Category Archives: year end/beginning review

Wrapping up 2015

wrapping-up-2015

I set so many challenges for myself this year! What was I thinking? Arggh, not so much for the challenges themselves, but because that leaves me so much to cover now. I guess the only thing to do is dive in.

GoodReads Challenge

goodreadsThis was my primary challenge in 2015. I set a goal of 200 books on Goodreads, not including short stories, and I succeeded. Good old Goodreads did a cool graphic this year. Feel free to click on it and explore mine.

I read a solid 200 books, but (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts) on December 16th I broke my wrist and since then I’ve been reading only short stories and novelettes, which skews me GR number toward more like 250 ‘books.’

I don’t use stars here on the blog, but if you’re curious, 2015 breaks down like this when I cross post to sites that do. Plus, 55,363 pages isn’t too shabby, though it’s about 20k short of last year. But I managed a lot more writing this year than last year. So, I’m not disappointed.

all books

I appear to have what statisticians would likely call a central tendency bias (at least if this was a true likert scale). But I also read a lot of pretty middle of the road books this year and this is one of those moments when a picture is worth so much. It really brings that point home.

Blogger Challenges

I did an Author Alphabet Soup challenge and succeeded. OK, X got read on Dec 30th, but that counts. So, at least one author for every letter of the alphabet, success. You can double check me here, if you really want to.

I also challenged myself to clear off some of the books that had been on my To Be Read list for more than two years, not including shorts. This last bit was added in two weeks ago, when (again) I broke my arm and concentrated solely on short stories and novelettes in order to avoid having to type anything longer than a sentence or two in review. (Like this post.) A lot of the short stories had been on my shelves for a long time, but they weren’t counted in the challenge. Several reads this year were close to qualifying for this challenge, but short by a mere month or so. I didn’t count them either, though they’d be 2+ years old now (in Dec.).

I wasn’t great about going back and checking in with the Evie-Bookish blog, where the challenge originated, but I feel like I was quite successful in this challenge.

tbr challenge

I signed up for the Mad Reviewers review challenge to read & review at least 104 books (not counting audiobooks). I finished with more than 150, so I’ll call that a success.

Lastly, I signed up for two challenges with  book r3vi3ws: Indiefever and Firstreads. I was good about tagging these, but failed miserably at keeping the list on book r3vi3ws up to date. I did however, succeed at both challenges, reading indie books and authors new to me. In fact, the vast majority of the books I read were either indie or self-published.

Requests

I’m a bit disappointed in the number of requests I got to this year, though I shouldn’t be. I started the year with a goal of 3 a month (36 total), but later opted to concentrate more on my own writing (which I did) and cut it back to one a month. I read 25 books sent to me by authors. There were a couple that I didn’t finish and not everyone was reviewed on the blog, or at least not in an individual post. I tend to cluster shorter works. But here is the list.

2015 requests

Sorry the list and pictures aren’t in the same order. I couldn’t be bothered to redo it all.

Netgalley

It addition to the books I took on request, I also accepted a number of books from Netgalley, meaning publishers offered them free in exchange for a review but I had to request them. This wasn’t a challenge per se, but it didn’t feel quite right to include them with the requested reviews either. There were and additional 19 books here.

Netgalley 2015

Pop-up Challenges

I like to mix things up on occation and sometimes mini-challenges grab my attention. I did two this year. In March, I noticed that I had 4 books titled Blood Lust. So I opted to read them all back to back. It did not go well. The average star rating didn’t even reach 2! But here they are. I just basically find it amusing to see four of the same titles in a row.

Blood lust coll

Then, later that same month, I noticed that I kept scrolling past the same unattractive picture in my TBR list on Goodreads and realized that I had four books with essentially the same cover. Thus was born the Annoying Close-up Guy Challenge. I read all four of them back to back. It went a bit better than the previous challenge and seeing four almost identical covers in a row really tickles me. (I Know, I’m easily amused.)

Annoying closeup guy

Top Picks

Lastly, and I think most importantly, what were my favorite books of the year? This is a difficult choice. After agonizing and hair pulling, I chose the following as my stand-outs of 2015:

They are in no particular order and I did a list of six, rather than the standard top-five, just because it makes a better box. See?

I would eagerly recommend any of these books to fellow readers. In fact, I do. Go, go forworth and read them.

Edit: You guys! You guys, I owe the Mad Reviewer a huge thank you. I forgot to report back to the challenge page at the end of the year and she went above and beyond to track me down for my final review count so that I could be entered in the drawing for a prize. And in the end, I won a $50 Amazon gift card and paperback copy of The Carnelian Legacy by Cheryl Koevoet, an ebook of The Carnelian Tyranny by Cheryl Koevoet and an ebook copy of Aranya by Marc Secchia. That is super cool. Thank you!

 

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.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 16.16.16

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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