Tag Archives: book count

2016 – year in review

Reading:

I read 33 books or novellas in 2016; that doesn’t count the books I picked up and put back down or returned to the library unread or unfinished, since I may circle back to some of those at some point.  The two best fiction reads were Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas. Best nonfiction was Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies.  Biggest disappointment was Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

Also, I read an excellent original hockey fic on AO3. I really like the writer’s voice and style…but the typos and punctuation abuse make my brain hurt.

I started Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine on 12/31 but have not finished it yet; I think it’ll be one of my favorite reads when it comes time to tally up 2017.

Watched:

  • Fox’s Pitch series (please be renewed?)
  • The Crown
  • GBBO
  • Star Wars (mostly liked it, love General Organa)
  • Jason Bourne (meh)
  • Ghostbusters (loved it)
  • Star Trek (meh)
  • Love & Friendship (loved it)

Theater, Museums, Music:

  • Jan 9 – The Critic and the Real Inspector
  • March 5 – Othello
  • March 26 – 1984
  • May 21 – The Taming of the Shrew
  • Oct 29 – Romeo and Juliet
  • Dec 3 – The Secret Garden
  • The Menil
  • The National Aviary
  • Fort Pitt Museum
  • The Andy Warhol Museum
  • The Frick – the carriages and cars in the garage are amazing, as is the house
  • The Heinz History Center, multiple visits – Toys Exhibit, Pixburgh exhibit, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, glass industry.  The exhibit on slavery is excellent and awful.  As a white person, it was ugly and shame-inducing to walk through.  I cannot imagine how painful it would be for a POC, or even tell whether it would be cathartic or just rage-inducing.
  • ROM (loved the Chihuly exhibit)
  • Casa Loma
  • Bata Shoe Museum
  • AGO
  • Textile Museum
  • Gardiner Museum of Ceramics (loved)
  • Smithsonian National Gallery of Art
  • Garth Brooks & Tricia Yearwood concert (wow, not much music this year)

Sports:

Okay, this category, now that I look at it, is a little excessive.  Sorry, not sorry.  Also, I’m sure I went to at least one more baseball game, but I can’t find the ticket stub or a note on my planner, so.

  • Feb 22 – Coyotes @ Caps
  • Feb 27 – Jets @ Penguins
  • March 11-14 – Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas tournament, love this venue.
  • March 18 – Predators @ Caps
  • March 28 – Blue Jackets @ Caps
  • April 7 – Penguins @ Caps (makeup game for blizzard), WIN!
  • April 16 – Game 2 of the 1st round of the playoffs – NYR @ Penguins, loss
  • April 23 – Game 5 of the 1st round – NYR @Penguins, won the series
  • April 28 – Game 1 of the 2nd round – Penguins @ Caps, lost in OT.
  • May 4 – Game 4 of the 2nd round – Caps @ Penguins (OT win!)
  • May 13 – Game 1 of the ECF – TBL @ Penguins – ouch, lost, Letang got boarded (and knocked out) right in front of me.  It was ugly.
  • June 1 – Game 2 of the SCF – Sharks & Penguins, OT win.  The Goal (actually all the goals) was right in front of me!
  • June 5 – NYY @ Orioles
  • Sept 14 – pre-tournament SWE-EUR
  • Sept 17-29 – World Cup of Hockey tournament; 16 games.  So. Much. Hockey.
  • October 15 – Ducks @ Penguins (win!)
  • Nov 8 – Sharks @ Caps (Sharks win!)
  • Nov 16 – Penguins @ Caps (ugly, ugly loss)
  • Nov 19 – Penguins @ Buffalo (SO loss, man, Flower was so good in the 3rd and OT).
  • Nov 20 – NWHL Pride @ Beauts (posted thoughts/opinions about this over on tumblr)
  • Dec 30 – Three Rivers Classic (consolation game and championship game)
  • Dec 31 – Canadiens at Penguins (OT win!)

Travel:

  • Houston
  • Pittsburgh
  • Buffalo
  • Beach
  • Toronto

Goals/plans for 2017:

  • Drop the Caps tickets, use the money to visit other teams’ arenas
  • Go to at least two more NWHL games this season
  • Go to either Italy, Portugal, or Spain on vacation (in February, maybe?)
  • Read 40 books
  • Make myself post more regularly
  • Find a tutor or conversational group to refresh/relearn the Russian I’ve mostly forgotten

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Checking in

Well, I have failed at reading Middlemarch.  Again.  But I’ve started listening to the audio book, narrated by Juliet Stevenson (whose Persuasion I enjoyed), so maybe I’ll get through it in that medium.

A couple of other books from the library have been slightly more successful.  About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk read as fluffy chick lit, a lighter version of early Marian Keyes.  It was fine; I probably would have really enjoyed it 10 years ago and gone looking for the sequel, but now it reads as pretty derivative to me.  Olivia de Havilland’s memoir, Every Frenchman Has One, was charming.  It was dated, of course, and narrated a lifestyle that seems as alien and distant to me as medieval England or China under the Han dynasty.

I ran across an interview with Lois McMaster-Bujold in which she talked about self-publishing her work as electronic rights became/become available, along with a Penric short story.  The story, Penric and the Shaman, was a lovely little adventure; it went over much better for me than her last full book.

Currently I’m reading one of Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries, and I’ve got a Le Carre novel up next; the one that has been turned into a movie recently (out this summer), its title escapes me at the moment.  There are a couple of library books sitting on the table, as well.  After that, who knows.  It’ll be time to pick out some beach reads by the time I finish all that up…assuming I manage to finish them.

Saw Love & Friendship, which was quite funny; I’d recommend it not only for the costumes and set decoration but for the acting and writing of the screenplay.

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March reading

March was kind of meh for reading in the early part of the month.

As mentioned, I was less than impressed by the portion of the Captive Prince trilogy that I read.

Patricia Briggs’ Fire Touched came out early in the month as well.  I’ve given up on her Omega books set in the same world; as I mentioned when I read the last book, Anna’s dismissal of Charles’ desire to not have children Seriously Pissed Me Off and struck me as profoundly offensive in a way that would’ve had readers up in arms if their positions had been swapped.  Mercy…eh, I have mentioned before that her acquisition of a new power  or tool of power or conveniently powered/talented friend whenever one is needed seems lazy.  And it happens again here. Plus, Mercy’s internal monologing in which she knows better than Adam about how he feels about god/religion strikes me as profoundly patronizing in much the same way Anna “knowing best” about whether Charles should want to have kids did.    Yeah, stick a fork in me, I’m done.

I’m almost finished Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies (non-fiction), which I’m really enjoying.

And I’ve got the first installment of Ms. Marvel to read next.  And the web comic Check Please.

~~~

Random:  I was reading an NPR piece on “Boston Chinese” food and ran across one of my language pet peeves, the use of cache for cachet.  They are spelled differently; pronounced differently; and have completely different meanings.  How freaking difficult is it to use the right word.  Boston Chinese does not have “a certain cache”; it has a certain cachet.  FFS.

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February’s reading

My reading is trending up!  No genre romance in there, but still.

  1. Brotherhood in Death by JD Robb.  I was tempted into buying this because Dennis Mira is mentioned in the blurb and I like that character.  He’s pretty tangential to the plot though, once the mystery is introduced.  Not great editing (Morse or Morris?, etc.).  Also, chain of evidence is a thing; prosecutors generally don’t handwave it away because it’s inconvenient.
  2. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold.  I was pretty disappointed by this book.  At last, another book in which Cordelia is the protagonist. But instead of adventures or any actual plot, this is basically a domestic book in which she sits on the sideline while others grow/change/make major decisions.  All of her change or growth and decision-making was done before the book opens.  It’s really frustrating to me that Miles got to have personal growth + adventures while Cordelia gets neither of those on the pages of what is ostensibly a book about her.
  3. Day Shift by Charlaine Harris.  Library book.  Eh.
  4. Wood by Jordan Castillo Price.  Very short novella.  If this were fanfiction, I’d label it as PWP.  I’m not really sure what the point was, and if I had realized that there was no actual plot, I probably wouldn’t have bothered even at the $0.99 price point.
  5. Who Buries the Dead by C.S. Harris.  Another library book.  This series works better for me when I don’t read them back-to-back.  Liked the appearances of the Austen family and the mention of two Austen books.
  6. The Joy in Half A Cookie by Jean Kristeller.  Nonfiction.  Interesting and thoughtful, there are some things that I find useful in terms of how I think about and go about my own food choices.  But I’m never going to be a half a cookie person, unless I’m splitting it with someone.

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The Year in Reading

According to LibraryThing, I read or tried to read 42 books this year.  Scrolling through the list, a lot of the titles stir only the vaguest of recollections in my mind.

The ones that stand out as good (or very good) reads:

The Martian by Andy Weir.  As I mentioned on Twitter, I enjoyed this book even more than I enjoyed the movie.  The narrative style and the narrator’s voice *made* the book.

Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold.  This is a novella set in her Chalion world, and it made me wish she would revisit it and tell stories based around the other Quintarian gods.  Loved it; it prompted re-listening to The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls.

Sean Kennedy’s Tigers on the Run left me feeling ambivalent; I enjoyed it while I read it as revisiting favorite characters but I did not love the plot.  Simon came across as petty and unprofessional, which was discomfiting since he was the narrator.

Non-fiction books King of Russia and The Road Beneath My Feet, both memoirs, were pretty good as entertainment but were not necessarily sterling examples of the craft of writing.  I’d recommend them to hockey and music fans but not necessarily to the public at large.

On the oops side, glomming Susanna Kearsley was a mistake; some of the books are reissues and are not so good, and none of them stand up to reading in close succession.

I’m mostly broken up with Nora Roberts aka JD Robb.

I’m looking forward to the new Vorkos-iverse book from Bujold in the spring, but otherwise I’m not sure what’s coming out soon or what I should be looking forward to.

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*pokes at blog*

I’ve been mostly offline for the summer, in terms of keeping up with reader/bookish blogs. I sort of missed some things about it and sort of didn’t.

I owe Beth all the words about her book, which I loved.

Aside from Beth’s book, I’ve gotten a little reading done this summer:

The Road Beneath My Feet – Frank Turner’s memoir. One one hand, I like the narrative style, as tour dates beginning when he went out on his own.  It’s interesting to read about his life on the road and how he developed his band and touring philosophy, etc.  On the other hand, while he has clearly worked hard to get where he is, he sometimes comes across as cavalier about his opportunities (white, middle class English dude who attended Eton and London School of Economics) even as he occasionally acknowledges his good fortune. Which kind of circles back to my ambivalence about the lyrics/message of “Photosynthesis” about doing what you love vs having a job merely to earn a living.  Also, his editor really should have cut back on the use of “in the event” in the text. Worth reading if you like his music and can find a copy, since I don’t think it’s been published in the US yet.  [FYI, his new album, Positive Songs for Negative People, came out a couple of weeks ago and is pretty good.  Not my favorite, since England Keep My Bones is pretty awesome, but I like Get Better and Love Forty Down.]

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This needed serious editing. The Eastern European fairy tale/mythology was interesting, but the story was not particularly original otherwise. And if you (like me) are expecting actual dragons a la Temeraire, you will be disappointed.

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. It was okay? I wasn’t all that engaged by the Big Mystery. And the volume of little discontinuities or errors was irritating, but par for all of Andrews’ books. Also, why no commas when using multiple adjectives to modify nouns? Is that a dying part of grammar?

The Kizuna Coast by Sujata Massey. A Rei Shimura Mystery. I thought Massey had left this series behind, and so wasn’t looking for a new book when I ran across this in a display at the library. Set in Japan after the 2011 earthquake. I guessed whodunnit pretty early but not why exactly. It was nice visiting this series again but I found the domestic/relationship piece to be a little cloying, although I’m not sure I can articulate why exactly.  Maybe it felt like the narrator was trying too hard to show how happy/compatible Rei and Michael were?  I don’t know.

Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold. LOVED this short story. It’s set in her Chalion world but centuries before The Curse of Chalion. If you haven’t read the three other books and wonder if you’ll like the world, it might be a good place to start.

What else have I done all summer? I feel like I’ve worked a lot mostly, which is weird since summer tends to be slower.  Except it’s also when a lot of people are out on vacation, so even if volume is down, there are fewer people around to deal with things, so… When work and other things were not making me cranky, I went to Chicago for a long weekend. I’m working on a baby blanket for a friend. Hemmed and hawed and then ponied up for a 10 game ticket plan for hockey.  I picked games where I’ll be able to cheer against the Caps – Pens, CBJ, MTL, SJS, Preds, etc. Flirted with the idea of Istanbul for a vacation in November or February until there were more bombings in the tourist areas and gunfire at the consulate; I think maybe that window has closed for now.

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April’s reading

My reading is inching up, which is a good thing even if I’m not finishing everything I start.  I think part of the reason for that is that I’m going to the library again.  The branch near my old house was not very good, while I’m now closer to the main library, with a larger selection.  (Yes, holds are always possible, but at a certain point, immediate gratification is an issue when borrowing books.)

1.  The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas.  Literary fiction.

2.  North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Non-fiction, travel memoir.

3.  The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley.  Mystery.

4.  The Liar by Nora Roberts.  Romantic suspense.

5.  Off Side by Manuel Vazquez Montalban.  Mystery.  DNF.

6.  One Kick by Chelsea Cain.  Mystery.  DNF.

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