I’m combining three posts today: a monthly recap for December, a review of the blogging year gone by, but first up here’s my post for
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I didn’t do one last Monday because a) I’d only read one book which was a bit embarrassing; and b) it was Christmas Eve and I was so busy up at the cottage, making truffles (2 kinds, chocolate ganache for the first time, and my trusty old recipe that I don’t have a name for, but they’re chocolate too), peppermint bark (sooooo good!), double chocolate bites, a gingerbread house, cheese and potato bread, and cranberry swirl bread – oh wait, that was the next day. Adam helped me coat everything in chocolate and decorate, though we left decorating the gingerbread house till the next day too, when his brother and fiancee would get there.
We had a good Christmas, spent it at my in-laws “cottage” on the shore of Georgian Bay, which is a giant bay that’s part of one of the great lakes (I always forget which one!). It had snowed a lot more up there than in Toronto, and it snowed almost every night and a sometimes during the day, so it was definitely a white Christmas! Hugh had a very busy week, a bit over-stimulated really, what with all the extra people and a bigger house to muck about in, but he does love it up there. Adam did a lot of “Hugh duty” so I could get a break, which is why I got some good reading and reviewing done (after Christmas, at least).
On Friday Adam and I went horse riding at a place we’ve been to several times now, not far from the cottage; Adam isn’t all that keen but he’s been twice now and is becoming less scared of the horses. They put him on Magic, a huge but incredibly gentle black Percheron (a draft horse breed; they have two, a white mare as well, that they use to draw carriages for weddings etc.), while I rode Bud again (my second time – always good to have the same horse because you get “the hang” of them and become a better rider!). I forget what breed he is, but it could be a Standard (I know I’ve ridden at least one Standard at this horse farm), which is a distinctly Canadian breed. We took a different route this time, along with two little girls (aged 9 and 6), along a snowy rode, through someone else’s farm and back into another part of their farm, and I had an opportunity to canter Bud through a snow-filled field under the open sky, it was awesome! I’ve never ridden in snow before.
We came back to the city on Sunday and spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and putting everything away (when you travel with a baby, there’s so much stuff!), and trying to find homes for all the new goodies we got for Christmas. We had to leave one of Hugh’s big toys behind (his grandparents are way too generous and completely ignored me when I said he didn’t need anything, naturally!) because our flat is pretty small and every available space is utilised as efficiently as possible. (No point moving now, since we’re heading back to Australia next September.)
Even though the daycare was closed all week, I still read lots of new picture books, and have quite a few reviews to catch up on in that regard, but I also had the time to read some of my own books and finish the Around the World in 12 Books challenge for 2012. I’m currently reading The Gypsy King by Maureen Fergus, which I got from Netgalley – I technically started it on Saturday I think but I haven’t had much time to read since then so I’m not very far in.
A Blogging Year in Review
It’s always a bit freaky to get to the end of yet another year, isn’t it. Had some big changes this year – well, one, really: changing my career. Can’t really call it a “career” though, since my previous job was just a job, and I’m not planning on running a daycare for much longer either. But still, starting your own business is definitely a “big” thing! It’s going well, too.
Our plans for moving back to Australia are in place, and we even have plane tickets, yay! We’ll be landing on home turf on the 2nd of October 2013. In advance of that, I shipped home over half of my book collection – I believe it came to 42 boxes of books, although a few of those weren’t books but a mix of photo albums, notebooks, binders, that kind of thing. So make it about 39 boxes of books.
Speaking of, my personal home library topped 3000 this year, and still climbing. I do count Hugh’s books in this tally, so maybe knock off 50 or 60 – I use Goodreads to keep count, and also to keep a record, in case my house burns down or something (touch wood).
I hardly saw any movies, as usual, only The Dark Night Rises, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Skyfall – enjoyed them all, but probably James Bond was my favourite. I dearly want to see Life of Pi in the cinema and I’m hoping it’ll still be showing for a couple more weeks. Once you have a baby, you can’t just do what you like, when you like – though I hardly ever saw movies, before Hugh came along, anyway, it does make it extra challenging. That, and general fatigue!
I did well in my reading challenges. I hosted the Around the World in 12 Books challenge and got all my books read, except for the one for Tanzania, which I got halfway through but couldn’t finish – still ended up writing my thoughts down for it, though. I still have to write a review for Jar City (Iceland), but I did read it in December! I’m hosting it again for 2013 and there’s always time to sign up if you’re interested.
For the Canadian Reading Challenge, which goes from July to June, I nearly made it to 13 for 2011-2012, and made it to 13 for the current challenge by the end of the year – which gives me another 6 months to rack up even more Canadian authors!
For the Mount TBR Challenge, I challenged myself to read 24 books from my To-Be-Read shelf (any book purchased before 2012), and easily made that goal and more. I’ve signed up for it for 2013 as well; I like that you don’t have to list the books you’ll read at the start, I never get far when I do that because I never know what I’ll be in the mood for.
I also challenged myself to re-read the Obernewtyn Chronicles – and catch up on the two books I hadn’t read yet – before the final book is released late next year (unless it gets pushed back again, or split in half! There’s still so much ground to cover in the story!). This is my favourite series by my favourite author – yes, my #1! – so it was absolutely wonderful and exciting to read the first four again and then have two new ones to read.
I also took part in the All That I Am by Anna Funder Read-Along and the Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon ARC Read-Along, which were great fun. I hosted FIVE giveaways – I had no idea it’d been that many! – and won two books, one from Retreat By Random House as part of their Debut Author Challenge, and one from Niranjana (Brown Paper) via the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. Since I rarely ever win anything, I was extremely chuffed!
In March I contributed my own thoughts (as they were at the time) to the on-going debate around the validity of book blogger reviews, and in September I wrote about my preference for paperbacks vs. hardbacks. Probably my biggest and most personal post, though, was about my life as a reader. (And I do apologise for not responding to comments on this post; life got away from me and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed in general. And then it seemed too late to reply. But I did read and appreciate all your comments.)
Now for something a bit different. I wasn’t able to do this last year because I couldn’t even access it (I use WordPress.org and you need a WordPress.com account, which I had to get in order to use Jetpack site stats, which everyone on WordPress.org had to switch over to in 2011, but for some reason I couldn’t view this before), but I can this year and so I decided to share it with you all. It doesn’t often give actual numbers, so I’ve gleaned this from my own site stats: the most viewed post this year (and every year) was Fancy Words for the Sophisticated Reader at 6,654 views. The most viewed book review this year was Three Men in a Boat at 1,191 views (it’s also the most consistently searched for book that comes up in my stats, like, every day several people are looking it up – I would never have guessed that).
Click on the image below for some tidy little blog stats.
Monthly Recap: December
Books Read This Year: 147
Books Read in December: 29 (includes 17 picture books read for the first time)
Books Bought in December: 62 (including Kindle, excluding Netgalley & review copies and gifts)
Review Copies Received (hard copy): 1
Kindle e-books: 9
E-books From Netgalley for Review: 9
Favourite Books Read in December: The Sending by Isobelle Carmody; The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald; Astray by Emma Donoghue; Uncovered By Love by Madeline Ash
Most Disappointing Book: Thoughtless by SC Stephens
Currently Reading: The Gypsy King by Maureen Fergus
Books Read for Challenges:
- Mount TBR Challenge – 1 (The Sending)
Around the World in 12 Books Challenge – Iceland: Jar City (and finished November’s book for Peru)
Canadian Book Challenge – 1 (Astray and The Bite Before Christmas)
Obernewtyn Chronicles Reading Marathon – 1 (The Sending)
Read-alongs – 0
Books Read/Reviewed in December
119. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa (Fiction, 3/5)
120. Thoughtless by SC Stephens (Romance, 3/5)
121. Astray by Emma Donoghue (Historical Fiction/Short Stories, 5/5)
122. Roadwork by Sally Sutton (Picture Book, 4/5)
123. Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr Seuss (Picture Book, 4/5)
124. Busy Windows: On the Move by Sarah Phillips (Picture Book, 4/5)
125. Busy Windows: Animals by Sarah Phillips (Picture Book, 4/5)
126. Busy Windows: First Words by Sarah Phillips (Picture Book, 4/5)
127. Busy Windows: Colours by Sarah Phillips (Picture Book, 4/5)
128. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (YA Fiction/Romance, 4/5)
129. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (Classics, 5/5)
130. Inventing the Christmas Tree by Bernd Brunner (Non-fiction: History, 3/5)
131. The Bite Before Christmas: Two Novellas by Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost (Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy, Novellas, 4/5)
132. The Sending by Isobelle Carmody (Fantasy, 5/5)
133. Chains of Revenge by Keziah Hill (Erotic Fantasy, Novella, 3/5)
134. Old Hat, New Hat by Stan Berenstain (Picture Book, 5/5)
135. Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jack Wang (Picture Book)
136. Sing a Song of Mother Goose by Barbara Reid (Picture Book, 4/5)
137. Noni the Pony by Alison Lester (Picture Book, 4/5)
138. That’s Not My Reindeer by Fiona Watt (Picture Book, 3/5)
139. Uncovered By Love by Madeline Ash (Romance, 5/5)
140. How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman (Non-fiction: Humour, Comics, 4/5)
141. Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason (Crime, 4/5)
142. Time For Bed by Mem Fox (Picture Book, 4/5)
143. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle (Picture Book, 4/5)
144. The Little Train by Lois Lenski (Picture Book, 3/5)
145. This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers (Picture Book, 4/5)
146. Christmas Wombat by Jackie French (Picture Book, 4/5)
147. I Wish There Were Dinosaurs by Amanda Niland & Christina Booth (Picture Book, 5/5)
Thank you for sharing my love of reading with me,
And I wish you all the best for 2013!
And tomorrow on New Year’s Day,
and I’ll have my list of Top Ten Books Read in 2012 to share with you
(Plus I have lots more books to review, as you can see!)