2018 Year In Review

Wow…the year is finally coming to a close. I’m like a lot of you where I feel like this year has gone on FOREVER. I’m glad it’s over and I’m looking forward to 2019. Before I gaze into the future though I want to take a few minutes to look back at what’s happened with me and the blog this year.

Let me start by saying I’m disappointed in what I was able and not able to do with the blog this year, specifically in terms of reviews. I just didn’t finish as many reviews as I would have liked. I’m not surprised given how busy I’ve been, but I’m still disappointed. You’ve probably seen me post about it a bunch, but early on this year I got bogged down with work and family commitments which meant I didn’t have as much time to devote to reviews. Then things got better for about a month or so before work reared it’s ugly head again and I was asked to study toward taking a professional certification exam. That meant the last few months of the year I was focused more on studying an prepping for the exam than I was on writing reviews.

Well…I took the exam today and HOLY MOTHER FORKING SHIRT BALLS I PASSED!

HMFSB

OK y’all here’s the deal on that exam. It has only a 57% pass rate. I was certain I wasn’t going to pass. And after work had paid for the prep course and the cost of the exam (over $2,000.00 combined) I was starting to feel really bad about going in to work on Wednesday. Now there’s a huge weight off my shoulders AND I can hopefully start giving more time to the blog (knocks on wood).

Now…On to what’s important. At the beginning of the year I posted my 2018 Reading Goals. They were as follows:

  • Read more debut novels
  • Read more short stories
  • Read more non-western fiction
  • Read more diverse authors
  • Read more award winners

So how did I do? Well, I think I did OK but not great. Here’s how all that worked out. Continue reading

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My Christmas Eve Reads: 2018

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Time for a re-post of my Christmas Eve reads entry from last year…

Christmas is filled with traditions. You know this even if you don’t celebrate the holiday. Here in the U.S. you can’t avoid the craziness of the nationwide offering to Mammon that is Black Friday and the entire shopping season during the run up to Christmas Day. The stores are filled with holiday items for sale the moment Halloween is over. And then there’s the Christmas music, because there’s always at least one person you know who wants to listen to nothing but Christmas music all day, every day, from Thanksgiving Halloween until Christmas day. There’s always one. If you do celebrate Christmas then add to that Christmas Eve services, family gatherings, Christmas dinner, office parties, gift exchanges, leaving cookies and milk for Santa, and opening gifts on Christmas morning. Traditions.

I have one particular tradition I enjoy as much, if not more than all the others. For the past ten Eleven years or so there have been two books I’ve read every Christmas Eve to my children. After we open Christmas Eve gifts (one gift per kid, another tradition for our family) we all gather together in our matching pajamas (cheesy I know), pile onto the couch by the fireplace, and as the kids snuggle up next to me I read… Continue reading

Off The TBR’s Best Reads of 2018

Well it’s time for another best of list. You didn’t think the year would end before having to read mine did you? You could skip it I guess…but that would make you a sucky person and you’re not a sucky person right? I mean if you’re really tired of these then go ahead and skip it, but I’m taking the time to compile it so yeah I’d love for you to at least skim for the results and pics.

This was another great year for speculative fiction. Unfortunately for me I didn’t get to read as many as I would have liked and I reviewed even less. You’ve read all my rants and moans about my schedule this year so I won’t rehash it, but I’m disappointed I didn’t get more reviews posted. That being said here’s my “Best Of” list for 2018. This isn’t strictly a best of books published in 2018, but rather the my best reads for the year regardless of publication date.

If I’ve kept an accurate count I read 40+ books so far this year. One was a Beta read that I can’t talk about yet. The first five books in this list are my five star reviews that I actually wrote up. The last six are books that either were a 4.5 – 5.0 most of which were read during a time I didn’t have the bandwidth to post a review. Finally I have a couple of short-stories I fell in love with that I have no choice but to add to my best of list.

And as you scroll down notice how many self-pub/indie books made the list. Yep…I’ve become a fan. Continue reading

Waiting On Wednesday: An Elegy of Heroes

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and continued now by Tressa at Wishful Endings under the heading “Can’t Wait Wednesday” where readers and bloggers share and discuss books they are excited about reading and which have generally not yet been released. I’m sticking with “Waiting On Wednesday” just because I like the way it rolls off the tongue.

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Author: K.S. Villoso
Publisher: Liam’s Vigil
Series: The Agartes Epilogues
Length: Hardcover 774 pages; Paperback 771 pages (according to Amazon)
Publication Date: January 16, 2019 Continue reading

Waiting On Wednesday: The Gutter Prayer

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and continued now by Tressa at Wishful Endings under the heading “Can’t Wait Wednesday” where readers and bloggers share and discuss books they are excited about reading and which have generally not yet been released. I’m sticking with “Waiting On Wednesday” just because I like the way it rolls off the tongue.

TheGutterPrayer

Author: Gareth Hanrahan
Publisher: Orbit
Series: The Black Iron Legacy (Book 1)
Length: 560 pages
Publication Date: January 22, 2019

OK, not gonna lie, I was sold on this book by the cover alone. I’m a huge sucker for a good cover and with one glance I knew it was by Richard Anderson my favorite current fantasy artist. Put Anderson to work on some cover art and you’ve got my money.

But yeah eventually you have to read the thing. Well I guess you don’t HAVE to read it. It could just sit on your shelf and look pretty. But you WANT to read it right? So lets assume you’re gonna read it because it’s a book and that’s what you do. Eventually the plot has to interest you. Continue reading

Update: 12/5/18

Hey everybody. I wanted to take a moment to give you a quick update on what’s going on with me and the blog.

THANKS!

First, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who responded to my Rating Scale Update post. So many of you left a comment either here on the blog, or on Twitter and each of you gave me some great feedback and left me with things to consider. I really do appreciate it. I’m still contemplating what I want to do in terms of whether or not to continue giving a star rating, and I may do a trial run for a few reviews to see how it goes.

THE DREADED CERTIFICATION EXAM

On Tuesday night I took the “final” exam for the certification course I’ve been enrolled in this fall. I say “final” because it’s the only test we’ve taken and it isn’t for a grade. This is just one of those preparatory courses to help you take the real exam later. Tuesday was a 90 question test and I have no real idea how I did. I’ll find out next week. But the good thing is the class will be over after this Tuesday. Woohoo! The bad thing is I still have to study for the real exam which will be twice as long. Did I mention before it only has a 57% pass rate for first time test takers? Yeah…57%. This is gonna suck.

I’m scheduled to take the exam December 31st. Between now and then I have work (obviously), family coming into town, have to clean house before family comes into town, multiple ballet performances to attend (to watch my daughter), and Christmas. At some point during all that I’ll be studying for the exam. All that to say I won’t be publishing much here on the blog until January. I may do some quick easy stuff like Waiting On Wednesday posts and maybe even some year end stuff like best of’s and ideas for next year, but don’t expect a review. It may happen but don’t count on it. Reviews just take more bandwidth than they probably should. Continue reading

Rating Scale Update

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I’ve really been thinking about how I rate books lately. It’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while because I’ve noticed how most of the books I’ve reviewed have been 4 or 5 stars. I think so far on the blog I only have one 3 star review and one 2 star review. If I’d have started the blog a couple of months sooner I’d have a few more three star reviews, but most would still be 4’s and 5’s. It’s the “why” of this that keeps bugging me and the inevitable follow-up questions, of whether I’m being too generous with my reviews and ultimately do I want to keep giving a score?

The other day I came across a Twitter thread where another blogger was discussing her defensiveness after someone commented on one of her reviews saying it was “stupid” that she had so many 4 and 5 star reviews. I chimed into the discussion and it turns out a number of us are in the same boat and their response was much like mine.

The more I think about it the more I realize the following: Continue reading

October Update II: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads

 

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This is just a quick update/addendum to my last October post – October Update: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads where I discussed how I was procrastinating and not getting much studying for my certification exam done this month. Instead, I was doing something infinitely more enjoyable…reading. Well I’d be lying if I said I changed my ways. I did study a very little, but I mostly kept reading which is what this post is about. I’m coming down with a little head cold so I won’t be putting a lot into this post but I want to get it up before we get any further into November.

Btw it’s raining outside, it just isn’t cold. I can’t sing the song if it isn’t cold and raining… Continue reading

October Update: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads

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It’s been a while since I last posted anything and I thought I’d give everyone a quick update on what’s been going on.

If you read my last post you’ll remember I was all excited about Self-Pub Fantasy Month and then that kind of fell by the wayside. That’s because I started a class to help me prepare for a certification exam for work. I work in Human Resources and I’m studying for the SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP exams(s). If I pass I’ll get some coveted letters after my name which in theory attests to the fact that I’m a professional in my career field. The exam (whichever I take) lasts 4 hours and costs like $400.00 and you can only attempt it twice a year. The CP exam only has a pass rate of about 67% and the SCP exam has a pass rate of about 57% so I need to take the class and all the reading (I’ve got four large books) pretty seriously. The class is three hours one night a week and then there’s all the reading and studying, the combination of which began to interfere with the latter half of Self-Pub Fantasy Month. I didn’t get to write the last two reviews I’d hoped to post or some of the additional things I wanted to do. I still plan on getting those reviews done…at some point.

This month though I’ve had a hard time focusing on the reading for the class. All I’ve wanted to do was read some fiction…which leads me to part two of this post… Continue reading

Self-Pub Fantasy Month In Review (And A Pause)

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Well September has come to a close and with it so has Self-Published Fantasy Month. It seems like it started with a bang and then finished with a whisper. That’s on me for some poor planning.

I only managed one review this month for The Great Restoration: A Tale of The Verin Empire by William Ray. I also posted my first ever author interview which you can read at Author Interview: William Ray.

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Continue reading