How do you review? (10)

Aka, random things I think about when I read books that you really can’t write in book reviews.  

-I love princes getting punched in the face.  I need this to occur more often

-Blue eyes really creep me out.  Especially light blue eyes in males

-Of course he needs to have a manly bedroom of dark wood and black stone because he’s a ~man~

-SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, STOP CUTTING YOUR HANDS OPEN.  IT’S BAD FOR YOU.

-Who would ever think having a bunch of high strung rebellious gamer dudebros try and follow military discipline is a good idea and would end well?

-10 minute conversations magically happen in a span of 2 minutes

-That was one of the better love triangles I have ever seen.

-No one ever noticed how the ‘stray dog’ was super clean all the time and questioned that it might actually be a pet?

-I feel like I’m reading fanfiction for a fandom I’m not a part of.

-Why would she cry when they found him alive? He’s alive! Happy is better

 

-I both like and am irritated by the writing style of this book

-I love the feel of a chunky paperback in my hands.  The buttery feel of the study spine.  I love it.

-Mildly interesting, eternally frustrating

-Who the fuck throws spitballs in school anymore?  Especially in High School?

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2018 Goals

2017’s goals were well intentioned but were a mess.  They were non-specific, needed to many clarification statements and didn’t actually reflect what I wanted to read.  Plus I forgot what most of them were shortly after making them….

So this year will be different?

1. One non-fiction book a month

Let’s start off with one that might end up not happening, shall we?  This is straight forward.  This will be easy if I actually try to achieve and not just hope it happens on its own.  I will give myself 2 free months.  

2. Read 50 200+ page books this year

Last year about 55 books hit this bill, with the rest of my year made of short books.  I want to hit this again because I do love big books and have recently determined graphic novels are great quick reads but not really my thing. 

3. Better reviews

A repeat goal, bit one I do really want to work on.  So this year I need to buckle down and actually work on it.

4. Buy a second bookshelf, but don’t fill it

I need a second bookshelf, but I don’t want it to result in me buying a million books.  I’m at a point in my life where I have an income that means I can buy books, and I thankfully didn’t go too nuts with buying all the things in 2017.  So for 2018 I want to finally treat myself to another bookcase but limit my book buying.  However, I will not put a hard number on this, sorry.  

5. Read at least 5 books recommended to me by a friend

In 2017 I convinced a few friends to read books I loved and they ended up loving them!  This year I need to actually read books they have recommended to me.  5 is a conservative goal, so I might up this mid-way through the year.  This goal has the bonus of being able to talk books with friends more. 

6. Try bullet journalling my reading for at least 3 months

I want to see if this is for me and I think looking back at it will be neat. 

7. One POC author per month

Another conservative one, but again, I might up it mid-way through.  No freebies here. 

8. Actively participate in one read-a-thon

Self-explanatory.  Also vague, but I’ll know if I hit this.

9. Find at least one new forever favourite book

It’s a hard list to get on, but I want to see a book hit that list. 

I think I’ll stop there for goals.  This is a manageable list, though it’s also a bit conservative.  However, I’m ok with that.  At the end of the day I’ll read what I read.  

TBR Pile Accounting: 2018

I wanted to have 6 or fewer unread books on my shelf by 2018 which was half the number that I started 2017 with (see here, here and here for a saga on the adventure).  It’s 2018 so here are a list of the unread books I have on my shelf.  Spoiler: it’s more than 6.

1. The Diviner by Melanie Rawn

2. The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms #4) by Cinda Willams Chima

3. Snow like Ashes by Sara Raasch

4. Half Bad by Sally Green

5. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J Maas

6. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

7. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

8.  Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

9. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

10. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

11. Spirals in Time: The secret life and curious afterlife of seashells by Helen Scales

12. EVE: The Empyrean Age by Tony Gonzales

13. The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

14. House of Furies by Madeleine Roux

I was holding steady at 12 books throughout the year until the end where it crept up to 14 on me.  

2017 Goals: Did I fail?

Here are my original post and my mid-year wrap-up.

To sum, if you don’t like clicking links, half way through the year I was doing pretty good but there were a few goals that were not going as planned.  

1. Continue on with this Book Blogging thing 

I had another slump, and I really need to re-think my blog.  More like redesign and put more effort in.  Anyway, I’m still kinda here so this still kinda counts as a win.

2. Clear out my drafts file  

Didn’t happen.  But honestly, have a few handfuls of half-ideas or half- written posts is not a bad thing, despite what early 2017 me thought. 

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

This mess of a goal is a) a mess and b) still kinda worked out in the end.  I would still like my list to be smaller than it is, but I’ve had a good reading year where I took a number off the list and added about as many as I read.

4. Make better reviews 

I did not achieve this goal.  Sure, it’s open-ended so I could find some way that I did manage it (and my brain is already supplying a few for me) but the reality is I think my reviews got worse not better.  Rereading my review for The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet really brings this point home as the review I would have written for it now would not have been as good. 

5. Reduce the number of unread books on my bookshelf by half (of the total number I started the year with; aka have 6 or fewer unread books by year end)

There is a saga with this goal, and I will do a check-in eventually for this but overall I didn’t achieve this goal, but still consider it a success because I did read a lot of books that have been sitting on my shelf for years.  

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

As I explained in my check-in, this one ended up not being tough and fixed itself quite nicely.  As a result I both read and didn’t read this year and I felt great about both!

In the Check-in I also talked about my a few side goals and trends I was hitting.  My Goodreads goal I ended up actually committing to more then the first half of the year and upping the ante to 75 books, which I achieved.  I also continued to read diverse types of books (generas and formats).  Since I wasn’t doing as many reviews in the end of 2017 my emphasis on audiobooks reduced but I always acknowledged reading them in my round-ups.  Finally, my commitment to indy and self-published books waned in the last half of the year, but I might try for it again in 2018.  

Final comments: I did feel I read a bunch of forgettable books this year, even though on average my star ratings were quite high.  I need to think on this and determine if I want to address it in my 2018 goals.  

Developing as a reader

Recently I have been thinking back on my reading journey and how I have developed as a reader.  But not in the sense of growing up and finding new reading tastes.

I was always a reader, even through high school, I read for pleasure and hated to dive too much into things.  I also actively was suspicious of books we read in class and looked for reasons to hate them.  However, I defend this position by the fact that the books I read in class that were annoying, boring or terrible vastly out numbered those that were ok or good (in my opinion, everyone has different feelings about school books). 

Starting my own creative writing projects has really helped in my ability to critically read and evaluate books.  While I’m never going to be an author (outside of the science sense to the term) and I’m not as good at others in critiquing and evaluating books, I come miles compared to past self.  It makes me wish I’d taken more of an interest in creative writing earlier in life. One, because of all the friends I’ve made from it, but also because it would have made English classes easier and interesting.  I would have gotten more out of them, from the basics of grammar to the fancy terms and techniques used to keep people interested.

There are just so many things I could have learned in high school that might have stuck with me but didn’t because I wasn’t interested in ‘that type’ of writing at the time.  Essays and scientific reports, sure I wanted to improve, but I never really wanted to learn and apply creative writing techniques to my own writing.  I could understand why they existed and why they might be used to spruce up writing, but this information for me was just that: information.  It wasn’t really something I was interested in actually learning.  At the time.  

Now that is a different story.  

Part of it was the way all this was taught to me.  It wasn’t in a way I was interested in.  For example I remember a long discussion on what the meaning of the colour of the curtains in a scene in a book had to do with the overall story.  It was something like they were blue which reflects the main character’s depression, but the main character wasn’t even in the room and really did the author really care that much about the curtains?  This memory and others like it still haunt me and to this day I still dislike thinking about symbolism in books, even though I know it can be interesting to learn about and add depth to the books.  Themes in books is another area that I I love and hate to think about. 

This is slowly changing, and I am becoming more interested in these sorts of things in the books I read, yet, I feel if I had taken more of an interest in creative writing or book reviewing sooner I would have appreciated English class more.

It’s amazing how much more I would get out of high school classes if I took them now that I’m done all schooling then when I was forced to take them.

Books that I almost DNF’ed

I almost never DNF a book as I talked about in a past post, though there are a handful of cases of this occurring (and there are a few on this list I want to attempt again).  But there are sometime just books that you really, really want to DNF but end up pushing through.  These are a few examples:

1. Valley of the Horses by Jean M Auel – this is my mother’s favourite series and she got me to read them (a bit too young at the time, I might add).  This particular one was going in a direction I didn’t like (at the time, woudl have loved it now) so I got mad and refused to keep reading.  One year later I wanted to know how it ended so I picked it back up and finished it. 

2. Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914 by Carolyn Meyer (I think, could have been a different book) – this was a kids book, I think fictional, about the real life events that did actually follow the real life events closely.  This was one of the first times I had read about a death and didn’t know the story going into it.  Yeah, I was mad at the book. 

3. Shades of Doon by Corp and Langdon – I was bored

4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – Also bored and annoyed that this was basically plagiarism but got published.

5. Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane – I was bored, I realized I hate time paradoxes and it was a rough time in life.  But I finished it months later!

6. Sega by Conor Kostick – this one didn’t live up to the first book.

Bonus: While The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks took me years to finish, I never considered DNF’ing it, I just didn’t have the time at the time and wasn’t int he mood for a long time.  

Long versus short: opinions please!

I recently read a book with really short chapters.  Normally I don’t pay attention to this sort of thing, but these chapters were so noticeably short that I noticed it.  Some were only a page or two, though a few were longer at 10 pages or so.  

As I never really noticed chapter size before (I am perfectly fine stopping in the middle of a chapter, page or even sentence), I never really had an opinion on which I preferred.  I knew others had an opinion, and I swear most of the BookTubers I follow have said they prefer shorter chapters. 

As a child my dad would be all ‘you have to go to bed after you finish that chapter’ but it was always Harry Potter with massive chapters and 90% of the time I had just started the new chapter so got to stay up like another hour.  

However, this book that I read with short chapters showed me that I actually prefer longer chapters.  Short chapters have the opposite effect on me then they seem to have on other people.  Others like that short chapters make them feel like they are making progress in the novel as each chapter is another part of the novel you got through.  For me, however, short chapters make me feel like I am getting nowhere.  The chapter ends but it has only been two pages.  It makes the book feel longer to me whereas after a long chapter I feel like I have gotten somewhere and made progress.  Some people like the book being broken up more often, but since I can stop in the middle of a chapter, that doesn’t really effect me as much as others.  

So, what is your opinion on the matter?  Do you prefer long or short chapters?  Is there other reasons for liking one over the other that I have not considered?