2014 Year in Review

It seems I neglected to do one of these last year, because reasons, I guess, but I have read so many fantastic books this year that I can’t not remind you all about how awesome they are. Here are a few top-five lists to help pad out your TBR for the coming year. I went with five so that I would have to narrow things down a bit, and it was surprisingly difficult to leave some books off the list! All lists are in alphabetical order because I cannot choose, people.

Top 5 favorite adult books published in 2014:

I had a pretty good year of reading current books, some of them even in advance through my fancy librarian hookups! None of these are probably surprises, as they are all pretty widely popular, but hey, maybe you’ll find something new!

Lock In, by John Scalzi — This book beat out some others that were probably technically better books, but Lock In wins on its fantastic premise and sneaky gender politics.
The Martian, by Andy Weir — Holy cats, guys, this book. Go read it. You’ll love it. Unless you don’t like snark and science and fun, in which case, I’m not sure why you’re here.
My Real Children, by Jo Walton — My first Walton but not my last. I was expecting something more sci-fi-y, but I got domestic fiction and I liked it anyway. I am still sad over that ending.
The Secret Place, by Tana French — I adore Tana French, and this is no exception. I am eagerly awaiting her next book already!
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel — Ditto the above; my first Mandel but not my last, and the best super-flu book I read this year, which is, surprisingly, saying something.

Top 5 favorite adult books read in 2014 but published earlier:

This list was probably the hardest to cull, largely because it had the biggest pool to draw from but also because I did a good job picking out great backlist books to read!

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie — Guys, this is a book about a person who used to be a spaceship. Nothing else I say can persuade you more.
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell — The book that made my bff go, wait, this is a book that you like? Adorable dudes being adorable and awesome ladies bringing on the snark? People quasi-stalking each other before Facebook? Um, yes, I loved it.
Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan — I did not think I would like this book at all, but I was quickly swayed by the absurd characters and fabulous wealth and general insanity. Not laugh-out-loud funny like Bernadette, but super amusing nonetheless.
The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara — I’m still angry about the ending, which is a good thing, I’m sure. A great book club read if your book club isn’t averse to throwing books across the room.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple — Oh, my goodness, I don’t think I could have loved this book more if I tried. It’s ridiculous, hilarious, and wonderful and it hit me right when I needed to be amused.

Top 5 favorite YA books read in 2014 and published whenever:

I read surprisingly few YA books this past year; I’m going to have to work on that, I think! But all of these were super amazing and you should go check them out right now.

Ask the Passengers, by A.S. King — I may have a girl crush on A.S. King, and this book is a pretty good manual for how to deal with that sort of thing, so that’s useful.
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell — omg college, you are both the best and the worst. Another adorable love story from RR, with bonus slash fic love story that will soon be a real book of its own and I’m so excited!
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, by A.S. King — The best book you’ll ever read involving a petrified bat.
Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein — Historical fiction what? A fantastic follow-up to Code Name Verity and a great book on its own, too, but go read Verity first because it’s the best.
Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson — Awesome action and adventure from beginning to end. The sequel comes out next week. Squee!

Top 3 favorite comics read in 2014 and published whenever:

I guess I could have done five here, but there are really only three that I think make the top cut. There will definitely be more to talk about next year, if the pile of comics on my bookshelf is any indication!

Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona — Muslim, Pakistani, teenage superhero from Jersey City. Done. Sold.
Rocket Girl, by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder — I’m surprised I haven’t been hearing more about this comic, but I guess a year-long hiatus will do that. I was sold at “teen cop from 2013 goes back to 1986 to stop her future from ever happening”.
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — This one lives up to its name, with star-crossed lovers and political intrigue and books that can end wars and Lying Cat. Lying Cat is the best.

Notes:

I had a pretty good genre year, with lots of sci-fi/speculative fiction and a couple of cuuuuute love stories and even historical fiction in my top lists. I like that my favorites are pretty even, gender-wise, with 10 ladies and 6 dudes in the writer’s slot on these 18 books (2 are repeat ladies). I am pretty sad that there are only 2 non-white writers (and 1 non-white artist on Ms. Marvel), they’re mostly Americans (though I do have most of the British Isles covered), and absolutely nothing in translation made it to the list, but that’s what my personal I Need Diverse Books project is for, after all. I’m pretty sure things will look better this time next year. If you have recommendations for that project, or for books I may have missed in 2014 or earlier, leave them in the comments!

RIP, RIP IX

RIP IXWell, this has been a pretty terrible RIP for me. I don’t know where my spooky spirit was this year — I’m blaming the weather and the two-week vacation in the land of spring (even though that spring weather was far more fall-like than my own fall weather!). I’m also blaming my relative lack of creepy reads on the fact that I spent almost half of my RIP weeks reading just one book. I shake my fist at you, Stephen King!

But really, I did pretty well. Here’s my rundown:

Peril the First
I said I’d read four RIP-worthy books, so I read… three RIP-worthy books. I came into the challenge strong, reading the unexpectedly creepy The Silkworm and the expectedly creepy Broken Monsters in short order, but then I took a break for honeymooning and came back to the three-and-a-half-week-long The Stand, and then RIP was over! But seriously, The Stand was like 1300 pages, so let’s pretend that counts for two? Yeah? No, probably not.

Peril of the Short Story
I downloaded a metric ton of creepy short stories to my Kindle, but I kind of didn’t get around to reading them. But hey, comics are awesome and short and they can totally count here! I read quite a few trade volumes this month that are RIP-ish, including Rocket Girl and Federal Bureau of Physics and maaaaybe Saga, which are all at least weird and often worrisome. This one’s a win!

Peril on the Screen
I managed to watch just one creepy movie this year, unless you count the ends of movies on AMC’s Fear Fest marathon that I’d find Scott watching when I got home. And I don’t, because the parts of Jason X and Halloween II that I caught were not remotely creepy. But Oculus was, actually, pretty creepy, even with the sound off, and I would definitely recommend that for midnight watching. In TV, I watched various seasons of Grimm and Hannibal, as mentioned, and I’ve been keeping up with the new seasons of Bones and Agents of SHIELD and am very excited about the new Elementary and Grimm episodes coming my way. I’d say I’ve gotten an eyeful of creepy this fall!

Strangely, I’ll probably be reading more mysterious and spooky stuff in the upcoming months, because that’s how I roll, apparently, so if you read or watched anything super awesome for RIP, let me know so I can add it to my list!

2010 Wrap-up

I haven’t been doing much (well, much for me) reading or blogging lately, so I kind of forgot about doing a 2010 recap before, you know, 2011, so I’m just going to grab this meme from the internets and go with it. One thing to add, though, is that I read 123 books this past year (nice, right?), which is fewer than 2009 and also full of many more kids and YA books, but I did enjoy most of what I read!

Best book of 2010?
Numbers-wise, my favorite books were two non-fiction books about language (The Word Snoop and Biting the Wax Tadpole), and a re-read (In the Woods), and that seems to hold pretty true even after a year of thinking about it. I will also throw in When You Reach Me, which was absolutely adorable and came so close to getting that 10.

Worst book of 2010?
I really quite disliked Thirteen Reasons Why, which I listened to, probably primarily because of the voice actors.

Most Disappointing Book of 2010?
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. I quite enjoyed Flavia in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie but found this sequel to drag on far too much.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010?
American Born Chinese. I had read other graphic novels before but thought they weren’t terribly good; this one was brilliant and got me started on a new adventure in reading!

Book you recommended to people most in 2010?
Mostly I’ve been recommending books I’ve read in previous years, but of 2010 books I’d have to say Mr. Peanut since I’ve already foisted it upon my book group!

Best series you discovered in 2010?
Hmm. I quite liked the first in the new Shades of Grey series, but I’m also just kind of in love with Jasper Fforde. A completely new-to-me series that I will have to continue is Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, which was brilliantly hilarious.

Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010?
Bill Bryson! I have got to find one of his travelogues, it can only be better. Aaaand Sarah Waters, on whom I have a total girl-crush.

Most hilarious read of 2010?
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, hands down.

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?
If I Stay β€” I listened to this on my commute, so not technically “unputdownable,” but I was very much looking forward to getting back into the car while this was playing.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?
Mr. Peanut. Very awesome.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?
Fingersmith. I must learn not to resist the internets!

Year in Review

Hello, 2010! You’re looking nice today. Can I call you “oh-ten” for short? No? Blast. Well, I’m glad you’re here anyway; I’ve noticed that every year just gets better and better so I’m expecting you to be pretty darn spectacular. I mean, just look at what 2009 gave me:

First, I managed to read 131 books. That is simply ridiculous. In 2008 I was all, “I want to read 60 books in 2009!” Ha. Take that, wimpy 2008 self. Of course, that reading activity was strongly helped by five months of unemployment that involved spending my days looking for jobs and reading and another seven months of being a library science student but still not having a job and therefore spending my days going to class, doing homework, looking for jobs, and reading. Now that I’ve got a job, at least through August, I’m guessing that that reading thing might fall a little bit by the wayside, but I’m going to try not to let that happen. My goal for you, 2010? Just 100 books. But they’d better be spectacular.

Second, I did read a lot of wonderful books this year. My favorites: I absolutely loved the first two books of the Moon series, which answer the question you never asked about what would happen if the moon moved just a titch closer to the Earth. Answer: Um, lots of bad things. I can’t wait for the third one to come out this year!

Elantris was a total surprise love for me; it is a wonderfully written and perfectly fantastical look into the dilemmas of culture and religion. And there is magic! You can’t go wrong with magic.

The Old Man’s War series didn’t get my highest ratings as individual books, but I would definitely put the whole series in the “Go read this now. Why are you still looking at your computer? I’m serious. Go read this now.” category. It’s humorous military science fiction, which sounds ridiculous but is amazing.

And lastly, I want to highlight The Manual of Detection, a book that I read in March but which I am still in awe of today; that trade paperback is MINE as soon as it comes out. Berry’s writing is spectacular and his story of a Watson-turned-Holmes is delightful. (My other top-pick books can be found under the rated 9-10 tag.)

Third, etc.: I managed to complete eight reading challenges of awesomeness, participated in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and read six books in 11 hours for the Read-a-thon. Oh, and I started an online book club with a couple of dear friends and have had a lot of fun yelling about bad books, though if we could get some excellent books going that would be great, kthx. πŸ˜€

And now, by the numbers!

2009, in review
Days spent reading: 295
Books read: 131

…in fiction: 118
…in speculative fiction: 25
…in fantasy: 22
…in mystery: 18
…in humor: 8
…in thriller: 8
…in short stories: 7
…in classics: 4
…in historical fiction: 3
…in memoir: 2
…in non-fiction: 12
…in popular science: 2
…in young adult: 29
…in children’s: 13
…in graphic format: 3

New favorite authors: John Green, Mary Doria Russell, John Scalzi, Susan Beth Pfeffer
Authors I’ll be keeping an eye on: Jedediah Berry, Maureen Johnson

Month by Month

January
Books read: 11
Favorite: Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi (Review) 8.5/10

February
Books read: 9
Favorite: Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson (Review) 9.5/10

March
Books read: 13
Favorites: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (Review) 9/10
and The Manual of Detection, by Jedediah Berry (Review) 9/10

April
Books read: 8
Favorite: An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (Review) 8/10

May
Books read: 9
Favorite: People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks (Review) 8/10

June
Books read: 10
Favorite: Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow (Review) 9/10
and Woman With Birthmark by HΓ₯kan Nesser (Review) 9/10

July
Books read: 15
Favorite: The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (Review) 9/10

August
Books read: 13
Favorite: The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (Review) 10/10

September
Books read: 10
Favorite: Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Review) 10/10
and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart (Review) 10/10

October
Books read: 13
Favorite: The Dead and the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Review) 10/10

November
Books read: 9
Favorite: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon (Review) 10/10

December
Books read: 11
Favorite: Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane (Review) 9/10

December Wrap-up

Wow, another month gone! And another year at the same time! My year-end review will be up tomorrow to start the year off right, so let’s look at the lovely month of December today. I finished up my second semester of grad school, maintained an awesome 4.0, and still managed to read 11 books. Basically, I’m awesome, is what I’m saying (and modest?).

It wasn’t an especially delightful month of reading; I felt pretty lukewarm about most of the books I picked up, even the ones I was excited about. Oddly, my favorite, Shutter Island, almost went back to the library unread because I didn’t have high hopes for it. That should teach me, right? Maybe.

My greatest personal reading accomplishment this month was finishing off all of my challenges β€” it was looking a little iffy there for a while, but I did manage to defeat Sir Arthur Conan Doyle yesterday, finally, to close up the Case of the Baker Street Challenge. With any luck, next year’s challenges will go as well.

Now to the numbers…

Days spent reading: 29
Books read: 11
…in fiction: 11
…in mystery: 3
…in fantasy: 1
…in classics: 1
…in short stories: 1
…in young adult: 5
…in children’s: 1

Series reads: Unfortunate Events

Favorite book: Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane (Review) 9/10

Challenges
My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge: +3 books for 12/12 Completed!
The Baker Street Challenge: +1 books for 3/3 Completed!
Back to School Challenge: +3 books for 4/4 Completed!
Critical Monkey Challenge: +0 books for 1/6
Countdown Challenge: +7 books for 27/55

November Wrap-up

Another month of reading done… my, how time flies. I feel like I haven’t read anything this month, what with all of the schoolwork and such taking over my life, but I seem to have done pretty well! Good work, self. πŸ™‚ I’m on vacation right now, so I think I’ll leave it at that and get back to the relaxing and the reading. Lovely times.

The numbers!

Days spent reading: 24
Books read: 9
…in fiction: 8
…in memoir: 1
…in mystery: 2
…in thriller: 1
…in fantasy: 4
…in classics: 1
…in young adult: 4
…in children’s: 1

Series reads: His Dark Materials, Leviathan, The Amanda Project

Favorite book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time 10/10

Challenges
My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge: +2 books for 9/12
The Baker Street Challenge: +0 books for 2/3
Back to School Challenge: +1 books for 1/4
Critical Monkey Challenge: +0 books for 1/6
Countdown Challenge: +6 books for 20/55

October Wrap-up

Another month down, and a suprising number of books read! The Read-a-thon helped, but then I took a week-long reading break. πŸ™‚ I’ve got one more book review to go up for October, of Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, but that I probably won’t do until Tuesday, because school is indeed scary and all this homework I have is burying me. -sigh-

Here are the stats:

Days spent reading: 22
Books read: 13
…in fiction: 12
…in non-fiction: 1
…in historical: 1
…in speculative fiction: 1
…in mystery: 2
…in fantasy: 1
…in young adult: 3
…in children’s: 4

Series reads: Moon series, Mobile Library Mysteries, Flavia de Luce, Alvin Ho

Favorite book: The Dead and the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer 10/10

Challenges
RIP Challenge: +2 books for 4/4 Completed!
My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge: +2 books for 7/12
The Baker Street Challenge: +0 books for 2/3
Orbis Terrarum Challenge: +1 books for 10/10 Completed!
Back to School Challenge: +0 books for 0/4
Critical Monkey Challenge: +0 books for 1/6
Countdown Challenge: +10 books for 14/55