Category Archives: year end/beginning review

Closing out 2021 and looking forward to 2022

Well, 2021 has been a year. It kind of felt like a decade, but whatever. The end is approaching. So, it’s time to wrap it up, here on the blog, and start 2022 fresh tomorrow. The problem is that I barely even remember most of 2021. All the staying home means it has all largely blurred together. I’m honestly not really feeling particularly put together and on top of things. But, if you’ll excuse a little rambling, lack of focus and New Year cheer, I can probably pull a few stats together from the websites that are kind enough to track them for me.

Goodreads, for example, tells me that I read 355 books this year! That’s pretty awesome.

2021 year in reviewThough a good 75 (at least) of those are actually short stories. I made a concerted effort at the end of the year to clear some of the short stories from my shelves. And I feel like that inflated my numbers a little bit. At the end of 2020, I set my 2021 reading goal at 200 and then, when I started reading all the short stories, I upped it to 300. So, I’m happy with the number. Wanna see what 355 ‘books’ looks like?

books 2021

I don’t usually use ratings here on the blog. I feel like people pay too much attention to the number and not enough to what reviewers actually say. But I do star things when I cross-post. As you can see, I’m a real middle-of-the-road rater. I think that feels right. How many books do I love enough to give five stars to or hate enough to give one stars to? Most books I finish with a whimper, not a shout. A limp, “It was OK,” is definitely my most common response.

Something I’m apparently not apathetic about, though, is genre. I have very clear preferences. Storygraph tells me that I’ll take fantasy, romance, and science fiction every day, please.storygraph 2021 genres

Apparently, I also like books that are dark, adventurous, mysterious, and fewer than 300 pages.

reading preferences

Yep, that sounds like me. (Though I do plan to focus on some of the epics on my physical book shelf in the coming year. I need the shelf space!)

Outside of the general statistics, I also did a few personal reading challenges that were a lot of fun. But they were all a little plagued by my constant inability to limit myself.

My husband has an aunt, who we love dearly. But you have to be very careful telling M. that you like something. Because if you do, she’ll flood you with them. Mention that you like treacle toffee, which I do, and 5 bags of them will show up in the mail. It’s love in the most obvious and visceral manner, but she struggles mightily with limits.

I feel very much like M. every-time I set myself a reading challenge. I get an idea that seems reasonable. But by the time I’m finished, I’ve completely overdone it.

“Here, I’ll read all my Christmas books…Oh, I have 65 of them.”

Wrapping up 2021’s Christmas Reading Challenge

“Hey, I think I’ll clear off the short story shelf and write a short story review post…Oh, I read 48. That’s maybe a little excessive.”

2021 Clearing Off the Short Story Shelf

“I have several books titled Awakening; let’s read them all…Oh, I actually have 15 of them.”

Wrapping up the Awakening Challenge

“Oh, 3 books titled Wolf Marked were featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight? Gotta read them all, obviously.”

Wrapping up the Wolf Marked reading challenge

It seems I struggle as much with limiting myself as M. does. But I always feel super accomplished when I do these personal challenges. I get a lot of satisfaction from them. Plus, I just think the title ones are hilarious. So, I don’t imagine I’ll stop.

Looking forward, into 2022, is difficult. I’m uncertain what to expect. It will go one of two imagined ways. I really put myself out there and applied for a PhD program. The deadline is just now passing. And then there will be interviews, etc. So, I won’t hear for a while yet if I’ve gotten in or not.

If I do get accepted then things on the blog will look very different for a little while. I’ll read a lot fewer fiction books, for example. If I don’t get accepted, I’ll probably read even more books than this year in an attempt to bury my disappointment in stories.

I’m going to hold off on setting a reading goal until I know if I should aim for 50 non-fiction books on X topic, or 300 paranormal romances. Either way See Sadie Read will continue. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

I plan on a couple reading challenges thought. I recently wrote on that I intended to be ongoing. I plan to read all 13 of the books listed on a particular Best of Fantasy Romance list. I have 8 left and plan to fit them in here and there during the year.

The 13 Best Fantasy Romance Books of All Time Challenge


I also think I’ll do another short story clear-out soon. This year I read all the super short ones. But I still have quite a few <100 page ‘books’ on my virtual shelf that I’d like to see read. Conversely, I plan to try and read all of the extra long books on my physical book shelf. There aren’t a lot (by my standards, which we have already established are questionable), but enough that getting them read would clear up a significant amount of space.

I also just plain need to read more physical books. I too often pick up my Kindle because it’s quick and I don’t have to leave the couch. But I’m starting to look a little like a hoarder with the stacks of books everywhere.

I have no doubt I’ll find reason to build myself other challenges. The randomness of them is part of what I like most. But until then, let’s all just hope 2022 turns out to be better than 2021 and 2020. Here’s to a new year and a new start.

Photo by Luba Ertel on Unsplash



Closing out 2019 and looking into 2020

Technically, the blog is still on hiatus, since I’m currently in England (and will be going to China at the end of the week). But I didn’t want to miss the chance to recap the insanity that was 2019 and look forward to 2020. Though the post will likely be on the brief side this year.

I’ll start with the basics. I read 208 books in 2019. This is down from past years, but still a satisfying number. 208 books means that I completed my Goodreads challenge, in which I set a goal of 200 books. No complaints on that front.

And this is just Audible!

I do have to be honest though. I wouldn’t have made that goal if it weren’t for audiobooks. Last year, I really started listening to book in bulk for the first time and I continued into this year.

What I like to do is listen to an audio book while working on diamond paintings. (This is my newest obsession.) I find it really relaxing and I have been flying through both audiobooks and diamond paintings.

I didn’t set a lot of other challenges for 2019. As always, I did an alphabet challenge. This means I wanted to read a book by an author who’s last name starts with every letter of the alphabet. This challenge almost manages itself, except for I, Q, X and Z. These I usually have to make a special effort to find and read. In fact, my X book was the absolute last book I read this year. I did complete it again this year. So, success.

The last two challenges are ones I actually set in 2018 and have been working on…largely failing at…in 2019. First, I set aside a stack of smallish books to read. However, I keep adding to the stack. So, it never actually seems to diminish. In my head, this one eventually just changed to ‘try and read more physical books.’

For too long my book shelves were double lined and still overflowing. However, this year we rearranged the house. My office became a child’s room and the finished basement (which the children had been sharing as a bedroom) became my office. This means I got a lot more shelf space. So, while I wasn’t all that successful in reading them down, I was successful in finally making my bookshelves manageable.

Lastly, in 2018 it came to my attention (as well as most everyone in my corner of twitter) how rarely characters of color are seen on book covers, even when the character themselves is a person of color in the book. So, while I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I can find with non-white characters on the cover, I did go through those that I own and set a goal to read and review them, supporting the authors in this manner. I wrote myself a blog post with all the titles, planning to chip away at the list throughout the year.

I later somewhat regretted doing this, because I decided it was performative. But I also felt like deleting the post would be giving up and maybe hiding a misstep. I still have really mixed feelings about it, especially since I have largely failed…and failed in multiple layers. First, I simply failed to check my list and choose books from it, instead of what was currently on my kindle. And when I did I often didn’t find anything of interest. (I picked up so many freebie YA books and I’m so burned on YA books. Though that’s not the only reason, of course.)

I was a bit better about choose books with characters of color on the cover while at the library and I briefly added them to the list. But that was too much like, “look what I’ve done.” So, I quickly stopped adding and decided (again) to try and whittle down the initial list. But that too simply fell by the wayside as time went by.

At this point, I have no option but to admit that, despite my best intention, I have failed at this challenge. I’ll carry it over into 2020 and hope to do better.

Now, for the hardest part of this post (even harder than admitting failure), choosing my best of 2019. I almost decided to skip it this year, using the I’m on vacation excuse. But I’m going to suffer through the decision making. Of the 208 books I read this year, I most enjoyed (in no order) The Last Sun, The Ballad of Black Tom, The Bones Beneath My Skin, Girl Waits With Gun, Anatomy of a Miracle, and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Yes, 6 is an odd number to choose. But I couldn’t make myself decide which one to drop to make ‘top five’ and I didn’t have enough notable winners to make a ‘top ten.’

The interesting thing about this list is that it is made up exclusively of books I expected to love or expected not to and was surprised that I did; no middle ground. Anything published by Tor (The ballad of Black Tom and The Haunting of Tram Car 015) or written by TJ Klune (The Bones Beneath My Skin) I know I’ll love. But The Last Sun I read after several DNF books and a couple two-star reads. So, it was a welcome relief to hit a winner. I didn’t expect much from it initially though, since I’d never read anything by K.D. Edwards before. And both Girl Waits With Gun and Anatomy of a Miracle were books I won and picked up in my attempt to read more of my physical books. I didn’t really expect to like them too much, but ended up loving them.

I also find it interesting that 5 our of 6 are written by men, considering I read far more female authors and tend to like their writing more. It just goes to show you never can guess on January 1st what the year might bring.

Looking forward to 2020, I think I’ll continue the theme of fewer challenges than in the past. In fact, I think I’ll do the same as 2019. I always enjoy the alphabet challenge, the Goodreads Challenge is how I keep track of what I read in general (and I think I’ll stick with 200 books), and I still want to read more of the physical books that I already own and I still want to cross off the books I initially listed in my Characters of Color challenge.

That just leaves one last thing to say.

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

I usually do this as two posts, but I’ll be honest, the last few months this blog hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. It’s just been a matter of life getting in the way, but the result is things like a compressed New Years Eve – New Years post. Be that as it may, let’s get on with discussing how it went in 2018 and what to expect in 2019.

I feel like there were two 2018s in my life; the first half, in which I read a ton and everything was normal, and the second half, where my family taught me to game and introduced me to the Xbox, so a chunk of my reading time became gaming time. Overall however, I read or listened to 207 books in 2018. I initially set that goal for 250, but reduced it to 200 when it became obvious I wasn’t reading as much as normal. So, I call this half-met. I reached my re-calibrated goal, but not the initial one. Plus, quite a few were short this year.

2018 Challenges

After the traditional December scramble to find a book by authors with names that start with Q, U and X, I successfully completed my Alphabet Challenge. I even got a good laugh out of the fact that when I reviewed the X author (Meg Xuemei X), I discovered that exactly one year earlier I’d read and reviewed a book by her. Last years last-minute X book.

I have several ongoing challenges on this blog, ones that I set and either let falter or just keep adding to, so they never end. The two I’m still actively working at are to read all the books I own (or borrow or buy) with characters of color on the cover and to read all the small physical books I own.

I’ve actually gone back and forwards on this first challenge. The original idea was to try and counteract the publishing dictum that books with characters of color on the cover don’t sell as well as other book. I can’t afford to buy tons of books, but I can read and review them. The hope being that each review might contribute to the decision to publish another such book. Sometimes I think the challenge is a good thing and other times I think I’m just being presumptuous, arrogant and performative, playing the ‘white hero,’ etc. This is especially true considering how long it’s taking me. I’ve come close to deleting it several times.

So far I’ve reminded myself that having a set challenge is a way to keep myself aware that it takes effort to see change and allowing myself to fall back into I don’t pay attention to who is on the cover (because I otherwise don’t) means I’m also not paying attention to who so often isn’t on covers and thereby represented. Eventually, I called it “ongoing,” but I still fear having a list makes it look like I’m seeking a cookie for “see how many I’ve read, what a good ally I am!” I’m going to keep at it, but I also might give in to the urge to delete the initial post too.

The second challenge has been an abysmal failure and continues to be. The original idea was to read all my small books to clear space on my shelves, which are lined two deep and still overflowing. I thought it would be quick. The problem became that I replaced the books as quickly as I read them* (and that several of them are niche and don’t hold overall, I’ll read it right now, appeal). So, though the stack has changed over time, there is still a stack on the corner of my desk, waiting to be read. I’ll keep chipping away at it.

Best of 2018

To close out 2018 I really should do a best of list. But man, I find these SO hard. I don’t gravitate towards ranking things I love, but rather just loving them all. But based on nothing more official than my own enjoyment and how well it’s stayed in my memory, my three favorite books of 2018 were:

I love the Murderbot series and recommend it to everyone. The books are short and punchy and funny and well worth the read, even if the series is getting a little serial-like as it goes on. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a book I only read because my bookclub chose it. I never would have picked it up otherwise. But I’m so glad I did. It was lovely. And Leviathan Wakes is one of those book I seem to see recommended by everyone, so I finally read it and saw why. Book two in the series is on my table right now, waiting to be read.

2019 Challenges

In the past I’ve set out several reading challenges for forthcoming years. But until I really come back online with my reading and blogging, I’m just going to do the general Goodreads challenge (with a goal of 200 books), this blog’s alphabet challenge (in which I read a book by an author for each letter of the alphabet), and continue my ongoing challenges (reading all my physical small books and reading more books with characters of color on the covers).

And that’s it. That’s the end of 2018 (Can you believe that year?) and what I’m aiming for in 2019. Surely it has to be better, right. I mean the world has to be less crazy, right? If not, I suppose I’ll bury myself in books and fantasy worlds instead.

Here’s to all of you. Have a wonderful 2019!

*Many of these are books I’ve won or been given. I just finished saying how I can’t afford to buy a lot of books.