Hello my lovely readers!
After the busyness of May, I was incredibly grateful to have a whole week off in the month of June! My bf only had half the week off, so at the start of the week I spring cleaned (umm….in June), made my favorite pie (strawberry-rhubarb), and got ready for our camping trip at the races. My bf’s hobby is racing motorcycles, and when he goes to the track, he camps there. Since I had the time off, I was able to go with him. I’m not able to go every time, unfortunately. I was so excited to get to be there! I love getting to see him race! It’s so exciting, and I love that his hobby is so unique and requires such a complex skill set, from actually riding to maintaining the bike. I also love camping and camping at the track is a wonderful different kind of camping. The excitement of being at the track and hanging out with the racers and their families and pit crews around the campfire at night is so much fun. My dad bought us a grill, so I was finally able to cook most of our foods at the track. I took to pinterest and discovered lots of fun things you can grill. I made us grilled tofu tacos, grilled quesadillas, breakfast of course, and, our favorite, zucchini parmesan. I loved getting to spend so much time on one of my hobbies while supporting my boyfriend’s.
With my vacation in there, I’m pleased with how many book reviews I managed to write this month (eight). I had dubbed June the month of reading ARCs, and I managed to get through four of them this month, taking my total number of TBR ARCs down to 16. I finished designing a new cross-stitch pattern, but I have yet to post it since it is a present, and the recipient has yet to receive it! This month I’ll be working on my first commission. I’m excited to show it to you guys when I’m finished.
Hello my lovely readers!
April was such a busy month, I can actually hardly believe it’s over already! It’s always a busy month for me at work, as I help organize and run an annual event on-campus. In addition this month, we also welcomed a new program to our campus, so the library was very busy putting in the groundwork for supporting students studying that new subject area. I also submitted my first-ever poster abstract. So busy! On top of this, the weekend of my work event was the same weekend as the first motorcycle race weekend of the season for my partner. He was incredibly busy prepping for the races. Instead of just the normal getting everything running again after the long winter, he also was prepping a new (to him) race bike to be track ready. Since I couldn’t go with him for the first race weekend, I wanted to send along something nice, so I made him a pie and cookies for carb-loading at the track. I honestly found the baking to be stress-relieving and really enjoyed it. I’m happy to report both the work event and the first race weekend went well!
In spite of the busyness, we were able to squeeze in quite a few hangouts with friends and dates for ourselves. One of our dates was to hike a local trail on Easter Sunday. It was gorgeous weather in a month of a lot of iffy weather. I always find it so refreshing to get outside and in the woods, and even more so with my boyfriend. We saw lots of jack-in-the-pulpits and also got a great view of Boston.
My stitching slowed down a bit this month, although I did release the first design in a new line–rhubarb in foraging New England. The rest of the patterns for the line are designed but they still need to be trial-stitched! I hope to release at least one of them this month.
I read and reviewed four books this month, sticking to my overall goal of one book a week. I’ll be happy if I manage to stick to that during my upcoming even busier month of May! In my own writing, I’m still working away whenever I have the time on my new book idea, writing background short stories. The typewriter my bf got me for Christmas is coming in really handy, freeing me of distractions.
Total books read: 54
Average books read per month: 4.5
Month most read: May with 7 (No idea what gave me so much momentum in May)
Month least read: November with 2 (A long cold and the holidays)
Longest book read: The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey with 538 pages
Fiction: 45 (83%)
Nonfiction: 9 (17%)
Series: 28 (52%) (This went up by 11%. You can tell I found a couple of series I really like.)
Standalone: 26 (48%)
–traditional print: 13 (24%)
–ebook: 27 (50%)
–graphic novel: 0 (0%) (I’m in shock that I somehow didn’t read a single graphic novel this year!)
–audiobook: 14 (26%)
–scifi: 20 (Winner the fifth year in a row. It’s clear what my favorite genre is.)
–YA: 7 (I dislike most YA, but when I find a well-done one, I read everything by the author I can find.)
–historic fiction: 6
–urban fantasy: 6
–short story collection: 4
–Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge: 3 (I really should at least get to the lowest level of the challenge that I run! Wish I’d completed one more book for this.)
–nonfiction history: 3 (As someone with a History BA, it surprises me not at all that this is my most read nonfiction.)
–nonfiction cookbook: 2
–nonfiction lifestyle: 2
–paranormal romance: 2
–African lit: 1
–Chinese lit: 1
–Cthulhu mythos: 1
–nonfiction environmentalism: 1
–nonfiction fitness: 1
–nonfiction memoir: 1
–nonfiction relationships: 1
–nonfiction social justice: 1
Aliens vs. Demons vs. Vampires vs. Zombies
–demons: 7 (Demons just barely beat aliens, who definitely got the extra attention I said I thought they deserved last year).
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 9 (17%)
–4 star reads: 26 (48%)
–3 star reads: 16 (30%)
–2 star reads: 3 (5%)
–1 star reads: 0 (0%)
Glancing at my stats, I can see that I definitely achieved my main goal for 2013. I read more books I like and stopped forcing myself to read books I don’t enjoy. My percent of 5 star reads went up by 3%, and my number of 1 or 2 star reads went down by a whopping 11%. I’m really glad to have refocused myself on the joy of reading, instead of treating it as a responsibility.
Overall, my stats make me happy. There is still a variety for the well-roundedness I wanted to hold onto, but there is also a clear focus on the types of books I enjoy. The one thing that took me aback was my complete lack graphic novels. I can’t stop reading the new format I discovered just a few years ago! I also would like to see a bit more nonfiction and at least a couple more reads that count toward the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge. I do run it after all.
Beyond those two minor goals, I mostly just want to continue seeking out books that truly appeal to me, reading at a comfortable rate as one of many hobbies, and continue to expand my horizons a bit with a healthy sprinkling of variety.
Happy 2014, everyone! Any suggestions for my 2014 reading goals?
Friday Fun! (July: Omg I Brought My Bf Home to Meet My Family and We Moved In Together and Oh and Also I Am Now Officially in My Late 20s)
Hello my lovely readers!
Someday, some archivist will look back at this blog and go “Why is it called Friday Fun when it’s never on a Friday?!” I will leave that mystery up to you, future archivist, to discover on your own.
So! On July 2nd I turned 27 and suddenly I had to start ticking off late 20s on everything. I joke about being upset about it, but I’m really not. My late 20s are turning out much much better than the rest of them *knock on wood*, so I really can’t complain. Also I honestly like myself a lot better at 27 than I did at any age prior, and who can complain about that? It is fun to joke around with bf about me being old since he’s still in his mid-20s though.
Speaking of, I brought him home to meet my family, and it’s the first time that’s ever happened, so you should kind of be able to imply what a big deal that is. My family was awesome and very welcoming, and everyone got along just fine, and it was lovely! My dad even taught us how to make doughnuts from scratch while we were home. It was just that awesome. Also, also we celebrated the 4th with them, and my uncle got fireworks to set off in the backyard. I’ve been in the city for so long, I hadn’t had a chance to do that in forever, and I really enjoyed it.
So as soon as we got back from that adventure, we had to start working on moving. With the way the rental market is in Boston right now, we decided to have him move into what was my place (what is now our place) with me and rent a garage nearby for his motorcycles (there are 5). He gave notice and had to be out by July 31st, but really we had to do it quicker than that since he was going away on a mini-vacation with his dad at the end of the month, so we wound up doing it all in 2 weeks, and honestly it was incredibly stressful, mostly because we had to spend so much time apart sorting shit in our own apartments. I had to morph everything I own down into half the apartment, and he had to do the usual sorting that happens when you move. Honestly, most of the choices we had to make were surprisingly easy. We have a lot in common, and we stressed out far more over worrying about making the other person comfortable than over the actual choices when it came down to it. As of today, we’re officially living together, and honestly it’s the best feeling ever. I get to come home to my person and my kitty every day, and it’s just wow. That’s what home is supposed to feel like, y’know?
I’m pretty proud of myself, given all of these goings-on, that I managed to finish 4 books this month. Two of them were audiobooks, and that makes total sense. I could listen while I sorted and packed. Three of them have yet to be reviewed here, so hopefully I’ll get those reviews up soon.
I’m incredibly happy it’s finally August!! Although it will still be a bit eventful. I’m meeting my bf’s mother and one of his sisters, it’s the busiest month in the calendar at my job, and I’m getting my wisdom teeth out. Phew!
How was everyone else’s July? Did you have more time for the beach than me?
Hello my lovely readers!
As previously promised, Friday Fun has now become a monthly check-in on the last Friday on the month to touch base with you guys and help you get to know (or stay in the know on) the blogger behind the reviews (and the novels/novellas/short stories of course).
May was a busy month for me. I attended a conference for medical librarians, which invaded this blog a bit, as I summarized what I learned for both myself and for other librarians. Thanks to that conference, I worked 12 days in a row, so I took off a few days the week after to give myself a nice long weekend. On that long weekend, I did some spring cleaning and got started on sorting through and getting rid of stuff. I usually do this in the spring, but I’m doing it with more vigor this year as my boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together when my lease is up. I’m of course incredibly happy to be moving in with my partner but also nervous! To that end, if any of you want to check out my ebay store, there’s mostly lp’s/records, clothes, and of course, books! This is also why I’ve been reading so many books for my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge. Most of my print books are for that challenge, and I’m trying to clear off my shelves.
My vacation also consisted of a lot of cooking. Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and I hadn’t had much of a chance to make more complex recipes since I was so busy and exhausted. I made: 4 hour lasagna (I call it that since it takes me…4 hours to make), twice-baked rutabagas, and pumpkin monkey bread muffins. You can see all of the recipes over on my Pinterest Pinned It And Did It board.
This month also brought back the real motorcycle riding season. My boyfriend got me an awesome vegan jacket (for safety) and a helmet (obviously, for safety), and we’ve been going on some nice evening rides together. I’m looking forward to some longer ones out into western Mass later in the season. I also got to dig my bicycle out of winter retirement and go on my first ride of the season. I’m pleased to say my legs stayed in much better shape over this winter season than previous ones, although my seat bones weren’t so happy with the first ride. Ow.
In related work-out news, my gym’s 60 day challenge completed last week. I had signed up for the body composition challenge, which was about body fat percent rather than body weight. Over the course of the two months my body fat percent went down by 1.2%, and I gained 2 pounds of muscle! I was totally shocked by those results, as I mostly just kept on doing my regular fitness routine, where I focus in on being healthy and acquiring more personal bests in weights/cardio/etc… I mostly wanted to see what impact my routine really has on my body, and it clearly is helping me build muscle. I’m very excited about that.
I’m also pleased to report that writing is progressing on the sequel to Ecstatic Evil! I’m really in a paranormal frame of mind right now, and I’m having fun with it. I hope to give the Tova fans the sequel as soon as possible.
In reading news, this month I read 7 books, which is the most I’ve read so far this year in a month. I’m not even going to try to guess as to what made it go up, but I’m glad that it did! I read a wide variety including scifi, urban fantasy, historical fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror, and I read across all reading platforms (ebook, print, and audio). I have yet to write up reviews for 4 of these books, so rest assured, more reviews are coming! For June I intend to continue my focus on predominantly choosing books that appeal to me most in that moment, although I would like to knock out at least one from my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge that is unappealing. Additionally, I got an arc for the next book in Madeline Ashby’s artificial intelligence series that is releasing next month, as well as the final book in Jackie Morse Kessler’s series that is also releasing in June, and I’d like to read/review both of those around their release dates.
How were your Mays? What was your favorite read of the month?
Hello my lovely readers!
So, I knew I hadn’t written a Friday Fun post in a while, but was floored to see it hadn’t happened since November 16, 2012.
I know we all hate it when bloggers talk about their crazy busy lives, even though it’s true, because, hello, we all have busy lives! Suffice to say, what I thought was a busy phase is actually the new stasis of my life. I’m proud of the fact that I’m still managing to find time to blog, because I do love book blogging. But I want to continue to touch base with you all periodically. Weekly is just too overwhelming though. So I’ve decided to move Friday Fun to just occurring on the last Friday (or Saturday) of every month. Treating it more like a special event instead of a weekly meme will help me keep up and enjoy it. I hope you all enjoy the new change!
On a similar note, I am still closed to review requests, and I don’t expect that to be changing anytime soon. I still periodically request ARCs, if I’m highly interested, but that is a rare occurrence. I also, you may have noticed, switched my reading from about 50% things I felt I “should” be reading (for ARCs, to better myself, etc….) down to about 10%. This means 90% of my reading is for funsies, because frankly I need that stress relief in my life. Reading “should’s” worked great when I was in a life limbo and needing to fill the time with actual things to do that made me feel like I was accomplishing something. But now when I read, I want it to be for fun. I need it to be a stress reliever. Something that helps give me a few moments of internally-focused peace in my day. So any changes you’ve noticed in the books being reviewed here reflect that choice I made at the beginning of 2013.
As for my non-blog life! The holidays happened. I taught my first library orientation by myself for the incoming class of one of the schools affiliated with my library. I created my first library tutorials. I finished my first archival finding aid. Those have been the big-hitters in work life. In regular, non-librarian Amanda life I went on vacation with my boyfriend to an off-the-grid cabin! We snowshoed and built fires in wood stoves and generally thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I went home to visit my dad in Vermont and learned how to make the perfect grilled cheese. I got an iPhone. I became addicted to Instagram and taking photos in general. I survived Blizzard Nemo and got my first real snowday in *years*. I learned how to play the Call of Cthulhu tabletop game. Finally, I just last week joined my gym’s 60 day fitness competition, and I am loving how much it has reinvigorated my passion for fitness. And I’m still trying to figure out how to be a part-time indie author in amongst all of this.
How was everyone’s March? Ours came in like a lion and out like a lamb, just like the old saying goes. :-)
To celebrate the new year here on the blog, it’s time to take a look back at my reading stats for 2012. It’s always fun to compile them and see how my reading changes and simultaneously stays the same over the years.
Last year, I read a grand total of 107 books. In 2010 that number was 70, and the year before that it was 52. This year I didn’t make it to my goal of 150, but I think I did pretty damn good anyway. :-)
Total books read: 118
Average books read per month: 9.8
Month most read: January with 20 (I’d chalk this up to New Year Resolution momentum!)
Month least read: Tie between September and December with 4 each. (September was part of a very busy month at work with Orientations for the students. December was the holidays plus a wedding I was in, so…..kind of understandable reading got left behind a bit!)
Longest book read: David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s by David Goodis with 848 pages
Fiction: 86 (73%)
Nonfiction: 32 (27%) This was an 11% increase from last year.
Series: 48 (41%)
Standalone: 70 (59%) I think this is a nice balance between series and standalone books.
–traditional print: 34 (29%)
–ebook: 59 (50%)
–graphic novel: 11 (9%)
–audiobook: 14 (12%) (This more than doubled. I thank Audible for that!)
–scifi: 19 (Winner for the fourth year running! It’s clear what my favorite genre is.)
–indie lit: 16
–GLBTQ: 15 (This came out of nowhere, but I’m glad I found a new genre I enjoy.)
–historic fiction: 15
–fantasy: 14 (I have found a few fantasy books I enjoy, so I will definitely keep reading, although a bit more selectively.)
–urban fantasy: 10
–contemporary fiction: 9
–mental illness: 9
–nonfiction cookbook: 8 (I had hoped to try one new cookbook a month, but I do think 8 is pretty good.)
–African lit: 7 (Thanks to the African Lit reading challenge I participated in.)
–nonfiction memoir: 7
–black lit: 5
–nonfiction environmentalism: 5
–nonfiction history: 5
–YA: 5 (Realizing I dislike this genre led to it mostly leaving my reading, except for older acquired books on the tbr shelf.)
–alternate history: 4
–dystopian: 4 (Shockingly low compared to previous years.)
–nonfiction lifestyle: 4
–nonfiction science: 4
–nonfiction diet: 3
–nonfiction Buddhism: 2
–nonfiction relationships: 2
–American classics: 1
–nonfiction feminism: 1
–cozy: 1 (Given how much I enjoy cozies, I should really read more of them!)
–Cthulhu mythos: 1
–European classics: 1
–Irish lit: 1
–Japanese lit: 1
–magical realism: 1
–nonfiction fitness: 1
–nonfiction reference: 1
–nonfiction social justice: 1
–paranormal romance: 1 (It seems I am truly over my paranormal romance phase.)
–short story collection: 1
Vampires vs. Zombies vs. Aliens vs. Demons:
–aliens: 4 (I think aliens should get more attention next year.)
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 16 (14%)
–4 star reads: 50 (42%)
–3 star reads: 33 (28%)
–2 star reads: 17 (14%)
–1 star reads: 2 (2%)
Looking at my stats, I can see one thing rather clearly. My number of highly rated reads went down, and simultaneously some genres I enjoy went down while genres I don’t enjoy (generally) went up. I think it’s important for me in 2013 to focus in more on reads I am fairly certain I will enjoy, rather than books I think I should read. I also would like to read more in the genres that as a writer I am currently (or intend to) write in.
On the other hand, I have definitely enjoyed adding diversity to my reading. I’m very happy to see how much more diverse my reading is now than it used to be when it comes to areas of the world and representations of various perspectives. This is something I would like to hold on to.
I also would like to even out the number of books read per month to a more consistent number. The difference between 20 and 4 is huge, and I would like to see my reading not fall by the wayside if possible. Granted, some of that numerical difference was due to reading chunksters versus graphic novels, so I suppose it’s important to keep in mind that a number is just a number. :-)
Overall, this was a great reading year. It was incredibly varied, and I think I learned more about myself and what I enjoy reading (not to mention writing). For 2013, I hope to read 120 books, an average of 10 books a month. I also will be doing the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge again, as well as the Finishing the Series Reading Challenge. Beyond that, I will continue tackling my tbr pile. Hopefully, my 2013 will see me finding a few more gems than I found this year.
Happy 2013 everyone! Any suggestions for my 2013 reading goals?