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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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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Bout of Books is Feeling 22!

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22!

Just kidding. I’m not, but Bout of Books is! Or rather, this read-a-thon is on its 22nd run haha. My apologies for the weird/cheesy/awkward intro, but my hubster and I like to sing songs that have lyrics with certain numbers associated with them. So I was channeling that at the forefront of this post.

This is my third time participating in BoB, so I’m on the verge of ‘expert,’ status (yay for almost achieving small goals!). And even though this May appears to be a little crazy for me socially speaking, I’m still signing up for this read-a-thon.

It’s always proven to be a great time. A lot of Twitter socializing, challenges, giveaways, & the like over the course of a week.

For those of you who don’t know what Bout of Books is, check the information below:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 22 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

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The thing I love most about this read-a-thon is its lowkey-ness. There’s no pressure to read a mountain of books. Though if you’re the type of person that can, more power to you. But I am not. I will be lucky if I get through 4. But still, in my mind that’s pretty impressive, since most of my books are at a minimum of 300 pages.

I’m also pretty excited because I found out that one of my challenge ideas is going to be used. So that’s kind of cool! *grins like a big eyed emoji about it*

But as far as my TBR goes, I’m not ready to decide it just yet. I’ll probably post a picture of my desired reads for this on Insta closer to the date, so stay tuned!

Any of my other fellow readers doing BoB 22? Where do you gals/guys post your updates for read-a-thons? Your blog? Twitter? Insta? Other methods?

I’m still mulling over how I will update my progress in this year’s Bout of Books. 

But anyway, make sure you sign up bookworms! This is truly a grand ole’ time!

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#whatsinthebox18 Readathon Update!

Saturday afternoon I was perusing bookish hashtags on Instagram for inspiration & to find other awesome book bloggers out there when I happened upon this reading challenge. And of course, me not really having any major plans this weekend (except for a trip to the dog park, some catch up cleaning, groceries, & mass, you know my usual stuff), I thought why not join in?

And here we are on Tuesday, halfway(ish) through the readathon, so I figured I would make a post about my experience with this readathon so far.

Some of you must be wondering, what is #whatsinthebox18?

It’s a week long readathon (from April 14-April 21) created by wherethereadergrows & book.happy, intended to knock off those books that arrive through any monthly subscriptions you might have. And it looks like most (if not all) of the giveaways included in this readathon are either a subscription box from various providers, or a book from a subscription box. Oh, and they are everyday giveaways so if you’re into that it is really fun!

I haven’t really participated in the giveaways, with the exception of doing the photo challenges. But those are really just so I can practice taking pictures as my photo skills are weak af. I also thought doing this readathon would be a fun way to kind of reach out to the bookstagram community, and probably most importantly, knock off some of my BOTM books that have pretty much taken over my TBR shelf.

Seriously it’s bad how behind I am with reading these books. (I think I have 2 unread from 2016 still, and something like a dozen between 2017-2018. Yikes, right?) In fact I’m considering temporarily halting my subscription in June, just so I can buckle down and catch up. I’m sure my bank account & my hubster would love if I did that, but I just don’t know if I can fully commit to it because I love discovering new books through the monthly selections! If you’re reading this, sorry babe!

Anyway, now that you know a little bit about the #whatsinthebox18 readathon, let’s talk personal progress. I feel pretty good about my progress so far for this readathon.

So far, I read two books. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimen, which was a random read that I started before discovering #whatsinthebox18. And then a selection from my BOTM TBR shelf, The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls. Below you can see my star ratings & favorite quotes from them. 

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I also started reading another one of my BOTM books from last year The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy. It’s started out kind of slow, but definitely holds an air of mystery that makes me want to know more. You aren’t really sure exactly what is going on with the protagonist, Mary, although I feel like it might be something really sinister based on the clues we’ve been provided. And then I have another read that I am targeting to finish, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I love learning about different cultures, particularly from a historical viewpoint, and also if they come into contact with another conflicting culture. That whole idea is just fascinating to me and always makes for a rich read, so I have high hopes for this one.

And beyond these four, I don’t really see myself finding time to start another one. But hey, stranger things have happened 😉

As far as reviews of these books goes, I chose to do mini-reviews since I saw mostly everyone was updating their progress on Instagram. I figured I would be easier to give quick snapshots of my thoughts there, but I also wanted to track my progress over here, and talk a little bit about this fun & exciting readathon. I will probably also do a wrap up next Sunday here on my overall experience/progress, so stay tuned.

Anyone else do a subscription book box? Any others to recommend aside from BOTM? Do you have BOTM? What are your feelings about it? Let me know!

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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Bout of Books 21 Daily Progress

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Monday’s are often full of trepidation. There’s always a list of things that were “put off,” on Friday afternoon when my brain has mentally checked out, and I just want to blast “Cheers! (Drink to That) as I roll out of the parking lot.

Especially this Monday. My company recently won two new customers, so new customers means new job orders, which means more people to produce the product, so full blown recruiter mode is engaged!

Also, it’s come to my attention that my company has 2 3 events we want to host in January-February. Not to mention the couple of job fairs that I’ve been assigned, and a whole new program for interns that I need to manage.

All of this, along with the fact that we move houses in two days, has me completely worn out. So worn out that I actually passed out on the couch before last night’s Twitter challenge. I think I made it to 8:05pm EST (7:05pm CST).

But hey, in spite of dreading my Monday at work, things on the bookish end of things went pretty well. I managed an early morning reading sprint for an hour, knowing I would need to go into work a whole hour earlier than usual. So that’s something of a small achievement!

And while I came home, ate Taco Bell (still no beef!), and fell asleep on the couch with my book and doggie in my lap, instead of reading said book, I am proud of myself for doing an early morning reading sprint.

Pages Read: 56

Books Finished: 0

Find the rest of my Bout of Books week beneath the cut!

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ANOTHER Reading Challenge?!

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ANOTHER reading challenge? Only 5 days into the New Year, and 1 book down, and I’m committing myself to yet another reading challenge? Yes, it’s true. But this one conveniently fits in with one of my reading resolutions.

I recently discovered as I so lovingly packed away each of my books in stiff, cardboard boxes that I have over 30 unread books in my possession! That might not seem like a lot to some of you, but it’s more than I’ve claimed to read for my Goodreads Challenge this year.

As soon as I found out there was a challenge dedicated to finishing off those sorely neglected books, I knew I had to join it. After all, I wanted to spend most of 2018 committing myself to reading what I already own before allowing myself to spend more on new books that may or may not fall into the “dust collector’s” category. This challenged then arose from me accidentally discovering it.

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one day, and I saw a tag for the reading challenge from one of my mutuals (@jkimexploring). Naturally, me being a genuinely curious person, I clicked on the tag and learned more or less about what it was, and the overall concept aligned perfectly with one of my biggest reading resolution…to knock off those backlisted books from my TBR!

Not only does it align with what I need to accomplish this year as a reader, but this challenge appears to have the kind of laid back, supportive vibe I need. It lasts the entire year, and the only rule is to select books that are not published in the current year. Given my current TBR, this should be a piece of cake. I rarely get books prior to release to the general public (my January BOTM is an exception to this, I will say that upfront), and am looking to expand upon my readership of the classics. So I am rather looking forward to this reading challenge.

As with most other reading challenges, people set goals to mark their progress. And since this one lasts an entire year, and involves teams (like how fun, you’re aligned with other people!?) I figured, why not at least commit myself to reading 3 each month? It might be more, but I am aiming to definitely keep the per month minimum at 3 reads that qualify.

Reading goals aside, I also want to commit myself to posting a review here, and on Amazon. I feel like it’s time to become a bit more serious about my writing. And while a few Amazon reviews aren’t quite the same as writing a novel, it will require a level of discipline, and will hopefully enable me to improve my writing skills.

Reviewing goals aside, I want to do at least 1 monthly challenge on Instagram. I love how people create such beautiful visual aesthetics with books, and I want to contribute to that as well.

What does this all amount to? The way I understand it, each of these actions adds points to my team’s score, and brings one of us closer to receiving a giveaway prize each month, if we rack up the most points. Or at least, that’s what I recall from reading the original post.

All in all, I’m excited for this reading challenge. I’m always up for something that encourages me to read more, and allows me to meet more people who make books a priority in their life. Who knows? Maybe I’ll learn about an awesome read from someone, or meet a new bookish buddy?

Anyone else trying to knock off some books from their TBR?! Join the #BeatTheBacklist challenge! Who knows, maybe we will be on the same team? 🙂