I know, I’m a little bit late with this, but frankly, I couldn’t be arsed to do this sooner. Monday is my regular post day, so today you shall have my review of the year just past.
I’ll try to split this into three parts: my year of reading, my year of writing, and my personal life in 2013. I’m leaving the personal stuff for last, for those of you who get bored easily.
MY YEAR OF READING
For this I’ll turn to my friend Goodreads. For all the backlash and scorn it has had heaped on it for stepping into the big evil marriage boat with Amazon, and for all the hoo-hah about the Goodreads bullies, to me so far the site has been a valuable tool both for obtaining reviews as well as to keep track of what I’m reading and what I have read. The latter isn’t really necessary or earthshattering (I’ve managed all my life before Goodreads without knowing these stats, after all), but statistics often give me a little frisson of delight, because I’m sad like that.
Goodreads claims I have read 53 books last year. I actually dispute that fact, mainly because I believe I didn’t start keeping track of what I was reading until about March time. Still, those are the books I’ve read, rated and (in most cases) reviewed, so those are the ones I’ll discuss here.
(And in case you’re interested in which ones they are, exactly, you can see them all here.)
My most read genre has been Fantasy, with 15 books, closely followed by Romance with 11 books. I also read one Fantasy/Romance blend. Next is a tie between Erotica and Mystery/Romance (purely due to JD Robb’s In Death series), with 6 books each. I also read one pure murder mystery, but I didn’t want to get that confused with the mystery/romances.
For some reason I have read 4 chick-lit books, which I intend to keep to a minimum in future. They’re alright, but the romance is often not good or prominent enough for my liking.
Then I have a three-way tie between Science-fiction, Urban fantasy and Young Adult, all with 2 books each, though I did also read an UF/romance blend. I’m actually a bit surprised at the low number of sci-fi, since I do enjoy the genre. I may have to do something about that this year.
Lastly I read one lonely Steampunk novel. I suppose I could have lumped that in with the fantasy, but it’s a cool genre and deserves its own category.
Now to my ratings. I gave 5 stars to 18 books, and 4 stars to another 18. What this tells me is that either I’m too generous in my ratings, or I’m just a very happy reader who is easily pleased. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but my generosity with the 5-star sprinkler did mean that I was a bit stumped when I finished The Lies of Locke Lamora, since that was so much better than anything else I’d read that year. As a result I gave that one 6 stars wherever I was able.
I gave 3 stars to 10 books, 2 stars to 2 books and 1 star to another 2 books. I also have one Did Not Finish, which would have been a 1-star had I finished it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to.
Ultimately, where my reading was concerned, this was the year of Scott Lynch. Someone recommended The Lies of Locke Lamora to me (and to this day I can’t remember who, because the person who I thought it was denies all knowledge), and I was hooked pretty much from the first paragraph. If I were ten times better a writer than I actually am, Scott Lynch’s books are what I would write. I was lucky enough that The Republic of Thieves came out a mere three weeks after I finished Red Seas under Red Skies, or I’d be among the legions of shaking Scott Lynch fans who had to wait five years for their next fix. I really hope The Thorn of Emberlain will come out this year, but we’ll see. Until then I’ll just keep rereading the first three books (as I have been doing over Christmas).
MY YEAR IN WRITING
I self-published my first novel, The Ritual, in January, and the second one in the series, The Conspiracy, in May. As an achievement in itself I’m pretty damn proud of that, even if sales have been disappointing. I’ve given up wondering why my sales are low – reviews are (on the whole) positive or very positive, and while I am fully aware that both books have flaws, I’m not going to continue second-guessing myself. I’ve got my nephew thinking about different covers, but he’s busy learning how to be a sea-captain, so I’m certainly not going to rush him for those. Instead I’m going to concentrate on finishing the final part of the Theft and Sorcery series, The Coup.
I’ve already done an update post on that, so I won’t say too much more of it, other than that it’s been frustrating to write it so far. Not because I think that what I’ve got is bad, but because I’m having to work for it, and I’m not used to that. I’ve had nights where I’ve struggled to squeeze out 500 words, which makes me despair. To compare, the Monastery of Balance section in The Ritual is about 23,000 words and I got that out in one weekend (Friday evening to Sunday midnight). Up until now in my life, whenever I’ve been writing, the writing has pretty much done itself, and all I had to do was ensure that my fingers kept up with my brain. For things to now be different is… unsettling. Still, I’m finally getting into my stride with this book, so I’ll get there in the end. Don’t know when, but I will.
The other writing thing this year has been my blogging. I wrote my first ever post on this blog on the 4th of March 2013, and it feels like a lifetime ago. I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. Sometimes it’s quite cathartic to put your thoughts out to the world, even if it can also be a drain on your time.
2013 has also been the year when I started reviewing (almost) everything I read. This is out of a very simple philosophy: do unto others what you would have them do unto you. As an author I have found it very frustrating to see sales of my book but little to no reviews, so I figured I’d be a hypocrite to expect people to review my book, but not do the same to other people. Maybe all the people who haven’t reviewed it didn’t like it and are doing me a favour, but even negative reviews can be good if they’re well-thought out reviews. (Please don’t post any reviews that only say ‘your book sucks!’, because they teach me nothing, kkthx.)
MY PERSONAL LIFE
There’s not really that much to say about this. I started off the year happily married and finished it in the same fashion. I have a job which I (mostly) enjoy and which pays the bills and I have a few fantastic friends who I don’t see as often as I’d like. That said, I’m also happy with just myself for company, because I’m very much a loner and if I’m around too many people for too long I revert to a battle-hardened misanthrope. Whenever that happens my husband just carefully leads me home muttering things such as ‘there there’ and ‘I know, shh’.
Apart from that one of my 14-year-old cats developed an agressive cancer on his chin around the end of August, and we had to have him put to sleep on 1 October, which made September a very difficult month for me. I am a little bit stupid about cats, and have been known to be upset for up to three days simply from seeing someone else’s dead cat by the side of the road (because I know how hard it is to lose a cat to traffic – it’s one of the reasons we live on a dead-end road).
Lastly, my birthday was two days after Christmas, and I’ve hit the big four-oh this year. This mainly baffles me, because I still don’t feel like I’m any older than about mid-twenties. It’s certainly not something I’m going to worry about, because what’s the point? Growing old happens and there’s fuck all I can do about it, so I’m not going to let it bother me. I very much resent this whole current culture that appears to have made it taboo to grow old if you’re a woman anyway, so I’m going to be my usual contrary self and say fuck you to anyone who tries to convince me that I need seven moisturisers, three anti-wrinkle creams and a couple of botox injections.
What will 2014 bring? Fuck me if I know or care. Other people have been posting their most anticipated releases for this coming year, but I don’t work like that. (Unless it’s Scott Lynch.) I will continue to read books as they come to me, and I will continue to review them (on Silk Screen Views).
I wish you all a wonderful 2014, and as always I’d love to hear from you.