New Year, New Plans

I did a lot of thinking during the last month of the year and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m writing this blog about the wrong subject.  Or, I should say, writing about the books I read isn’t enough.  While I am always reading something, what I read does not always inspire me to write a full-blown blog entry.  Therefore I’ve made too few entries this past year.  And my heart wasn’t always in those I did post.  So I feel that I either must end this blog altogether or expand the subject matter beyond my bookshelves.

Now, I have many, many interests but I am an expert at none.  My first instinct was to expand my entries to books and movies.  Then I thought I might add TV shows and music to the list of subjects about which I write.  But like with reading, I feel that one’s taste in movies, shows, and especially music is very personal.  And maybe it’s the trauma of middle school talking but I don’t trust that I won’t be judged harshly for my tastes.  Nothing personal, but the internet hasn’t shown itself to be the safest place to pour one’s heart out.

I’ve also considered posting snippets of my own fiction writing.  Again my trusts issues come into play.  Even though the writing is probably mostly crap, I can’t trust that my ideas won’t be stolen.  I have issues.  We all do.  I know that but I’m only now beginning to realize that these trust issues of mine are holding me back not only in my blog but with my fiction.  Maybe, instead of the usual resolution to get fit or be more responsible with money, my 2017 resolution should be to work on my trust issues.  And not just my trust of strangers on the internet but also I need to learn to trust myself.  This, I believe, would greatly benefit my writing as well as other areas of my life.  Which I don’t trust you enough to talk about.  Still, if I’ve actually posted this, it is a step in the right direction.  Right?

Now, before the trust exercises begin I must post my annual Year in Review of the books I read in 2016.  I went well over my goal of 30 books with 46 but that’s because I didn’t do very well at my other resolution to focus more on my fiction writing.  I could blame a particularly tough year but the truth is I’m just really good at believing my own excuses.  Neither did I succeed in completing Reading Challenge I attempted.

2016 Reading Challenge from modernmrsdarcy.com

I thought it would be simple with only 12 books but I’m still working on the book that intimidates me – James Michener’s Alaska – and I never got around to the book I should’ve read in school or the one I’d previously abandoned.  That’s not surprising considering that I didn’t want to read them the first time around.  Here are the books I read to complete the other challenges:

A Book Published This Year:

(Goodreads.com giveaways were quite helpful in completing this one)

A Book You Can Finish in a Day:

(I should write an entry on what this local children’s author has meant to me)

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read:

A Book Recommended by your Local Librarian:

A Book Chosen for You by Your BFF:

A Book Published Before You Were Born:

A Book that Has Been Banned at Some Point: 

A Book You Own But Have Never Read:

(To be fair this category is true of most of the books I read.)

A Book You’ve Read at Least Once:

And now for my top read of the year:

I chose Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart.

Amy Stewart’s wonderful Kopp Sisters series is based on the experiences of real-life sisters Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp in the 1910s.

I know I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating but it was just such a fun surprise and I think many people would enjoy the tale based on actual events.  Don’t believe me?  Go to the author’s page dedicated to these three brave women.  I think it just proves that librarians really do know the best books.  Plus there’s a fantastic sequel for when you finish long before you want it to end.

Fantasy, Reviews

Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell took me a while to read. It wasn’t because of its size, which is considerable. But we all know that even the longest book if it is well-written and entertaining, is too short. No, the reason I took so long was because I was reading the e-book. I kept putting it aside to read real paper and ink books. It isn’t as easy to disappear into the cold computer screen as it is a real book.
Still, I couldn’t help but become captivated by this tale of magic and politics and the world of Faery. Or by Clarke’s amazing writing. Somehow she combines the wit of Jane Austen, the magic of J.K. Rowling, and the horror of the Gothic writers to create an atmospheric, thought-provoking, and wholly entertaining novel. I only have a couple of complaints. The footnotes. Maybe this goes back to reading it in e-book form, but I would often be rolling along, totally immersed in the tale when I’d be interrupted by pages long footnotes which were really another story within the story. Now, many of them ended up being important to the story in the end so I’m glad I read them but sometimes it was annoying. My other complaint is that some passages were slow and boring. It is an intricate story with lots of details that seem nit-picking but end up being important later. That’s one cause. Another is that none of the main characters (save possibly Lady Pole and Mrs. Strange) are particularly likable but the reader needs to root for each of them at some point. That requires a lot of back stories and build up that can become tedious. But it is all worth it. Once you become invested in the story you have to know how it will all end.
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