Chantel’s Reading Journal Week One (07/01/18 – 07/07/18)

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

There is a very simple reason for deciding to journal about reading. I’m hoping the journal will keep me in check with reading, but considering how I always fail at journaling…we’ll see. Since January of this year, I’ve really struggled with reading. I read nine books that month and it’s been a struggle to get through one in the last five months. I just want to share this with you, our readers, just so that you can understand and maybe even relate to what I’m going through.

This hasn’t been just a slump but a reading ditch I can’t seem to crawl out of.

Not only that but I’ve wanted to increase my presence on this blog for some time now. Caidyn is often very excited about how our audience is increasing, but his posts are the majority of what comes out of the blog. That’s not his fault. It’s mine and only mine. If I can’t provide you guys with witty reviews, then I want you guys to know what’s going on with me. Sometimes it’s reading, but most of the time it’s not. Trust me, I want it to be.

There are many projects I want to do on the blog, some I’ve wanted to do for a long time now. Almost a year. I’m hoping that will come to fruition soon as I’m excited for you all to see it! In the meantime, you’ll hear from me with my series The Soundtrack of My Life and if anyone is interested in doing a graphic for it, I would be happy to talk with someone. I’m not a graphic designer nor do I draw, but I’ve wanted something specific and original for The Soundtrack of My Life.

41 pages: Becoming a Visible Man by Jamison Green

  • Holy shit you guys, I actually made progress in this book. I can’t believe it!

33 pages: The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir

  • Definitely excited to continue reading this book, but not sure how I feel about the different points of view.

I can’t believe I read today and I’m mildly impressed. However, this is just the start and throughout the week we’ll see how things go.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Today was long. I worked from 12:30pm until 8:00pm so I knew when I got home I wouldn’t have a lot of energy to read. I had spent most of my morning reading Becoming a Visible Man. I would like to finish it and be able to move on to this month’s BW Book Club pick which is Sing, Unburied, Sing. Honestly, if I can finish Becoming a Visible Man, The Book of Essie, and Sing, Unburied, Sing this month I’ll feel accomplished. Oh yeah, I need to read Goblet of Fire too.

35 pages: Becoming a Visible Man by Jamison Green

  • This book is definitely a textbook on Transgender history as well as Green’s experience in the early 90’s San Francisco. There are definitely things that relate to today, but this book feels incredibly outdated at a time just because things have changed so much in the 12 years since this book was published.

25 pages: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

  • I’m very frustrated with how I’m struggling to read this. I read a bit before I work today, but it wasn’t much. This book is gigantic and right now it feels like a hill I can’t climb. I really love the Harry Potter series and yet I feel very much stuck in a rut. Perhaps it’s this slump, but you would think that I’d be able to read Harry Potter at least. (Might read more before I go to sleep. Spoiler: I did)

13 pages: The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir

  • I’m really not sure why Liberty is a POV character, but I’m hoping we’ll find out as the story continues to unfold.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Today is hard. I’m definitely feeling overwhelmed by the amount I have to read this month. However, I would be very proud if I could get back to reading. Even if I hate forcing myself too, sometimes I just have to pick up a book instead of turning on the tv. Which is especially hard on a day like today where I am just exhausted. I did pick up Sing, Unburied, Sing from the library so that’s something. I’m honestly excited to continue reading it and The Book of Essie. I do like Becoming a Visible Man but I’m not reaching for it. And of course, Harry Potter is comfort food to me. I think I’m finally at the first task, but still not even 50 percent through the book. I’m lucky if I can get a chapter of each book a day. That seems to be my pace right now.

8 pages: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

  • Got a bit of reading in, but I was falling asleep as I was reading it on my Kindle.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

I got some nice quiet reading time this morning before work. I read a chapter of The Book of Essie and I feel like there is some kind of twist coming. There are a lot of questions so far that aren’t being answered. That’s honestly the reason I’m still reading it. There is something coming, and if not then I would be really disappointed by the buildup and the lack of a payoff. Plus, the plot is very meh. She is planning to marry a boy she doesn’t know because she’s pregnant. To me, that’s a lot of blah. Mainly because it’s a bit boring and Essie is very blasé about the whole thing. Who knows what will happen next.

14 pages: The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir

  • Caidyn says this book has him intrigued but I don’t think I’m feeling it quite yet.

16 pages: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

  • Harry and Ron are annoying the hell out of me with their stupid fucking fight. They are acting like children. Harry threw a fucking badge at him. Frankly, they are making themselves out to look like assholes by not apologizing and being stubborn about this whole fight. I’m getting sick of it.

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Sometimes, I don’t even realize two days have passed until they are long gone. Time is very weird that way. I haven’t read much (read: at all) the last few days and I’m asking myself why. I think that a large part of it has to do with work. I work full time and I’m on my feet for up to 8 hours a day. That’s exhausting for me to do five days in a row. Then I get mentally exhausted by dealing with my coworkers and customers all week. One asshole customer can really bring me down and there is often more than one.

The end of this week felt like a wave that pulled me under and I’m only now reaching the surface to capture my breath. Unfortunately, that means no Soundtrack of my Life post this week. I will have one coming on the 21st of July, but I couldn’t make it happen this week. For that, I apologize because I try and stay true to my commitments.

Doing this blog is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It requires a lot of my time and sometimes I’m not willing to give up that time, but this blog has allowed me to write, to read, to share my thoughts with an audience and frankly that’s why I keep doing it.

Total pages read this week: 185

  • I definitely read more than I have in a long time but I could’ve definitely read more. Especially because I’m behind in almost all of my reading.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


5/5 – When I read We Are Okay, I said that I didn’t know if another book would ever make me feel so connected to a story. I felt this same connection to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I can’t believe lightning in a bottle struck twice in one month.

This book made me happy, broke my heart, and left me speechless. In that order. Everything about this book and what happened felt like a true story. Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote characters that felt real. I loved Evelyn Hugo, I loved Celia St. James, I loved Harry Cameron. As Evelyn Hugo was telling the story of her life spanning decades, an epic, she was real. I could hear her voice and see her in my mind even though she didn’t exist. It felt like we were the ones sitting across from her listening to her tell her story, her truth. Not what was published in magazines and newspapers. She did what she had to gain wealth and fame, as she started from a Cuban girl from Hell’s Kitchen desperate to escape to Hollywood where she would ultimately become one of the biggest stars of her era. Not once did she regret the life she led. She was a woman who embraced her sexuality by using it to get what she wanted and openly enjoying it when it gave her pleasure. Once again, first-person perspective was done right, used effectively. It makes all of the bad examples stand out like a sore thumb.

It was an epic love story. This book is about a woman who fell in love with another woman. I’ve read multiple books about two women in love. This was different. It wasn’t two teenagers falling for each other, it was two women who weren’t allowed to be open about their love in the world they lived in and in the time they lived in. Evelyn Hugo is bisexual. It’s said multiple times on the page and she insists on the label because she has loved men and loved a woman. She doesn’t let anyone forget that she has done both.

The book is divided into parts. Each part represents a different husband but rarely is it about the husband. Some marriages were real, some were just for show. Evelyn is so open and honest about every single one. She does not skip over the ugly parts, nor does she push aside the wonderful parts. Her image has always been the woman who had seven husbands. Every time she divorced and remarried, it was headlining news. It’s how she was presented to everyone, but it was not who she was. Underneath those headlines are the complexity of her relationships and ultimately the actions she takes.

I think what I will take most from this book are the relationships. The word soulmate is thrown around multiple times in this book, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t believe in soulmates. Someone you would do anything for, do anything to protect them, to keep them in your life and someone who ultimately made you feel whole. Someone that time and distance couldn’t stop you from loving. It’s very powerful. The intimacy between people is powerful. In some ways, it’s beyond my comprehension and in other ways I understand. We would be incredibly lucky to find someone like that.

I knew early on in the book I was going to rate it five stars. I had a small doubt that something might happen which would ruin it for me, but it never came. At the end of the day, five stars is just a ranking. The book is going to stick with me and that means a lot more than how many stars I think it deserves. I didn’t let myself question or worry about what was going to happen next, I just read and let it all unfold before me.

It was incredibly difficult to put down this book every time I had to. This book is just incredible. I haven’t even talked about everything, and I don’t think I could if I wanted to. I don’t feel I can sum up everything I feel about this book. I will be thinking about this hours from now, days from now, weeks from now and maybe one day several years from now I will think about this book again. I want someone to have the same experience as I did, by going in knowing as little as possible. Here is all I can give you, Evelyn Hugo is a Cuban-American, bisexual goddess who is telling a reporter Monique about her life and career in Hollywood.

Once again, I have to ask to take this recommendation and my review with a grain of salt. I know what it’s like to read a hyped book and end up disappointed. Trust me, I know. I hope that as a reader you just dive right in, don’t worry about the hype or high expectations. Just get comfortable, pour yourself your favorite drink, and just read. Just listen to Evelyn Hugo tell you about her life.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan


1/5 – DNF at 30%

Thank you to BookishFirst for the raffle I won this in and to Simon & Schuster for the copy!

Yes. I DNFed this. Hardcore. Now, I really do want to start this off with a positive before I delve into my problems with the book. I thought this was a solid debut. While I didn’t care for the plot or characters, I thought the writing was beautiful, the characters were obviously hashed out and felt accurate, and there was an obvious craft given to this book. I’d read another thing that Vaughan came out with, so long as it wasn’t this style.

I hate the books that are coming out for mystery these days. I think that they’re all the same, styled after Gone Girl or Girl on the Train. Funny enough, I liked both of those books. I love Flynn’s work and I think Hawking did a good job of making me like her characters. Yet, everyone now is wanting to copy them. This book branched off but was fundamentally the same.

The plot focuses on three women: Kate, a prosecutor for sexual assault victims; Sophie, the adoring wife; and Holly, some student from the 1990s. It’s told in first person for Kate and third person for Sophie and Holly. Then James, the husband, got a couple of random chapters.

James had an affair with none of the women in the perspective. It gets out. The news dies down. Then the woman he had the affair with accuses him of rape. Kate is against him. Sophie is horrified. Holly is nowhere to be seen because she was in the 1990s, not 2016.

You’d think that with all of these perspectives and a plot that deals with a prescient topic, something interesting would happen.

Image result for sherlock wrong gif

Kate keeps going on about her work and that she obviously has some past that hadn’t come out yet. Sophie dwells on her husband and the case and how much she *~needs~* him… without any mention to the two kids they have and taking care of them and the problems I’m sure they’re having from their father. Holly talked a lot about going to school in Oxford and watching Sophie and James start their relationship.

It just didn’t feel real. At all. I found everyone annoying. I couldn’t care about Sophie since she seemed to be a bad mom for not focusing on her kids. Kate bored me, even if I found her the most compelling perspective. Holly made no sense to me although I have an idea of what her purpose would have developed into if I cared to find out.

It fell into the trap that most books do that are based on other writers. There were too many “unique” perspectives that didn’t add up and didn’t matter. I think the only two perspectives that worked were Kate and Sophie. Yet, why have one in first person and one in third? Make them both in third. (I have a bias against first-person narration, though.) Narrow the focus.

With all the perspectives, it felt like nothing important was happening. I kept waiting for some reveal that never happened. While the writing was good and I will keep an eye out for her future books, this one was just a huge miss for me. I love mystery, but not the type that keep coming out.

First Lines Friday

HA. Caidyn gets to start it this week because he actually remembered and has had two cups of coffee. Hello everyone! I hope you guys had a great week. For those of you going back to school, slay. For those who have to work and didn’t get a real break, I’m sorry. Maybe this will perk you up. Who knows. But, to the formalities.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

Anthony Woodville, the Lord of Scales, is one of those who sustain the King of England’s cause against that contumacious rebel, York. It is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and the dawn before battle.

I guess that wasn’t thrilling at all, was it? Sorry. But, the book is pretty interesting, even if the opening lines don’t exactly draw you in.

The book is:

Wonders Will Never Cease by Robert Irwin

Wonders Will Never Cease

I picked this book up because my mom recommended it to me based on my interest in this time in history. It picks up in the middle of the Wars of the Roses, before Edward IV actually got the throne from Henry VI. It’s told from the perspective of Anthony Woodville, who is brother to the future wife of Edward IV. In battle, he dies… yet he comes back after seeing a vision.

This book is basically being talked about as the original Game of Thrones. Which is a no shit moment to me since that book is based on the Wars of the Roses. This book also got a good review from Neil Gaiman, a personal fave of mine, so it’s definitely sold me on it. An alternate version of history, in a sense.

The only thing that worries me, after reading the first few lines of the book, it reminds me too much of The Buried Giant, which was magical realism and very symbolic but told in a mind-numbingly boring fashion.

The house on the cliff looks like a ship disappearing into fog. The spire a mast, the trees whipping against its base, the waves of a ravening sea. 

Or maybe Jane just has ships on the brain, seeing as she’s inside one that’s doing all it can to consume her attention. A wave rolls the yacht, catches her off balance, and she sits down, triumphantly landing in the general vicinity of where she aimed. Another wave propels her, in slow motion, against the yacht’s lounge window.

I can’t say I was completely enthralled by these first lines, which is disappointing because I’ve wanted to read this book from the moment I heard about it. I even bought it because I was confident it would be good. I do hope I didn’t let my excitement get ahead of me in that case. 

I chose: 

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore


I have not read the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore yet. Graceling is on my top ten to read this year, so I’ll get to it. However, I was immediately fascinated by the plot of this book. Jane, the main character goes to this house after her aunt passes away and there are different possibilities that happen, different genres that occur. These are all things I’ve heard and am completely intrigued by because it sounds so original to me.

I’ve also heard there is a romance between Jane and another girl in this book and I’m all for that. An interesting plot and an f/f romance, yes, please. Again, I just hope it’s everything I want it to be.