Category Archives: year end/beginning review

Looking forward to 2015 and reading challenges

2015 treeOk, so it’s apparently 2015…and where’s my hover-board, McFly?  2015! This is mind-blowing to me, but hover-board or no, I do have a whole new year ahead of me…we, we have a whole new year ahead of us. It’s a blank slate, just waiting with unlimited potential to be… well, something, anything.

For me, it will undoubtedly be full of books, books and more books. Then of course, these pages will be full of me pontificating about said books, because that’s what the space is dedicated to—me, books and my opinion about books. Makes me sound a little megalomaniacal, but it is my blog.

So, 365 days and probably several hundred books are in my immediate future. I need a plan. I need to share that plan with you, so you know what to expect and I’m held to some manner of accountability…and, frankly, so I can pretend to have accomplished something.

I’Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 18.06.30m breaking it down like this. On the broadest, most general level, I have committed to read 200 books, with no limiting factors, as my Goodreads challenge. Honestly, I’ve committed to 200 books the past two years and upped it partway through both times—to 225 the first year and 250 the second—and still surpassed it both times. So, 200 is probably on the low side. However, like the past two years, I hope to stop reading so damned much and concentrate more on my own writing. I always seem to fail at this.Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 16.55.12

Anyone who claimed reading can’t be an addiction is full of horse caca. I need the emotional fix as badly as my caffeine and considering I practically need to be surgically removed from my tea or coffee cup (depending on when and where), that’s saying something.

I’ll also be participating for a third year in book r3vi3ws‘, Indie Fever IndieFever15challenge. I consider this an easy challenge, really, since the vast majority of the books I read these days are Indie/SP. But I’ve signed up at the Fanatic level. This requires I read 75 or more Indie/SP books in the coming year. I don’t anticipate a problem on this front.

Unexpectedly, I’ll also being doing book r3vi3ws’ First Reads FirstReads15challenge. I say unexpectedly because I accidentally signed up for it, meaning to register for Indie Fever. But in the end, I figured I might as well stick with it. I read plenty of new-to-me authors and I really like letting fate have it’s way on occasion. I’ve committed to the Expert level, or 51-75 books written by authors I’ve never read before.

Next, I’ve also signed up for Samantha Lin‘s Author A-Z challenge. Last year, I made a point to read a book by an author for each letter2015-authors-banner of the alphabet, but I never officially signed up for a challenge. This year, I’m getting credit for my effort. I think this challenge is fairly self-explanatory. No levels or anything like that, just trying to make sure each letter of the alphabet is represented by the last name of an author.

I’m also signed up for Evie-Booksish’s TBR pile reading challenge. xSWiAe6Lord knows I need this. I buy books so much faster than I read them. As the name would suggest, the goal here is to read books that have been sitting on your To Be Read pile for a while. It isn’t specified, but I’m setting my limit at two years or more. I’ve signed up for the ‘First Kiss’ level, which requires I read 21-30 such books.

the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015

I’ll also be participating in The Mad Reviewer‘s Reading and Reviewing challenge. I signed up for the Mad Reviewer level, which means reading and reviewing 104 books. They can be Indie, SP or Traditionally published. Again, I anticipate no difficulties in achieving this goal.

Lastly, though not really a challenge per se, I’m committing to read at least 36 review request books. By this, I mean books I’ve received from authors requesting reviews. That’s three a month.

I’ll be starting the year with Liberty and Other Stories, followed by There Will Be Phlogiston, which is an Amazon freebie, BTW. They’re both by Alexis Hall and constitute Prosperity, #2-5. I’ve had these books for a while, but saved them to read in the new year. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Hall and wanted to ensure I gave myself a good chance at starting 2015 on the right foot. Here’s hoping!

Looking back and wrapping up 2014

2014 year in review

Wow, I can’t believe 2014 is over already! But whether I believe it or not, it is. That means it’s time for me to sit down and reminisce a bit.

For me, it was a relatively sedate year, something I never complain about. I would rather a nice calm year to one full of strife, even if it does feel uneventful at times. After all, it’s my understanding that the old saying, ‘may you live in interesting times’ is a curse.

What 2014 was, if not exciting, was full of books. I made a significant chip in my reading list. (This would be a far more meaningful statement if I didn’t buy new books even faster than I read them.)

As seen below, I appear to have read 285 books this year. Goodreads tells me it equals 73, 296 pages, but that’s not quite accurate. I don’t count short stories towards my book count. They therefore won’t be included in the page total and I read 15 or so shorts. Goodreads also doesn’t discount books marked as ‘read’ but DNF, of which I had 8 (7 & a short) which should be discounted. All in all, it probably averages out in the end and, really, when you’re talking 70,000+ pages, why quibble over a few hundred. But I’m a little OCD about that kind of thing.

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I don’t use star ratings here on the blog, as I want people to actually read the reviews instead of just glance at the ratings. But I cross-post to Goodreads and I do use them there. Throughout the year, I’m largely unaware of how many three stars versus five stars versus one stars I give. But looking at the whole, I’m pretty pleased with the spread. I think it’s appropriate, considering there should be a bias toward liking a book since I choose them on interest, not at random.

Beyond simply reading a shit ton of books this year, I also broke my reading into a number of ‘challenges.’ Some of these lasted the whole year and were almost detail-less, like my basic Goodreads Reading challenge, in which I set a goal of 250 books and surpassed it. Others lasted all year, but were more specific. Others still lasted only short times.

IndieFever 2014The second most significant challenge I did this past year, after Goodreads, was BookR3vi3ws’ Indiefever Challenge. The basic idea here was to read as many independently or self-published books as possible. 2014 was my second year with this challenge and I signed up at the Fanatic level. This meant I needed to read 76 or more Indie/SP books. I surpassed that by a significant margin. The vast majority of books I read in 2014 were Independently published in some manner.

Lastly, for the big ones, I never officially signed up for an A-Z author challenge, but sometime around the middle of the year I started making a concerted effort to ensure I read at least one book written by an author starting with each letter of the alphabet. I succeeded at this, even if Q, X, Y, & Z all got read in December.

Throughout the year, I also threw a couple smaller challenges at myself. It serves to break up boredom sometimes and also lets me focus on single goals in the short term. Generally, it just keeps things interesting. I did this twice this year.

In April/May I did a ‘taking care of my own challenge‘ in which I only read books by authors I had befriended (or been befriended by) on Goodreads. (Ok, I cheated a couple times.)  I read 21 books for that challenge.

April montage

Then, in September I took a week and had a lot of fun doing what I called my ‘Bound by Blood‘ challenge. I discovered that I had five books with the same title and read all five back-to-back. Really, it was the novelty that made it fun, because none of the books impressed me much. Here they are though. (For the record, Soulmates is the series name of that fourth one; the title is, as you would expect, Bound by Blood.)

bound by blood screenshot

Lastly, while not strictly a challenge in itself, throughout the year I make an effort to include books sent to me as review requests. Not including those I received from Netgalley, which are still books made available for free from authors/publishers seeking reviews,  (of which I read 24) I read 35 review requests.

a2r done 2014

If I’m honest, I’m a bit disappointed by that count. (I wonder if I failed to label some as requests.) It’s fewer than I would have expected and I kind of feel that I cheated someone, not sure who exactly, but someone. Note to self: do better next year.

Now, here comes the hardest part of a Looking Back post, my top six reads of 2014. (Six, instead of five, simply because it makes a nicer box.)

Honestly, I probably could have done a top ten, it was pretty close between these and a couple others. I wanted to include Vita Nostra and Father Figure, for example. But I’m already cheating by including a collection in there, so I limited myself.

In the end, I’m happy with my year in books. I’m actually impressed about some of it, disappointed in other respects and amazed at how different it was from 2013. I can’t wait to do it all again in 2015.

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Best of 2013 and moving on to 2014

2013

2013 was a big year for me. I was freshly back in the States after several years living in the UK. I had a lot of personal firsts and eventually settled into a life that looks nothing like one I thought I would ever live, but makes me stupidly happy all the same.

I also managed to read a prodigious number of books. This was admittedly at the expense of my own writing, but  I’ve yet to find that perfect rhythm here. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. I’d appreciate no one pointing out the obvious flaws in it.)

At the end of the year I like to look back at my READ list and relive the best of the best. So, in no significant order (Come on, choosing five is hard enough!), here is my 2013 Top Five:

10 Ways To P*** Off A Reaper, by Leigh Parker

The Bone Road, by Mary Holland

Murder Has Consequences, by Giacomo Giammatteo

The Nightlife: New York, by Travis Luedke

The Nirvana Plague, by Gary Glass

Each one of the above is worth checking out and some of them have received very little attention from readers. This saddens me. I’m hoping to see this change in 2014.

2014

The reason I’m three days late writing this New Year post is because I’ve chosen a new project…ok, to be more honest, a new project has kind of sprung up on me. I need a new way to organise my ebooks. Goodreads is working for me, but I’m getting close to outgrowing it. For example, at the moment I simply delete and ignore all read books. This means I have no idea what I actually own. I really don’t. And it’s not like Amazon makes it easy on you. I find their Manage Kindle page slow and clunky, at best. 

So…the project…Calibre. It’s a “free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:

  • Library Management
  • E-book conversion
  • Syncing to e-book reader devices
  • Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
  • Comprehensive e-book viewer
  • Content server for online access to your book collection”

I’m predominantly interested in the library management aspect of it. It’s fairly easy to use and does just about anything I could want. But I have 3000 ebooks to catalogue! No matter how easy the process it’s time consuming. I’ve spent the last 2.5 days setting this sucker up and I’m not done yet. If you have any tips, feel free to post them. I could use all the help I can get.  I’ve promised myself I’ll get this done before I read anything in 2014. Hoo-yah! Here’s to being obsessively detail oriented.

Once done, I will being doing B00k R3vi3ws’ Indie Fever challenge again this year.

b00k r3vi3ws

I’ve signed up as a Fanatic, with a goal of reading 75 indie books this year. It shouldn’t be too hard. I’m sure I at least doubled that last year.

I’ll also be doing the Gooreads Reading Challenge. 

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
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read 0 books toward her goal of 200 books.
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 I basically consider this a default challenge. I’ve set a goal for myself of 200 books, but if I’m lucky I won’t make it. Yea, that’s what I said. I’m hoping to establish a regular writing schedule again and the obvious compromise is read less, write more. Fingers crossed.

I intened to start my year off with Angelfall, written by Susan Ee and published by Feral Dream. It thereby hits both challenges and has the added bonus of being the January book of the month for the GR Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy forum. It’s YA, but I have high hopes. 

I’m also keeping myself open to book review requests. Each of my 2013 Top Five was a request of some sort. I requested 10 Ways to Piss off a Reaper from the author. The Bone Road, Murder Has Consequences and The Nirvana Plague were sent to me unbidden by the authors. (Though, from past reviews ,Giacomo has to know I am always open to one of his books. In fact, I have another one, Finding Family, languishing on my TBR. I just haven’t managed to get around to reading it, but I know I’ll love when I finally do.) And Luedke offered me a copy of The Nightlife: New York, only to discover I’d already grabbed if from the Amazon free list. So, experience has taught me that keeping myself open is a great way to discover new talent and hidden gems. 

So raise a glass to 2014 being as good as, if not better, than 2013! I’m looking forward to every moment of it. Thanks for stopping by and starting the year off with me.