Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thursday Thirteen - 2020 style!

I am happy to report that the Thursday Thirteen Linkup is still alive and kicking! Let me start 2020 out on a roll with two posts in less than a week! Woo hoo!

January is all about lists.  Last weekend, I gave you my list of the best of 2019.  Here is a Thursday 13 rundown of other 2019 retrospectives in the #RomBkBlog world:

  1. Under The Covers
  2. Miss Bates Reads Romance
  3. Kini's list at Smexy Books
  4. Angela's list at Smexy Books
  5. Lots of SFF in the mix at Reading Reality
  6. Wendy The Super Librarian
  7. Ellie Reads Fiction
  8. Shallow Reader (don't believe the blog name!)
  9. Book Binge
  10. Ana's list at Love In Panels
  11. I Heart Romance
  12. Kaetrin's list at Dear Author
  13. And just to round things out, here is the GoodReads list for Romance.
I'm definitely seeing a few titles on repeat throughout these lists that I'll need to check out.  Also, how could I have missed Sapphire Flames on my own list?  Jeeze.

I hope you enjoyed this list! I recommend you head on over to this week's Thursday Thirteen linkup and check out a few participants.  This is not a book-focused meme (except here at Alpha Heroes!) so who knows what tidbits you'll pick up to brighten your week!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

2019 Look Back, 2020 Look Ahead

Ever since I started this blog, I have almost always managed an end of year post.  Despite the long silence this year, January always brings some optimism about re-invigorating the blog and this year is no different!

By The Numbers
I did a better job of tracking my reading this year, so I think the numbers are pretty accurate.

  • Total: 126 titles
  • Nonfiction, mostly audio: 11, with two DNFs
  • Bookclub books: 13, one DNF.  Considering I participate in 3 monthly bookclubs, this is kind of terrible, lol.  But two of the three did not manage to select 12 books for the year; and there were a handful that I chose not to even start on the basis of having zero (possibly negative) interest in.
  • Podcast reads: 13
  • Rereads: 12 (many for the podcast)
  • Novellas: 7
  • Diversity: 14, mostly authors of color, and two LGBTQ titles. I would like to do better in 2020.
  • Reedsy Reviews: 5
  • Total DNF: 6.  I do have 3 or 4 titles in progress that I haven't officially given up on.  They'll go toward my 2020 numbers.


Highlights:

  • Favorite new (to me) author: Sierra Simone! I had read the first American Camelot book previously and didn't like the cliffhanger ending, but A Lesson In Thorns blew me away.  Rereading the American Camelot series, I appreciated the Arthurian bits more.  I think Thorns is probably my favorite book of 2019. I also loved Tasha Suri's Empire of Sand.
  • Best non-fiction was definitely Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah.  I had been meaning to get to this one for a long time and I'm sorry I waited. Humorous, thought-provoking, and horizon-expanding for this mid-west US white girl.
  • Non-fiction runner-up: Educated, by Tara Westover.  I have read very few memoirs, but this was wonderful.  Engaging, even horrifying at times, with novel-like storytelling.
  • Some great new series:  Jennifer Estep's fantasy Crown of Shards series is amazing; third book due out in March (I haven't read her previous series, apparently I need to), and Jessie Mihalik's Consortium Rebellion series top the list.  In the mood for more romantic space opera, I gave Susan' Grant's Star series a go and it's awesome! Also, G.A. Aiken's title, Blacksmith Queen, is the first of a new series and I liked it very much. Oh, and unsurprisingly, Jeffe Kennedy's Orchid Throne, first in a new romantic fantasy series.
  • Binge: I've been catching up on the neglected Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole, which is just as good as I remembered. I've really been enjoying Cynthia Eden's Bad Things series -- I had read one of hers before and was turned off by the "medical experimentation" centered plot, which is just a personal squick, so I'm glad I gave her another shot.
  • Favorite titles: (in non-exact order)
    • A Lesson in Thorns, by Sierra Simone
    • Circe, by Madeline Miller
    • The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, by Kelly Harms
    • Lady Derring Takes a Lover, by Julie Anne Long
    • Kill the Queen, by Jennifer Estep
    • Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik
  • Podcasts and TV: 2019 was the year I started watching TV again, and also found some podcasts I like.  I'm mostly watching Netflix, and my faves were Lucifer (OMG, he's pretty), the Cumberbatch/Freeman Sherlock Holmes, Lost Girl, and (surprisingly) iZombie.  Podcasts, besides ShelfAddiction where I guest host, I've been enjoying Craft A Life You Love, and The Good Life Project.
  • 3Bloggers1Series Weekend!  Since I wasn't able to go to any conferences this year, my awesome podcast partners came to Seattle over Labor Day weekend and we had an AMAZING time. Wine tasting, cheese eating, book shopping, Facebook Live-ing, and some great sightseeing. A big highlight for me!

Lowlights:
  • Well, blogging took more of a backseat than ever in 2019.  I returned to work at the beginning of March after five months of chemotherapy, and just didn't have the brain capacity to do much more than that.  I am expecting 2020 to be a better year health-wise, but I also have some ground to make up career-wise, so it's hard to say how the blog will fare.  
  • Speaking of cancer, one of my bookclubs chose a book that I absolutely hated while I was in the midst of treatment.  Every review called it funny/humorous; for example, "wildly funny;" "arch, achingly funny, and surprisingly heartfelt;"  "expansive, great-hearted and acidly funny;" It's a litfic story written in a weird POV (first-person plural) about the people who work for an ad agency.  The owner of the company gets a breast cancer diagnosis about 25% through the book, and has something of a breakdown over it.  Meanwhile, here's an example of how SUPER funny it was (and incidently, the place I called the DNF):


What's Next?
I think I am not going to tempt fate by making any promises about blogging more -- although I always hope to.  For reading goals, I have three ideas in mind:

1. Julia Quinn Bridgerton Re-read, in preparation for the Netflix production.  Unfortunately, I seem to have offloaded my paperbacks after reading them back in 2008? or so? so I will have to re-acquire them.  I'm undecided about whether I want to binge the series or just read the first book shortly before the first series debuts.

2. This shelf:

I want to put (gasp!) something other than books on it.  There are ~40 books on that shelf-- it's (part of) my Paranormal TBR.  Wish me luck!

3. Sherlock: As mentioned above, I really adored the Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman Sherlock Holmes series.  I read all of the original SH stories back in middle school, and I have a notion to re-read the ones that have corresponding episodes and noodle about them here on the blog.

Conferences in 2020:  I'm signed up for ApollyCon in Washington DC, March 26-29, and Avon's KissCon in Chicago, April 17-20.  If you're headed for either one, do hit me up and let's connect!

Link Up:
Do you have a 2019 roundup or 2020 lookahead to share? Post in comments and I'll edit it in!

Finally, I hope you all have a happy, healthy, prosperous new year, filled with awesome books!








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