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text 2017-12-23 09:22
2017: My Reading Year in Review

I’ve been reading a ton of fiction in 2017, which has been so good for the soul and also gave me the little kick I needed to start writing some fiction of my own once again. 2017 neatly encapsulates why I believe we need critics. And never more so than now when any Indie Author can epublish any old book he or she's written. Paradoxically, given all the web-shouting about evil traditional publishers who wilfully smother the voices of debut authors, self-publishing has made good new authors harder to find. The wheat:chaff ratio is now fantastically asymmetric. I've read enough to already have a to-be-read list that I will never get through in my lifetime. I have neither the time nor a pair of rubber gloves strong enough to sift through the all the world's self-epublished rubbish to find a pearl that fell into the bin. So if I am to hear about fine debut voices and books, I need well-read critics (praise be some of my fellow Booklikes critics) to do some work for me.


If you're into this sort of thing, read on.

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text 2014-12-31 20:00
2014 Edition - A Year of Reading in Review - In Review

Now that I’ve done a pretty thorough job of looking back, it’s time to take that and look ahead to the future. What does 2015 have in store for me? What do I want to do with my reading life?


One thing is certain: comic books and graphic novels are definitely becoming more prominent in my life. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re fast and I have less time to read or if I’ve finally hit upon the authors I like – or both. I foresee that 2015 will see me reading more graphic novels and comics, probably even further refining my tastes. 2014 was a year of comic and graphic novel exploration; 2015 will be solidifying those bonds.


I do have some carry over goals from last year, as well. I want to continue to read through my Book Club books, as much as possible (which reminds me – I need to get started on The Magicians STAT!). However, if I can’t get a copy or don’t want to read it, I’ll deploy the DNF or just skip. There is no shame in doing that. I also plan on finishing off all those questionable YA books I bought in earlier years – namely the ones from yesterday’s list – and my Amazon Vine ARCs. And of course, I’ve signed up for the 2015 Mount TBR Challenge once again. I don’t think I’ll try for any more than 12 books from my TBR, but maybe I’ll be able to manage more.


I will continue to DNF as liberally as I need. I also will continue to limit physical book spending and focus more on buying books in ebook format – or rebuying in ebook and selling/donating my old books.


A lot of the same goals, but with a twist. Some new goals: a friend is reading all the Star Wars Legends books (I hate how “The EU Canon” is now “Star Wars Legends” – Screw you, Disney!), from A to Z (actually, in chronological order); I won’t be doing that, but I WILL be reading all the Legends books that I didn’t read and rereading some treasures (Outbound Flight, Heir to the Empire, you know the drill). “Into the Void” is the one I’m currently working on. These are the only books that I will NOT DNF, as I’ve prided myself on reading every single Star Wars book, beginning to end.


I also want to read “The Astronaut’s Wives’ Club” and Malala’s book. Those are the two books that don’t really fit into any of the other goals quite well.


Modest goals. I’m a little sad I couldn’t add a bunch of new exciting ones to the mix, but the fact is, I want to keep it manageable. Read through my already owned books? Easy and cheap. Finally weed through those YA I bought? That’s been bugging me forever!


But the biggest goal: to read what I enjoy. No more pushing myself through crap I am not enjoying. Books are to be loved; if I am not loving it, it goes. (To those who are astonished that I don’t like something: I’m sorry if you loved it, but each person is different and I’m entitled not to like something just as much as you are entitled to like it!) My reading time is precious and sacred, and I have no time to spare on shit books.


And really, what better goal is there than that?


I hope 2014 treated you well, but I hope 2015 treats you better!

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text 2014-12-30 20:00
2014 Edition - A Year of Reading in Review - Books I Wanted to Read

Last but not least, there were books that I had hopes to finish this year but haven’t gotten around to. They will be at the top of next year’s list though!


Last of the Jedi 7 – 10 – I’m a Star Wars fan, even of the kids’ books, especially those by Jude Watson. I started this line some time back, and I’d like to finish it off before I sell the books. Because with the new movies and reset canon and because these books are nowhere near as good as Watson’s Jedi Apprentice series, I figure, make room for the books I love and will reread.


The Last Empress – My dear friend and reading partner gave this to me, and I tried so hard to fit it in my reading schedule, but alas, it never happened!


Young Adult Urban Fantasy (Crusade, Iron King, Delirium, Everneath, Under the Never Sky, Across the Universe 2 – 3, Stormdancer, Anna and the French Kiss) – I made great strides in clearing out the YA UF, and this is one of the last pushes before all those books have been cycled through.


Unveiled – This one is an ARC I got eons ago – DEFINITELY want to finish this guy! Again, it was just one of those books that never found its way to my reading stack.


Scoundrels – Similar to above, with the addendum that I love Timothy Zahn, and really want to read more Zahn in the future! I can’t believe that I still haven’t read this one!

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text 2014-12-29 20:00
2014 Edition - A Year of Reading in Review - Not All Glitters

And then, there are those books where you are SO SURE you’re gonna LOVE it, but as you’re reading, you realize more and more that nope, it’s not gonna happen. This section is dedicated to those books I was really optimistic about but fell flat.


Mars – I think what made this book so disappointing was how much I truly loved Mars, how I desperately wanted to go as a child, and how the book was just so meh. So much silly character drama, with boring, awful characters. The exploration of Mars didn’t disappoint, but with racist jokes like “Red Man on the Red Planet”, it was hard to appreciate the good.


The Walking Dead – Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, gushes about The Walking Dead. And while yes, it’s cool to watch these people shamble along like morons, basically this is your average soap opera with zombies. It doesn’t help that Rick “Marty Stu” Grimes dominates the whole thing with his imagined awesomeness.


The Mermaid’s Madness – Jim C. Hines seems like an AWESOME GUY! I wanted to LOVE his books to death, to hold and snuggle them to my chest! Unfortunately, the book just didn’t make me want to read it. SO MUCH SADNESS.


Jesus Feminist – I really don’t like fluffy emotional stuff most of the time, and that’s what this book was. A bunch of “Chicken Soup for the Christian Feminist Soul”. Nice for that niche, but not for me.


Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Here’s another one I was really excited for! I’ve lived under a rock for most of my life, so I was itching to read something different, to get a flashback at the 80’s and understand better the AIDS crisis in the gay community. I just found I hated the narrator and thought the whole relationship was creepy, not endearing.


Notable Mentions:


Lord of the Rings – Before you pelt me with tomatoes, let me explain! First, I rated most, if not all, the books, 4 stars, so I did still like the series. The reason it’s even here is that the first time I read, I LOVED THEM SO HARD and placed them on this super high pedestal, but when I reread more recently, I was surprised at how, erm, dry they could be. There were things that I thought could have been focused on better, other things could have been cut wholesale. Anyway, the point is, while I still enjoy the Lord of the Rings, the reread showed that *I* have changed quite a bit!

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text 2014-12-27 20:00
2014 Edition - A Year of Reading in Review - Hidden Gems

Sometimes you crack open a book, sure you will hate it, and then suddenly, boom! You are sucked into the world and captivated. This list is to the books I was sure I would hate, but ended up falling in love with (or just really liking a lot).


Top 5 Hidden Gems


The Diviners – By the time I got to this one, I thought for sure I would hate it, as I pretty much have had zero success with young adult and urban fantasy. But Bray really pulled out the stops on her 20’s Urban Fantasy and won me over!


Usagi Yojimbo – This is one of those that I would never have found had it not been for a coworker lending it to me and saying, “Give it a shot!” I’m glad I did!


Blind Moon Alley – After years of not winning Goodreads Giveaways, this was one of the first I won! I entered because it was set in the Roaring Twenties, my favorite historical era.  I wasn’t sure what to expect – you never can with independent publishers or freebies – but I was very impressed with the 20’s flair and the diversity.


Red Sonja Vol 1: Queen of Plagues – Gail Simone wrote this, which is the key to what drew me in. I NEVER would have read it otherwise – armored bikini-clad woman?! NO THANK YOU! But Simone took a ridiculous concept and owned it, and more than that, did something I didn’t expect – she made me care!


The Mad Scientist’s Daughter – I’ve talked SO MUCH about this one, I think I’ve driven it into the dirt. Short story: I LOVED IT.

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