#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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Bullet Journal Update & Review of The Secret Garden!

Another book finished this week, wow! Who am I, and where is the Lynn who hardly has time for reading & this blog?!

Anyway, I am really excited about this book because it was my first ever Throwback Thursday: Classic Edition, book I finished! So yay!

I am also really excited about this post because I have kind of made some updates to how I’m displaying my books read in my bullet journal. And so I wanted to take a minute to show you all what I’ve done before jumping into my review of The Secret Garden.

So a couple of months ago, I shared how I would be tracking my reading progress for the year with you in this post. But since then, I kind of changed my thought process on how I would keep track of EVERYTHING I was doing. So I ended up enhancing my “Books of 2018,” page a little bit. And voila!

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As you can see I have also included the Amazon logo, to keep track of my Amazon reviews I do. This also helps with points for the BeatTheBacklist Challenge.

And then I took it one step further, and merged my featured quotes page along with my current reads page.

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So I might alternate between providing my favorite quote here in written form, or in some kind of fashion in my BuJo. I haven’t really decided on a set format at this point in time. I think I will just kind of go with the flow with this like I have done so, so far.

And yes, I know these are two very minor things. But I wanted to share them with you, especially those of you who are interested in BuJo related content. 🙂

And now, onto the review. Not really spoilerish, but placing beneath a cut for length sake.

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Review: The Fiery Cross

“When the day shall come, that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’—ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”

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For fans of the Outlander series, Jamie & Claire are at it again. Taking our breaths away with the beauty of their words in a poignant manner that doesn’t at all feel cheesy.

Their relationship has literally stood the test of time, even if we always aren’t sure just how much time passes in these books due to the infrequent pacing. And they have not only a love that is one of kind, but a mutual respect and friendship between one another that others for this time period wouldn’t have.

But enough gushing about this crazily strong power couple. Onto the actual content of this book.

So anyone who picks up this book is undoubtedly well invested in this series. At 1,000+ pages a novel, you kind of have to be once you reach the fifth book. Needless to say, this book was more or less filler than anything else to me.

Diana Gabaldon, or DG as I affectionately refer to her, had so much action, suspense & adventure packed into novels 1-4. This one had some elements of action, but the drama was more domestic than anything else.

And I suppose it could be argued that we needed a book like this at this stage in the series. The four main characters really haven’t had an opportunity to live together (that we have seen at least), so it kind of made sense that this one showed the mundane happenings of everyday life.

Even so, did we really need 1443 pages of it? I don’t think so. I know she is big on the details. But come on, there were at least 100 pages where she described Breanna’s love for her child through the way her breasts felt.

Like it’s fine to do it a couple of times to emphasis her bond with him, but this was so excessive to me that it literally became an inside joke between Emma & I. There are other ways to explore feeling and emotion between characters. I mean, she finds new & exciting ways to keep us engaged with Jamie/Claire, and they have been prominently attending to their maternal duties for approximately 5,000 pages. You would think she could do the same with a mother & her child.

That wasn’t the only thing that kind of set my teeth on edge.  Like Fergus and Marsali are Jamie’s adoptive children, and that part of the family were hardly mentioned throughout this narrative. I get that they are more minor characters and we needed the Jamie/Roger scenes in order to establish their importance because up until this point they haven’t interacted a whole lot. But still! Fergus & Marsali have a uniqueness to them that kind of mirrors Jamie & Claire. Whereas, Breanna & Roger’s scenes just feel awkward for me.

I suppose my personal bias and preference of characters really played a role in this review as well.  But you can’t connect with every single character you’re presented with, especially in an epic length series like this one.

In the end, I gave this 3 stars because I felt it was fair. DG clearly put a lot of painstaking details into this novel, and reveals that some seemingly insignificant ones you read earlier and in book four, really are significant. She also leaves a couple of loose ends to keep you guessing where the major conflict in book six will end up.

All in all, you need to approach this series with the mindset that there are going to be books that you enjoy more than others. I am of the belief that if you find a character or two that you love, and want to see where they end up, that you should try to stick to a series until the end. So that is what I think I will be doing with this series.

Also, it’s become a mutual interest for my Belgian bestie & myself. And it’s fun to discuss, and to also vent your frustrations to someone who is reading alongside you. I don’t know that I would have been able to forge ahead as quickly as I did with this book if it wasn’t for me having a buddy to do this with. So for those slow readers out there, I would vote you pair up with a buddy who can help support you through this one.

In terms of ranking the Outlander Books, below is mine, and you can deduce from it where I saw this one. (Side note: I had a bit of a laugh because it is almost in chronological order hah).

  1. Outlander
  2. Voyager
  3. Dragonfly in Amber
  4. Drums of Autumn
  5. The Fiery Cross

How does your ranking of the first 5 books compare? Am I totally off base with my thoughts and feelings? 

Until next time bookworms! Happy reading adventures!

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Coming Up: A review of The Secret Garden 🙂

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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Review: Angela’s Ashes

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This book held a special meaning to me prior to me even cracking the spine and diving into the first few pages. It was a birthday gift (from last year) from my Belgian bestie, and she was extremely thoughtful in selecting it for me.

Like most American’s, my family was one of immigrants. Although in most cases, I am three generations removed from wherever “the homeland,” was. Even with this in mind, my family is often prouder of our Irish heritage than of any other. Probably because our name has survived, and that part of my family is the most vibrant and exciting. No offense, to my Mom’s family.

Anyway, she chose this book knowing of my interest in learning more about “my people,” and the struggles they might have faced. Unlike Frank McCourt’s family, my great-grandparents remained in America during The Great Depression, and after reading this I’ve started to wonder what would have happened if they went back to Ireland? It was apparent McCourt wondered something similar as far as if his family would have stayed in America.

I’m not trying to pretend to have a similar experience to him at all. My childhood was uneventful, sheltered, and happy. Whereas McCourt’s was chaotic, harsh, and even at times tragic. But I couldn’t help but feel a sense of kinship with him on some level as I read this story.

The aspects of growing up in poverty I cannot relate to. Thankfully I never experienced a parent with a substance abuse problem that thrust us into poverty. We are historically a family of drinkers, and I am always diligent in monitoring just how much we imbibe for the above reason. While my experiences with this are on an infinitesimal scale, my heart went out to Frank’s family whenever his father was on one of his binges.

And then there was the harshness of being Catholic and coming from an Irish Catholic family. Yes, even seventy or eighty years later, I still feel the weight of Catholic guilt and teachings that are kept alive in my part of the world today. Going to a Catholic school, being mentally ridiculed (I think they banned the physical ridiculing after McCourt’s time), and basically always believing you were destined for hell, along with having a larger family and constantly being involved in their business.

McCourt makes the gravity of these situations almost comical. Because well, they are. Anyone who has been belittled or punished at the hands of church officials can relate to the ridiculousness of their teachings at times. If you’re looking for opportunities to be amused by Catholic-ism’s, you surely won’t be disappointed by what you find here.

I also really enjoyed McCourt’s writing style. He begins telling it with the innocence and curiosity of a young child, and his voice matures as he grows up in the novel. He has a way of seamlessly blending external actions and dialogue into internalizations of his personal experiences. 

He questions a lot of what takes place in his life, posing simple solutions to grave issues. And I suspect that is a coping method, given the circumstances in which he was brought up.

All in all, this was a great read. I’m not usually one for memoirs, but I felt this one was special. I gave it four stars, and would highly recommend to anyone looking for a real life story of triumph in the face of adversity.  

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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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Throwback Thursday: Classic Edition

Before I hit the restart button on this blog, I started this thing that I aimed to do every other week called Throwback Thursday: Classic Edition. In an effort to broaden my knowledge on “classic novels,” I thought this would be a fun way for me to track my progress with books from that genre.

After perusing a couple of other blogs the last several weeks, I discovered that this isn’t an entirely original title. I have seen a couple of other people use it, but they use books with a publication date older than the current year for these posts. Which is where I think my participation may differ (or I may still be too new & unaware that it may not) in the sense that I will be featuring a classic novel on this blog every other Thursday.

On the old blog, I started this with a Jane Austen book. Emma was a great read to test this little project out on, and it was also fun because my best friend (the Belgian one) read this, so I could vent all my frustrations and feelings onto her. Thanks, Emma. *waves*

With that being said, I thought, why not continue on with another Austen novel? I have them all (with the exception of Sense & Sensibility) on my Kindle, so even better that I don’t have to pay anything for them! I decided with some help from my friend that I would go with Northanger Abbey.Northanger Abbey Cover Title

So expect to see this pop up on my “Currently Reading,” shelf, and also expect to see some hilarious (in my opinion) comments as I read on. It is satirical, and I think I’m more witty than I probably am, so this should be entertaining if nothing else.

Anyone else read/reading any Austen out there? Was Northanger Abbey ever on your list? Did you like it? Can’t wait to hear if anyone else enjoyed it!

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