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January 2015 Wrap-Up: Books and Reviews

February 2, 2015

Ye Grande Olde TBR(e) Challenge Update

I started January with 246 unread books sitting around my house. And I ended with … *drumroll* …249! Oh, you guys, I screwed myself over this semester, I think. I feel like I have been in full-blown crisis mode since the first day of the year, paddling as hard as I can to keep myself on top of everything that *needs* to get done urgently – let alone trying to get ahead, or having any free time for non-urgent things like reading… or writing reviews. I’m hoping that somehow this will let up, but I’m not optimistic that it will (see above re: screwing myself over this semester with the way I organized my classes). Or at least I’m doubtful that it’ll ease up until spring break when I will have a little free time to hopefully give myself some breathing room. So I’m woefully behind on reading, even more woefully behind on review writing, and missing books and reading and blogging… so I’ll be back eventually, I promise… I just don’t know when.

…anyways, let’s take a look at the breakdown:

Neutral books – Read, but don’t affect the TBR pile

Frakenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson (reviews coming soon)

Read But Not Owned (Graphic Novels)
Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales
The Unwritten, Vol. 10: War Stories by Mike Carey
Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan (reviews coming soon)

Emma by Jane Austen
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett (review coming soon)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (huzzah!)
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (review coming soon)


Other removals from the TBR pile (um… huzzah?)
The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller (DNFed this one – review coming soon)

Added to my TBR pile (all-around shame!)
- Troll’s-Eye View ed. by Ellen Datlow - City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
- The Martian by Andy Weir - The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han Van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki  
Non-TBR acquisitions (storage-space-related shame!)
- Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Added to my eTBR pile (non-storage-space-related shame!)
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie * Pursuant to the discussion on this post, I’ve decided to create an eTBR pile for e-books for which I actually pay money. I’m not adding them into my total TBR numbers, but I have to fess up about them somewhere. Keeps me honest.

© 2015 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.

Marilyn Johnson – Lives in Ruins

January 16, 2015

99. Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson (2014)

Length: 272 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction

Started: 27 December 2014
Finished: 31 December 2014

Where did it come from? From the publishers for review.
Why do I have it? The punny title caught my eye, and then the description sounded fascinating.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 16 September 2014.

do it for love of the past.
(And the fedoras.)

Read the full summary and review

Trisha Telep – Corsets & Clockwork

January 12, 2015

98. Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances edited by Trisha Telep (2011)

Length: 437 pages
Genre: Short Story, Young Adult, Steampunk Historical Fantasy, Romance

Started: 15 July 2014
Finished: 26 December 2014

Where did it come from? The library. (Several times! I’d check it out, read a few stories, run out of renewals and have to return it, then check it out again a few weeks later.)
Why do I have it? I like steampunk and short story anthologies.

You can build clockwork
machines, but you need a heart
to love… or do you?

Read the full summary and review

Kathleen Flinn – The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

January 9, 2015

97. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn (2011)

Length: 285 pages
Genre: Non-fiction

Started: 20 December 2014
Finished: 21 December 2014

Where did it come from? Bought from Amazon.
Why do I have it? One of my fellow book club members recommended it to me after hearing that I like books about food and cooking.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 22 November 2014.

Does your kitchen scare
you? Get this book then get your
butt in there and cook!

Read the full summary and review

Review Revisited: Robert Jordan – The Dragon Reborn

January 7, 2015

Re-read. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (1991)
The Wheel of Time, Book 3

Read my review of book:
1. The Eye of the World
2. The Great Hunt
12. The Gathering Storm
13. The Towers of Midnight
14. A Memory of Light

Read By: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Length: 24h 40min (704 pages)

Genre: Fantasy

Originally Read: 31 October 2004
Re-read Started: 27 November 2014
Re-read Finished: 14 December 2014

Where did it come from? The library (the audiobook, anyways; I have a paper copy too but wanted to re-listen).
Why do I have it? I’ve been meaning to re-read the whole series since the final one came out last year, and now seemed like as good a time as any!

You’d think a book called
“The Dragon Reborn” might star
the Dragon Reborn.

Read the full summary and review

Gail Carriger – Waistcoats & Weaponry

January 5, 2015

96. Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (2014)
Finishing School, Book 3

Read my review of book:
1. Etiquette & Espionage
2. Curtsies & Conspiracies

Length: 304 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy

Started: 09 December 2014
Finished: 13 December 2014

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? New book in the series!

All aboard! This train
is bound non-stop for Trouble,
with a stop at Peril!

Read the full summary and review

Year in Review 2014

January 2, 2015

Happy 2015, readers! Hopefully everyone had a lovely and safe New Year’s Eve, and that your 2015 is off to a great start!

2014 was busier than I was expecting, and somehow not as much got done as I was hoping. I can’t even put my finger on why, exactly, but things just sort of seem to pile up! I decided that I was going to be better about reading what I was in the mood for, rather than what I thought I *should* be reading (with the exception of my book club picks, which sometimes coincided with the former, but sometimes belonged more to the latter category.) The end result of this is that a lot of my reading time went to re-reads rather than clearing my TBR shelf… but I certainly enjoyed myself! I managed to stay ahead of reading goal starting in the spring and lasting until mid-December (finals time!), but a New Year’s Eve sprint got me up to my goal with a whole six hours to spare!

  • I finished 132 books this year, 100 of which were new-to-me, and 32 of which were re-reads. 100 new books was my personal goal for the year, so I just eeked that out. But my goal for total books was 124, so I totally crushed that..
  • 92 of those were paper or e-books, for a total of 27,709 pages read. The remaining 40 were audiobooks, with a total of 19.7 days of listening time. (Not included in either of those tallies are all the individual short stories I read and/or listened to.) If you count the text equivalent of the audiobooks, I consumed 43,550 pages of reading material this year.
  • I read books by 88 different authors, 43 of which were new to me. I also a good job of balancing the sex ratio: excluding anthologies, 52% percent of the books I read were by female authors. (Better than my 49% last year, hooray!)
  • I didn’t do a great job of reading my own books this year (new books, anyways, I re-read a bunch of my own books). Of the new books I read, only about 37% came from my TBR pile. Another 18% were audiobooks, 30% were graphic novels from the library, 14% were non-graphic-novel library books, and the remaining 3% were e-books freebies or from the eTBR “pile”.
  • I was pretty good about not acquiring new books! I requested relatively few review copies this year – also a function of the not having as much time for reading and reviewing – and the library booksale in my new town is only open a few times a year, rather than three days a week… so I had a few binges but relatively fewer books coming in on an average day. The result that I only added 46 books to my TBR pile – which is pretty awesome, I think, given some of my past years. I read 32 books from the pile, though, and cleared another 27 (donating them to the library sale – and then NOT purchasing them again, which is key!), leaving me with a net change of -13 TBR books! Not too shabby!
  • Of the books I read from my TBR pile, the average length of time between when I acquired them and when I finished them was 471 days. I’ve got books on my TBR pile that have been there an embarrassingly long time, but I’m doing my best to work through them.
  • Perhaps as a function of reading relatively fewer review copies, less than half of the new books I read were published in 2013 or 2014 (still 40%, though); however, the average publication date of my books was 2007.
  • Unsurprisingly, almost exactly half the books I read this year were fantasy; with sci-fi taking up another 20%, and non-fiction, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction making up the rest. About 42% of the books I read were young adult or mid-grade, which is a slight uptick from years past.

You can calculate these kind of stats for yourself using my reading tracking spreadsheet. You can download the 2014 version here: 2014 reading tracking spreadsheet; just change the tabs for 2015. You can find the instructions for using it here: reading tracking spreadsheet instructions.

I’m not going to do a formal “best of” list for 2014, since I always have a really hard time getting my picks down to 5 or even 10 “best” books. Instead, here are my picks-of-the-month for the year! (Among my new books – picking books that I already loved enough to re-read as my favorite of the month just doesn’t seem fair.)
Read more…


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