Year-End Book Review

309 books read - GOAL MET (goal was 300, so met and surpassed)! Full disclosure, this would not have happened without the picture books I "read" for MPOW's Mock Caldecott. For lists and review links, go here, here and here (the totals on the review blog won't match these because I don't add the books I read for professional review or award committees). And here's the 2015 reading analysis (2014 numbers in parens):
  • number of books read in 2015:  309 (304) 
  • best month: December/46 (tie between March and August/38)
  • worst month: April/13 (April/9)
  • average read per month: 25.75 (25.33) 
  • adult fiction as percentage of total: 17 (18) 
  • children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 55 (58)
  • Advance Readers Copies: 191 (202) 
  • e-books: 5 (0)
  • books read that were published this year: 249 (233)
  • books that will be published in the coming year: 22 (25) 
  • five star reviews (aka "Must Read"): 30 (20) 
  • one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 15 (17) 

Even better, Mt. Bookpile is at 214, definitely heading in the right direction (last year I vowed to get it below 225)! The problem next year is that not everything can be listed/reviewed for professional reasons, so it may not appear that I'm meeting goal... somehow, I'll have to figure out a way to survive the disappointment. So I'll say "50" as my public reading goal, and 300 as my personal goal.  We'll see how that goes.

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Whoops! In all the move-related stuff, I managed to skip the third quarter of the year so this round-up covers half a year's reading, not three months.  That's why there's "only" 147 books on it!  Those books without review links are either those I professionally reviewed or those I read for a book award.

  • You Don't Have To Like Me, Alida Nugent
Children's/Young Adult


It's not funny

I've always had a problem with people who casually use the words Nazi and fascist.  It wasn't funny when a popular character on tv was known as the Soup Nazi.  It's not funny when candidates and politicians compare others to fascists or say they're a mini-Hitler.  Those words refer to specific ideologies and a desire to dominate the world by wiping out "lesser" peoples.

And yet...

This summer I read Timur Verme's brilliant satire, Look Who's Back.  There are those who are really uncomfortable with this book, and I get that.  As I said in my review:
I fully understand the uproar over this book and the dismay of many at its popularity. Here's why I gave it such a high rating: having grown up in a survivor community, one that stressed all the times during the long history of the Jews when they were exiled or nearly wiped out of existence, the mantra of "never again" was repeated over and over. Yet at this remove, how someone like a Hitler could rise and start his movement again seems unlikely. Hence The Third Wave. And now this book.

Hitler's arguments about the Volk, self-reliance and how to solve many modern problems seem reasonable. Couple that with his charisma and lack of self-doubt... I never met Bill Clinton, but I've heard his charisma is extraordinary. Imagine if he felt as Hitler did.

So the high rating is less pro-Hitler and more pro-we need to watch out of those who spout these types of solutions, because it could happen again. Oh wait: it has. Rwanda. Bosnia. Sunni/Shia. Hmmm....
The problem is that the solutions are so reasonable.  We have a horrible disparity between the rich and poor, jobs are leaving the country and businesses are suffering.  What could be more reasonable than to Make American Great Again by getting rid of those thieves, murderers and rapists who are responsible for this - and while we're at it, let's get rid of anyone who really doesn't belong here because they didn't come through traditional immigration channels?  It's only reasonable.   And we're under attack by people who don't share our religion, who want to harm our country.  It's war, right? So it's it reasonable to prevent all of "them" from being here in the Homeland?  Let's just deport them. It's only reasonable.  Right?

That there's a major candidate, a bit of a buffoon who makes these outrageous statements and virtually no one in the mainstream media is calling this what it is isn't funny.  That people agree with these ideas and suggestions isn't funny.

You know what they way about people who haven't learned from history, right? 

I suspect we're already doomed.


J.J. Abrams owes me $10 and three hours of my life

(a rant with some possible spoilers)

A long time ago, in a SmallTown a couple of states away, my father insisted that I see this amazing (really!  A.Mazing!!) movie he'd seen.  He'd even see it again, just so that I could enjoy it.  Spoiler alert: I didn't.  But I went on to college and many of my friends wanted to see the sequels to this movie so I went along with them... less amazed, but whatevs (as those young'uns today say).

Then Thing One insisted I come see the New! Improved! versions.  Yawn.  Those light sabres didn't impress me the first time around and just because they glowed brighter this time out didn't mean I needed to spend money to see it. Finally, there were new movies, prequels to the original.  Poor Orphan Ani, all dark side and cranky with it.  More of my life gone.

Being a good Quew, it's only right to observe (Quakers don't celebrate, they observe - see? there goes Christmas... /bad joke) Christmas with a movie and Chinese food.  And apparently there was only one movie to see this year, the start of a New Trilogy.  But, you know, with old faces.  I wasn't thrilled but whatevs.  Tickets were bought, an hour of my life was wasted in the theatre watching poorly lit trivia questions, ads and trailers for tv shows and DVD releases.  Then, finally, lights down and...

One way I judge shows is by how long it takes for me to look at my watch.  Today? 14 minutes.

If you haven't seen the Force Awakens, you may want to stop reading.  But if you've seen Star Wars (the original; I refuse to call it "A New Hope" - no retronyms, thank you very much) you actually have seen this one.  It's more of an hommage to the original, with cameos by all the important players (including Darth's mask) than an actually new movie.  This did come with extra creepiness, as Han Solo makes googly eyes at a girl young enough to be (and I suspect will turn out to be) his daughter.  I mean, even the Death Star returned, a little bloated after a nearly 40 year absence but back.

The director of the next episode could offer me a piece of the action and I'd still stay away in droves.  Luckily for everyone involved, they'll still break box office records (but could someone please, please give me a tickets sold:tickets sold comparison, rather than $:$?  because I know I didn't pay this much to see the first one waaaay back in the 70s) without my paltry ticket missing.

YMMV.  I know my father's will.


Lazy thoughts

And with this we inaugurate what will be a monthly post, keeping this blog somewhat aliveThe idea and categories are from this blog.

I'm reading as many YA books as I can in preparation for my adult book award committee work that will start in January.  And at MPOW we have a Mock Caldecott committee going, so I've been reading more children's books than usual (while the Real Committee has a charge that goes up to Age 12, we're focusing only on books that might appeal to third graders).  It'd be nice to think I could clear off all of the Mt. Bookpile books from 2015, but that's not likely - plus I did buy some "reward read" mysteries over Thanksgiving Break that I'm going to parcel out during the coming year.

My tea "collection", almost all purchased at Un Amour des Thes.  What teas? The wonderfully smoky Caravane Russe. An Assam Second Flush. Hojicha Brancha Grille and a Vert Menhe Nanah. Then from Camellia Sinensis, a Macao Scenery that may just be my new favorite.  Many happy cuppas already had, and many more to come.

About work and my staff.  We're short-staffed, about to get shorter thanks to a mid-year departure.  And not everyone is stepping up, taking on more so that we're less stressed and behind.  I'm also thinking about staffing for next year, whether the team I now have is really ready to change the program and move ahead, or if we'll be needing to find new people who can do the necessary work. Some of that is out of my control, while other bits will need real tact and massaging. 

Fewer structured pieces.  I'm losing weight, so replacing them right now seems like a bad idea but as I shrink I'm starting to think about what my color palate and ideal wardrobe will be this time next year.  I'm also thinking about how what I wear to work has changed over the years: at my first school, pants were frowned on for women, while here, jeans are just fine (and don't get me started on bare legs! I'm still not comfortable with that, but it's less of an issue in the winter when woolen tights make my life much better).

Progress with my decluttering (see above re: wardrobe changes) and organizing. There's a nearly full box ready to head to Boomerangs and that's becoming a monthly trek.  I'm also making connections here in my new city and new POW. Life feels pretty full right now!

Winter.  Not last year's record-breaking snow, but it's 60 right now and it's the middle of December.  That's just not right.  Because in December, I have warm apple cider and apple cider donuts cravings and, well... they're just not the same if it's not nearly 30 and I can see my breath.  


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A very good quarter, reading-wise. I even got to read some from Mt. Bookpile, not just ARCs and new stuff. According to my self-imposed goal, I ended the quarter two books ahead of schedule. That's great because the next month will be filled with travel and Big Life Changes so I'll end up behind.


Children's/Young Adult 





Speculative Fiction


By the numbers

WOOT! When I first started tracking Mt. Bookpile on GoodReads, it was 341 books high (that was in July, 2007).  As of today, Mt.B has shrunk to a mere 241 books - which to the untrained eye appears to be about 12.5 books a year.  However, to the trained eye, it's amazing I've even gotten that far down, and should only take about another 20 years to completely demolish it.

For some (Things One through Three, for example), 12.5 books a year would be amazing.  For me?  Well... Turns out that since then, I've gotten 1921 books (not including library books I've borrowed).  And I've read 2060 books, an average of 257.5 books a year.  So basically, if I don't get another book again, I've got enough to cover me for a while before I start re-reading.  Some of those books will take considerable longer than others, like the Trollope set I have, or books like Wrought With Steadfast Will and Vanished Kingdoms.  So maybe two years of reading, give or take.

On Thursday I head to ALA's Annual Conference.  What are the odds I don't return with books?

About a year later I started the Killin' Time Reading blog, which now has 1671 reviews.  The discrepancy in numbers is that I don't review books on the blog that I've been asked to review professionally or that I read for a book award.  YA books outweigh the Adult books for obvious reasons, with what I've taken to calling "YA Speculative Fiction" the overall winner.

I wonder what all this will look like in another eight years.  Check back then, ok?


Meeting Musings

Today was a bittersweet Meeting, as we gathered not just for worship but also to say farewell to our outgoing Clerk, who is leaving for a new life in Santa Fe.

The weather was gorgeous, so many of us opted to sit outside; there were three who sat inside the Meeting House.  Because our Meeting is so small, whomever is the Greeter is also in charge of starting Meeting, bringing worship to a close and for bringing the snacks for our post-Meeting gathering (lighting the stoves and trying to warm the building are wintertime tasks).  Usually that person leaves with about 5-10 minutes to go, heats up the tea water, and then comes back to let us know that it is the rise of Meeting.

Today, our Greeter left to start the water, and the rest of us kept our silence.  Suddenly, coming out of the Meeting House, came an electronic chime.  Then, eerily, Siri's voice saying, "I'm sorry.  I do not understand the question."

Needless to say, that broke up Meeting as we all chuckled about the coincidence and the aptness of the comment.  And some of us wondered, what does Apple know that we Quakers don't?


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

No foolin' - 77 books read this quarter.  Apparently I'm keeping up with my 2015 goal, but there may be a Big Life Change later this year so who knows what will actually happen.  You know where to go for reviews, right?

Children's/Young Adult