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Three last things before 2015!

So, that’s another year over. I’m having a “gathering” tonight and I still haven’t cleaned the flat (oops) so this will most likely be my last post of the year.  So it’s a round-up of three things that I wanted to post about before then.

The first is that I changed my theme.  I’m still using free themes and so on because I know less than nothing about how to customise this site.  I also definitely don’t have £70 or whatever to spare to go premium.  I’m aware I could purchase my own domain or something but… I don’t even know how that works.  With that in mind, let me know what you think!

Secondly, I’ll be taking part in the 12th Bout of Books next week! For those that don’t know about it:

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I’ve not made any specific goals yet – and I might not make any at all – but I’m looking forward to joining in for the first time!

And the third thing was that I wanted to wish you all a wonderful new year!  This has been a mixed year for me – but I suspect most of them are for most people – but I’m looking forward to all the highs and lows of the coming months.  Hopefully this blog will be one of the highs!

 

All the best!

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Top Ten Tuesdays: bookish goals for 2015!

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Thanks once more to The Broke and the Bookish for facilitating Top Ten Tuesday!  I can’t believe we’re at the end of 2015.  Without further ado, here are my bookish resolutions for 2015.

  1. Read at least 84 books, 63 of those being paper books – this might seem oddly specific, but it’s for a reason.  As you know, the purpose of this blog is to clear out some of the paper books that occupy my collection.  I currently have 162 unread  books overall, 142 of those being fiction.  My ideal scenario would be to cut that down to under 100 this year.  I read 110 books this year, but a goodly percentage of those were on my Kindle Paperwhite, which I got for my birthday.  However, I start my first “real” post-university job at the end of July, so if I’m being realistic, I know there’s a decent chance my reading will fall off a cliff around then.  Therefore, a lower goal than last year seemed like a good idea.  I want to try to concentrate on making sure a decent percentage of my read books are physical, and give myself a chance of clearing the 100 mark, while allowing for the fact that I will read on my Kindle while out and about because it’s just more convenient.  Here’s hoping…
  2. Read at least 30,000 pages – this is mainly to ensure that I read a mixture of longer and shorter material.  Again, I aimed for 40k this year, and am very close to that mark depending on how much reading I do tonight and tomorrow.   However, with my “real” job starting,  I feel like a lower goal is safer (and allows for more reading of “easier”,  shorter books, if that’s what I need when I’m working.)
  3. Complete all challenges I sign up for – I’m currently scoping out some of the challenges that are floating about in the book blogging network – I’ve found Novel Challenges really useful in that respect. I aim to complete the challenges I sign up for this year instead of floundering like last year – with that in mind, I’m only signing up for things that I feel I can complete out of my existing library and not things that I feel are going to push me to find titles/buy new things.  I’ll make a page for these called “Other Challenges” above so you can see what I’ve been up to.  Also part of this resolution is to engage with other book bloggers more as the more the merrier when talking about books!
  4. Read at least half an hour per day – an hour a day last year was frankly unrealistic.  Some days are just hectic.  I probably averaged at least that with a few day long readathons, but if we’re just counting each day separately I think I was closer to 2/3 days being hour reading days.  With that in mind, a little, and often, seems more appropriate.
  5. Blog at least three times weekly, but aim for five – self explanatory – I’m planning to have some regular features, some facilitated by others, and some created by myself.  Hopefully that should be of interest to my readers!
  6. Review what I read – this has been a bad year for reviews – apart from a spree I went on in about April, I’ve reviewed very little of what I’ve read.  This is a shame as I have had things I’ve wanted to talk about.  I’ve got quite good at keeping a reading diary in the physical world, so I’m hoping this habit should help with reviewing my reads for the coming year.
  7. Keep up with Librarything AND Goodreads – I like both websites for different reasons, so keeping my catalogues up to date is important.  My LT still needs tidying, despite the epic tagging spree I went on this month, and I definitely have some duplicates, as the numbers don’t match up with my GR, but I’m hoping that should even out, particularly as I decrease my TBR.
  8. Give away what I don’t want – I have a habit of fetishising books as objects and finding them difficult to part with even when I didn’t really like them very much.  I have to give away what I don’t like, want, or need.  It’s the only way I’ll ever have room for any more…
  9. Stop starting series – I get anxious about unfinished series, even ones I was only lukewarm on.  So I need to stop starting them until I have enough breathing space to remember which ones I still have unread books in.  With this in mind, no more starting series I don’t own all the books in until further notice (note: this doesn’t have to last all year but best foot forward).
  10. Stop buying books – like I said above: 162 unread books.  That’s not counting Kindle books (upwards of 100 of those also unread).  I clearly need to stop buying books as I obviously don’t need any more! Being realistic, I know I won’t stick to a complete book buying ban, especially once I’m on a graduate wage.  But I just want to think much more carefully about my purchases and whether they’re necessary before I make them, at least for the next year or two.

What will your bookish resolutions be?

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2014 End of Year Book Survey

Many thanks to The Perpetual Page Turner for hosting this wonderful survey!  It really got me thinking about what I’d read in 2014.

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Number Of Books You Read: 110 (a new record for me!)
Number of Re-Reads: 12
Genre You Read The Most From:  I haven’t kept track, but most likely Young Adult.
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1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Ugh, this question… let me see:

Best general fiction: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay with The Golden Notebook and Behind the Scenes at the Museum a close second.

Best genre fiction:  Oryx and Crake

Best classic:  Howards End

Best young adult: A Complicated Kindness.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Ugh, quite a few, especially towards the end of the year.  I’ll pick three.  Labyrinths was just a headache – I wanted to love it, especially because of the influence on Marquez, Calvino, and others, but I just didn’t “get” it and it made me feel a bit stupid and caused a reading slump.  Certainly not a bad book and one I will revisit, but one I didn’t love like I expected.    We Were Liars was only okay – I’m starting to think that E. Lockhart hit a fluke with her Ruby Oliver books (even though those are all so so good) because nothing else she’s written has done it for me.  Finally The Stand – I’d been super-hyped up about this but no one told me about the weird spiritualism, the racism, the misogyny, or the “disabilities give you superpowers” aspects of this novel.  I still somewhat enjoyed it, but nothing like as much as I expected to, especially after 11/22/63.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

I expected The Color Purple to be much closer to a misery memoir atmosphere than it actually was – I loved it.  I expected to like The Casual Vacancy and it was just plain bad in parts.  I didn’t expect Oryx and Crake to be so mindblowingly good.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

I pretty much forced my friend to read Divergent and The Fault in our Stars so I’d have someone to talk to about them.

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

I’ve been trying to avoid starting series because of my book hoarding problems.   I loved the Divergent series, even though it was utterly ridiculous.  For best starter, The Knife of Never Letting Go – oh.  My.  God.  This was so, so amazing, and I didn’t expect it at all.  It’s largely categorised as young adult but I’d be wary of giving it to a young teenager as it’s quite violent (totally depends on the kid, of course).  Best sequel has to be The Silkworm – it had a lot to live up to, as I loved The Cuckoo’s Calling, but the quality has been kept up.  How much I enjoy the follow-up that I’m sure is coming will depend on how the main characters progress across a follow-up though – I don’t want them to remain static for too long.  Best series ender is a bit of a cheat but I didn’t have much to choose from – I Shall Wear Midnight.  I know it’s not actually the end of Tiff’s story, but I really thought it was at the time of reading and I’m pleased to say my girl went out on a high.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

New to me, or new generally?  To me:  Kate Atkinson.  I was mindblown by Behind the Scenes at the Museum.  I can’t wait to read more of her.  New generally I can’t really answer because I don’t think I read a single first-time-author in 2014.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Hmm. I am extremely wary of middle-grade (what I would tended to have thought of as young adult until recently) titles, as I can find them a bit painful in the way that they are written.  I read a few this year, and while most of them were borderline execrable, When HItler Stole Pink Rabbit was light-years ahead in terms of EVERYTHING.  I love Judith Kerr, though, she’s like ultimate grandma.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Divergent series, hand down.  Yeah, the world-building is insane and the motivations of the characters obscure to the point of insanity, but I don’t even care.  I JUST HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED OKAY?

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Eh, I’m trying really hard not to reread for a while and just keep a list of things I want to reread in the future when I’ve got my TBR under control (some hope!) but things I’d definitely be into rereading would be super-soon would be The Long Earth (in prep for the rest of the series), Oryx and Crake (same), Knife of Never Letting Go (SAME) and Anna and the French Kiss again because it’s like my kryptonite (though I probably wouldn’t bother rereading the rest of the series again for a while).

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

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11. Most memorable character of 2014?

I’m going to pick Nomi from A Complicated Kindness.  She’s just perfect.  The charting of her loss of faith and the story of her family are just perfectly pitched but they wouldn’t work without her voice, her wonderful, funny, fresh voice.  I can’t say any more than that without spoiling, except to say READ THIS BOOK.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Stunning.  Also One Hundred Years of Solitude.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

Probably The Golden Notebook. That was a reading… experience.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Lots, but The Casual Vacancy stood out as something that I was saving for a rainy day and, er, shouldn’t have been.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“I want a proper school, sir, to teach reading and writing, and most of all thinking, sir, so people can find out what they are good at, because someone doing what they really like is always an asset to any country, and too often people never find out until it is too late. There have been times, lately, when I dearly wished that I could change the past. Well, I can’t, but I can change the present, so that when it becomes the past it will turn out to be a past worth having….Learning is about finding out who you are, what you are, where you are and what you are standing on and what you are good at and what’s over the horizon and, well, everything. Its about finding the place where you fit. I found the place where I fit, and I would like everybody else to find theirs.” – Tiffany Aching (I Shall Wear Midnight)

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest: 11/22/63 (740 pages)

Shortest: A Streetcar Named Desire (111 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

I’m going to go with The Manchurian Candidate because (spoiler in rot13) bs gur vaprfg – jgs? (If you’ve never used rot13 before, go to rot13.com and copy and paste the nonsense letters into that to see what I’m talking about.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

I had a lot of unexpected feelings about Malek and Yelena from Poison Study. Oh! And Julie and Matt from Flat-Out Love.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Nomi and her dad in A Complicated Kindness. Definitely.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (I’d only read Wonder Boys previously.)

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Maze Runner and Labyrinths.  Two very different books!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Definitnely Malek from Poison Study.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

The only thing that comes close to a 2014 debut that I read this year was The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet – I don’t tend to read a lot of things that come out in the same year, and even more seldom would I read a debut in the same year!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Fall of Hyperion – I was right there with them.  It was so evocative, and real – and I often have a hard time picturing settings in science fiction.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Divergent.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay at so many places but particularly jura lbh svaq bhg gung gur obng jvgu Wbr’f oebgure ba vg fnax AND nyy gur fghss qrnyvat jvgu Fnzzl’f frkhnyvgl .

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I was not expecting to get so much out of Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, far better known for Chocolat.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I nearly fell apart reading Columbine at work.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Definitely If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.  No question.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Girlfriend in a Coma.  I fucking HATED that book and I couldn’t stop thinking about how annoyed I was about the whole concept for days and days afterwards.

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

Definitely Bibliophibian, Inc.  Her reviews are awesome and I really trust her opinion.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

Not on my blog but on Goodreads – my review of Divergent.  I haven’t written as many reviews as I would have liked this year.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Haven’t really been posting enough to answer this, to be honest.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Again, I haven’t really been participating in many things – that’s something I aim to change this year.  I signed up for a few readathons and challenges, but I never followed through with them.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

Definitely starting this blog.  Also filling out this meme!  It’s been really helpful in getting me to think about the way I read and so on.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet  review.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Eh, all of them 😛 just kidding.  I’m not really sure.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The Literary Gift Company is definitely one that I plan to take advantage of in coming months.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Yes! I had the goal of reading 100 books and I’ve read 110.  I also aimed to read 40,000 pages and I’m 475 pages off reaching that goal, so I might reach it – though I’ve come near enough to satisfy me.  Of the others… I aimed to half my collection of unread paper books and instead I’ve increased it by twenty.  I also aimed to read for an hour a day.   That was a “soft” goal in that I knew I wouldn’t manage it every single day – it was just something to aim for. I’d say I’ve managed it at least three-quarters of the time, so it’s been fairly successful.

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Ooh, definitely Gormenghast… I’m starting that after I finish Unseen Academicals and I’ve been waiting to read it for, like, three years.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

In a weird way Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, assuming it comes out next year.  I really, really hated Fangirl (ask me why if you want, but be prepared for a rant!)  but I’m interested to see how she carries this off.  She’s one of the authors I’ve had the most varied feelings about (loved Attachments, really liked Eleanor and Park, was ambivalent about Landlines and raged, RAGED against Fangirl).

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

 I’m… not?  See my comments about debuts above.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

Lair of Dreams, the second Diviners book, should FINALLY be coming out this year and I am so, so excited.  I loved the first one and everything it chose to be.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

To actually have a consistent blogging schedule and to keep up with my challenges, which I think will be a little more varied this year, as I won’t have as much time to read in bulk from August onward.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Haha, I should be so lucky…

Hope this was interesting to you guys!
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It’s been a while

I just wanted to apologise for the stunning lack of upkeep on this blog.  I got really, really busy during November/December and had much less downtime to work on the blog.  I’m going to be adding a few new posts over the next couple of days – an overview of my reading in 2014 and my goals for the upcoming year with regard to reducing my TBR nightmare – and I’ll be updating the Master List to reflect where I am with progress/purchases and so on.  I hope to get into a regular posting schedule in 2015 as one of my resolutions to be more committed to the things I enjoy and that are good for me (such as writing and taking care of myself, generally – I have a habit of running myself into the ground!) so I should be around a lot more.  Hope you’re all having a lovely festive period and to get to know my followers a lot better in the coming year!