The first ten eleven

Books Read: 

1. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff     5 Stars

2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Libba Bray)     1 Star

3. Eve: the Awakening by Jenna Moreci     2.5 Stars

4. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline (Wil Wheton)     2.5 Stars

5. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell (Tanya Eby)     4 Stars

6. Queen of the Tearling     Erika Johansen     4 Stars

7. The Martian by Andy Weir     4.5 Stars

8. First Test by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

9. Page by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

10. Squire by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

11. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

Average Rating: 3.95

Audiobooks: 7 (Narrators in brackets after author name)

Re-reads: 5

Indy/self published: 1.5 (The Martian was originally Indy published, but is now traditionally published due to the response, so I give that a 0.5 rating)

Number of books reviewed on this blog: Currently 3 are formally reviewed, with another one reviewed in an atypical fashion.  I have plans for an audiobook-centric review of the Protector of the Small Quartet that should be up soon.  Finally, I have 2 reviews to write for Goodreads that I don’t plan to have on here, but might end up that way.  

Comments: 

It seems I’m more likely to review books on this blog I didn’t like (Beauty Queens, Ready Player One and Eve: The Awakening) then those that I do like.  I’m trying to be better about this and to review the good and the bad always, but I can improve.  Additionally, books like Gemina, being in the middle of series, are less likely to get reviews because I prefer to do a series review for second books and on wards.  Regardless, I review every book in some form on Goodreads (she says, knowing that she is currently behind in 2 reviews, outside of the Tamora Pierce re-reads).

I have been trying to make a conscious effort to review the audiobook as well as the book when I read audiobooks since audiobooks and their narrators need more love.  Plus it’s good information for people to have.  I read many audiobooks in section of my reading, partially because I was unpacking, which is a good task to listen to audiobooks to, and without internet for a time. 

Love Tamora Pierce and was in the mood for something familiar because of a move and the stress of that and a new job (plus lack of internet).  Also it seems that March and April are times of the year I really need to re-read some or all of her books, or so Facebook’s look back feature tells me.  This makes since as it’s spring and I’m often avoiding exams and need to read something of comfort that I can put down to study when I really need to.  No exams this year, though.  

I’m on track with my randomly picked number of books to read that was less then 50.  Which is good, I guess?  I’m telling myself I’m not attached to the number but I’m also keeping an eye on it, so that is mostly lies.  

What’s next?

With new job things will be weird for a time meaning I have no idea how this reading thing will fit into my new life at this time.  I will, however, be working regular predictable hours for like the first time ever, without school to boot.  This could be very good for my reading, or I could watch too much TV.  I shall see.

As for what’s next reading-wise, I recently posted my library book haul, so that is a good indicator of what I’m looking to read.  I also have a list of unread books on my shelves I want to cut in half, but have yet to read any.  Finally, I have Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore, another re-read and then final in the Graceling Trilogy I have been working through, signed out and really want to finally finish off The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, a book I have been reading for literal years.  And if none of that fits my fancy, I have a mile long list of books I want to read over on Goodreads to get around to reading. 

Body functions in books aka protagonists pee too!

thoughtsQuick!  Name the last book that you read that the MC went to the bathroom.  Can’t think of one?  I doubt you are alone.  

For me the book that immediately comes to mind are Tamora Pierce books.  Not all of them include this little detail, but most do.  The female protagonists even have periods!  

It might seem weird, but just the off-handed comment about the main character going to the bathroom or needing to pack extra clothes right before a last minute trip because they are expecting their period makes me super happy.  It makes the protagonists real people!  It doesn’t demonize the fact that as a woman I have a period and have to think about the consequences of that.  It normalizes menstruation for young girls who are self conscious of it.  

The fact that most authors ignore this very common, realistic, mandatory body function frustrates me.  Your main character eats, otherwise readers would find it weird that they didn’t so why can’t they also go to the toilet?  Sure there is a bit of a taboo about this, but including it, as I mentioned before, normalizes it and actually helps young people with their body image. 

Don’t know how to include it in your story?

How often have you had an interesting conversation in the washroom?  If you are in high school, a setting in many contemporary books, I would hazard it would be fairly often because you have some limited privacy there.  When you are about to go into battle battle or slay a dragon how likely is it to have a nervous bladder?  A long run from a monster poses a challenge for woman that men don’t tend to have.  Ditto long treks or hikes or journeys with a mixed group of woman and men.

Just think of all the awkward situations you can get your characters into!  Think of the plotting potential!

You are a reader!

thoughtsThe average person in the US (and likely Canada and many other countries of the world) reads less then 5 books a year.  If, like me, you think that is a very small number, congrats you are likely a reader!

Now, the word reader means a person who reads.  Despite what anyone might tell you, it does not specify what type of things you need to read to be a reader.  It can be books, poetry, short stories, novellas, zines and magazines, fanfiction, instruction manuals, ‘trashy’ internet erotica, role-playing posts…..the list is a long one.  The list I provided is also only things that a ‘reader’ might read, but reading is something essentially everyone does on a semi-daily basis.  Reading a menu or a price tag would make you a reader by the above definition.  

However, in colloquial terms ‘a reader’ tends to be someone who reads ‘a lot’ (and also the types of things I mentioned above and not the ‘everyday’ things), but as the average person reads fewer then 5 books in a year, anything more then that can be classified as ‘a lot’.  That means 10 books a year can make you a reader.  So that ‘only one book this month’ you read?  Congrats, you are still a reader!  ‘I only read a few magazines or fanfic’.  Still a reader!  

Don’t let the words of others define you or bring you down.  You may not read as much as you want or as much as the gatekeepers to reading might say you need to, but if you think you are a reader, CONGRATS!! You! Are! A! Reader!

The year of the re-read

thoughtsI re-read a lot of books in 2016.  Some I had read only last year, others closer to 8 or 10 years ago.  To put a number on that, about 15 books of 51 were re-reads (I say about as I’m not too sure where I stopped in the the Young Wizard books the first time).  

But I’m not upset by this.

Firstly, I got to revisit old favourites and discover they are still really good books.  Others I re-read and they didn’t hold as much water, but that was part of why I wanted to reread them. 

Re-reading books is something I used to do quite often.  As a child it was because I didn’t have exposure to books as much as I do now.  I didn’t know what was coming out or can out recently so I couldn’t ask for them from the library.  Also my home town library is tiiiiiny (same with my school one) so it was hard to find new things to read.  I also have a lot of old favourites. 

As a young adult I typically re-read because I really want to read something by the time exams hit in university, after a semester of refraining from all contact with books.  At this point I need a distraction and my self control is at an all-time low so the best way to combat the problem and get back to studying is to read an old favourite.  This way I know what is going to happen and don’t feel the pressure to stay up all night because I really need to know what happens next!! as a do with many books.  I can stop in the middle of the action to continue to study (in theory, at least!).  I can read through the book in a hurry since I already know all the little details.  Typically my go-to reads for exam periods is Tamora Pierce (Protector of the Small most often).

Last year I didn’t re-read anything.  It was all new books after finishing off my schooling for good.  It was a fun year!

This year there has been no Tamora Pierce as I revisited Harry Potter, some Maria V Snyder and Diane Duane.  I suspect I’ll get back to Tamore Pierce next year as there might be (finally) a new one of hers out.  

I have no regrets about re-reading so much!  Sure, I found new favourite when I did read new books,  but while reading new books is fun but there is a risk of reading a bad book.  Many of the books I read this year were merely ‘meh’ or average books.  

So if anyone gives you flack for re-reading ‘too much’ send them to me!  I will defend re-reads to my dying breath!  Please don’t ever feel like you are not a ‘good’ reader because you re-read old books instead of new to you books. 

2017 reading goals

Let’s set some goals!  These are personal goals, because that’s personal and for me to know.  These are goals relating to reading and blogging, aka the stuff you might be interested in!

Continue on with this Book Blogging thing 

I had fun this past year with having my own piece of the internet to do what I wanted with and I want to continue to use it to talk about books!

Clear out my drafts file  

Sure it’s nice to have a handful (*coughover30cough*) of thoughts/half-written posts/ideas/etc to pick from when I need inspiration for a post (this is on top of the various tags and posts I have bookmarked from other people to use as inspiration), but the number of draft posts I have is too high.  I want to try and cut them down by either finally writing the post I was thinking of doing or scrapping the idea as something I’m not interested in anymore and move on.  De-cluttering so to speak.

Keep the number of books on my Goodreads ‘To-read’ list under the number of books in my ‘Read’ list

I previously wanted to keep my Goodreads to-read list under 200 books but quickly came to the realisation that such a goal was not going to happen.  Eventually I got around to decluttering by to-read list by splitting it into a more immediate ‘to-read’ list and a future ‘read-someday’ list which had be happy about that overall goal.  

Around that time I came up with a more realistic goal for my to-read (and read-someday) pile.  The way I figure it is this: there will always be more good books coming out and I’m never going to be able to catch up with them and read my back list, which will make it hard to keep my list under 200 but it should be manageable to keep the total books I want to read under the total number of books I have read.  Right now I am safe and my numbers are good.  Hopefully I can keep it this way!

 

Make better reviews  

Right now my reviews are too much like a stream of consciousness, lengthy mess.  I need to learn to prune, making things more interesting and informative while also thinking about the book critically. 

Reduce the number of unread books on my bookshelf by half  

I don’t typically buy books that I haven’t read and decided that I can’t live without them.  As such, the number of unread books on my shelf is tiny compared to many in the bookish world: there are about a dozen.  While I need to do an exact count since I have read about 3 since the last time I did a count, I want to half that by the end of 2017.  Side note: I have less then 100 books total on my shelves.  Definitely more then 50 at this point, but less then 100.  

A tough one: Stop feeling so guilty about not reading.  Conversely, stop feeling so guilty about reading.  

This is very contradictory, but this past year to due life things, when I took time to read I felt guilty because I was avoiding doing other important things.  But people need to have a break.  When I wasn’t reading or doing the other important things, I would feel guilty for not reading.  Basically, feel less guilty all around next year.

You’ll note that there isn’t a Goodreads Challenge on here.  While I have one set-up, I literally picked a random number below 50 as I’m not sure what my reading will be like this year.  I might set it differently later in the year, but my emphasis this year will be on reading books, hopefully good books, not hitting a number which made me read a bunch of tiny things at the end of the year to hit a number instead of reading what I wanted to. 

You’ll also note that these goals are not really quantifiable, which is a bad way to set goals.  I’m ok with this.  Several of these goals are things that you should always be in a state of improvement and while it’ll be hard to know if I achieved them by the end of the year, if I just work at improvement I will be happy.  

I’m also not requiring myself to achieve all of these goals.  These are things to root for but if they don’t happen, I’ll still be ok with myself.

On the subject of my reading goals (2016)

statsLet’s see how I did!

Read 50 books

I did manage to read 51 things that Goodreads had a page for.  Whether they actually count as books is suspect, but I stuck to my goal despite the ups and downs and the 3 month reading slump, so overall a success. 

Keep my ‘to-read’ list on Goodreads below 200

One could say that since my ‘to-read’ is below 200 right now that is a success, but I know it was above 200 for most of the year and adding my ‘to-read’ with my new ‘read someday’ shelve will give you more then 200 books.  However towards the end of the year I gave myself permission to separate out my list which let me purge over a hundred books I wasn’t interested in while keeping books that aren’t on the top of my list in a separate list and overall making my ‘to-read’ list more manageable.  So on that end it is a success, if I wasn’t actually successful at my original goal. 

Write at least a few sentences on my thoughts about each book I read in 2016 (unless it’s in the middle of a series)

Again, a sort-of successful goal.  I wrote reviews for everything, even the short ‘books’ I read, barring the 2 novels I delayed writing about until right before I typed this post because I was about to type this post.  However, since I did always plan to write them, keeping notes and all, and the fact that I did actually write them, I will call this a success. 

Try to think more critically on the books I read

This is hard to measure, but every book I read I did see some issue in it that could have been improved, be it the male:female ratio was off, gross ‘humour’, flat characters or the characters that changed out of no where that could be found in my most favourite book of the year.  So in that I guess it’s a success.  I also discovered and shared a post about racist undertones found in books and vow to look for it when I read.  Overall, I will count this as a success, but I know I can do better and will strive to do so. 

Don’t force myself to finish books I’m not interested in

I’ll call this one a not really success as I finished everything I started this year (barring two books that I didn’t get enough into and I start from the beginning next year).  There were about a handful that I didn’t like and while I didn’t hate or force myself, it was really close and I knew that I wasn’t going to love the book even reading to the end.  In other words, I could have and maybe should have stopped but didn’t.

Try out book blogging

It’s been a year and I’s still here so I’d call that a success!

All in all, a successful year!

Looking back at my ‘want to read before the end of the year’ post and how I did

That long-ass title explains it all, no introduction needed really. Let’s see what I read and what was left for me to read in 2017!

First Time Reads:

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanson 

Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine Mcgee  I READ THIS ONE!

Re-reads I’d like to accomplish:

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder But I did re-read Magic Study?!? 

Fire by Kristin Cashore   I READ THIS ONE!

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner   I READ THIS ONE!

Others that I am hopeful to read but would need the library to step up it’s game:

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff  I started this one, finishing soon!

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire  I READ THIS ONE!

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers  I READ THIS ONE!

Books I want to finally finish:

Wizards of Mars by Diane Duane  I READ THIS ONE!

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (this one is very unlikely, but I can dream, right?)

Wishfull thinking books (because they aren’t out yet, damnit!)

Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

Anything Tamora Pierce

Firebrand by Kristen Britain 

Overall: 6.25/14