Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Read Stats via a fancy schmancy infographic

Look how fancy I am. So fancy, you guys. I spent a bunch of time putting together this infographic of my 2015 reading stats so ENJOY

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December reading stats

The year is over, or just about. The point is, I'm not going to be finishing anymore books before Jan 1, because I'm distracted listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. So let's start with my December stats, and I'll save the year end stats for another post because then I get another post out of this deal. Good job, me.

Overall, I'm not too surprised that my stats for December aren't great. Between travel and holidays and whatnot, this is never the month where I accomplish much. Other than eating a bunch of cookies. I'm doing SO WELL with that.  So with that, let's take a look at those stats.

Total books read
Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Total pages read

Percentage of fiction read 

Percentage of female authors

Percentage of white authors
100% - dammit
Percentage of US authors

Book formats
paperback - 100%


Review books

Books by decade
2010s - 100%

Books by genre
Economics - 25%
History - 25%
Short Stories - 25%
Thriller - 25%

Resolution books

That's alright. The holidays are for slacking off on responsibilities and eating a bunch of crap. I'm sure the 2015 stats will look better. (I hope, I hope, I hope.)

And because I mentioned in my end of year survey that I wanted to try to get up to date on reviews, let's list out what books I have to review:
Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Monday, December 28, 2015

End of the year survey

Now that 2015 is just about over, it's time for a bunch of end-of-year surveys instead of real posts. Which works out nicely for me cos instead of reading I've spent my time eating waaaaay too much food and watching stuff like Tiny House Hunters. Thanks Loni for this one!

1. Best book read in 2015?
There were a lot of amazing books this year BUT I think the one I liked the best was probably The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I don't know if "love" is the right word, but I definitely thought I'd enjoy The Intern's Handbook. Yeah, not a fan of that one...
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Maybe A Storm of Swords because it was finally the GoT book that really got me into the series. Prior to it I was enjoying things well enough, but not in love with it.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I don't know that I actually convinced anyone to read any of the books I read this year.

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
So the only series I started this year was The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde. I read A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows, as well as The Rosie Effect in terms of sequels, and out of those I'd say Swords was my fav. I didn't finish any series, which makes sense since I rarely start them.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
I guess I'd say Liane Moriarty because she's new to me this year AND she has some other books I would like to check out. Or maybe Elizabeth Peters because Crocodile on the Sandbank was super fun.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Monk probably, but I think a lot of that credit goes towards the super fun of the readalong and only some to Matthew G. Lewis and his batshit insane story.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
I don't know that I'd describe that many of the books I read as action-packed or thrilling (despite how many books I would categorize as thrillers) but maybe Locke & Key audiobook? That certainly had action and thrilling moments and OMG SO GOOD. I might actually have to read it and see the artwork.

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Graveyard Book, Furiously Happy, Men Explain Things To Me because I think I need to give that book another go when I'm in a different frame of mind.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
None of them super stand out and a good amount of my reading was done on my Kindle so no cover I can readily picture. That said, I do like the Station Eleven cover. (also the book itself, which gets an honorable mention for one of the best books I read this year.)

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
I think I'd have to say Bod from The Graveyard Book.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
This is a toss up for two very different books but Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
Probably Americanah or The Big Short, again in very different ways.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Graveyard Book which I realize I'm answering with a lot. But it's a book that's been recommended to me for awhile and cos I was sort of lukewarm on Gaiman before I didn't really prioritize it. Then I finally read it and wow.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
I have no idea. I could probably look through what I highlighted or quoted in posts but that sounds like a lot of work.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest: "We Should All Be Feminists" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (64 pages), which is more of an essay than book SO runner up is Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit (130 pages). Is it weird that both of the shortest are feminist pieces?
Longest: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. at 1,216 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis because that book is wall-to-wall bananas.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
I feel like very few of the books I read have great couples. How about Leonella and Christoval from The Monk?

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Lafayette and George Washington from Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. Though I guess it's hard to credit Vowell with that cos history. But seriously, Lafayette named his son "George Washington".
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Neil Gaiman for Graveyard

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure
At this point, it's hard for me to separate the books I found vs. ones someone else recommended. Maybe Locke & Key cos a BUNCH of people have talked about how great that is and Kayleigh (aka Nylon Admiral) provided the information that the audiobook was free and free is great. Of course I don't know if I can say that was solely a reco from someone else, cos I'm already a Joe Hill fan. OK, if not L&K then maybe The Monk cos that was fun and def not something I would have read sans readalong.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Um nope. I got nothing.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
For the most part, I have no idea which books are debut books. And each book I guessed that I really enjoyed might be a debut turned out not to be. I've read a few debut books that weren't really my favs. Though I guess this just says "Best" but since in this case it would be more of a "ugh, I guess this one" I'm just gonna go ahead and skip it.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
It's hard to beat George R. R. when it comes to world building. I mean, damn.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Well I re-read The Martian in prep for the movie and always the most fun. 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
I remember crying both while reading Graveyard Book (and really trying not to cos I WAS IN PUBLIC, DAMMIT), as well as while listening to Locke & Key, which was extra awkward cos I was on an exercise bike at the time. At least that was in my own house. 

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
I don't know that I uncovered many gems. Most of the gems were recommended to me, and therefore already unearthed.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The Dinner probably, and not in a good way.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Locke & Key. I mean, it was an audiobook of a graphic novel. Whaaaa?
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Intern's Handbook and no, I did not like it. The Big Short also pissed me off, but that one was not the book's fault. 

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Hamilton biography!! I mean, I didn't get to it in 2015 cos I JUST got it and also there is a readalong planned for it. But it is definitely a 2016 priority.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
Ummm, said priority book. 

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Not a clue. I don't pay enough attention to which books will be coming out in 2016, especially not debut.
4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
I do not read enough series/sequels.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
Catch up on my reviews. I'm currently 9 books behind. And instead of writing a review, I'm doing this. Good job, me.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone
I am not special enough to read that many ARCs to already not only know but have read upcoming releases.

So there you go. How'd your 2015 look?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas Part Due: ALL THE FOOD

This year for Christmas we decided we would host. Not only that, but we would host both families. There were about 15 of us in total because go big or go home. We don't have enough seating for 15. Nor did we have enough plates or cutlery but NO MATTER. This all means I've spent a good portion of the week planning and prepping. Wanna take a look at the menu? Of course you do.

Baked brie (which ps, is an easy thing to make and looks super fancy so recommended)
Guacamole & Chips
Egg Rolls (frozen, so can't really take any credit here)
Crab Crostini things (also frozen, no credit, but hey, they were easy)
Rib roast (they told us we'd need 8 ribs for how many people we were having. We got 4. We have more than half left. That butcher was full of it. Or assumed meat would be the ONLY thing we were eating)
Salmon filet with herb butter
Slow roasted root veggies (carrots, parsnips, red onions, sweet potatoes)
Baked ziti (gotta have a kid-friendly option)
White rice
Green beans with almonds, shallots & garlic
Cresent rolls (I did all that cooking so no time to actually bake)
THEN my mom helped out and brought
Scalloped sweet potatoes (everything's better with cheese)
Herb mashed potatoes
Gravy (but in a jar cos listen, I had enough to do that making homemade gravy was not on that list. I did fancy up the gravy by adding some fresh herbs & pan drippings)
Chocolate chip and M&M cookies (cos I ran out of choco chips 1/2 way through but found a jar of red and green M&Ms someone had given us so, problem solved)
Soft ginger cookies
That was officially the end of the dessert I was bringing to the table (see food above) so others brought
Ice box cannoli cake (my mom)
Amaretto pound cake (also my mom, on top of the potatoes)
Bread pudding (Tom's dad)
SO MUCH FOOD and so many leftovers because I am terrible at figuring out the correct amount of food to make. It was a very tiring but very fun day.

This post isn't really bookish, I just wanted to go on about all this work I did cos I need validation.

Tom did get me the best gift as it was: a $10 bill, the Chernow Hamilton biography and TICKETS TO HAMILTON
Rough estimate of my reaction
Tom is again master gift giver and I'd like to think that part of MY gift to him is the fact that he will always beat me in gift giving. (I mean, I didn't do TOO shabby. I got him an authentic world series Mets jersey. Sure, he sent me a picture of the exact one he wanted [after I had already picked one out and was about to buy it when he interrupted and ruined the surprise] but that's not the point). So here's the bookish-ish part of the post.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday with lots of good food

Friday, December 25, 2015


I've been falling behind on posting reviews. I'm going to blame the holiday season and all that entails, despite the fact that my entire year can be described as "falling behind on posting reviews".


I'm going to spend the day...well I want to say watching A Muppet Christmas Carol on repeat, but that will probably be in the background while I spend the day cooking.
For those that celebrate, hope you're enjoying the day! For those that don't, well, I hope you're enjoying the day as well. GOOD DAYS FOR EVERYONE!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Keys turn both ways

I'm still having trouble getting into graphic novels, so it's sort of funny that I love love loooooved the audiobook version of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's Locke & Key. It's also something that got me into listening to more podcasts, which I realize is odd since it is not actually a podcast and if anything it should get me into listening to more audiobooks. But I got used to listening to L&K while I was cooking so when I finished it and needed something else, I turned to podcasts and have been all over Serial and Stuff You Missed in History, (as well as Freakonomics, but I've listened to that on-and-off for awhile).

So I'll focus Locke & Key on the story, since I can't really speak to the art, which I realize is typically a BIG part of graphic novels. Except, of course, I don't want to throw out too many spoilers so let's see what I can manage.

Locke & Key starts with the murder of Rendell, patriarch of the Locke family. Nina and her three kids, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode move to Lovecraft, MA to Keyhouse, a home that's been in the Locke family for years, in an attempt to put these terrible things behind them. Tyler's depressed, Kinsey doesn't fit in, Nina's started drinking and Bode finds a strange key that seems to let him leave his body.

The kids slowly unlock (ha) the mysteries of Keyhouse and continue to find keys that allow them to do any number of crazy, magical things. The Ghost Key lets you leave your body and float around like a ghost. The Head Key lets you open up your or someone else's head and either put information in or take memories out. There are a ton of keys and it's fun to learn what each one does.
But of course, it's not just kids finding weird keys that none of the adults seem to notice. Someone/something is stalking the Locke family to get the Omega key. It's what Rendell was killed for back in California.

Joe Hill is a horror writer and this falls into that genre, though with a lot of fantasy elements. But the story can and does get pretty violent. It also gets sad at times. I finished up the book while riding on an exercise bike and I think I went the fastest I've even done trying to outrun the feels.

I highly recommend listening to this as an audiobook. Like I said in an earlier post, it's like a radio play with a number of different actors portraying all of the characters and various sound effects used to keep you in the story. Everyone was distinct enough that I never missed speaker tags that are part of a more traditional audiobook. And I liked the story enough I'm thinking of picking up the actual graphic novel, though as a set, if that's an option, please & thank you.

(P.S., don't you love my seasonally appropriate reviews. I'm so good at this...)

Gif rating:
Title quote from somewhere near the end of the series, but since I listened to it I don't really know WHERE it's from.

Hill, Joe. Locke & Key. Audible recording

Monday, December 14, 2015

Staying alive, as it turns out, is mostly common sense

It's the Christmas season, so let's talk about dead bodies via a forensic pathologist, shall we?
Of course there's a gif that combines these things
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner had been on my radar ever since Nahree's post about it. So I picked it up when it and a bunch of other books when in sale.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's interesting if you're into reading about dead bodiesand the things that happen after you die if you end up on the forensic pathologist's slab. And given I very much enjoyed Stiff yes, this is a book that is up my alley.

It's somewhat of a memoir, with Dr. Judy Melinek discussing how she ended up working as a pathologist in NYC in the early 2000s. She originally wanted to be a surgeon but being made to work insane hours and while sick (cos you know, you want your surgeon to have a crazy-high fever and be sleep deprived when slicing you up!) but a pathologist is more of a nine-to-five job.

The book is graphic at times, but not overly so. It doesn't feel like she's describing things with the sole purpose of being shocking. But that doesn't mean she shies away from explaining exactly how she has to split apart the rib cage to get to the organs within or any other medical details.
Learning to handle human beings who have begun to return to the soil cycle has, more than any other aspect of the job, made me more comfortable with death - though it's also made me much, much less comfortable with houseflies, and leery of cats.
While it is like a memoir, the structure threw me at times. The book is split into different sections, themes based on how the people died. Which meant that things weren't chronological, though at times it felt like it should be or that she was hinting at something big she learned from a later case that would apply to her current one, only for that to never once happen. It almost felt like it should have been more clear, with each case being its own stand alone chapter. But a minor complaint.

She was a pathologist in NYC during 9/11 and her chapter on September 11th was a lot harder to read than I anticipated. She talks about the trucks bringing bodies to the pathologist's site. Well, "bodies" isn't really accurate because, as she makes clear, they were very rarely dealing with whole bodies. More often it was pieces about the size of your thumb.

The book can be funny, can be sad, can be horrifying, can be gross, but it's also entertaining.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 5, location 67

Melinek, Dr Judy. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner. Scribner, 2014. Kindle edition

Friday, December 11, 2015

Book as gifts, good idea?

Or GREAT idea?
For people who love books, sure, no brainer. But what about other people? What are your thoughts about giving books as gifts to people who aren't avid readers?

On the one hand, they seem like a safe bet. You don't have to worry about figuring out sizes or colors. No allergies to contend with. There are a billion types of books, so there's going to be something out there they'll likely enjoy. And books are great, so what's the problem?

Then again, I like books, so I think getting books is great. I like having books and I like reading books. But it seems a bit selfish for me to give someone a gift because I like it. Even if I mean well and I think they'll really enjoy it. It can still be a bit like I gave them a bowling ball with my name engraved on it.*
What if the person sees getting a book like getting homework? Or they have a super minimalistic home and having books laying around would ruin the aesthetic? Or if they just don't like reading? Because everyone is super busy and I want to spend downtime reading, but maybe you want to play video games or knit or watch TV or play piano or train for a marathon or any other million things people do with their downtime.

I've been going back and forth on this the holiday season (also, I'm clearly terrible and planning gift giving and just getting to this now) on books as gifts and I think I've landed that, unless the person is a big reader, maybe books aren't the right way to go. But what do you think?

In other news, I finally started listening to Hamilton and shit. You're all right. It's amazing. But why must tickets be so expensive (last time I looked, $800 for the crappy seats, $1600 for nice seats and it's sold out till the summer anyway. You know, in case I win the lotto or something.)

*Can we make the term "Homer ball" mean a gift you give to someone else, but you really mean it for yourself? Yes, we're all agreed on that? Excellent.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Welcome to Kazam...where unimaginable horrors share the day with moments of confusing perplexity and utter randomness

You'd think Jasper Fforde and dragons would have been a no brainer for me, but I had stayed away from this series, despite the fact that this is a Fforde series and I luuuuuuuuurve him, because it's a kids series. It says for grades 5-7. So while I KNOOOW children's lit can be amazing, it's not something that I was thinking would be my thing and thus I ignored it. Then more and more people starting talking about how great it is and it was on sale and hey, I do love Fforde so I decided to give it a try.

5-7 graders are more advanced than I had assumed. Or actually, I think what's more likely true is that a lot of the other books I read would also probably be fine for 5-7 graders. Because if you hadn't told me this was a kids book then other than the fact that the protagonist is a teenager I don't think I would have noticed. And I guess I still can't really tell what makes this a kids book vs. not.

As with all Fforde books, the plot is sort of hard to explain. The main character is Jennifer Strange, who works at an employment agency for magical people, and lives in the nation of Kazam. They seem to mostly do house renovations, fixing the plumbing and whatnot, but since they can do it with magic no need to tear through walls. She's sort of an indentured servant to the place, which is the normal situation for orphans and, at least for Strange, doesn't appear to be all that unpleasant. She it's pretty much running the place, especially since the manager Mr. Zambini has gone missing. And there's a prophecy the last dragonslayer will kill the last dragon, which will lead to a massive war as opposing armies vie for control of the dragon land. The usual imminent peril that plagues Fforde protagonists.
Two people tried to kill me, I was threatened with jail, had fifty-eight offers of marriage, and was outlawed by King Snodd IV. All that and more besides, and in less than a week.
All of Fforde's books feel the same. I mean, they all have the same style, and all deal with plots that are nigh impossible to describe, with morally upstanding and intelligent leads, evil corporations/governments with seemingly unlimited resources to use against our plucky and intelligent hero. While I guess this could get repetitive, it doesn't. Thursday Next, Nursery Crimes, even Shades of Grey and now this are all sort of the same but in such entertainingly different ways that I love it every time. Now I can add The Last Dragonslayer to the list.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 16, location 182

Fforde, Jasper. The Last Dragonslayer. HMH Books, 2012. Kindle

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November Reading Wrap-Up

The year is almost done. How scary is that? And of course December flies by because of the holidays, so it will be a new year before we can blink. I had a pretty good November. All good on the home front and a successful Thanksgiving with much to be thankful for. Actually, let's look at a couple puppy photos, shall we?

They are the cutest, even the old man down at the bottom.

Let's look at those stats, shall we?

Total books read
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I Don't Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Less than the last few months, but I was also fairly far through Honeydew before my trip and decided I'd rather only bring my Kindle than bring it PLUS a book, so it didn't get finished this month.

Total pages read

Percentage of fiction read

Percentage of female authors

Percentage of white authors

Percentage of US authors

Book formats
ebook - 40%
paperback - 20%
hardback - 40%


Review books

Books by decade
1990s - 20%
2010s - 80%

Books by genre
Memoir - 40%
Self-Help - 20%
Short Stories - 20%
Thriller - 20%

Resolution books
Black Chalk - author from the UK
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - author from Japan and a translation
Revenge author ALSO from Japan and also a translation