End Of The Year Reading Survey

Monday 30 December 2019

How many books did you read? Did you meet your goal?

My goal this year was to read 60 books and I read 79 as of December 26th. I want to finish one more book to make it an even 80. Let's see if I can.

Most read genre?

My most read genre is fantasy. Big shock there. What did shock me is that my second most read genre was non-fiction. I'm normally not a non-fiction guy. I would have guessed that my second most read genre would be sci-fi. 

Longest and shortest books you read.

The shortest book I read was The Night Before Christmas. I found the poem online but the book version is 32 pages. I'm guessing it's just a line or two per page with illustrations.

As for the longest book I read, this one is difficult because the longest book was an audio book that has 2202 pages, but the thing is a didn't "read" it in the normal sense. It was the seventh book in the Chaos Seeds series by Aleron Kong called The Land: Predators. It was also the longest audio book I've ever listened to as it clocked in at 46 hours and 56 minutes.

The longest book that I physically read was The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher. It was 640 pages.

Favorite book published in 2019?

This was an easy one for two reasons. The first is that I only read three books that came out in 2019. One of them I wouldn't even consider as a favorite. So that only left two books. It came down between Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse and Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

I thought long and hard about this one and my favorite would have to be Storm of Locusts because not only was it my favorite genre, but it was a female forward urban fantasy that never felt contrived. It never once felt like it was soapboxing. Roanhorse had her story and let the characters speak for themselves.

Favorite debut book in 2019?

Another easy question. I didn't actually read any debut books.

Favorite book not published this year?

This year brought a lot of books that are now on my top books of all time list. But my hands down favorite is Less by Andrew Sean Greer

A book that lived up to the hype.

You know that book I just talked about? Less? It won the Pulitzer prize in 2017. That seems pretty hyped up to me. And I loved it, so I would say that it did live up to they hype.

But I want to try how many books I use for more than one answer. So instead I'll say Kindred. I've heard so much about this book for years before I ever picked it up. The good news is that I loved it. 

A book that did NOT live up to the hype.

The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty didn't live up to the hype. It wasn't a huge book, but a good friend of mine highly recommended it and even Stephen King liked it. Usually that's all I need to know. But this book was awful.

Book that felt like the biggest accomplishment?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This was my Everest this year. It came recommended by my wife, who knows me and my tastes quite well. But I couldn't escape the fact that it just isn't the type of book I normally read. It's an artsy piece of "literature." I usually find literature boring and tryhard. The Goldfinch just barely escaped falling into the standard "literature" tropes.

Favorite character.

This is a tie between Nana the cat from The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa and Ove from A Man Called Ove by Fredril Backman. Both were very well written characters who I felt like I really knew by the end of their books. Thanks to Nana, my wife and I now call our cat's food “crunchies.” Thanks to Ove I now have a life goal. To become a crotchety old man.

Least favorite character.

I don't even have to think about that one. Quienten Coldwater from Lev Grossman's The Magicians. He's a horrible character. He's entirely unlikable and does nothing to ever redeem himself. The book should have been about Alice. I would still be reading the series if it was.

Most shocking book/moment.

The death of one of my favorite characters in The Land series by Aleron Kong. This book series does have death in it, but for a while a lot of the important characters semed to have plot armor. But the time came for my favorite character, and in an awful way too.

Favorite couple/OTP.

Ove and Anita from A Man Called Ove. I love how crotchety Ove is and how she can just roll with it. How you can tell she was the brightest star in his sky.

The best written book you read this year.

This one is a tie as well. For two reasons. The first best written book is The Outsider by Stephen King. I know he's not everyone's favorite, but he is a master storyteller. His stories are so well written and plotted that he can be used as an example of how to write, even if you don't like his books.

The second best written book is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This story spanned the war years in France from 1940 to 1945 and the story never felt rushed nor did it ever drag. Hannah was able to tell two complete stories side by side without the book ever feeling too long or getting too confusing. It's not an easy feat.

Book that you pushed the most people to read in 2019.

Favorite book cover of the year.

Favorite book adaptation.

What book made you cry the most?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I ugly cried. It didn't help that I was alone at the time because my wife was in the UK after suffering a loss in her family AND we're newly married. So yeah, I died of dehydration.

Fun fact out of all the books I read, 9 made me cry.

What book made you laugh the most?

A new favorite author you discovered this year.

Rebecca Roanhorse is

Guilty pleasure read of the year.

Favorite book you re-read this year.

What is the best non-fiction book you read this year?

Were you happy with your reading year?

I was very happy with my reading this year. 2019 was the year I found some of my most hated books, but it also introduced me to some of my new favorites. The great books I read far outweigh the bad books so this ended up being one of my best reading years ever.

Egg Nog Taste Test

Wednesday 25 December 2019

A egg nog taste test? That's right! There are so many different types out there these days that I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to give more than one a go this season and give my review. Please keep in mind that some of the egg nogs I review are exclusive to California, but your area is bound to have something similar.
Clover Egg Nog

You may not have Clover in your area. Or if you do, it may be a different dairy with the same name. But what this is, is your base level egg nog. Think of your local brand of milk. No matter what store you go into, you can find some of that brand. You can find it in a big chain store to a small mom and pop store. That's what Clover is.

This is also a good egg nog. It's not the best I've had, but it's also not bad at all. If you take price into account, this could even be the best one as it's reasonably priced AND tasty. Some of the fancier ones that I've liked have higher prices so I may not always want to indulge.

Clover egg nog is rich, creamy, and tasty. It has the classic egg nog taste you've come to know an love. It's it just as good as what our parents or grandparents drank when they were young? No, probably not. But it's a great reasonably priced treat for the season. So whatever your local brand is called, their nog is probably just as good, if not exactly like Clover's.

This gets 8 nights of Christmas out of 12.

Strauss Egg Nog

You may not have Strauss brand near you, but you're bound to have something like it. You may have to travel to your local specialty store as maybe Safeways and Nob Hills/Raleys may not carry it, but there has to be something near you. This is a dairy that produces a "higher end" milk. It comes in a glass bottle, sometimes has a cream top that you need to shake like a paint mixer in an earthquake, but when it's all done, it's damn good. As far as their egg nog? The taste and texture and there for sure. Higher end dairies know exactly what they're doing. But the real issue is the uptick in price vs quality. Personally, the difference in quality isn't worth double the price of a standard nog. So even though this one tastes great, the high price causes the rating to fall.

Strauss Egg Nog gets 7 nights of Christmas out of 12

Blue Diamond Almond Milk Nog

That's right, Blue Diamond, the nut company, put out an dairy free egg nog. It's called "almond nog" since it has to have egg in it to be "egg nog." This one does a better job than most of the other non-dairy egg nogs I've had. The texture is very close to traditional nog which helps the experience greatly. The taste is good as the spices cover up the almond taste. The one thing its lacking is the creaminess that traditional nog would have. But as far as a substitute for my vegan or dietary restricted readers, this is a good option.

This gets 8 out of 12 nights of Christmas.

Califia Farms Holiday Nog

This one used to be my favorite non-dairy option until I tried the Blue Diamond one. Which makes the Blue Diamond version not only better, but easier to find. This one lacks in texture. It falls between Silk and traditional egg nog. The taste is just okay. I don't hate it. If offered, I will drink it. But I would never choose to drink it. Not bad but not good places this right in the middle.

Califia Farms Holiday Nog gets 6 out of 12 nights of Christmas.

Good Karma Dairy Free Holiday Nog

This egg nog substitute is made out of flax milk and spiced with nutmeg and ginger. It's not a thick as traditional egg nog or even other substitutes like the Blue Diamond brand or the Califia, so that was an issue. Initially it drinks weird, both in flavor and texture. But it finishes relatively well. The spices add a nice finishing note but over all it's just okay.

Good Karma Dairy Free Holiday Nog gets 5 out of 12 nights of Christmas.

Silk Nog (Original)

This dairy alternative drink is made from the ever controversial soy milk. Though unless you have sever kidney problems I don't think soy milk's level of phytoestrogen will be harmful to you. But again, I'm not a doctor, so don't listen to me on that regard. What you should listen to me on is how this tastes. It tastes... okay. This is the most mediocre of the non-dairy nog alternatives I've tried thus far. This has the same textural issues that the Good Karma nog but doesn't have the benefit of flavor. It's not bad, per say. Just not very good. I can see this being a great idea when the notion of dairy-free was still new. But now that we have so much more to choose from, I'd go with either Blue Diamond or Califia.

Silk Nog gets 3 out of 12 nights of Christmas.

Most Surprising Book of 2019

Monday 23 December 2019

This list is made of up books that, wait for it, surprised me. These are all good surprises, so yay! So the common theme is that these books surprised me because I wasn't expecting to love them as much as I did. So here are a list of books that I loved more than I thought I would.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Most of the world has drowned after rising waters flooded the Earth during a climate apocalypse. The Navajo reservation has been reborn as Dinetah and in this new world, gods and heroes of old walk the earth once again, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a monster hunter from Dinetah who is supernaturally gifted. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie steps in to help, but she finds more than just a missing girl.

This is a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy, which is right up my alley. I went into this book prepared to enjoy it, but what surprised me was just how much I loved it. Rebecca Roanhorse is a wonderful author who created a truly wonderful cast of characters that I just fell in love with. I have to be honest, I expected a basic fantasy book, but I found a new favorite series.  If you've ever read authors like Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, or Kim Harrison, then you'll love Rebecca Roanhorse. If you love Harry Dresden, Mercy Thompson, or Rachel Morgan, then you'll love Maggie Hoskie.

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short

I don't need a premise for this book. It's a memoir from Martin Short. That explains it. But what I do need to explain is why this stood out when compared to other memoirs I read. I listened to the audio book, which was read by Short himself, and I felt like it really helped the book. It was fascinating learning about his life, his start in comedy, his stint on SNL, his movies, and the love and loss he's experienced. I found myself laughing out loud more than once and even crying a time or two. I thought I was going to listen to a basic memoir. Something interesting but ultimately forgettable. But what I found was something that will stay with me for a while to come.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This is the story of Theo Decker, a young boy who miraculously survives the bombing of a museum but loses his mother. We follow Theo over the course of about a decade of his life going from living with a family friend, to Vegas, then back to New York. All the while he harbours a secret. He stole a painting in the aftermath of the bombing. A painting that was very special to his mother. The Goldfinch.

My wife recommended this book to me so I knew I was going to, at the very least, like it. But what I didn't know was that I was actually going to enjoy it. This book is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, which means that a lot of haughty judges somewhere thought it was artsy enough to win an award. I'm not a fan of "literature." I think it's overrated. But this was actually an okay book. My wife is reading one of Donna Tartt's other books and from what I've heard, it's pure torture. I may never read The Secret History as it sounds more pretentious than an ivy league sommelier. The Goldfinch was also pretentious, but not as much so I was able to stay invested in the story. The first half of the book is much better than the first and the ending sucks, but I still liked it more than I thought I would.

The Buddha in the Attic

This book tells the story of Japanese "picture brides" as they move from their homes in Japan to America where something other than the promised riches of their suitors awaits them. We follow their stories as they adapt to this new life in a county that doesn't want them, married to men who just wanted someone to help them work, and raising children in this new world.

Let's be honest. Books and stories written from the 2nd person perspective don't work. When I started The Buddha in the Attic, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to follow it. I was wondering if I would lose interest. But surprisingly enough, it kept my interest. This wasn't a great book. Not at all. But the reason this made it on the list is because I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I was actually able to follow it. The second person omniscient perspective wasn't confusing. I may never reread this book, but I'm glad I at least read it once.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi was 36 and just about to finish a decades worth of training as a neurosurgeon. However life has different plans. Paul is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and while there is hope that he can survive, it doesn't look good.  So he begins to write a book that has the unique perspective of a doctor on the other side of things. Paul talk about his experiences on both the doctor's side of things as well as the patients.

This was another book Anne recommended to me and I never would have even given it a second thought if it wasn't for her. I barely want to read memoirs about celebrities I like, let alone a no-name doctor.  But I trust my wife and picked up the audio book and was unprepared. I wasn't prepared to be charmed by Paul Kalanithi. I ate the book up and even though I may never reread it, I'm glad I read it at least once.

Most Disappointing Books of 2019

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is a gifted mechanic who lives in New Beijing. She is also a cyborg. She lives with her evil stepmother and when her sister suddenly falls ill, she is blamed. Things get slightly better, but not easier, when the handsome and very single Prince Kai finds her and takes a liking to her. Can she save her step sister and can a cyborg ever hope to find love?

The answer? I don't care. Look, I didn't expect to read a great book when I picked this up, but I did expect a mediocre one. This is a perfect beginners novel for kids. It's fairly innocent and doesn't have much questionable content, if any. But for anyone above the age of 12 I think you should pass on this. It's a poorly written story that's so linear, a one way road has more surprises. This was predictable and uninspired. Not worth anyone's time.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

This is a memoir by Lee Israel about her short lived life as a forger of signed letters by old authors and Hollywood elite. Israel is a struggling biography writer and discovers that there's good money to be made in the world of written correspondence from long dead authors an actors. So she goes about stealing and forging letters.

I really don't know what I was expecting with this book. I knew the story thanks to the movie starring Melissa McCarthy. I never watched the movie, but the trailer tells you the whole story. I expected an interesting memoir of a literary forger and what I read was a mildly interesting short memoir that read more like pretentious old school "literature." Instead of just telling her story, Lee Israel tried to flower it up with purple prose and it all just came across poorly.

Shallow Graves by Patrick Logan

Robert's life has taken a bad turn.First he gets laid off, then his wife is having an affair with his former boss. And that's not even his entire day. So when things are looking bleakest, Robert gets a letter from an Aunt he never knew he had offering her entire estate to him if he cares for her in her final days. He takes his daughter and heads to the house to help, but the house holds more than just a harmless old lady.

I wanted to like this. I was looking for a book that reminded me of a Conjuringverse movie. But what I got was a book with a very slow build in the first half, and then a second half that moves faster than a greased up road runner. We spend a good porting of the book building up the story with a couple creepy things happening then it all just ends. A new character shows up who literally just used Google to figure out the answer to all the questions and then boom, the book's over. It could have been so good.

Are You Listening? By Tillie Walden

Bea is on the run when she runs into Lou. Together the two set off on a journey through West Texas and strange things seem to happen wherever they go. Along they way they meet a mysterious cat and it affects their trip in unpredictable ways.

I wanted to love this. I wanted to love it so bad. I wanted this to be the new graphic novel I discovered and introduce to my group of friends. A graphic novel written by a woman with two female main characters and a cat? That sounds great! But instead it was a boring mess with a convoluted story that dabbled in magical realism but never quite made sense. It could have been good but it was all lost. The characters were bland, the story was weird, and nothing could save this good idea turned bad.

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

If you want the premise for this, then just check out my blog about the worst books of 2019. Why did this make it on both lists? Because I was so disappointed. I wanted so badly to love this series, but instead I hated it. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Seanan McGuire is a talentless hack who wrote an awful story that shouldn't be read by anyone.

Worst Books of 2019

Thursday 19 December 2019

I was never an overly adventurous reader, as some of you may already know.. But now that I routinely exit my comfort zone I learned that I can find some wonderful books that I otherwise never would have even glanced at. But on the other side of that same coin I've found some books that I wish I could delete from my memory. The following are the five books that I wish I could purge from my reading history.

Legends of the Maya: A Guide to Mayan Mythology by Kezip Macleod

This is a nonfiction book that's exactly what it sounds like. It's a book about Mayan Mythology. Not much else to it.

This was one of my first kindle books. The same day I got a kindle years ago I looked for all the free books I could find and this was one of them (Though now it goes for 2.99). I was excited to finally pick up this book because I forgot about it. However, that excited glow quickly faded as this "book" felt more like a pile of haphazard research notes.

For a better example of how to write a book retelling myths from ancient civilizations, pick up Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Legends of the Maya read like the transcript of a unprepared student giving a presentation on Mayan mythology. I was 100% disappointed. I understand that we may not know Mayan myths as well as we know Norse but the book could have at least been presented better. Instead it was just a cold mess. This shouldn't be read by anyone.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway is about a school for children who visit other worlds; think Dorothy or the Narnia kids. Nancy has just returned from her adventure and her parents don't know what to do with her so she's sent to a special school. Once there, strange things begin to happen. Is Nancy tied to this? And can she ever get back to the world she misses so much?

I was so disappointed by this book. I was so sure I was going to love it that I put the next two books in the series on hold in my local library. I thought I had found my next favorite series but after reading the first one, I realized I found one of my most hated books of all time.

Seanan McGuire is an awful writer. She wrote a poorly thought out, poorly paced, and poorly plotted mess. The characters were one dimensional, the LGBTQ representation was contrived. And the story's resolution was as lackluster as a rusty nail. This book doesn't deserve the praise it gets and I truly question the taste of anyone who likes it. It's not bad in the same way the next three books in this blog are bad. It's true bad to it's core. It's a bad book and McGuire should be ashamed she ever published such a travesty.

Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton

Rusty-James is the toughest kid in his school. He loves getting into fights, he loves shooting pool, and he loves getting into trouble. He idolizes his older brother the Motorcycle Boy who was once the toughest gang leader in town, before gangs were mostly dissolved. He wants nothing more to be like his brother, but that could be a dangerous wish.

I read The Outsiders while I was in school, like a lot of us did, at least in America, and it was one of the few required reading books that I actually liked. I even reread The Outsiders years later and still enjoyed it. I even read Tex and enjoyed it too. So when I found a copy of Rumble Fish at a library book sale, I jumped on the chance to own it. When I finally go around to reading it I found the magic of the first two S.E. Hinton books completely missing and instead I read a shallow book with a main character as scattered and unlikeable as Holden Caufield.

The story was boring. The characters were shallow and unrelateable. And this was a far cry from wonderfully woven stories of Hinton's other works. I know this next part is petty, but the names got annoying. The main character was always Rusty-James and his brother was always the Motorcycle Boy. We never learned what his real name was. But on top of that petty complaint, it was a bad story. It was slow, boring, and the characters were highly unlikable.

The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty

Smithson "Smithy" Ide is a man whose life is on a dead end road. He's going no where fast. He has a bad job, no love life, he's fat, awkward, and an alcoholic. When his parents are killed in a freak car accident and he finds out his long lost sister is also dead, he sets off on a bike ride across America to go retrieve his sister's body and to find himself again.

I received this book as a gift from a friend years ago who thought I would enjoy it. I didn't read it right away. When I was younger I tended to stick to Sci-Fi or Fantasy and rarely strayed from it.  But now that I'm a mature(ish) adult, I decided to pick it up.

I'm actually glad I waited so long. My friend has since moved away and we lost touch so I don't have to let him know that I hated the book that he enjoyed so much he wanted to gift it to me (alternatively I don't have to lie to him about liking it). I'm still grateful. The gift of a book is a wonderful thing but unfortunately the stagnant story coupled with characters who failed to learn a single thing from the journey came together to make on of the worst books I've ever read. I'd rather marathon read the Twilight series. Smithy was an unlikable character the author felt like fat shaming quite a bit. There were no good characters. They were all horribly flawed and not even in any sort of compelling way.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. He hates everything. He wants more out of life and one day he finds out that magic is real. Not only that but he's been invited to join the only magic school in America. Once there he finds that he's not the best in the class like he used to be and on top of that, but he may not be ready for what's to come.

I wanted to badly to love this. It's sold as an adult Harry Potter and I can see where the comparison comes from but The Magicians lacks any of the magic Harry Potter had. All of the books on this list have one thing in common. Unlikable characters. Queintin Coldwater is one of the worst people I have ever read about outside of nonfiction. I related with Voldermort more. In all honesty, there was only one character who wasn't awful and Alice doesn't even play a big role. The story itself suffered from pacing issues and it had one of those endings that came out of nowhere. It felt like there was more story to tell but Lev Grossman ran out of time and rushed to finish.

Just like Every Heart A Doorway this could have been a great series to get invested in, but bad writing put a stop to that.

Favorite Books of 2019

Wednesday 18 December 2019

This, my friends, marks the start of my first ever yearly wrap up for this blog. It isn't surprising as this blog is fairly new. But what is surprising is my list of top 5 books of the year because I never thought I'd have such a wide variety. I thank my wife and my interest in expanding my reading horizons for introducing me to these wonderful books I otherwise never would have read.  Just look at my list! Not a single sci-fi or fantasy book on it! Past me would never believe it. So without further ado, lets get this show on the road and let me tell you about my top 5 books of the year.

Less By Andrew Sean Greer

Arthur Less's 50th birthday is looming and he wants to do all he can to not be home as he takes his first steps on the wrong side of the hill. So what does he do? He accepts every pending invitation for trips and guest teaching positions he has and doesn't look back. If he looks back he may see bits of his past he may way to forget, like his former lover or his first love whose health is failing, and those he's hurt or been hurt by along the way.

This was the first book I read this year and it took the top spot right away. Even though I've loved other books I've read this year, this one has stuck out in my mind as the best of the bunch. Andrew Sean Greer not only came up with a cleaver plot but also created realistic, flawed, and likable characters whose journey I loved to follow. I want more. I want him to write a sequel. Even if it's fluffy fan service, I just want more. I want more. I need more. Thank you, Mr Greer for writing a book that's now on my top 10 list of favorite books of all time. Read my review of the book here and then read about my dream cast if it's ever turned into a movie here.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn Hugo is Hollywood royalty. One of the biggest stars of her time. Her life has been filled with secrets and she finally thinks it's time to tell her story. So she turns to Monique Grant, a magazine reporter who has been summoned to Hugo's home under the guise of writing an article about Hugo's charitable donations. How many skeletons does Evelyn Hugo have in her closet and how exactly did she get to the top? Only she can tell.

My second favorite book of the year. It was a close call but Less just happened to beat out Evelyn Hugo. Don't let that take anything away from this book though. If I could I would have all five of these books share the number one spot. Taylor Jenkins Reid created a true Hollywood legend for this book and the story she wove was not only captivating, but page turningly plausible to boot. It felt like Evelyn Hugo was real and I have to fight the urge to look her up on IMDB. Just like with Less, I want Reid to write another book about Hugo. It could be a prequel, or a side story, I don't care. I just want more.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove can only be described as a grumpy old man. He likes things a certain way and he's had his routine set in stone since the dawn of time. When a loud family of four move in next door, Ove finds that not only is his world going to change, but his help will be needed.

Even though this was another book Anne recommended to me, I still count it as my discovery though as I learned about it by seeing a trailer for the original movie from Sweden back in 2016. This book was a joy to read because even though Ove was a curmudgeon, he was still a likable character. Just like John and Max from Grumpy Old Men. Fredrik Backman has a way with words and he created a beautiful and engaging story that I can't wait to revisit.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

WWII breaks out and France can't help but be engulfed by Hitler's Third Reich. This is the story of two sisters and how they deal with the terrifying new world they live in. They both choose to fight, but in their own ways. One has a daughter she must protect and one strives to do a more literal version of fighting. Together they show that there's more than one way to stay strong when all seems lost.

You know what would make this book better? The Fanning sisters, said no one ever. If you didn't hear, they were cast as the sisters in this film. So instead of watching the movie, you can read the book and be blown away by an epic historical fiction book. The Nightingale takes you through France's entire involvement in the war but the book never dragged. It was a page turning from the start and I experienced the whole rainbow of emotions.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Nana, a stray cat, is adopted by Satoru. The two set off on a road trip to visit Satoru's old friends. Nana serves as the perfect companion for the trip as the pair travel across Japan and meet a colorful cast of characters.

This book was a gift from Anne who knows me oh so well. I say that with absolutely no sarcasm. She does know me very well. Based on the cover alone this book hits me in two areas I've very interested in. Cats and anything Japanese. The story is told from the cat's perspective so as Nana figures things out, so do you. Well, to be honest, you may figure it all out before Nana does but that did little to make the story any less enjoyable.

End of the Year Book Tag

Wednesday 4 December 2019

It's time for another book tag! The end of the year is upon us so all these questions tackle what little time is left in the year and moving forward into 2020.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
No. By this point, if I haven't finished it I've probably DNF'd it. The only books that I actually DNF'd this year were Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez, and The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. Both of those are books that if you had asked me earlier in the year I would have predicted to be four or five star books.

Anne just walked by and reminded me of another book I DNF'd, but this one I plan on returning to. So I guess I'm changing my answer. A book I need to finish is Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb. I found the book quite interesting but I just couldn't stay focused. I was listening to the audio version so maybe I was just too distracted, but I do know I want to give it another chance. Also I stopped in the middle of a Harry Potter reread because I just wasn't feeling it. So I guess that counts too.

Maybe one day I'll give The Three-Body Problem another chance but I'll never give Gil's All Fright Diner even a single moment of my time.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Not really. I always want to read themed books around their specific time of year but I have never quite done that save for reading a Christmas book leading up to Christmas. I'm not sure if that would count as autumnal, but it is the end of the year.

So lets talk about Christmas, shall we? This year I want to pull out my old copy of The Polar Express that came complete with a tape of actor William Hurt reading it. Step one. Find a tape player. Step two, get a fire going and sit in front of it and read along just like I did when I was a kid. But this time with my wife by my side.

Is there a new release you're still waiting for?

A release from this year? No. Not at all. A release in general? Plenty. I want Jim Butcher to finish Peace Talks, the next book in The Dresden Files series as well as the next book in the Cinder Spires series. I'd also like the third book in Rebecca Roanhorse's Sixth World series. Other than that there's really nothing I really want.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

I don't really have any. At the end of November I finished the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge and have been in sort of a slump ever since. I can read whatever I want without having to keep reading prompts in mind. So I'm lost.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

I just started reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and I know I'm going to like it. I've never disliked anything by him. But I've read such great books that I'd be surprised if this one would break into the top five of the year. It could still be great. But can it be greater than some of the books that really touched me this year? Maybe, Maybe not.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

Yes and no. Anne and I decided that we're not doing the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge next year. We liked a lot of the prompts, but the allure of not having to worry about prompts, mixed with coming up with some of our own.

I know, it's true that I can always read whatever I want, but when you're doing a reading challenge it is important to keep prompts in mind. There were a few times this year where I wanted to pick up a certain book but realized it wasn't going to work for anything, so I switched.

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