Friday, January 17, 2020

2019 Reading Wrap Up: All the Stats & Pretty Graphs

For those of you who have been around for a while, or who know me in person, it should come as ZERO surprise that I love statistics and charts. Side note: for those who are Harry Potter fans...yes...I am (appropriately) a Ravenclaw.

In 2019, I went all in on the statistics nerdery and built myself a spreadsheet after scouring the bookternet and picking up pieces of ideas from several similarly nerdy readers. Spreadsheet lovers, UNITE! Today's post is a culmination is all of that tracking and graphing fun. So...let's take a look at my reading year in numbers and graphs.

3, 2, 1...GO!

Books by the Quantity

Total Books Read: 116
ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies): 50
Books in Translation: 7
Rereads: 4

I more than DOUBLED my prior highest tracked reading year. That's insane. I attribute a good portion of this to the addition of audiobooks into my repertoire.

Best reading month: October (14 books)
Slowest reading month: February (4 books)

Series Reads

Series Reads: 32
Standalones: 79
Uncertain: 5 (These books may end up with sequels in the future. The authors have been noncommittal.)

Started the series: 22 (Why do I do this to myself?)
Series finished this year: 1

Apparently I really need to focus on finishing series. I already have the knack for starting them...

Authors Read

Total Authors Read: 105
Most Read Author: Rick Riordan (3 books). 10 authors had 2 books represented in my 2019 reads.

New to Me Authors: 83

Pages Read / Minutes Listened

Total Pages Read: 37,008

Most Read: August (4,078)
Least Read: February (1,394)

Most Prolific : August (131.5 pages per day)
Least Prolific: February (49.8 pages per day)

Average Pages per Book: 319 
Longest Book: The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia (543 pages)
Shortest Book: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman (97 pages)

Total Time Listened: 284:58:11
Most Listened: September (39:55:44)
Least Listened (after audio usage was started): May (20:28:00)

Average Days per Book: 6
Average Days per Physical Read: 5
Average Days per Audiobook: 7


Average Rating: 3.86
Highest Rating Month: April (4.32)
Lowest Rating Month: March (3.42)

(I'll share the full list of 4, 4.5, and 5 star books in a later post.)

Successful Books: 102

Books by the Details

Average Year Published: 2004

Most Read Genre: Contemporary

Highest sources: (1) Borrowed (Library), (2) NetGalley


And there you have it! The basic numbers and distribution of everything I read in 2019. I'm sure it will be interesting for a few, boring for some, and just a colorful mess for everyone else.

I'll be doing additional evaluations of my 2019 reading with upcoming posts. Coming soon: my 2019 Reading Challenge Success & Progress, the 2019 Book of the Year Bracket, and my results to Perpetual Page Turner's End of the Year Survey.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

December Reading Wrap Up: The Reviews

December was a bit of a clean up month, getting to the odds and ends that I hadn't managed to read earlier in the year. (There's never enough time, people.) I managed to finish up a few of the reads that escaped me and tidied up my ARC pile a little bit, even if I didn't get to everything I had on my TBR at the beginning of the month.

I finished 11 books in the month of December, with an average rating of 3.68. I had a couple that nearly inched their way into some favorites and a few that are more easily forgotten. Isn't that always the case? Let's see if you can find a read or two that pique your own interest.

Books I Finished in December

The Invisibles by Rachel Dacus was an ARC I received that was blurbed as magical realism. Honestly, that's not quite what it was. More realistically, I would peg it as women's fiction or contemporary romance with a touch of magical realism. This isn't a bad thing, it just wasn't what I expected. In fact, the magical realism pieces felt a bit more like a way to draw in additional readers by having a bit of a hook rather than something critical to the propulsion of the narrative.

The story follows sisters Saffron and Elinor in their efforts to wrap up their estranged father's estate following his death. They have traveled to the Italian countryside and are deciding what to do with their father's seaside home, one which may or may not have housed the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley at one point in time.

The book has fantastic writing when it comes to setting a scene. Dacus has a way with visual imagery. There is good writing as a whole and there was a LOT of good potential in the story. It wasn't all realized, but it did have enough quality to it for me to enjoy my time. I never felt bored and I did have some investment in the characters. The overall story is admittedly fun and enjoyable and the book makes what I would consider a great beach read.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White was one of the rollover books from my November focus on middle grade reads. This one was a reread for me. I remembered quite enjoying it in my elementary years, but I didn't remember much of the actual story itself. I listened to this one on audiobook and, like my experience with Charlotte's Web, having E.B. White read his own book to me was a great way to go. The story is cute and entertaining and definitely a good choice for an early chapter book reader. It's not as wonderful as Charlotte's Web, but let's be honest...that's a hard bar to reach.

My second and third physical reads of the month were the first two books in the Emi Watson series by Kelly Zimmer. These were both provided to me as ARCs and I had a surprisingly fantastic time with them. They would again be great travel or beach reads as they are quick and easy, fun and fast-paced.

Zimmer's writing was a great fit for the style of these books. They are a new adult magical realism series with a bit of mystery. The writing is witty and fun and just super comfortable to read. The second novel didn't feel quite as fleshed out for me and I found myself with issues in it's ending, but overall they were both just quite enjoyable. I'm planning on continuing to read the series if more books are released and I will definitely keep an eye out for Kelly Zimmer in the future.

I continued my audio reading of the Percy Jackson series with The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan. This is the third book in the series and I am still very much enjoying my journey with this one. The pacing with this particular installment was great and I found myself constantly glued to the pages. There was a lot of excitement along the way. I am also really loving the mythology so much. I was a total mythology nerd in my junior high years, and that excitement and obsession is definitely returning. Oh...and it doesn't hurt that Riordan's writing is flippant and funny.

Athena's Choice by Adam Boostrom was an ARC that had been sitting patiently on my list for a few months. The cover is freaking gorgeous and I'm always a sucker for a dystopian, so it was time to take this one on in December.

In Boostrom's futuristic society, there are no longer men amongst the humans. They have been wiped out by a virus. At the point where the story begins, there is a discussion beginning over whether or not the redevelopment of the male genome should take place to reestablish men in the community.

The writing in this one was well done, but the plot elements are admittedly a little complex. It's still a rather smooth read, but I imagine that a reread would lend me to find quite a bit of things I didn't quite piece together my first time around. The world-building was intriguing and I definitely wouldn't mind a prequel or a sequel. Admittedly, the main character annoyed and frustrated me some, but she was fairly well fleshed out. Her immaturity did bring the overall feeling of the book down a little bit, so I would actually categorize this as a new adult read rather than a full blown adult sci-fi.

I was let down by the ending, which is where a sequel would be appreciated. The author has talked about the divisiveness of his ending choices in a few interviews, but I didn't really like his reasoning and found it to be something that merely left me unfulfilled. Overall though, Athena's Choice was a fun read and something new and imaginative in the dystopian community. 

The Giver by Lois Lowry was one of my favorite reads of the month. The last of my middle grade hold overs, this is a fantastic dystopian that I really wish I had read sooner. It's so well written and clever. I'm reluctant to say much about the plot as I hate to give anything away, but suffice it to say that I was impressed by the world created here and I NEED more. I'm finding that I really enjoy Lois Lowry's writing style. I also discovered that this is the first in a series, so I'll be tracking down the additional books in the upcoming year or two. 

I had put off reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff for most of the year. Why? I have no idea. I think I was afraid that the hype was all for nothing and I wouldn't end up liking it. Well...I was wrong. Another of my favorites for the month, this ADULT fantasy was awesome. It's dark and mysterious and set in a something like a wicked Hogwarts. It was great. The beginning was a little bit slow, but once the story started moving, I didn't want to put it down.

There is a lot to this one and I probably wouldn't hurt to reread it in the future, but I'm going to move on and read the rest of the trilogy first. I love the morally gray characters and the twisted nature of everything. The sequel is high up on the priority list for 2020 reads.

In college and my post-graduate years (which were admittedly way too long ago), I really enjoyed reading books by Meg Cabot. She has historically written a good and breezy chick lit that felt fun and light. So when I saw No Judgments in my library's audiobook selections, I decided to give it a go. Well...either my tastes have changed or Meg Cabot's writing has. After looking at some of the other reviews for this book, I have to assume that it's a bit of both.

Just like my previous experiences with her books, this novel was fluffy and fun and easy to read. I liked that. But there was too much of a sway toward the romance genre for my liking. I'm not a fan of that type of reading as a general rule, so this was moving dangerously into NOPE territory for me. For those who like a little dip into that end of the reading pool, this would be seriously enjoyable. It just wasn't my cup of tea. Cabot still writes a good book, makes fun characters, and tends to generate a pretty good storyline, so I still enjoyed it...just not as much as I was hoping. As with a handful of my other December reads, this would be a good travel or beach book.

Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds was about a solid of a 3-star rating as there ever could be for me. The characters were cute, but nothing crazy special and the plot was endearing and well-written, but didn't blow me away. It's a little of a historical fiction/contemporary mix with a love story based out of a WWII experience. The plot moved more or less where I expected it to go and the reading was fairly easy, so I enjoyed this read just fine. 

And I ended the month with the most confusing and frustrating book rating of them all. Dorothy in the Land of Monsters by Garten Gevedon is a new adult fantasy retelling of The Wizard of Oz. I loved the plot and found the characters intriguing, but the writing style gave me some serious frustration and occasionally irritated the crap out of me. I considered DNFing the whole thing, but the plot projection was too interesting to just give up. I needed to know where this story went.

So...I gave the book an overall rating of 2.5 stars, but there were some ways in which this book was head and shoulders above my 3 and 3.5 star rated books this month. In fact, there were pieces of me that really wanted to rate it as a 4. But...I had to take in to account the things that seriously bothered me if I wanted to be honest about where this story ranked.

The premise, as mentioned, was phenomenal. I seriously loved the darkness of the story and the messiness of the narrative. It was creepy fun. I also loved how it followed the bones of the original Oz. It stuck to the things that I expected, but then took the story to places that I didn't have on my radar and that thrilled me to pieces.

Fair warning though, some of this writing just rubbed me the wrong way. There is clear talent present, with good construction of imagery and characters, but the dialogue was just cringy in places. I also didn't like the immaturity of Dorothy and the sheer soaking of the book with toilet humor. In addition, there were times where it felt like the author worked too hard to make the words sound overly intelligent, resulting in the feel of a narrative where a thesaurus had been overly consulted. Had these things been removed, along with some of the repetitive nature present in the novel, I would have been SOOO much happier.

So, major conflict. I wanted to love this more than I did as a whole. I had to ignore some of the things that irritated me because I wanted to read the story. And do I want more? Yes. Yes, I do. I want to know where the story goes. I'm just really hoping that there will be some more aggressive editing and less potty humor in any sequels.

So, there you go...the last of my 2019 reads. It was a decent mix with some really frustrating moments and some series that I can't wait to continue. 

Have you read any of the ones I've listed here? Did your opinions match my own or do you have different feelings about your experience(s)? Did I give you any books to add to your own TBR?

Happy 2020 reading everyone!

Friday, January 10, 2020

December Reading Wrap Up: The Stats

Welcome to 2020! I hope you all had wonderful holidays. We enjoyed our Christmas break, but unfortunately rang in the new year in the emergency room getting stitches for our oldest. Never a dull moment around here. January is now in full swing and I've been working on getting some things together to prep for the reading year ahead.

But...I still have some 2019 things to wrap up as well. This post is the start of that completion. Today, the stats for my December reading. After this, there will be posts for my December reviews, my 2019 full year statistics, and my annual Book of the Year Bracket to find my best book of 2019.

Now...let's jump into the stats for the last month of last year!

Reading Stats

I'm surprised, but at the same time not surprised by this graph. December was a bit of a slower reading month thanks to the holidays and all of the madness that entails. However, I still managed to finish 11 books...not too shabby. The surprise was that despite this, the majority of my reads were physical/e-book reads, NOT audio. That seems crazy to me.

2019 BLEW my reading stats for the last decade out of the water. I finished up with a completion of 116 books. That's more than DOUBLE any of the prior years' numbers. I'm incredibly proud of that and I really hope to keep that level of reading up in 2020. I attribute some of this to the fact that I've made reading more of a priority for myself (call it self care if you like), but it's also largely because of my decision to embrace audiobooks. You decision. ever.

Like a lot of readers, I was hesitant because I struggled with myself over whether or not audio is "really reading". And let me tell you...I've decided that the answer is ABSOLUTELY. Your mind still has to work in a way to imagine the setting, the characters, and the action. Your eyes may not be doing the work, but your ears are picking up the slack. And I freaking love audiobooks (as long as the narrator isn't one that gets on my nerves...which has only happened a couple of times).

December had fewer books than November, but more pages. This is mostly due to the near strict adhesion to middle grade reads in November and the return to a more wide range of reads in December. full disclosure...I do include the pages in the books I "read" via audio in these stats because...well, because I want to.

If you're curious what this audio component is, well...fear not, I have a new graph! In December, I listened to about 26 hours of audiobook...around 45 minutes per day. These hours are mostly accumulated when I am getting reading in the mornings (20-30 min) and on our near weekly drives to Bemidji (40 min both ways). It's a great way to pass the driving time (though I do now have to make sure my audio reads are somewhat PG thanks to the two little parrots I have sitting in the backseat).

Looking at this graph, I'm feeling really crummy about my January reading thus far. Man, I really need to take it up a notch. Anyway, I averaged about 118 pages per day. (I'm at around half that right now for this month. Ugh.)

This makes me feel so happy. Look at that pretty bar! Over 35,000 pages. Amazing. I've set 35,000 as my official page goal for this year, but to be honest, I really want to see the graph hit 40,000 in 2020.

TBR Completion

I mentioned last month that I'm going to start keeping track of my TBR completion rate via spreadsheet in 2020. I actually just updated that portion of the spreadsheet this afternoon, so it is working as we speak. As for December, I set my TBR at 13 print/e-books and 7 audiobooks, a total of 20 reads. For the second month in a row, I was near half that. At 11 reads for the month, I had a TBR completion of 55%. That is up from 50% in November. It not a lot, but it's something. I'm also happy to say that ALL of my reads for December were on my original that's something.

As far as the breakdown: out of my 13 print/e-books, I completed 7; out of my 7 audiobook selections, I finished 4. These lead to completion rates of 53.8% and 57.14%, respectively. I like that they are fairly close together, but I wish the rates were both higher. Regardless, the print rate of completion is SOOOO much better than the 30.8% rate I had in November.

Here's hoping for better TBR completion rates in 2020. (I'm not sure that's going to happen in January...oops.)

Book Stats

My average rating for December was 3.68, pretty much smack dab in the range for the year. That's certainly not a bad reading month.

Readings consisted of: 6 ARCs, 2 middle grade carryovers from November, 1 was a continuation of a series, 1 was an audiobook I picked up based on reading that author's prior works, and 1 was a book I'd been meaning to pick up all year.

In that group, the ratings were as follows:

DNF : 0 books          1-star: 0 books          1.5 star: 0 books

2-star: 0 books          2.5 star: 1 book          3-star: 2 books          3.5 star: 2 books

4-star: 3 books          4.5 star: 3 books          5 star: 0 books

Not the greatest reading month, but still respectable.

There were:
1 Classic
3 Fantasies
3 Magical Realisms
2 SciFi
1 Women's Fiction
1 General Fiction

When it comes to age distribution: 3 books were Middle Grade reads, 4 books were New Adult, and 4 were intended for an adult audience.

Books I Read

The Invisibles by Rachel Dacus (Adult Magical Realism) - 3.5 stars

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White (Middle Grade Classic) - 4 stars

The Magic in Me by Kelly Zimmer (New Adult Magical Realism) - 4 stars

Dying to Return by Kelly Zimmer (New Adult Magical Realism) - 3.5 stars

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (Middle Grade Fantasy) - 4.5 stars

Athena's Choice by Adam Boostrom (Adult Fantasy) - 4 stars

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Middle Grade Fantasy) - 4.5 stars

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (New Adult Fantasy) - 4.5 stars

No Judgments by Meg Cabot (Women's Fiction) - 3 stars

Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds (Adult General Fiction) - 3 stars

Dorothy in the Land of Monsters by Garten Gevedon (New Adult Fantasy) - 2.5 stars

You'll be able to see a bit more of my thoughts on these reads in the next post...I'll give you a some mini-reviews that may help you find a few reads to add on to your own TBR.

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