefits to offer to our employees.
  • I attended a great training program open house that might yield more candidates in the future.
  • I went on a business lunch in spite of not feeling like 100%. And I didn’t totally suck at it (even though he kind of did, communication wise).
  • I got over my fear of doing multiple calls in a day.

Personal Related:

  • I got my husband a sentimental birthday gift & made him dinner.
  • I baked delicious cookies & then got compliments on them at work.
  • I turned my insomnia this morning into a 30ish minute reading sprint.
  • And I am going to go home shortly, drink some wine, & aggressively read to forget about my trying day.
  • Also, I guess I just turned a negative post into a positive one and created a bujo list to make up for the fact that I do not have any updates in that little blue book.

How is everyone else out there doing? Feeling like none of your goals are being accomplished? Or are you killing it? If you’re being a total badass I would appreciate any words of encouragement you can provide this lowly book blogger, who tries so hard but often falls short.

Until next time bookworms!

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Back with Rambles & Classic Reads

Wow. It has been over a month since I posted anything! A whole month!

I cannot believe how incredibly lax I have become with this blog, especially after all of my goals and reorganization habits that I began only a month or so ago. Anyway, I’m able to rationalize “the why” behind my lack of reading and inactivity, so that in turn tones down my anxiety and depression a bit. Feel free to skip ahead below the cut if you are not interested in hearing my ramblings, but writing through this and getting it off of my chest helps me. If you read it, you’re a special kind of person who deserves all the coffee and cookies.

I determined three major reasons behind my lack of reading and updating this blog over the last month and a half.

  1. I am reading a monster of a book with my best friend as part of our best friend’s book club. And with all of the work/school/extra things we’ve had going on, it’s taking us longer than usual to finish it. It’s a lovely experience, especially since we live on opposite sides of the planet, and really allows us to bond and have those special experiences that “real life friends,” share.
  2. That and the fact that a lot of my reading time has been replaced with marathon training. Yes, me, who has never run competitively in all of my life, is running a relay marathon. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to sign up for the 6.3 mile leg of the race, but here we are. 52 days til the big race, so I’m trying to set myself up to not have a heart attack in downtown Pittsburgh.
  3. And finally, the third book I was convinced I could finish pretty quickly was lost up until a few days ago. It was a special gift too from the above mentioned friend, so anytime I would sit down to read, I would think about it and feel my anxiety levels increase. So now that I have found it again, I am starting to feel my anxiety levels decrease a bit, and will hopefully finish this book in March.

But hey, in perusing other blogs, I see that I am not alone with mental blocks and struggles when it comes to reading. And so I take some comfort in knowing that this isn’t a deficiency in my character, nor does it make my love of books or reading any less than someone who can finish 20 books each month. If anyone else out there is struggling and reading this, I hope you see that you aren’t alone either. Remember little or some progress, is still progress. 🙂

Now onto the book related content of this post. My next Throwback Thursday: Classic Edition read! See below the cut for what is next on my list.

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Bookish BuJo Pages

I write this post with severely mixed emotions. On one hand, I want to be ecstatic and share with you all some exciting new pages in my bullet journal, and a little reading challenge I am doing with my best friend. And on the other hand, my family received some tragic news a couple of days ago.

My youngest cousin passed away this week. He was 18 years old. Because I want to respect his immediate family’s grieving process and their privacy, I won’t post too many specific details, but I wanted to just inform anyone reading this, in case you are able to sense that my tone isn’t as upbeat as it generally is.

If you believe in prayers, please send them our way. His family has suffered in a similar capacity before, and they are most likely going through absolute hell right now. I must admit, I am a bit nervous about going to the funeral early next week, but I know it has to be done. So any prayers, good vibes, or words of encouragement you can send to me either here or through Twitter PM, will really help lift me up.

But if you don’t want to, that’s cool too. Grief is a touchy, tricky subject, so I completely understand if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Just think positive thoughts for all of us.

Anyway, I will now clumsily segue into the bookish part of this post.

Over the last week, I’ve been working on some new pages in my bullet journal (or, ‘BuJo,’ as it is affectionately referred to) that I thought I could occasionally feature on this blog. I already track my daily tasks, big picture life events, goals, daily scripture passages, my water intake, marathon training, writing projects, etc. Basically everything that comprises my life. Minus anything to do with this blog, and/or books.

So I thought that I needed to change that. Please excuse the crudity of my drawings and my typography. Another thing I added to the journal was practice for both. But I hope with time, patience, and some assistance from step by step tutorials, I will become better at this.

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Temporary Hiatus

Well ladies & gents, we did it! The hubster, dogger, & I FINALLY got the keys, and moved in our (hopefully) forever home! So yay, for big life steps.

Which brings me to my less than happy news. I feel that a temporary hiatus is in order. I don’t know how long this will last. We are due to get internet on Thursday, so I might be sneaking on and off Twitter then. But I imagine it will be a few weeks until I feel comfortable enough to plant myself down on the couch (or in my new reading room ^^) for a hours at a time to build content for this site.

I want to thank everyone who has checked out this newish blog so far, and I am amazed at how many likes, comments, and follows I have already received. Seriously, it’s so unexpected, but much appreciated that each and every one of you has shown interest in what I’ve started here so far.

I’m only sorry I haven’t had a chance to return the favor. But I promise to visit your lovely sites, and read through some of your content once internet returns, and life feels somewhat balanced again. Or at least, I don’t feel like I’m living in a box.

Until that time comes, I hope you all have happy reads!

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