January reading round-up

  • # of books read: 20
  • audiobooks listened to: 5
  • ebooks read: 6
  • nonfiction read: 2
  • ARCs read: 1
  • books from the Experiment in Terror series: 4
  • books from the White Cat series: 3
  • vintage YA: 3
  • total page count: 4,376

I did a ton of reading this month.

In newer releases, I finished up Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital, which was fascinating not quite in the way I had anticipated – I had thought Bellevue was mostly a mental hospital – but still learned a lot about the early days of medicine in America and about the various plagues that swept through New York City.

Freeks, by Amanda Hocking, was an impulse add to my reading list when a stack of new books came up from the library’s tech services and one I had forgotten to put on hold for myself, A List of Cages, was on hold for someone else… The circus/carnival/sideshow theme of course was calling to me.  I like her writing style – it’s easy to read, and fun.  This one took place in the 80’s so there were tons of 80’s references.  I personally think the title is a little cheesy but it fits.

I also read an ARC of Hellworld by Tom Leveen.  This was the kind of post-apocalyptic story I love, where monsters hinted at in ancient religious texts are unleashed – a sci-fi horror thriller.

Another newer book I loved was Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman – it completely deserves the National Book Award!

I blazed through 5 audiobooks.  Three of those were Holly Black’s White Cat series, which were narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, and were short and fun to listen to.  Patient Zero was much longer, and yet I blew through that one as well.  Then I listened to Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick – so, so good.  So quotable.

Three of the books I read this month were “vintage YA.”  The first was The Executioner, a book I thought I remembered reading as a teen back in the 90’s.  Not sure if I actually did… let’s just say the characters weren’t exactly memorable and the mystery didn’t make much sense.  The second, a donation that appeared in my box at the library, was Attitude Problem, which had even bigger plot holes and possibly even flatter characters.  The third was The Woman in the Wall, which was a bit of strange magical realism.  What all of these books made me nostalgic for were the days when you could read a book in a matter of 2-3 hours.

Stealing some reading time at the laundromat #reading #bookstagram #laundry

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I downloaded the rest of the books in the Experiment in Terror series, which I last left off in 2014.  Still just as good two years later.  The premise is two ghosthunters, each with the ability to see ghosts, team up for an internet show.  The sexual tension is insane, and finally I got to the part where Perry and Dex get together!  Naturally, not without Sasquatch, zombies, and plenty of ghosts.  (That’s Into the Hollow, book #6, that I’m reading at the laundromat above).  I also found myself binge-watching “Paranormal Lockdown,” which gave me the Dex & Perry feels.

And finally!  I got to read A List of Cages, which is officially my favorite book this month. Might be my favorite book for the rest of the year, too.  It was so heartbreaking and lovely.  Highly recommended!!

stealing time to read

I read a lot.  Every year for the last ten years I have read over 100 books. During two of those years, I read over 170 books.  As you can see from the little Goodreads widget on my blog, I’m usually in the middle of reading 3-5 books.

When people say they don’t have time to read, I both can’t understand them and understand completely.  In high school I remember sitting down on my bed every afternoon and reading for hours (this was pre-internet).  I don’t do that anymore, not very often.  This is how I understand when people say they can’t find time to read.  I certainly don’t have hours everyday to just sit and enjoy a book.

Or do I?

Nowadays, most of my reading is done while I’m eating.  I read while I eat breakfast, and while I eat lunch (dinner is usually on the couch watching TV).  But mealtime accounts for about an hour of reading time every day.

Lunch with Simon & Baz #carryon #rainbowrowell #books #reading #simonandbaz

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I also listen to audiobooks during my commute.  That’s a half hour to and from work, so there’s another hour, and sometimes I’ll continue to listen while I do chores around the house, like folding laundry and preparing breakfast or dinner.  Sometimes I’ll also listen while I play games on the computer (generally only when I’m at a good part in the audiobook).

I keep my Nook in the bathroom, so when I’m doing my business I’m often reading then, too, but usually only when I’m reading a book with short chapters – right now it’s Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman.  That accounts for about 15 minutes of reading a day.

Recently, I’ve started reading in bed at night, too, mostly to eliminate the screen brain I have from being on the computer and watching TV in the evenings.  There’s another 20 minutes.

And, I have to admit, occasionally I sneak some reading at work as well (I’m a librarian, though, so I like to think it’s work-related).

All told, without sitting down expressly to read a book, I manage to carve out nearly 3 hours of reading every day.

goodreads stars & how i use them

I see a lot of things about reviewers on Goodreads who give reviews that are either 1 star or 5 stars, with little in-between, and whenever I read about reviewers like that, I always feel a little confused.

This is the exact opposite of how I rate books.

I like a nice bell curve.  Most of my reviews are 3 stars, because that’s an “average” rating.  Three stars means I liked the book… because, surprise!  I like to read, and I like books.  I like most things I read.  That’s normal right?  If I hated 50% of the things I read, I probably wouldn’t like to read so much.

It’s very rare that I absolutely HATE a book, and usually I can’t even say that I hated it.  Most of my 1-star reviews are for books that I couldn’t finish.  And sometimes even a favorite author will make that list (Stephen King, for Dreamcatcher).

Two stars, that means I could finish the book but didn’t particularly enjoy it.  A lot of school reading falls into this category.  Or sometimes I didn’t enjoy it, but can see the literary value.  Or sometimes it’s the rating version of “Meh.” (The official Goodreads description of a 2-star rating is “it was ok.”  Meh.)

When I give a book four stars on Goodreads, that’s a recommendation from me.  Usually I will rate a book 4 stars if I can imagine myself recommending the book to someone (as a librarian, I do this a lot!).  These are books that I think are well-written, that captured my attention, and especially series books that I am likely to continue reading.

Now, when I rate a book FIVE stars, that’s something rare.  (Almost as rare as 1 star!  Because I like my bell curve!).  Sometimes a book transports me into another world, where I think about the characters outside of the story, or maybe I imagine myself IN the story.  I’m emotionally invested, fully.  These things might also describe a 4-star book as well.  But I’d also re-read a 5-star book.  I hardly ever re-read anything.

Some of the books that I’ve given 5 stars to:

  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Twilight & Hunger Games series
  • The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
  • A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

Now, when I write reviews on Amazon (which I do very rarely), the rating scale slides a little bit.  Some of my 3-star reviews become 4-star reviews, because on Amazon, 3-star is “it was ok.”  Which I guess makes sense.  But I like my Goodreads bell curve 🙂

Goodreads Giveaway!

I am finally getting down to the nitty-gritty on finalizing the print edition of Hitchhikers.  I’ve got 3 proof copies to give away so I am offering them up on Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hitchhikers by Kate Spofford

Hitchhikers

by Kate Spofford

Giveaway ends March 11, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

The issues were mostly with my cover: I wanted the background image to wrap around to the back, and to have that black stripe across the front meet the spine edge, so that took a couple of tries.  Then in my second attempt I realized I had forgotten to put my last name on the spine, and also that in the book text I had left the first print edition date as being October 2013.  Once I’d changed all of that, I found that I still had page numbering issues.  BUT – it will definitely be ready to go by Feb. 1!

In other news, I’ve just gotten Kayla out of a bad situation in Dreamwalkers and I’ve been better this week about my 500-words per day goal.  Hopefully by Feb. 1 I’ll have a first draft finished and ready for revision!