January 19, 2019

Reading goals for 2019

Every year, I try to have some kind of reading goal or theme to complement the books I'd normally choose to read. In 2017 and 2018, it was to make an appreciable dent in the TBR books I already own, and I've been able to do that, completing 65 such books in the last two years.

This year, I'm planning to have two reading goals:
  1. Re-reading my favorites: I rarely re-read a book, no matter how much I love it, because there are so many new books to read. However, this year, I'm going to do just that. I want to re-read at least six books (one every two months) that I've rated 5 stars. I don't know what those books will be yet, but it should be fun regardless of which ones I pick. Note: For purposes of my year-end reading statistics, I won't include the ratings for these books because I've already rated them.
  2. Authors A to Z: Back in 2013, I started an A to Z reading challenge where I would read one book by an author whose last name started with each letter of the alphabet. Back then, it took me 26 months to go through all 26 letters. This year, my goal is to finish that challenge within one year.

At the end of the year, I'll report how I did with both reading goals. What reading goals did you make for yourself this year?

January 1, 2019

Favorite reads of 2018

Happy New Year! As we ring in the new year, let's take a look back at the top ten books I read last year.

1. Obsidio - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Wow, what an awesome conclusion to an awesome trilogy! All three books in the Illuminae Files series ended up as my #1 favorite read in the year I read them. A great plot, great characters, engaging writing, and an unusual format make this an ideal combination for me. If you haven't read the Illuminae Files yet, go do it now!

2. Muse of Nightmares - Laini Taylor
I can't think of an author who writes as beautifully as Laini Taylor, and Muse of Nightmares was Ms. Taylor at her best. She wields words as masterfully as Michelangelo wielded a paint brush. What also left me awestruck about this book was the way all of the pieces fit together in the end. Laini Taylor is a genius for coming up with the backstories and story line. If not for the fact that I'm such a sucker for books with unusual formats, this could have been my favorite read of the year.

3. Warcross - Marie Lu
Marie Lu is one of my favorite YA authors. First, there was the Legend series. Then The Young Elites. She's done it again with Warcross, a near-future YA book centered on the titular video game. The story is engaging, the action is fast paced, and the writing is as good as with any of her other books. The only drawback was the ending and how much was left open, which was obviously a way to entice readers to read the second book in the series.

4. My Plain Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane was one of my top 10 reads for 2016, and the second book by the "Lady Janies" was as good if not better. This re-imagining of Jane Eyre was full of funny and entertaining moments. Whether you're a fan of Jane Eyre or not (and I've never read Jane Eyre - gasp!), you'll enjoy this book.

5. Artemis - Andy Weir
This second novel by Andy Weir isn't as heavy on the science as The Martian was, and it was more fun to read. The best part of the book was the protagonist's irreverent tone (the story is told in first person), although sometimes that irritated me a little too. However, the fast-paced plot more than made up for it. I finished the book in two days, which is fast for me. This was a great, entertaining read.

6. The Diabolic - S.J. Kincaid
This book had all the elements of a great YA sci-fi story that I look for. The plot was interesting and kept me flipping through the pages, losing track of time as I read large chunks in a single sitting. The protagonists were easy to sympathize with, even if I wasn't sure if I should because it was hard to tell with certainty who was good and who wasn't. The world was also nicely laid out, and I thought the author did a nice job of describing how the government worked without resorting to info-dumping. The novel does get violent at times, so those with weak stomachs should be warned. However, for most YA readers, I highly recommend The Diabolic.

7. The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss
I read the first book of the Kingkiller Chronicles, The Name of the Wind, in 2016. It's taken me this long to read book two, The Wise Man's Fear, not just because I'm notoriously bad at finishing a series in a timely manner, but also because I don't know when the third book will be released, and I didn't want there to be too big a gap between reading the books. Now that I've finally read The Wise Man's Fear, I can say that I like it even more than The Name of the Wind! If you enjoyed Kvothe's adventures in The Name of the Wind, there are more and perhaps even better adventures here!

8. No Middle Name - Lee Child
No Middle Name is a collection of Jack Reacher stories. The Jack Reacher books have become one of my favorites, and I've read more than half of the books in the series. However, only one other has made my yearly top 10 list until now. What makes No Middle Name better than the typical Jack Reacher book? Easy. There are a dozen stories. In this case, "more is better" definitely applies.

9. The Empress - S.J. Kincaid
The sequel to The Diabolic had a lot of the same elements as the first book that led me to enjoy it. The main reason I ranked it lower is that I wasn't as fond of the ending. However, I'm intrigued to read the third (and last?) book in the series to find out how the plot will unfold, given the direction the author decided to take in The Empress.

10. Only Human - Sylvain Neuvel
The final book in the Themis Files trilogy wasn't quite as good as its predecessors were (i.e., not enough battling giant robots) but it was a satisfying conclusion nonetheless. I recommend the series, even to readers who aren't enthralled by giant robots.