Random (but not really)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Books of 2013: Round-up and Geek-Out

First, links to the other posts of the round-up:
Genre Grab Bag: Non-Fiction, Romance, YA, Anthologies

And now, if you don’t geek out over statistics and numbers, this would be a good time for you to go pick up whatever book you’re reading and skip this post.

Because I am totally going to geek out here.

I read 172 174 books in 2013, averaging 14.5 books a month.  This beats my previous yearly total from 2006, of 164 books.

Of those 172 174 books, 68 (40%) were re-reads.  And 29 of those re-reads were books I have in more than one format (generally hardback/paperback and ebook).

I overwhelmingly read more ebooks than any other format, coming in with a total of 105 107. Considering that I read zero ebooks in 2010, this is a pretty impressive jump. Mass market paperbacks (39) beat out trade paperbacks (18), and hard back books almost matched the previous all-time low coming in at only five hardback books read in the entire year.


(You don’t have to tell me, I know the chart is off–I realized after I made the image that one of the comics I read last month was hardback and not trade paperback.)

I expect that trend to continue, with the number of hard back books I read becoming limited to cookbooks and the occasional

Considering genre, fantasy took a slight dip this year, as I re-read several mystery series, but this isn’t an unusual trend for me. Also, a single book can have multiple genre classifications, so Liz Williams’ Detective Inspector Chen series is classified as mystery and fantasy, which is actually my favorite flavor of both those genres, but makes the numbers look a little odd.


I read twelve thirteen books that were translated into English from their original language, covering Russian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, and Italian. Not a ton of variety, but all the books were part of a series, so it’s also not surprising. I’ve got other books by non-English speaking authors lined up to read, so I hope the variety will be a little better next year. (Italian is likely to reappear, as I adore Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series and generally order the next book as soon as it is available.

And then there’s the author’s gender.

Females wrote an overwhelming majority of the books I read, 52%, but that’s closer to 57% when you add in women writing under their initials or male pseudonyms.  I read the same number of books written jointly (anthologies, comics, multiple authors under a single name) as I read by male authors, 20%.


Since 2006, my reading preferences average out to 42% male: 51% female. That includes three years where more than 50% of the books I read were by male authors.

I’ll be fascinated to see if this trend continues over time.

One last note: I fully expect to have completed the book I’m currently reading by the end of the day. Yeah, finished up two books last night, so we’ll see what I’ve read by the end of the day today. :)

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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Books of 2013: Fantasy

Fantasy, of various sub-genres.

These are books I read for the first time in 2013, that rating an 8,9, or 10/10. If it was a re-read, I’m not listing it, not matter how good it was.

Fantasy, straight-up

Heaven’s Net is Wide (2007) Lian Hearn   (10/10)

I really love this series, set in an historical, imaginary, Asian country.

River of Stars (2013) Guy Gavriel Kay  (9/10)

He is always astounding, the amount of research he puts into creating a world and time that never actually existed, but is based upon one or more historical places. And this book has an absolutely gorgeous cover.
Supernatural Mystery

Slashback (2013) Rob Thurman (9/10)

I love Rob Thurman’s writing, and I adore the Cal Leandros series.

Peter Grant / The Rivers of London

Midnight Riot (2011) Ben Aaronovitch  (8/10)

Moon Over Soho (2011) Ben Aaronovitch  (8/10)

Whispers Under Ground (2012) Ben Aaronovitch  (8/10)

Peter Grant is a London cop who can see things few other people can, so he’s transferred to the secret unit of the London force–a very very small unit that’s less elite than it is one the department is trying to forget.

Occult Crimes Unit Investigation

Hard Spell (2011) Justin Gustainis  (8/10)

Stan Markowski is a Detective on the Scranton Police Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. This is the series I pointed out as having absolutely terrible covers. Luckily, the writing was better than the cover.

Written In Red (2013) Anne Bishop  (8/10)

Neurondoc got me this book, saying I’d really like it. She was right. I had quibbles, but they were only quibbles, and the story really was enjoyable.

Magic Rises (2013) Ilona Andrews  (8/10)

The Kate Daniels book for 2013 didn’t hold up in my memory as well as my initial impression upon reading. But I still pre-ordered the next book as soon as it appeared.

Frost Burned (2013) Patricia Briggs  (8/10)

Fair Game (2012) Patricia Briggs  (8/10)

These books are set in the same world, but follow two different sets of characters. In general, I prefer the Mercy Thompson series to the Alpha and Omega series, but there were some amazing events in Fair Game.

Blood Trade (2013) Faith Hunter  (8/10)
Steampunk / Victorian Magical

The Death of the Necromancer (1998) Martha Wells  (8/10)

This is an older book, written before Steampunk / Victorian Magical became a thing, and I really enjoyed it.
Short Stories

Companions to the Moon (2007) Charles de Lint (short story)  (9/10)

I love pretty much everything I’ve ever read by Charles de Lint. That that under advisement.

In Sea-Salt Tears (2012) Seanan McGuire (short story)  (8/10)

This was a free story available from the author’s website, and was a marvelous look The Luidaeg, who is a fascinating character.

And that’s the past year in reading.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Year in Reading: Mystery

I read a lot more mystery than you see here on this list, mostly because I re-read a lot of mysteries: especially Donna Leon and Agatha Christie


What Darkness Brings (2013) C.S. Harris (9/10)

I love the Sebastian St Cyr series–I actually purchase and READ the hard back editions, I love this series so much, and it feels like it just gets better over time.

The Sleeping Partner (2012) Madeleine E. Robins (8/10)

I read the first two books in this series, the Sarah Tolerance mysteries, and then she lost her publisher, so I was delighted to discover this new book.

An Unmarked Grave (2012) Charles Todd (8/10)

An Impartial Witness (2010) Charles Todd (8/10)

This series is set during The Great War, which is the biggest attraction for me. We may say that the men and women who made it through the Second World War are the Greatest Generation, but I think that title more rightfully goes to their parents’ generation, those who survived the first World War, when absolutely everything changed.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009) Alan Bradley (8/10)

Flavia de Luce is an eleven-year old quite unlike any other girl in her English village. She loves chemistry, and science, and solving problems. So when she stumbles across the body of a man who was most likely murdered, she sees is as an exciting challenge.

After hearing about the woman who was trying to Read Around the World, I ran across some mysteries written in languages other than English in my TBR pile, and started reading.

I’m quite glad I did.

Silence of the Grave (2002/2005) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder

This is the second book in the Inspector Erlendur series, and I really liked it. In fact, looking back, I liked the first book more than my initial impression when I wrote the review. I also really want to go to Iceland (I’d wanted to prior to this, this series just reinforced that.)

He Who Fears the Wolf (2003) Karin Fossum translated by Felicity David (8/10)

This is the second book in the Inspector Sejer series, and I’ll be honest, as much as I enjoyed this story, I absolutely couldn’t stand the story that followed. It wasn’t bad–it just really was not for me.

And that’s the year in mysteries.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Year in Reading: Comics

There are two types of comics here: the traditional comics complied into a graphic novel, and web comics, compiled into a collection of stories, and one book that doesn’t fit either category.

Graphic Novels

Madame Mirage (2008) Paul Dini and Kenneth Rocafort (9/10)

This may say volume one, but as best I can tell, there isn’t a volume two, which is too bad, because I really liked this.

And don’t let the cover fool you. This isn’t one of those types of characters.

Fairest Vol 1: Fairest In All the Land (2013) Bill Willingham (8/10)

Fairest Vol. 2: Hidden Kingdom (2013) Lauren Beukes, Bill Willingham, Inaki Miranda (8/10)

Although I love Fables, I’ve been less fond of the spin-offs, Cinderella and Jack of Fables. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I started this series. Never fear, it was actually very good and I really enjoyed it.

Fables Vol 18: Cubs in Toyland (2013) Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Gene Ha (8/10)

Warning, this is not one of the happier comics. This series hasn’t hesitate to kill of characters (like Stinky, I’m still waiting for Boy Blue to return) and there’s a death here. You’ll know it’s coming, but you won’t know who. This is also a comic where I missed a lot because I tend to gloss over the art for the story, forgetting that the two are integrated.
Web Comics

Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod (2013) Brian Kesinger  (9/10)

This isn’t a web comic, but a collection of gorgeous drawings. I gave this as a gift to a friend, and she took her copy to work, where visitors are constantly delighted by it. It’s gorgeous and marvelous and wonderful.

Erstwhile: Untold Tales From the Brothers Grimm (2012) Gina Biggs, Louisa Roy, Elle Skinner  (8/10)

I’ve been reading Erstwhile for awhile, and so wanted to support them when the published a paper book. In my opinion it was well worth it.

Evil Diva Anthology Volume 1 (2013) Peter Menotti, Joe Cashman, Stephen Hood, Team Diva  (8/10)

Sadly, I don’t think this is being published anymore, which is too bad, because I really enjoyed it.

And that’s 2013 in comics.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

The Books of 2013: Genre Grab Bag

We’ll start the yearly wrap up with the genres that I read less frequently: Non-Fiction, Romance, YA, and Anthologies. (I read enough YA for it’s own category last year, but read more mysteries this year.)

A History of the World in 6 Glasses (2005) Tom Standage  (10/10)

This is a look at how six beverages: beer, wine, liquor, coffee, tea, and Coca Cola–changed the world. I found it both fascinating and enjoyable as things I knew but hadn’t really considered (living without access to clean water) were put into perspective.

Midsummer Moon (1987) Laura Kinsale  (8/10)

This book had a marvelous cover what first attracted me, and then the story was an amusing romp. There are elements of fantasy and steampunk, but they are only a minor part of the story. How can you resist a story where a hedgehog is a (non-speaking) recurring character?

Twice Tempted: A Night Prince Novel (2013) Jeaniene Frost  (8/10)

Theoretically, this is supernatural fantasy, but the romance is really the largest part of the story, so I decided it’s primary classification was romance. And although there are vampires, and there is a lot of boinking, it’s really quite good.

Shadow Falls

Whispers at Moonrise (2012) C. C. Hunter  (8/10)

Chosen at Nightfall (2013) C.C. Hunter  (8/10)

These two books are the conclusion to Kylie Galen’s story arc, and I thought she did a lovely job wrapping up Kylie’s discovery of who she is and how she fits into the world. The parallel series, focusing on Delia Tang, is, I believe, not YA, but the short stories and novella’s I’ve read have been quite good.

I love anthologies. These properly should have been classified as fantasy, but there were already too many books for that post.

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) edited by Paula Guran  (8/10)

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius (2013) John Joseph Adams  (8/10)

Teeth: Vampire Tales (2011) edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling  (8/10)

Happily Ever After (2011) edited by  John Klima   (8/10)

All of these are fantasy compilations, and all are quite good.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Of Course You Give the Camera Remote to the 3 1/2-Year Old


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Categories: Family,Photos  


I’ve scheduled a series of posts on the books of 2013, starting tomorrow. I’ll try to remember to come back here and link to each post.

Genre Grab Bag: Non-Fiction, Romance, YA, Anthologies

And then I’m going to try to write an overview of the year, as well as the December wrap-up. These of course have to come last, as I’m planning on doing plenty of reading over the next several days.

In the meantime, what did you read this year that you particularly loved, and what books did you get for the holidays that you’re looking forward to reading?

Written by Michelle at 10:19 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday Word Association: Holiday Edition

Merry Christmas! I hope you’re spending the day with people you love, following whatever traditions you may have, be that a Christmas feast or Chinese take-out.

Today’s word is: joy

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Categories: Fun & Games  

Merry Christmas to All

Adeste fideles læti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte
Regem angelorum:
Venite adoremus Venite adoremus Venite adoremus

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine
Gestant puellæ viscera.
Deum verum, genitum non factum.
Venite adoremus Venite adoremus Venite adoremus

Cantet nunc ‘Io’, chorus angelorum;
Cantet nunc aula cælestium,
Gloria! Soli Deo Gloria!
Venite adoremus Venite adoremus Venite adoremus

Ergo qui natus die hodierna.
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum.
Venite adoremus Venite adoremus Venite adoremus

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren:
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit
Gibt Mut und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren!

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Categories: Holidays  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Christmas Cookies

Tried new recipes this year, some of which were an absolute failure, but most weren’t.

Sugar Cookies – The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook
Lemon Cookies – America’s Test Kitchen Christmas Cookies 2012
Rum-Raisin Chocolate Ship Cookies – The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes from Simple to Sublime
Hermits – The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes from Simple to Sublime
Shortbread – Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich (I made one regular batch and one batch with nutmeg, because I LOVE NUTMEG.)
Pumpkin Walnut Bread – Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking 2007 (I love this recipe)
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies – The Best of Fine Cooking Cookies No 23
Praline-Pecan-Coconut Bars – Nancy Baggett’s Simply Sensational Cookies
Bourbon Balls (I no longer remember where this recipe came from)
Peanut Butter Blossoms (I no longer remember where this recipe came from)
Lemon Coins – Carole Bloom’s The Essential Baker: The Comprehensive Guide to Baking with Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Spices, and Other Ingredients
I also plan on making Poticza from the The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook
And I’d also like to lemon poppy seed quick bread.
And probably a pumpkin pie.

I think I am going to give up trying to make pumpkin cookies. This year I tried Nancy Baggett’s Pumpkin Rocks with Cream Cheese Frosting (The All-American Cookie Book) and they were beyond a failure. I ended up with a flat, oily brown ooze. Theoretically, it’s because I use fresh (frozen) pumpkin, but this was a bigger mess than any other pumpkin cookie I’ve attempted to make with fresh (frozen) pumpkin.
The other recipe that failed was Chocolate Raspberry Cookies, which are delicious, but a complete mess.

And of course, there was the baking and decorating of sugar cookies, with peanut butter blossoms added in this year.

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