Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#AMonthofFaves / Top Ten Tuesday: Resolved

It's that time of year, time for thinking about next year's reading.  That's right, it's time for bookish (and bloggish!) goals for the new year.  This year's goals are brought to you by (and also informed by) A Month of Favorites and linked up with Top Ten Tuesday

1. Read more books in translation - This one I'm choosing to blame on Bellezza and how she's always tantalizing me with her posts about reading excellent books in translation.  I don't read very many but I know that I like them and have a bunch on my shelves.

2. Read more non-fiction - I've also got a ton of quality non-fiction on my shelves that I'd love to get to, but non-fiction books, like chunksters, are books that I've allowed myself to become afraid of in my book bloggerly life.  Non-fiction can often take me extra time, and I've become afraid of taking extra time on anything since I've been blogging and measuring myself against an impossible standard of quantity of reading that so many of you are capable of and I am not.  I want to become more well-read in history, in memoirs, in science and religion and current events, but that'll never happen if I don't kick my fear of investing some extra time in books that are worth it.

3. Keep reading those chunksters - This was the year that I started letting go of enough of my blogging neuroses and chunksters started to make it back onto the reading menu.  I love them, and I missed them, and I definitely don't want to miss the opportunity to read some more this year.

4. Be ruthless with my DNFing  - I was pretty ruthless this year, casting aside books within the first 50 pages if they weren't grabbing me or even later if I found myself not caring much either way about the outcome.  As the absurd amount of books in my house grows even more absurd, there is less and less time to be forgiving of books that aren't worth my time.

5. Care about quality, not quantity.  - Kind of all of the first four resolutions culminate in this one.  I want to get away from having goals about reading a specific number of books and measuring myself against other readers and start just reading and enjoying really good books at my own pace.

6. Put down the iPhone  - Do you know how much reading time this thing is stealing from me?  I need to dedicate myself to putting some space between me and Facebook, Instagram, and stupid games and put much of that extra time into reading the really good books.

7. Keep up with reviews  - There is an embarrassing amount of books stacked on my desk that I have read and enjoyed long ago and yet failed to share with you all in any meaningful way.  It makes me crazy.  In 2015, I have to keep up with my books read instead of allowing them to overshadow my computer with their stack of guilt. 

8. Read the Bible - All of it.  This one shows up on my list pretty often. I've read a lot of the Bible, but still not all of it.  One of these years will for sure be the year that I actually read the whole Bible, in one year.  Talk about chunksters, right? ;-)

9. Up my commenting game - There are days when I really try to respond back to all the comments you guys so generously leave me, and others where I at least try to visit you back when you've visited me, but all too often I fail at this whole commenting thing.  I appreciate them so much, I want to give more to all of you, but I'm going to have to be a bit more purposeful and committed to achieve this one.

10.  Stop buying so many books - Oh, you guys.  I am the worst about the book buying, the worst.  I read a stunningly few ebooks every year, but I buy them cheap with the reckless abandon that signifies a true addict.  Okay, okay.  I do the same thing with paper books, too.  I have very loose plans to move in 2015, and packing up these books to go is going to be a maddening, back-breaking task.  Also, they've escaped the "library" and are setting about overtaking my bedroom.  Soon I will have to remove the bed and sleep on a pallet composed entirely of books.  So yes, the book buying.  It's gotta stop or at least slow significantly.

What are you resolving to do in your bookish life in 2015?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Race Across the Sky by Derek Sherman

Race Across the Sky is the story of two brothers.  The elder, Caleb, was once a well-off successful consultant in New York City who abandoned his life to join a mountain commune dedicated to ultramarathoning.  The younger, Shane, is changing careers from pharmaceutical salesman to biotech salesman as he and his wife are expecting their first child.  Caleb has found solace in severing all ties with the outside world, including his family, to live a regimented life of running with the commune under the leadership of the radical Mack, that is, until a young mother shows up seeking healing for her sick child.  Caleb does the forbidden and falls in love with June, and soon his carefully structured life is crumbling beneath his new love.  When he asks Shane for help finding a cure for June's terminally ill baby, Lily, both brothers embark upon a dangerous journey upon which hinges life and death.  

I had mixed feelings about Race Across the Sky.  On the one hand, Sherman has crafted what I found to be a startlingly unique book delving into two subjects that interest me greatly that haven't turned up in much fiction that I've read.  Sherman's glimpse into the world of ultramarathon running is fascinating.  I've always wondered what makes a runner want to participate in such a punishing sport, and Caleb's life offers an interesting perspective on that and what happens when it's taken to far by Mack and becomes downright cultish.  At the same time, Sherman tackles the field of genetic research, revealing a world where there are diseases that can be cured but never will be according to the laws of capitalism.  Shane's storyline might occasionally wander into the far-fetched, but the exploration and explanation of the biotechnology industry is extremely enlightening.

Debut novelist Sherman does an enviable job of juggling his two unique topics without shorting his characters and without resorting to unrealistic information dumps.  Caleb is a fascinating character, driven to find a life that means something in the wake of 9/11.  Shane is a sympathetic new dad who would do anything to win back the brother he has always idolized.  The only place that Sherman failed, which unfortunately proves to be too memorable in book that is otherwise likeable, is in the quiet moments with his newborn when Sherman attempts to capture the universality of feeling that prompts Shane to risk his career, reputation, and possibly his freedom to help a stranger's baby.  Sherman doesn't quite hit his mark with this crucial point, and it leaves a lot of Shane's story to feel, at best, foolish, and at worst, completely ungenuine.  Despite this failing, Race Against the Sky is a unique, well-paced, and interesting first novel from Derek Sherman, and I'll be looking forward to what he comes up with next.

(I received this book from the publisher via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#AMonthofFaves / Top Ten Tuesday: Best of the Year

The day has finally come!  It's time for my top ten favorite books of the year in conjunction with #AMonthofFaves and Top Ten Tuesday.  I don't really like doing this before the end of the year proper, but my current read is definitely not in danger of unseating any of these, so I think I might be clear to divulge my top ten even before the year is fully over. Drumroll, please!

1. One Hundred and Four Horses by Mandy Retzlaff - This year's reading started off truly dreadfully.  I DNFed two books before I even made it halfway through January.  Just when I was starting to get really bummed out that my reading year was starting off as such a bust, Mandy Retzlaff rescued it with her memoir about saving the horses left behind in a hostile Zimbabwe by their white owners who were being forced off the land by Mugabe.  Retzlaff's writing reminded me of getting letters from an old friend, and her story would definitely appeal to any animal lover.

2. Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen - Kagen's novel has a really great precocious narrator, Sally O'Malley, who lightens up what is really a pretty dark story of a murderer/molester on the loose during a summer when Sally's mother is in the hospital, apparently near death.  Kagen's great narrator and her perfect descriptions of the essence of childhood summers, not to mention her great picture of the bond between Sally and her sister Troo almost make you forget how dark the story is without compromising the tension leading up to the final climax.

3. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis - Okay, so, my mom sells used books through Amazon, and when I spotted this one in one of her piles to go out, I couldn't help sneaking it away for a few minutes to read it, kind of as a cheater book to kick off my Bout of Books with an early success.  Sis's graphic memoir of his growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War really got me.  It's got great art that really shows the transformation of a kid and a country reawakening after being squelched beneath Soviet communist rule.  I was totally captured by how Sis reveals the resurgence of the human spirit that longs for freedom and color and creativity.

4. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi - This is the first book I read this year that I knew would go on my end of year best list.  I loved this story of two courageous Afghani women separated by decades who refused to let fate and destiny and men determine the outcomes of their lives.

5. Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert - Here's to William Morrow for delivering some great debuts from new authors this year.  Hashimi's book is one, and Last Night at the Blue Angel is another.  This story of an old school night club singer in Chicago, her daughter, and the man who is in love with her totally broke my heart (in a good way?).  It shifts points of view between the steadfast daughter and the mercurial mother and what emerges is a story of a misunderstood woman on the cusp of fame and a daughter desperate for love that she can count on.  A little sad and a lot powerful, this is a captivating debut.

6. Divergent by Veronica Roth - I finally read this book after hearing all the hype and seeing the movie version, and I loved it.  Roth's strictly delineated dystopian world of factions is well-built, and Tris is a powerfully sympathetic character, and Four is tinged with just the right amount of mystery.  Divergent was everything I expected.  Too bad the rest of the series flagged and didn't quite live up the standard set out by the first book.

7. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller - This is another book that I saw a bunch of YA book bloggers raving about that absolutely lived up to the hype.  Travis is a young marine who has returned home from a tour in Afghanistan.  His struggle to fit back into his old life with struggling with PTSD and his slow budding romance with a girl he wronged in the past are pitch perfect.  Loved.

8. The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood - This is the second book by Marwood I read this year, and I think I really like her style.  Her books are ostensibly thrillers/crime fiction, but Marwood digs a little deeper and provides some really penetrating character studies, too.  People looking for fast-paced semi-brainless page-turners will probably find themselves disappointed, but if you like good character-driven stories with a touch of suspense and mystery, check out Marwood's books.  Excellent for fans of Tana French's books, I'd think, and fans of Criminal Minds on TV.

9. Gonzales and Daughter Trucking Co. by Maria Amparo Escandon - This is a different sort of book, kind of a mix of Orange is the New Black and a quirky modern fairytale.  Libertad grew up living the life of a long haul trucker with her father who is perpetually fleeing the dangers of a (probably) forgotten crime from his past.  Libertad longs for a home that's not on wheels and freedom from her overprotective father and, well, freedom itselfHer story is delivered from the Mexican prison where she is incarcerated with a pack of weirdly lovable inmates and a corrupt, if unexpectedly decent, warden.

10. The Mapmaker's War by Ronlyn Domingue - I should have read this book a while ago, and I'm glad I finally did.  It's been forever since I've read anything that could be considered fantasy in its purest sense, and I'd missed it.  This entire book is told in the second person by a woman exiled from her kingdom for treason who finds refuge among a mysterious (and pretty awesome!) people.  This is a unique (Did I mention that it's written in the second person?  And how that's so cool?) and powerful story with a decidedly feminist bent that I adored. 


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reviewlettes - The Great, the Good, and the Meh

You guys, it's already mid-December.  Can you believe it?  This year has flown by ridiculously quickly.  As ever, I'm facing the end of the year with a stack of unreviewed books cluttering up my desk.  In the interests of getting through them a little quicker, it's time for some reviewlettes.  Now, let's see if I can actually keep them short. 

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo - Li Lan comes from a family that used to be wealthy but has crumbled in the aftermath of her mother's death.  When finances get tight, her father brings up the possibility of her becoming a ghost bride for a wealthy family who has recently lost a son.  Being a ghost bride would ensure a life of luxury for Li Lan in the Lim mansion, but spending her life married to and placating a haunting ghost of the family's spoiled son is not what Li Lan hopes for her future.  When Li Lan herself comes too close to death for comfort, what ensues is a tale populated with conniving vengeful ghosts, shadow worlds that imperfectly mirror reality, and a mysterious figure who could be the only one who can help Li Lan's spirit return to her body before its too late.  Choo's book offers a compellingly drawn window into Chinese culture and views of the afterlife.  It smacks of a modern day folk tale.  There are parts of the story that really shine, but I also found it overlong and draggy in places.  In fact, it took more than half of the book for me to become truly invested in Li Lan's story and wandered dangerously close to my "did not finish" book pile before sucking me back into Li Lan's vaguely terrifying sojourn through the Plains of the Dead.  Not a bad book, just requires a little extra patience. 

The Cider House Rules by John Irving - This year will go down in history as the year that I finally read a book by John Irving, despite having had a number of his titles on my shelves for a good many years.  The Cider House Rules is the tale of Dr. Wilbur Larch, his orphanage that also serves as an underground abortion clinic, and Homer Wells, the orphan that failed to find a home.  I loved Dr. Larch's character, equally committed to housing and finding good homes for orphans as he is to offering mothers a safe place to go for the less legal alternative.  He's a little rough around the edges but with a heart of gold.  The orphanage at St. Cloud's is populated by a totally rich cast of characters from the nurses that assist the doctor to the orphans themselves to (Spoiler alert?) the couple that comes seeking an abortion that is the family that will finally "adopt" Homer (Questionable spoilers averted!).  This book, to me, read a little like Dickens, with numerous well-drawn characters fanning out in all directions.  As in my experience with Dickens, The Cider House Rules gets a little slow in the middle while Irving is lining up his characters just right for the final denouement, but as with Dickens, the payoff is perfectly executed and beautifully satisfying.  I'm looking forward to reading more of Irving's work in the years to come.

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe - I feel dreadful about this one, just dreadful.  Almost a year ago now (!!) it was like incredible historical fiction reading month for yours truly.  I Shall Be Near to You was one of the highlights.  It's the story of a girl who joins up with the Union Army during the American Civil War to stay with her husband, disputing the "fact" that her place is at home waiting for news, believing that her true place is at her husband's side even if that might put her in mortal danger.   McCabe brings the Civil War to life in all its confusion and horror.  Rosetta is a great character, determined, strong, and sympathetic; and she's as good a soldier as any.  Ironically, during her time posing as a man, her character makes an impressive transformation from an impulsive girl to a strong, thoughtful woman.  This is a great book that had me just about in tears while reading it in public.  Even though my review is pathetically belated, I highly recommend this book which was one of my favorites from last year.

(Disclaimer:  I received The Ghost Bride from the publisher for review consideration, won a free galley of I Shall Be Near To You from the publisher, and The Cider House Rules is mine all mine.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Five (or so) Fave Movies of the Year (So Far)

Today, for A Month of Favorites we get to journey outside the bookish and share some other faves from this year.  My mom and I go to see tons of movies, and there were more than a few excellent movies to be seen this year, a lot of them based on similarly good books.  Here are the great movies that distracted me from my reading this year...

This Is Where I Leave You - I missed the boat on reading this book before it, but I loved the movie.  I love movies that can make you laugh and cry literally at the same time, and this movie about a dysfunctional family sitting Shiva for their father totally did it.  It was serious at times and sad at times and funny at times and sometimes sad and funny at the same time, and, in my humble opinion, it was brilliantly cast.

St. Vincent - I saw the preview for this one a couple times and almost let it pass me by because of the perpetual worry about comedies airing all their funniest moments in the preview and then having nothing to offer once you've ponied up your hard earned dough at the movie theater.  Not so here.  Weirdly, Melissa McCarthy's not the comic relief.  The kid that plays her son and Bill Murray, as the world's unlikeliest babysitter, definitely are, but here's another movie that's masquerading as a comedy but is actually touching enough that you'll be wiping your eyes by the time the credits are rolling.  I'm not going to spoil it because you should see it.

Fury - There are some movies you go into expecting to like.  There are other movies you end up going to instead of Gone Girl because your dad never wants to go to the movies but finally figures out one he wants to see.  Lots of World War II movies don't quite capture the full horror of war, this movie seemed to get that Germany by the end of World War II was a pretty dreadful place to be, especially in tank, and showed it.  It's definitely a testosterone movie of a sort, but with a bunch of A-list actors putting in time in a World War II tank, the ante is definitely upped.  I didn't expect to like it, but ended up thinking about it long after it was over.

Jersey Boys - There are other movies that you see because you meant to see The Fault in Our Stars but end up being too disgustingly late for the show because you were, uh, buying books at a giant yard sale next door.  This is that movie.  If you're behind the curve, it's the movie version of the musical version of the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  I seriously had to stop myself clapping after these guys finished their songs on screen.  Loved.  Loved much more than The Fault in Our Stars (the movie, not the book). 

The Giver - Hey, I did read this book before I saw the movie.  A looooong time before I saw the movie.  I hear the movie's nothing like the book, but that didn't bother me so much because I read the book when I was, like, 12, and I am nowhere near twelve anymore.  I loved the story of humans learning to feel again, even if feelings make for an "imperfect" society.  It translated to the screen very nicely in the opinion who read the book more than 15 years ago.  ;-)

I may have mentioned that I saw a crap ton of movies this year, so here's 5 more good ones for luck...

Gone Girl - Here's another book I totally failed to read before seeing the movie.  Ben Affleck was good, even though I've never really liked him all that much, but Rosamund Pike, could she have been any more perfectly freaking creepy?

Interstellar - Downgraded to runner up for making my brain hurt with all this talk of complex physics concepts.  I mean, ouch, my brain.  Other than that, this was yet another high quality mind*bleep* from Christopher Nolan, bringer of films such as Inception and Memento, wherein you don't quite know what is happening or how it's happening, but you find in the days following the viewing you can't stop thinking about it and being impressed that somebody could make so many different plot strands and difficult concepts work together to make a movie people still want to see.

Divergent - Er, I finally read the book right after seeing the movie.  Another book fail.  But it says something that I enjoyed the movie depiction of dystopian Chicago enough to finally plunge into this series.  Loved Shailene Woodley and Theo James cast as the main characters. 

The Lego Movie - A token animated contender.  I love cartoon movies that throw in some humor for the grown-ups.  Also, who spent most of the late winter with the "Everything Is Awesome" song stuck in their head?  Who has it back in their head now?  You're welcome.

Mockingjay (Part 1) - Loses because the first part is the draggy part of Mockingjay anyway, and then they stretched it out to feature film length.  Still has that Hunger Games awesome though, and I can't wait to see the conclusion!

Frighteningly, there are still plenty of contenders to kick these ten off their pedestals.  I mean - Unbroken, The Hobbit, and Into the Woods are ending the year with a bang and definitely stand a chance to unseat some of the top five ten.

What's the best movie you saw this year?

Check out Estella's Revenge for more miscellaneous favorites today! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#AMonthofFaves : Year in Books Timeline

And I'm back with #AMonthofFaves stuff today.  Bookish timelines are the order of the day today, so here's a brief look at my year in books...

January - Started the year with not a bang, DNFing two historical fiction titles that definitely didn't live up to their 2013 predecessors. While I'm failing to actually read any books, I become the unwitting poster child for the Friends of the Library book sale when a picture of me appears in the local newspaper clutching a stack of my new (used) acquisitions. I am the picture of bookish irony.  Literally.

February - The month when I was ready for summer to come. I blame Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen and her very convincing Milwaukee summer.

Is it summer yet?

March - Doesn't look like the month I read the least, but probably is. I turned 30 and changed jobs. I was busy eating a cake every week and discovering that lunch break reading was a thing in my past, leaving little time for the mediocre reading that marked this month.

April - My book group ruined Ender's Game (which I finally read!) for me with, like, all their intelligent ethical qualms about Ender's character. D'oh.

May - This is the month I remember that I have a blog and start posting on it which some regularity again. I attempted my first Bout of Books leading to an excellent five book month.

Blogging, I does it.

June - It takes until June for me to read a book I know will end up on my top ten for the year. I think I'll keep the title under wraps until next week, though. ;-)

July - My records say I only read one book. My brain knows I was digging my way through John Irving's substantially long and dense The Cider House Rules (which I finally read!).

August - Bout of Books take two on the year results in an even bigger reading month than May. I finally start reading the Divergent series after years of meaning to.

September - I read the best YA book I read this year. Nope, not telling til next week.

 Nope, really not telling. Yet.

October - Marks something else I never do - read a second book by an author I'd read earlier in the year that's not part of series. Maybe I'll eventually even get around to reviewing it.

November - Is when I start reading Christmas books, for once achieving the aim of actually reading Christmas books during the holiday season.

December - I trade reading a lot for blogging way more dependably than usual. I imagine I can do it all and still finish a few more books this month even while writing 70% more posts than usual (and forget all that extra commenting!).  Endeavor seems destined for failure on one front or another...  To be determined.

I love you, you little thief of reading time.

What's a notable event in your year in books?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo

Three Story House is the story of three cousins who are closer than sisters. Each is stumbling through her own life on her way to an uncertain destination. First, there is Lizzie, professional soccer player and would-be Olympian, but another knee injury has threatened to sideline her for good. Then there is Elyse, whose bold aspirations accumulate a mountain of failures. Lastly, there is Isobel, a has-been sitcom actress whose true self, if she could find it, might be wrapped up in restoring houses. When Lizzie discovers that her grandmother's oddly shaped Memphis mansion has been condemned and is in danger of being sold at auction, the three cousins drop everything and head to Memphis to see if the house can be rescued and whether it holds the answers to all of Lizzie's questions about her missing father.

All in all, I was disappointed with Three Story House. I loved the idea of the three women finding healing for themselves while restoring a house to its former glory, but the execution was a little bumpy. Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Santo's writing. It flows well, does a good job of describing the house the three cousins are trying to save, and Santo puts a good effort into drawing out her three protagonists. The problem is, I didn't particularly like them or dislike them or feel much of anything for them at all. They wavered between seeming less than genuine and making me feel weirdly uncomfortable, neither of which is great when it comes to relating to characters. Lizzie was almost too vulnerable, crumbling at the least provocation. Too much of the cousins' bond seems to revolve around protecting overly fragile Lizzie from the difficult stuff life has to dish out. The heart of Elyse's storyline was so desperate and selfish that I was mostly embarrassed for her. Isobel alternates between being the strong and supportive ring leader to being staggeringly self-centered, and I felt that Santo struggled to get at the heart of her character.

I'm okay with an ending that leaves some matters unresolved, but Three Story House seemed like it wanted to tie everything up, but finished with a lot of ends that were still pretty loose. Instead of giving Elyse and Isobel proper endings for their story lines, Santo allows the end of the story to meander back to tying up Lizzie's loose ends leaving the other cousins' stories to peter out unsatisfactorily. Three Story House touches on some big themes but doesn't dig quite deep enough to fully unearth them, leaving the book marooned in the uncertain territory between fluffy women's fiction and something a little more profound.

(I received this book from the publisher for review consideration.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Month of Faves: Books with Kick-@$$ Girls

A Month of Favorites continues today with five favorites in our choice of a theme.  I wasn't going to do this one, actually, because I didn't think my reading really fit any certain themes this year, but then I spied on the list of examples, "Books with Kick-ass Girls."  As it so happens, I've read oodles of books with strong female characters this years, so many that they easily surpass the five called for in the post prompt.  So here are 5 books with female characters that prove that they can be vulnerable and afraid but not overcome, in fact, they are the stronger for conquering their fears in their own unique ways.

Divergent by Veronica Roth - Here's an obvious one. Yes, I finally read the Divergent trilogy this year. I realize I'm behind the curve, but Tris is pretty fierce, no?

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi - Hashimi's story of two girls in Afghanistan who triumph in a culture that threatens to rob them of control over their own lives and destinies was one of the highlights of my year.

Say What you Will by Cammie McGovern - Despite the hype, this book wasn't one of my favorites this year, but it definitely has one tough girl. Amy has cerebral palsy, computer to talk, and can't eat without difficulty, but she refuses to let her disability define her or stand in the way of her dreams.

Beauty by Frederick Dillen - Carol grew up on the mean streets of Detroit, holding her own among all the boys on her block. She grew up to shut down failing factories for a living, but where she really proves her strength is in saving a factory and its town and herself in the process.

The Mapmaker's War by Ronlyn Domingue - Aoife is a girl who never accepted the place that was set out for her. Rather, she becomes her kingdom's mapmaker, discovers a new settlement, and risks her life to warn them of danger from her own kingdom. Facing exile, she finds the courage to start over and raise a daughter who is even more kick-ass than she is.

Who's the strongest female character you read about this year?

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Month of Favorites: Introduction

Happy December, everyone!  You may recognize this month as being the (or, um, another) month in which I unintentionally let my blog go dark while being swept away by either the busy-ness or the lethargy of life.  This year, with the help of a few clever bloggers and one fun December event, I'm hoping to reverse the December curse.  This December the lovely ladies at Estella's Revenge, Girlxoxo, and Traveling with T have brought us a fun December event all about sharing our favorite things from this year, bookish and otherwise.  In between my blundering through my back log of reviews before the first of the year, playing along with The Month of Favorites seems like a fun and easy way to up my blogging this December.  Check out the link if you want to see all the post topics and join the fun!

Today, we're introducing ourselves and sharing a little about our reading this year.  I'm Megan, and I've been blogging here at Leafing Through Life for 7 years now.  Yes, this is the year that my blog hit it's lucky seventh birthday, and I can't believe I'm still at it.  If you're new here, you haven't heard me go on and on about what a slow reader I am.  I'm definitely not working with a high quantity of books read for the year, but it's still been a banner year for reading in other ways.  Here's how...

  • This is the year that I finally started getting over my fear of chunksters.  I was never afraid of a book 500+ pages long before I started blogging, but being a slow reader and a blogger mix poorly with the reading of chunksters.  This year I stopped putting pressure on myself to finish more books and started just reading.  It's paid off wonderfully, considering I've read the same amount of books as last year at this time, but way more pages.  Good chunksters aren't scary - they're awesome!
  • This is also the year that I really started to embrace not finishing books.  I've never been the sort to force myself to finish books I'm not enjoying, but this year, I think I've done a particularly good job of recognizing when it was time to call it quits on a book that just wasn't doing it for me.  Life's too short for mediocrity, right?
  • Finally, this is the year of the Readathon.  I've always been a big fan of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, but I've never sampled any of the other readathons cropping up around the book blogosphere.  This year I did the Bout of Books twice and loved having a low pressure readathon that went on for a week and helped me refocus on reading instead of life's many distractions while staying plugged into the book blogging community.  
Does your inner stat hound care about my stats?  Mine kind of does, but only in the loosest kind of way.  So breaking it down in a nutshell, my reading has been...

1/5 chunksters, about half review copies and half from own collection (this is very excellent!), definitely skewed toward female authors (think 60/40ish), predominantly composed of new to me authors, almost all paper books rather than ebooks (sorry, Kindle), mostly fiction (1 non-fiction book for every 7 fiction books, yikes!), and had a generous sprinkling of YA among the "grown-up" books (a welcome departure from my YA lacking recent past).

So, yeah, it's been a nice year, a different sort of year for reading and blogging.  Low pressure, higher page counts, and more fun in general.   I'm going to wrap this up for now, but I'm looking forward to sharing some of this year's favorites as the month marches on, and I'll hope you'll join the fun!

What's something unique about your year in reading?