2015 Year in Review

I had many reading resolutions for 2015. Some I completed and others faded but were not forgotten even if I never returned to finish them. First, I accomplished my goal of 50 books read for 2015. It was an amazing feet for me. I think back to the little girl that struggled with speaking, reading, and writing. Now, she is creating, and sharing her love of books.

Another thing I hold up to show off is my Goodread’s to-read shelf. I think I started 2015 with 70 or more books I hoped to read and now that number is down to 64. It may not seem like a big accomplishment but that number was a struggle to accomplished. Working in a bookstore I see so many titles I would like to read and they are easily added. I tried to be more selective and read some books right away instead of putting them on the list.

I read more titles from the floor I work on to better recommend books to customers but my Classics Challenge fell short. I took on the task to read one classic a month and only read six books. Five I even reviewed on this blog. I realize there are just too many books in the world I need to read. One more thing, the writing fell short. I didn’t keep up with the blog schedule I put forth and even behind the scenes I was unable to cut out time. All completely my fault. Exhaustion, stress, laziness, work and plans won most of my time.

After all that how do I make the up and coming 2016 better. Keep reading, keep fighting the procrastination writing fight, and be a little more forgiving of oneself. I signed up for the Goodread’s challenge again and hope to read another 50 books in 2016.

Neil Gaiman wrote, “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

I now hope to surprise myself.

Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone!

 

Stacking Reading Goals

I’m worried I created to many reading goals for the new year. I challenged myself to read 50 books with 12 of them being classics. I tried to promise myself I wouldn’t buy anymore books until I read some of the unread ones I already own. Also, I hope to decrease the number on my Goodreads’ to-read list. While, these can all fit nicely into the read 50 books challenge, I’m finding the classics can be dense and daunting. I thought I would read Jane Austen’s Persuasion this month but switch to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I didn’t feel I had the right mood for Persuasion. I want to complete my one classic novel a month goal but I do want to enjoy what I am reading. I do have many more opportunities to read this year with my hour commute to and from work. Just have to keep reading with the hope I lessen my pile of unread books, to-read titles, and classics collecting dust. I could be overreacting being only the second month and I’m seeing an overwhelming number of goals that seemed to fit together when I first made my list. Worst happens I don’t read 12 classics or reach my 50 books goal. I’ll know to lessen the reading goals next year. Maybe.

Classic Number One

The first classic I picked up for the 2015 Classic Challenge was picked with another classic in mind. I read The Time Machine in sixth grade and was thinking how I enjoyed it but how little I remembered of the classic. I decided it would be better to read something I hadn’t read before so instead of a repeat in the classic category I would stay with the author. The War of the World by H.G. Wells is a classic that has created a rememberable radio show and epic movies but as any creative work they are nothing like the book.

I was surprise when I learned this novel is a sharp satire about British Imperialism. There is a comparison Wells makes about not judging the Martians to harshly and remember how ruthless our own species have been. He mentions, “The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants.” It is a theme that never goes away. It will always remain a classic. It is surprising that a novel label Science fiction a hundred years ago now reads stockily realistic. Much of the Martian’s science, Heat Rays and Gas, that destroys Victoria England seem very real reading today.

If you decide to pick up this classic don’t expect an action sequence every few pages. Action is few and far between the narrator questioning the human race and the self.

2015 Classics Challenge

I had thought I would read a classic a month last year but I didn’t succeed only reading one classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, before you think I haven’t read classics in the past, you can check my Goodreads account and see my classics read shelf. Also, if you click on the link, don’t get mad. I have stretched the meaning of classic a bit. I don’t know if I will be able to write reviews but thanks to ThePrettyBooks tips on WordPress I may use the 5 “Ws” suggestion to help.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
WHAT Makes It A Classic
WHY I Chose to Read It
WILL It Stay A Classic
WHO I’d Recommend It 

My bookshelf holds a few classics I haven’t read. Plus, let’s not talk about the free e-book copies available now that I have downloaded. So, I am almost angry at myself as I write this, I would love some suggestions on a good edition of Anne Frank’s Diary. Yes, I never read it. Yes, I read many classics in school but I was not in the class that read this one. No worries, I will read it this year. I was going to pick the red cover Mass-Market edition until I find there are three editions available for purchase at my job. I would post links here but there are so many versions when I search. I want an edition which is up-to date, unabridged, and has a good translation. If anyone can give me suggestions on which one I should buy to read I would be grateful.

I hope I can write since I am taking on many reading challenges this year. I have sign up for the 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge with a 50 book pledge. I don’t know if I’ll complete the challenge since I average 39 books a year but here goes a new year with maybe too many goals.

Bookshelf Decisions

I’m trying to keep the spending down. For me this isn’t hard when it comes to things like cloths or extracurricular activities but books, they are my spending weakness. I’ve been doing well lately. I have mostly borrowed from the library and friends. There hasn’t been too many books I’ve come across I feel I need to own. I’ve been pretty happy reading them and giving them back. I’m very proud when I’m able to put down the books I find in book stores and simply check it out of the library. It has saved space on my bookshelves already overflowing with read and to-read copies of dozens of books. I now have a set of books I feel I need to own and in hardcover no less. 

The book series is The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I love the story, the characters, the settings, and the cover art. I’ve tried to win them in Goodreads giveaways but I’ve had no luck. The good news, the hardcover is still available for the first book in the series. Since this thought has been on my mind since the release of the third novel in the series I decided to look up the damage this purchase would cost my wallet and the outlook is not good. I understand what I wanted but it still hurts when you see the $56 dollar price tag. But that total was all the individual books added to the cart. Next, I looked up to see if they have a box set. It looks like the box set is not out yet and not planned to be released until late October but with a $52 tag. I think I will wait and keep an eye on the price of the box set to see if it decreases before October. Maybe by October my wallet will be a bit better, the set will be somewhat cheaper and I can justify a great series on my bookshelf. If you haven’t read The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series my short review is below of why I think it’s worth the read.

Daughteros SmokeAnd Bone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone Box Set

I came across this book because of Vaginal Fantasy, a book club introducing me to romance genre books with strong female leads in the urban fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction. The first book is called The Daughter of Smoke and Bone and as I said above it is by Laini Taylor. This story is about Karou, a blue haired, tattooed, knows multiple of languages, art student, and orphan living in Prague. To her sassy, sarcastic, lovable best friend, Zusana, Karou is a girl who draws amazing monsters in a sketch book. What Zusana doesn’t know is Karou’s demons are real and the only family she has known. Karou is just trying to get over her crummy ex-boyfriend and do her job, collect teeth for her beast like foster father Brimstone. As Black Hand prints start showing up on Brimstone’s portal doors in cities around the world what comes to past is a history with no good or evil but a muddled gray of sides.

This book is labeled young adult but I believe it can appeal to an adult audience. The author has an impeccable writing style. The world building and setting is clear, imaginative, and beautiful. The characters are unique. I liked Karou, Brimstone, and the shop full of teeth. You know that Karou’s job to collect teeth is serious business when it is on the black market in exchange for wishes. Taylor doesn’t disappoint when the reader learns what the teeth are being used for. The romance that develops in the second half of the narrative slows down the book a bit but the mystery of the characters and their pass is what kept me reading. When the story ended I was left with more questions and looking forward to the sequel.

Favorite Quote:

“You were true to her, even if she was not to you. Never repent of your own goodness, child. To stay true in the face of evil is a feat of great strength.”
“Strength,” she said with a little laugh. “I  gave her strength, and look what she did with it.”

I want to thank Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, Kiala Kazebee and Bonnie Burton (the girls from Vaginal Fantasy) for opening my mind to wonderful books I would have missed out on like this one. I’ll write a review for the second book in the series, Day of Blood & Starlight next week. Maybe this will help me make some bookshelf decisions by then. 

Covers
All Three Books In The Series (Love Cover Art)

New Year Reading Resolutions

I don’t believe in New Year Resolutions. Resolutions have a tendency to not get done when made in the beginning of a new year. Either we give up or make them too big and overwhelming. If you are planning to do something you could do at anytime during the year then you don’t need a new year to prove or change anything. My only New Year Resolution this year are writing, travel, and to complete the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge. While I don’t have to worry about my writing or travel future (Montreal. YAY!), I do have to come to terms with my reading goal being less than last year. I have to keep reminding myself that I plan to read thicker books in 2014. I shocked myself with my completed books of 2013. My goal was forty five and I read forty six books! For me that’s a lot when I consider myself a slow reader. I had increased the number mid-year and in December I didn’t think I would finish but I did.

Maybe it’s cheating but I like starting low with the option to increase. A few books on my to-read list this year are A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I don’t know if I really want to ask this next question for fear of adding more books to my already too big to-read list but what do you hope to read in 2014? Do you have a reading number goal?

Image
Tea and Books.
Some books I read in 2013.

Goodreads Interaction

I was shocked today when an author I don’t personally know noticed me.

I have heard friends tell me they have had interactions with authors after they reviewed a book on Goodreads that they read. Most friends I follow on only rate the books. But some write proper reviews with summary, pros and cons. Those are the ones that have been contacted by authors. I have written full book reviews when I worked for The Celebrity Cafe but I became lazy with Goodreads. The book site has become a place for me to discuss, research, and keep track of the books I read without worry of a grade, credit, or paycheck. As a result, when I finish a book, I only write what I liked and what I disliked and why.

I recently read the “Ghost Planet” by Sharon Lynn Fisher for a book club I joined called Vaginal Fantasy Hangout with Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, Kiala Kazebee and Bonnie Burton. (Each month I watch, with many others, these awesome ladies get together and discuss the month’s books in a Google Hangout.) The book was a pleasant surprised. After I finished I wrote my tiny little blurb. The next time I signed on I had a notification that Sharon “liked” my review. Not realizing whom Sharon was I clicked on the name and was brought to the author’s page. From her page I see this author is very involved with her work. Nevertheless I was still astonished.

Can you believe that?