Wrapping Up Reads of 2018

Happy Christmas Eve bookish buds! For some reason the holiday season hasn’t been very merry for me. It has had moments of goodness, but there has mostly been a shadow of grey hovering over me.

There are a few things I think that have been consistently triggering this feeling. I have tried to avoid them, but sometimes you have to face your demons. Anyway, I preface this post with some less than joyous tidings because I think this will be my last post of the year.

I have mentioned a couple of books that I intended to read to finish off the year, but I don’t think I am going to cram them in. I think I am going to take it easy for the rest of the year to help restore my mental health and to also try to enjoy the holidays with my family as best as I can.

Below are some of this year’s notable reads that I wanted to share with everyone. I will also remind everyone that these all have reviews in some form on various sites, and to check out the drop down link beneath ‘Book Reviews.’ I included the links to my full reviews below and also some comments on books that I REALLY think everyone should be reading.

32895291My first review of the year: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware [x]. This one straddled between 2017-2018, but I still counted it as my first completed book of this year. 

A newer book that you enjoyed: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone came out this year, and it was way better than I expected it to be! There is a of course a thriller element to it, the protagonist is an antihero, seeking justice for her best friend who was greatly wronged by a narcissistic man. There are so many comments on social justice and injustice in regards to gender in this. And it definitely gives you down with the patriarch feels! I recommend to all my feminist friends 🙂

An older book that you enjoyed: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This is YA one that is really beautifully executed. I loved how it was so many genres wrapped into one, and they all worked very well together. 

A book I feel is not well known, but deserves all the recognition and praise: If you 36750086enjoyed books like The Kite Runner, I highly recommend Small Country [f: Petit pays] by Gael Faye. It isn’t set in Afghanistan, but in Burundi, and tells a similarly tragic yet beautiful tale of friendship, family, and growing up in a country that descends under the cloud of occupation and warfare. Originally in French, I read the English translation and found the language to be so poignant still. This read might be small, but it is definitely mighty! 

A hyped up book that lived up to the hype: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. If you’re someone like me who occasionally needs to break up serious fiction, thrillers, and mysteries with something more lighthearted, this is a great read to pick up! Its wry, empowering, and I mean…who doesn’t have a thing for a surly Scottish man? 😉 Check it out as a summer read or a summery read to break through the grey-ness of winter! 

My absolute favorite book (can only select one): The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins was amazing! It touched me very deeply. This one is great for so  many reasons. Its well written, highly addictive, and heart wrenching. But seriously just read it. You will have no regrets, I promise. Favorite quote (out of many): “…knowing there are all different types of great love out there, is enough for me for now.”


The longest book I read: The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon came in at 1,443 pages! And I felt every single one of them haha. This book is in the Outlander series. And while it was a fun one because I did it as a buddy read with my bookish bestie, I felt it went on forever and ever. It was still convenient because I read it when I was flying around a bit earlier this year, so I didn’t need to pack another book 🙂

25403The shortest book I read: The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder came in at 151 pages. I read this for the #BoutofBooks read-a-thon challenge and it really helped keep my motivated to plow through more books due to its length. It was also SO beautifully written. I highly recommend this one if you haven’t read it!

Books I did not finish this year (or least favorite): Northanger Abbey & The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I just don’t think I am one for classical reading.

My last review of the year: For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt was a thrilling read about how far a person might go to save a person they love. This one kept my attention throughout and I actually finished it in a day and a half. I wasn’t as keen on the husband’s POV and the rushed wrap up at the end, but I would still recommend this one.

All in all, I read “40” [d: veertig] books this year, and FINALLY completed a Goodreads Challenge! I feel like it is an accomplishment and was the perfect amount of books for me to read in a single year. Originally I started out at 30 [d: dertig], but met that goal end of October/Early November, so I tacked on 10 [d: tien] more books thinking over enthusiastically “I got this. I can do this.” And for once, I actually did succeed, hah!

Knowing I can get to 40, I think I will aim for that number and then if I meet it early, I can increase the count 🙂 I am not yet confident to increase my number of books to 50, and maybe I am not meant to get that high of a count. But either way, I am content with where I am now, and what my initial goal is for the coming year.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! And if you are one of those people who doesn’t get much face time with your family whether by your choice, theirs, or due to circumstance, know that I can be someone who cares and will do my best to spread some holiday cheer or at least make you laugh with my terribly awkward jokes. Seriously DM me on Insta, Twitter, or just comment below (I won’t approve it, so no one else has to know you are struggling if you do not want them to). You do not have to be alone this holiday season. 🙂

Here’s to 2019 my friends [d: mijn vrienden]!


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!


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.


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!



A Mathematical Mystery & My June TBR

Firstly, I want to talk about my latest read: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy.


This one surprised me. Sure, I chose it as an extra Book of the Month selection, but I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The characters were complicated, all going through their own personal struggles, while this mystery of their patriarch’s last equation unfolded.

The novel opened with the death of Isaac Severy. While a shock to his family, he was entirely prepared to die. And with this tragic event, the relations of Isaac Severy find themselves brought together. Their relationships are strained, and different facets of the characters are slowly revealed to us in purposeful ways.

Told from three points of view from within the Severy family, we get a fuller picture of the mystery. Each of them have something that connects them to it, even if we don’t know it straightaway. Which allows for the story to come together at the end nicely.

The pace of this was steady throughout. There were a few twists, which then urged me to read several chapters more in one sitting, but it wasn’t heart pounding where you needed to finish the entire thing in a single setting. The mathematical concepts in this were well explained for people with little to no knowledge of it (like myself haha), without the writing becoming heavy with technical terms. And there were references to today’s culture, making you as a reader feel more connected to the story.

All in all, I thought this one was worthy of a 4.5 rating. I highly recommend this one to those who like a good mystery + family drama.

And now onto the second part of this post. My June TBR list!

Honestly, I can’t believe we are halfway through 2018! Time sure flies when you’re having fun 😉

Sadly I am not even halfway through my Goodreads Challenge. Yes, it shows that I practically am, but I am not counting The Lying Game & I accidentally clicked the “I’m finished!” button besides Sherlock Holmes on their website haha. So technically, I am only 12 books in 2018.

But I will not give up, even if I sound a bit defeatist. There are 6 months left in the year, and I only need 18 more books to complete my challenge, and I just need to keep reminding myself of that I can handle 3 books per month (if not more).

The three for June I will push myself to finish are….

37781941Burundi, 1992. For ten-year-old Gabriel, life in the comfortable expatriate neighborhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother, and little sister, Ana, is something close to paradise. These are happy, carefree days spent sneaking cigarettes and stealing mangoes, as he and his mischievous gang of friends transform their tiny cul-de-sac into their kingdom.

But dark clouds are gathering over this small country – and their peaceful idyll will soon shatter when Burundi, and neighboring Rwanda, are brutally hit by war and genocide.

I’m looking forward to this one. I love reading stories set in different places of the world during parts of history I am not familiar with. Knowledge is power, whoop whoop!


Kim Lord is an avant garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women.

As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all of the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances.

Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala

Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls upon the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her.

Who doesn’t love a promising sounding thriller? Set in another unique community, I’m looking forward to diving into this one, and holding on tight!

36373481On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

I am so excited to have my hands on the latest Ruth Ware novel! I know she’s becoming a pretty big deal in the bookish community, and I’m not really in the “in crowd,” to have received this in advance. But I’m really excited for this one! She has a lovely way of writing, and also finds ways to shock you with various plot twists.

I might add some more to this list, especially those “classics,” I am supposed to be reading, but am really struggling to force myself to haha. Although The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a pretty good read to be in the middle of at present.

Anyway, what is everyone else reading this month? Link your posts to your blog/social sites below for me to check out! 

Until next time bookworms!





#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!



Last Reads of Last Year

Happy New Year & to all a wonderful morning! My first few waking hours of 2018 have involved lots of coffee, puppy cuddles, texts to friends around the world, finishing a book that straddles the span of two years, & driving my hubster to work in subzero temperatures.

“It’s warming up,” He said dryly to me this morning as we sat in the car with our hands in our coat pockets. 

Of course, I mistook his sarcasm (like most days) for sincerity, and exclaimed all wide eyed, “Really? Is it like 20°(F/~-6°C)?”

“No it’s 7° (F/~-13°C).”

And while living in Pennsylvania for my whole life has prepared me for having four separate seasons, the unpredictability of our weather in more recent years still makes us marvel when it actually drops below the freezing mark. 

But you probably didn’t stumble upon this post looking for random, personal anecdotes. You probably came here, looking to hear about my last reads of 2017.

I know it must sound kind of backwards. Why on earth would I post this today, at the start of a whole other year, and post my resolutions yesterday, when I was still hovering in the previous year? Well, the short answer is: I failed to finish one of the reads I intended to discuss in this post before the clock struck 12 yesterday.

It wasn’t for lack of effort or trying. I did manage to read 165 pages in a single day, all while nursing a pretty gross hangover from the previous night. All in all, I would say that’s an achievement in itself, given the state of things. Not to mention, I finished a book the previous day. So in spite of not tidily wrapping up all my current reads in 2017, I am rather proud of myself for finishing up 2 books in the span of 3 days.

If you follow me on goodreads, you already know what two books I’m referring to. But I’m here to tell you about them anyway.

Let me preface this by saying that I started both of these on the tail end of vacation in early November. It truly is a miracle that I was able to plow through to their endings after having gone weeks without them even crossing my mind. (See my previous post below for more info about why I was stranded in such a vicious reading slump this whole year.) But yay, I made it through them both, and found them to both have some merit.


DarkerShadeofMagic if_star-4_47965if_star-4_47965if_star-4_47965if_star-4_47965if_star-0_47961

The first “last book of 2017,” I finished was A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. It had been a while since I read anything in the fantasy realm when I picked this one up, and let me just start off by saying that I loved it! Her writing gives off that ‘slow reveal,’ vibe while keeping descriptions minimal yet relevant to the imagery of storytelling. The overall concept of the different London’s and how magic is utilized is also easy to grasp. I did like how she used two POV’s and how the two protagonist’s friendship unfolded throughout the course of this novel. But there were a couple of things that brought this story down a bit for me.

All around character development outside of our two protagonists was lacking. Of course when a story like this is told from only two POV’s (and maybe 1-2 other random POV’s throughout), this definitely limits what we can learn about some of the minor characters as readers. And obviously some characters might not be as important as others, but still I felt that some characters maybe could have been flushed out more initially. And since, this is a series, there is a good chance that we could learn more about them.

And then there was the issue of Kell being beat up every few chapters. I mean, I get the whole concept of his body being able to heal itself, but how he escaped some situations after several broken bones and losing all kinds of blood did lose some plausibility for me. There was also a moment towards the end where it wasn’t entirely clear how he could figure out a bit of dramatic irony that made me lean forward abruptly while scrolling through the pages on my kindle. For those who have read it, the “you said please,” moment. I suppose at that point in time, the storyline was winding down, so maybe this was done in order to avoid ramping up the climax again.

Also, I know it has been mentioned by a couple other reviewers before, but the lack of development of the villains. It’s highly unlikely that they will appear again in this series, so I will echo what others have said in that it was a bit disappointing that we never really understood their motivations. They were just portrayed as mad and power hungry. But maybe their whole point of existing was to just be the first obstacle our protagonists had to encounter in this series.

Those few things aside, I really did enjoy the premise of this. I do hope as the series progresses, we learn more about other characters, and maybe get some snippets of what their motivations are. I will definitely be continuing on in this series when I get to a point where I can reward myself with a book purchase or two. More to come on that in another future post…

But I would recommend this if you’re looking for an interesting fantasy series.


The Lying Game.jpg


My second final read of 2017 & first finished read of 2018 is The Lying Game by RuthWare. One of my aunt’s discovered her premiere novel In A Dark, Dark Wood, and I guess read a bit about how she became an author, and she thought I would be interested in her. As a result, for my birthday I received both Ware’s debut novel & The Woman in Cabin 10. After enjoying both, I discovered through Book of the Month that Ware had a third novel, and slightly due to impulse, I knew I just had to have it.

As I discovered with both of her previous novels, Ware is a master at the slow reveal thriller. The Lying Game is no exception. She alternates between past & present, disclosing just what we need to know about each character in order to propel the reader forward. Told from a singular, female point of view, Ware doesn’t use the standard methods for deploying the “unreliable narrator,” this time. Instead of vice or trauma impeding her protagonists perception of what is reality and what is fabricated, Ware uses something more universal to achieve this feeling: memory.

I like how our protagonist mostly has her wits about her, but bits and pieces of things only fall into place as she finds herself surrounded by people from her past. This is totally relatable as I often find my memory jogs in seemingly random ways that also somehow make sense. What I also liked about her third novel was the cast of diverse characters she created. I know in novels past, I have struggled with Ware’s development of characters. In particularly in A Dark, Dark Wood, where I couldn’t seem to stand any of them. I found each of these four main ladies equally complicated, and allusions and anecdotes to their individual stories equally heartbreaking. There’s definitely an ability to feel on some level for each of them.

Another thing about Ruth Ware’s writing, and probably also what has earned her the moniker of “the Agatha Christy of her time,” is that just when you think you know whose committed the crime or what the big mystery is, she turns the story on its head. I was able to figure out some things based on a few hints that were blatantly dropped, but the end game turned out to be something different than what I was anticipating.

She also understands diverse female relationships, and is very good at creating women who show solidarity and band together when in dire need. This is a common theme throughout her other books, whether it be shed in a positive light or one that is slightly warped, so I liked that this element was also present in this novel as well.

One thing I didn’t really like was that there wasn’t really a whole lot of closure for the other characters affected by the crime in this story. We see a bit of a hopeful ending for our main protagonist, Isa. And there are some suggestions of happiness or a happier ending for the other women, but there was no closure to the overall dynamic of their relationship. This other thing happens to them, and we just get a blip of Isa with her child mending her relationship with her partner.

I also felt like sometimes, Ware tries too hard with her word choices. She creates some really great metaphors and descriptors, but then choices words that seem like were dropped in from a suggested page of a thesaurus. Again, this isn’t really a major issue, but just something I noticed.

All in all, I liked this book. I think Ware is really talented in this genre, and I would read anything else from her based on my experience with her works thus far. I think this one probably ranks 2/3 out of all of her books, my favorite being The Woman in Cabin 10. I would definitively recommend this one to any mystery lovers out there.

That’s a wrap on my last & first reads of the 2017-2018 holiday season. Stay tuned for some bookish/BuJo content later in the week. 

Afterthought: Did anyone else roll books over to 2018? Or were you all successful in completing your reads of 2017? 



Wrapping Up the Old & Ringing In the New Year!

In approximately 6 (ish) hours, I will be ringing in the New Year with my hubster and our dogger. And while it would be excellent to be doing so in our new house, I’m still grateful we have a warm place to wrap up 2017 sans brown boxes and packing tape.

On a personal level, it has been a challenging year. My bought’s of depression increased in both frequency and intensity, our apartment changed ownership (but the issues of our mold infested wall & closet space remained), we were involved in two weddings, and then the never ending saga of buying our first house that is still dragging on into 2018. With all of these things, it was extremely challenging me to settle my mind long enough to crack open a book as consistently as I would have liked too.

But instead of this turning into a lamenting post about all the things I wish I had done differently this year, maybe I should take a different approach. Instead of making excuses for my shortcomings, why not just accept them and move on? I am only human. People are not perfect. Strive as they might to be, they will always fall short of perfection. And that’s ok. That’s something I need to continuously tell myself in the midst of a world that is wrought with competition.


So peer to peer comparisons aside, I am going to leave you with a few of my proudest bookish/bujo achievements of 2017.

  • After nearly 7 months of inactivity, I rebooted my blog! I am proud of myself for trying again. This whole world of blogging definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, or something that anyone could ever classify as an “easy,” hobby. It is time consuming, and at times frustrating, but I felt I owed it to myself to try again. And so, here I am beginning again at the end of another year 🙂
  • I participated in 2 read-a-thons! For someone who reads at a turtle’s pace most of the time, this was a huge deal for me. Not only did I start both of them, but I also finished! And I’m excited that I will have another one in a week to look forward to!
  • I read 22 books! Sure, last year I read more. But I still can’t believe that I was able to read over 20 books going through everything I did this past year. And some of the books I read were life changing. Some years you have some great reads, and I’m glad that within those 22 books, I encountered some real gems.
  • Going into the second vein of this blog, I started a bullet journal. Well ok, I started two bullet journals. I learned that I can doodle a bit with tutorials, even if I can’t quite draw in a straight line most of the time. I found myself feeling more accomplished and organized as I laid out goals & tasks that needed to be done both in my personal & professional life. I also discovered that it is a very relaxing hobby for me. I can’t wait to get my craft room all set up in the new house, and really get going with it.

My bookish resolutions for next year are currently: to attempt to read 30 books, to continue on with my novel, so it actually resembles something of a novel, & keep up with my bullet journaling.

Saying them all like that makes it seem like I’m just ticking items off a list. And maybe doing the bullet journaling has made me seem more list driven these days. But above all these resolutions, I want to really live and to really enjoy things. Both inside as well as outside the bookish & BuJo realm.

As I sit with the dogger in front of the fire typing this from a snow covered home in Western Pennsylvania, I want to wish everyone out there who might have stumbled upon this post, a very happy, healthy, & hopeful 2018!

I’ll be back later this week to bring you some reviews of the last books I finished & started in 2017! But until then, happy reading! 🙂