2015 in Review

2015 was a good year! I found an end of the year survey from Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner that I liked and wanted to do myself. Most of these weren’t reviewed on my blog.

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Image from http://www.perpetualpageturner.com

2015 Reading Stats (with help from Goodreads stats):

Number of Books Read: 48 books. I might add a couple more before the year is out.

Number of Re-Reads: 0. I don’t re-read very much, maybe every few years.

Genre I Read the Most From: Science Fiction, Essays.

Best in Books

Best Book I Read in 2015: Tie between Lexicon by Max Berry and The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford.

Book I was Excited About & Thought I Would Love More But Didn’t: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. I like The Left Hand of Darkness and Le Guin’s short stories a lot. This ended up being too complicated and political for me.

Most Surprising (in a good way or bad way) book I read: The audiobook of A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller. It was surprising in a bad way because the concept sounded interesting, but the book was very long and difficult. I’m glad I listened to it instead of reading all that Latin!

Book I “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did): None this year, either in person or on my blog.

Best series you started in 2015: Tie between Ironskin by Tina Connolly (review here) and Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacagalupi.

Best Sequel of 2015: No sequels in the novels I read this year.

Best Series Ender of 2015: No series enders in the novels I read this year.

Favorite new author discovered in 2015: No new authors this year, only ones I hadn’t read before. So my favorite new to me authors were Shannon Hale and Ruth Reichl.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone: Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death by Judy Bachrach. Runner-up: Austenland by Shannon Hale (review here.)

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Lexicon by Max Barry (review here.)

Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year: Again I don’t re-read much, but probably stories from Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

  Favorite Cover of a book read in 2015: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer.

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Most memorable character of 2015: Tie between Nailer from Ship Breaker and Joanna from The Stepford Wives.

Most beautifully written book read in 2015: I only read half of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness before it was due back at the library–with many holds on it! I can see why it’s a popular YA novel.

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015: I found Being Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Godreau thought-provoking even though I didn’t end up becoming fully vegetarian this year, like I thought.

Book I waited Until 2015 to finally read: The Dispossessed.

Favorite Passage/Quote from a book I Read In 2015: I liked alot of passages from Ruth Reichl’s books Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples.

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015: Goodreads 2015 stats say Terry Pratchett’s Discworld children’s book Where’s My Cow? was the shortest. A Counterfeit Betrothal by Mary Balogh was the longest–I only read half, as the other half was another book (The Notorious Rake).

Book That Shocked Me The Most:  New Cthulu: The Recent Weird (review here.) Shocking like disturbing in a bad way, so I therefore didn’t review the stories I didn’t like.

OTP (One True Pairing) of the Year: None.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Pima and Nailer, Ship Breaker.

Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman.

Best Book You Read In 2015 That I Read Based Only On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: I picked out the Mary Balogh book at a used bookstore based on reviews of her books at Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015: None.

Best 2015 debut: Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. My only 2015 debut I read this year.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? Ship Breaker.

Book That Was The Most Fun To Read: Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones.

Book That Made Me Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015: None that I can remember.

Hidden Gem Of The Year:  I didn’t read many new books this year.

Book That Crushed My Soul: None this year!

Most Unique Book You Read In 2015: Wonderbook. I enjoyed the illustrations, essays, and writing exercises, though I didn’t try writing any.

Book That Made Me The Most Mad: A nonfiction book I read for personal reasons. I thought it would go more in-depth on the topic than it did, so I was frustrated I had to look elsewhere for that information. I also didn’t like the writing style very much. It was strange, as I usually like researching something I’m interested in learning about!

Blogging and Bookish Life

New favorite book blog discovered in 2015: Hard to choose–maybe Neon Yeti Reads.

Favorite review written in 2015: Ironskin. My first review!

Best discussion/non-review post on your blog: Not sure. My post about Beeminder might count as a non-book review.

Best event:  I went to a Neil Gaiman signing back in February! It was very exciting, as he’s one of my favorite authors. I was very starstruck and nervous to meet him in person. He signed my copies of his books as well as his new book, and everyone there got a picture with him. He was very nice!

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Me with Neil Gaiman at his signing at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, Colorado.

 

 

Blogging wise, I really liked the Austen in August event from Adam at Roof Beam Reader. I was sad to read he’s not doing it again next year! I’m thinking of joining his Shakespeare event–more info here.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015: I just enjoyed reading different blogs and book blogging tips.

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:

Most Popular Post This Year: The minimalist community gave me a lot of likes for my review of The 100 Thing Challenge.

Post I Wished Got A Little More Love: None really, I know I’m just starting out as a blogger this year!

Best bookish discovery: When I travel, I like going to local libraries and bookstores. The bookstores I visited in 2015 were Old Firehouse Books in Colorado, and in Maine, Sherman’s Books and the Friends of the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library bookstore. I wasn’t able to visit the library itself, but I want to visit Maine again!

Completed Reading Challenges or Goals: I set my 2015 Goodreads goal as 30 books, and I read 48-50!

Looking Ahead

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness.

Book I’m Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut): I don’t have many upcoming books on my To Read List. Most of it is from 2015!

2016 Debut:  A 2016 release I have on my To Read list is And Again by Jessica Chiarella.

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016: None.

One Thing I Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Reading/Blogging Life In 2016: Get more involved in the book blogging community through comments and social media.

A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: I haven’t yet read my ARC of If At Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner yet. It looks fun and inspiring.

I have a couple more 2015 reviews to finish, then on to 2016!

 

Goal Tracking with Beeminder 

Beeminder logo

Looking around for a to do app, I decided to use one called Beeminder.

It’s really a goal tracking website and smartphone app “with a sting” as they say. If you don’t meet your goals, you have to pay Beeminder.  You set your daily or weekly goal in numbers, and the site projects what it looks like if you met your goals on a line graph. This projected data is your “Yellow Brick Road.” Stay on the road and you never have to pay. (By default, as of this writing, payment starts at $0 and increases exponentially.  You can set it to stop at a certain amount if you don’t want it to increase that much.)

I like it a lot so far! It seems to combine SMART goals and “don’t break the chain” goal tracking. Beeminder has a blog post from a few years ago explaining SMART goals here.) When I used “don’t break the chain” tracking, it ended up not being motivating for me. “I only checked off two days out of five of my daily goal, I guess I’ll stop.” With Beeminder, the data is now on a graph going up. I’m very motivated to keep my graph moving up and do a small part toward my goals every day!

So far Beeminder is helping me stick to my blogging goals: two posts a month, and stick to reading books I want to review.

P.S. If you’re interested in the visual Don’t Break the Chain method instead of data-centered Beeminder, I used Karen Kavett’s calendar.

June-July 2015 Round Up

I’m behind on my goals! Here is an update. I got all of these books from my library in print or ebook.

In June and July 2015, I read:
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
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This was a really good YA historical novel. I have a review coming up!
You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren
YouAreYourOwnGym

I’m interested in adding bodyweight training to my running routine. This seemed like a good place to start. (He has a woman’s version, Body by You, which I might look at too.)  I ended up not using the program from this book, but this was very inspiring and scientifically sound, so I would recommend it. Lauren also made the program into a book and app.

Living with Less: How to Downsize to 100 Personal Possessions by Mary Lambert
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This was a basic primer on minimalism by an English organizing consultant. I agree with some of the reviews on Goodreads that this was repetitive and a little sexist. (“Men collect sports equipment!” “Women collect clothes!”) Lambert shares excerpts from her blog when she decided to downsize to 100 items. By the end, one of her items was “T-shirts (13).” I understand grouping some things into categories, but to me 13 t-shirts is 13 items! I’m looking forward to going more in-depth on minimalism by reading The 100 Things Challenge by Dave Bruno, who invented the challenge, and The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.

The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff

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This book explored “natural science” from around the 17th century to the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was very long, but I enjoyed learning about many of the people who “stocked” US and UK natural history museums and their adventures in other countries.
Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War by H. Donald Winkler
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Winkler covered women from both the Union and the Confederacy. I ended up only reading about half of it due to time. I liked that each chapter was about a different woman, and was a good overview of each woman’s life. I recognized Harriet Tubman, Belle Boyd and Mary Surratt, but the rest I didn’t know. I would recommend it!

Deep Secret (Magids #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

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I finally read this after hearing about it on Neil Gaiman’s blog a few years ago. I thought it was a children’s book, as I know Diana Wynne Jones wrote mainly for kids.  It turned out to be a novel for adults, but teens could read it too.

A Magid is a magician who handles the political relations between many worlds in the Multiverse. Each world has three Magids. Magid Rupert Venables’ superiors send him to find Earth’s third one. He finds good candidates at a science fiction convention. He doesn’t know anything about science fiction and finds it all ridiculous. He just wants to find the third Magid and save the Multiverse from evil. I liked the world building and characterization. I understand the second book is for children, elementary or middle school.

Focusing in on Reviews

So that’s what I read recently. All of those tie into my new focus of reviews:  nonfiction I want to write about, science fiction, fantasy, or historical fiction. (I didn’t read any classic novels this month, but want to add that too.)

Blog Goals Mid-2015

I realized recently my goal for this blog was “Post a review every week.” That was much too ambitious for me to try to do. I found myself trying to read 5 books at once, which I’ve never been good at.
Then I couldn’t concentrate on any one book in order to analyze it. Looking at the reviews I’ve already posted, I thought “That’s not long enough” and “Well, what about that character I only briefly mentioned?” I need to take better notes! ( I use Overdrive for ebooks, but it doesn’t have a notes feature and/or highlighting. Any suggestions for another library ebook app?)

My goals going forward are:

  • Bimonthly reviews, on Fridays.
  • Monthly-ish feature: Book and a Movie, inspired by John and Hank Green’s Read It First. This is a review of a book that became a movie. That includes classic movies, like Rebecca
    for example, as well as recent and upcoming movies. If I’ve seen the movie, I’ll compare the two. This still uses the genres from my About page.
  • Fitness feature: I want to track my fitness goals for #FitReaders or Readers’ Workouts. Both are weekly.
  • A weekly feature/meme for another weekday. I’ve been going through lists of blogging memes to find one I want to do. Right now the ones I like are: Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish or Booking Through Thursday. Tuesday seems like a good meme day to me.

Two to three reviews per month should give me more time to analyze the book and have more thorough reviews. Then I have to organize and plan reviews and the midweek meme in advance, basic blogging things. Thanks to Bloggiesta and Parajunkee for the blogging tips!