So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, 2016!

NYEThis has been a particularly tough year. I’ve had a few family dramas taking up a lot of my time, I’ve been working a lot, and a couple of months ago I moved house and have been without internet since which has just been delightful and made blogging an almost nonexistent activity.

But aside from that! On the positivity train, I discovered so many amazing books and authors, and went to so many wonderful events. I discovered a range of amazing Aussie authors, specifically a lot of fantastic women writers. I fell in love with authors like Sarah Ayoub and Megan Jacobson, not to mention Fleur Ferris and Shivaun Plozza.

I had a wonderful year in terms of book events, meeting again some favourite authors like Garth Nix, Melina Marchetta, and Ryan O’Neill. I met David Levithan for the first time which was awesome and made me remember how much I love his books. I also got to meet Rainbow Rowell, Alice Pung, Kirsty Eager, and a range of fantastic new authors I am looking forward to falling in love with through their works.

I was a bit bad this year, abandoning my second hand hauls for a lot of retail book buying, though in my defence I was very thrifty, getting the best prices. Either way my bank balance is not that happy with me. I am hoping to be a bit more conservative next year and maybe make use of the fact I work in a library and should borrow before I buy like I used to do. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing my shelves lined with gorgeous books 😀

In terms of challenges I did surprisingly well all things considered. I met my 80 book goal on Goodreads and I exceeded my Australian Women’s Writer’s Challenge for books read. Reviewing I just missed out, but I still think I did very well. My Book Bingo was also a success, I made a winning line, and I filled up the majority of my card. I’m really excited about making up my 2017 card; in addition to a new Goodreads goal and AWW up my sleeve I will certainly have a lot of diversity and variety in my reading.

One thing I noticed about 2016 is that another year has now been and gone before I get a copy of The Book of Dust in my hand, the book by Philip Pullman that I’ve been hanging on for since it was first announced. The late 2016 estimate clearly was wrong, I was waiting got an 11th hour announcement but none came. Pullman tweeted mid-December saying the new date is now late 2017. So I will no doubt see you this time next year with an update one way or another.

While that didn’t eventuate I did celebrate the 90th anniversary of Winnie the Pooh on the blog. Blocking out October to bring you all things Pooh and Milne (at the time of posting three posts short but on their way, see internet issues for explanation). Next year is the big one, bigger probably than my HDM of 2015. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the first publication of Harry Potter. Even as I type those words it freaks me out. 20 years! How on earth? But with seven books and eight movies, and so much additional material it’s clear to see how it could span such a space of time and feel like it wasn’t that long ago we first fell into the wizarding world. Still, it makes me feel very old and makes me realise just how young I was when I picked up that first book.

So that they year that was, the plans ahead, and a bunch of rambles in the middle. That about does it for me this year I think. I’m not going to make promises about posting more, trying to balance life and blogging. I am instead going to do my best, read what I choose and share what I love. I am not going to let guilt of blogging dictate me and I am going to try and remember why I wanted to start this blog in the first place. That’s my mini plan at any rate.

I wish everyone a very happy new year, whether you are braving a big city celebration or a night in with friends, family, or just the dog. Don’t fret if all you have to celebrate New Year’s is a book, a wine, and a dog at your feet. I celebrated on my own last year like that but it was fine because I just had to remind myself that it’s not drinking alone if the dog is home.

Have a happy new year and read something spectacular!

2015: A Year in Review

NYEThis has been an enjoyable, busy, and strange year both on the blog and not. Through book club, Book Bingo, review requests, and book events I read so many great books and discovered many great authors. With mere hours left on the 2015 clock, I read my last Book Bingo book which was also my 80th book of the year. Having met both my Goodreads Reading Challenge and my Book Bingo was a great feeling. I look forward to starting new challenges for both of them.

In January this year I celebrated my two-year blogiversary which was amazing. I gave away so many great books to people all over the world which was pretty great, especially when they email me and tell me how much they love the book and what it means to them. I also attended numerous writers festivals and book events where I got to meet some of my favourite authors for the first time (or for the third or fourth time), adding their books to my signed book collection.

A highlight of the year was my month dedicated to the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Northern Lights. Rereading those books and getting to share it with you all was amazing, and it allowed me to immerse myself in everything about that series I adore. I participated in NaNo again, which resulted in a few quiet weeks on the blog. Though writing every day and focusing on making a word count makes November fly by and the holiday season hit pretty hard, hence the prolonged scarcity of posts and reviews.

I did learn a few things this year though. This is my third year writing this blog and each one has been different from the other. I’ve had overseas holidays, university, family commitments, and varying levels of busy that take up my time. I am (slowly) learning how to pace myself and what reviews I take in, I am learning that perhaps November and December should be intentionally quieter months to prevent guilt over an unattended blog. I am also learning that as much as I think I can take in dozens of reviews at a time, I just can’t. So next year I am prepared for a tighter system and more structure, more so than what I attempted to do this year at any rate.

Despite how neglected and behind I became towards the end of the year, the more I think about this year the more I realise how fun it was. In some ways the year seems so much longer than it was too. Books I read in June or May feel like a lifetime ago, and events early in the year feel so distant. Quite a surreal experience but good in a way, it makes you realise how much you have actually achieved this year, especially when it doesn’t feel like much.

One of the big changes late in the year was that I got myself a job; in a field I wanted and trained for no less. At the beginning of December I got a job as a librarian which was fantastic. Working in a library has been a dream of mine, so to actually be able to work with books and interact with people who read books is pretty exciting. It is scary and intimidating at times but having visited libraries my whole life it also feels familiar. So that is going to really kick off more next year so I’ll see where it takes me!

Thankfully this end of year wrap up hasn’t become too reflective. It is different than the last two years and that is ok. Rereading those I realise how different I am now, how different the blog is and sometimes you don’t need to be overly reflective. It was a fun year, exciting things happened and I achieved a few new things. I really enjoyed doing my first Book Bingo, it widened my reading and made me read things I may not have picked up. I look forward to doing another next year. Even outside Bingo my reading took a new direction; I took chances on books and read uncomfortable things, I also reacquainted myself with book I’ve loved.

As I enter my fourth year (oh my gosh!) it will be interesting to see what comes up and what 2016 has in store. April marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death so prepare yourself for a lot of Shakespeare. As anyone who has been on Facebook or Twitter when it is Shakespeare Week knows I have a thing for Shakespeare. No doubt I will be attending the NWF and SWF again, hopefully being introduced to a myriad of new authors once more. Other than that I welcome whatever the New Year brings and with my insights, experience, and lessons learnt hope to give you a blog that is better than what it was the previous year.

Happy (Belated) New Year, Everyone!

NYELook who has returned! I have not disappeared in the mysteriousness that is New Year. I know this is a terrible way to start the year, being absent for the first ten days and I promise this is not a foreshadowing of what the year will be like. It was just so hard to pull myself away from the relaxing time I was having doing nothing to actually start doing something. After a hectic Christmas and December it was so wonderful being able to relax after everything wound down after New Year so I am not really going to apologise any further.

I have noticed though that a lot of my holiday posts seem to be belated recently but as I say I was so busy over Christmas and through December I was really enjoying the week (and a bit) of doing nothing but watching TV and eating leftovers. I will say I started the year out with good intentions. I began the new year reading which was very productive I thought. I read one of my brilliant QI fact books that I had gotten for Christmas on New Year’s Day. It was fantastic, just like the others were.

One thing that has dragged me away from my relaxation is the fact I am now house sitting. I was hoping to use this house sitting time to be productive and separate myself from the distractions of home, but with two golden retrievers and the internet at my fingertips it has yet to prove useful. But at only two days in and eight days left anything could happen. I know once I start writing I will get back into the hang of it, but having a break over Christmas really stops your flow, it is a lot of work to get yourself back into the regular routine. Which is true for everything I suppose. I always marvelled that after six weeks off over Christmas, the first day back at school always feels like you’ve never left. Without the luxury of being forced back into blogging by government laws I must make my own motivations and I am taking the guilt trip route. Too much time off is never a good thing and it makes me feel unproductive.

So now I’m sitting here, on a strange computer, contemplating and trying to find the motivation that is going to kick off my year. I am contemplating to the new album by The Script at the moment which I have to say it is brilliant. There is something particularly magnificent about listening to powerful songs at full volume, it gets your heart going, you feel like you can conquer the world and there is nothing you cannot do. This is how I am going to motivate myself into diving head first into this year. I have allowed myself the luxury of a week (plus a bit more) of relaxing and now it is time to get going again. New year, new goals, and new motivations!

One of the first things I must do is thank everyone who is already sending in review requests. It is good to see having to close submissions for so long last year has not affected things too much which make me so pleased. I hope more come and I look forward to reading all your wonderful books as well as many more throughout the year. One of my goals for the year is to try and read some of the books I already own as well so I am implementing a “one request, one owned” system to try and get through my TBR pile, but more on my goals later.

I should also add in here I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s doing whatever it was you were doing. I had a great night, I had some friends over for a mini soiree where we played some games, drank wine, and watch the fireworks both on TV and those nearby. If you do not yet know about my absolute fascination and adoration of fireworks you must catch yourself up. Two important things to remember are that I will never say a bad word about them and that they must be watched at every possible chance for whatever reason.

I have many wonderful things planned for this year. I have a blogiversary coming up super soon and many goals which I will fill you all in on later when I know about them myself! I am looking to get a review up in the next day or two as well meaning this year is definitely (and finally) in full swing here at Lost in a Good Book!

So welcome to 2015 everyone, may good books be forever at your disposal, and you read something spectacular!

So long 2014

NYEAs my second year of blogging comes to a close it is pretty remarkable looking back and comparing this year to my first year. While I learnt a lot in the first year and was given some great opportunities, outside the blog there was a lot going on and there were so many hassles with my old host website that nothing was going right. Jump forward a year and this year could not have been any more different if it tried. I have been to numerous literary and bookish events, read dozens of brilliant stories from people requesting a review from me, and I did it all while finishing my Masters degree.

I have loved blogging this year I loved writing reviews, reading so many, so many wonderful books and getting to share them all with you. I know working on my top five list is going to be interesting since there was no real stand out book, they were all so great.

I could try and count how many beautiful authors and publicists asked me to review their books but I won’t, I will estimate it is somewhere in the 40-50 range which if I have not said it enough I am so grateful for, for all of you asking me to review your works. I already have a few lined up for the new year so bring on more great reads!

As I was preparing to write this I was rereading my New Years Eve post from last year and it brought back a lot of memories. Not just the stuff I was not talking about, but just the things I had been through that year; the blog, uni, the fact that by the end of the year I was a mess and trying to find what I was doing with myself amidst uni and reading and trying to sort my headspace out. Reflecting a year later I do not regret that year, all the drama, pain, and emotions help you grow. It makes you tough and it teaches you a lesson. It also helps you appreciate the good things and this year has been filled with so many good things it has been truly wonderful. The mood was also quite reflective last year. I know you are supposed to be reflective on the last day of the year, and I am, but I think in a much cheerier mindset which is never a bad thing.

Book wise I set myself a realistic goal of reading 70 books this year, which was met by sheer determination to not not finish (which means I bumped it down to match the 66 I did read, shh don’t tell), and I managed to get out on the other side of my Masters which makes me feel very adult, while still fully aware I have no idea what I am doing.

In the last twelve months I also attended so many bookish and blogging events, allowing me to open up my contact range and my eyes in how the book/blogging world operates. I went to PTA Live, the Hachette Bloggers Night, the Book Bloggers Forum, the Book Expo, both Sydney and Newcastle Writer’s festivals, the Sydney Author’s Event, plus a fabulous literary lunch with John Marsden. I am looking forward to 2015 being filled with just as many events and getting to meet some wonderful readers, bloggers, and authors from around the country and overseas.

Before I finish up for the year and go grab myself a wine, some chocolate, and a very adult and mature sparkler to bring in the new year, I want to thank everyone who has been by my side through this year and the last. I appreciate each of you for sharing my reviews, commenting on my posts, sticking with me when I miss posts, back posts, and just plain vanish for a few days (or months), and more importantly for making me feel like I am not just talking to myself out on the internet.

Once again I must ask of all of you to find and watch any fireworks you can get to tonight as they are one of the greatest gifts to the world and sent by the gods. As I said last year, my absolute love and fascination with the beauty and gloriousness of fireworks can never be underestimated and I will not stop forcing people to watch them when they occur, no matter what the occasion.

I wish you all the best for the New Year and may books be forever at your disposal.

Happy New Year guys, I will see you on the other side.

Another year over…

NewsWell, it’s certainly been an interesting year. There were ups and downs, boy were there downs, but luckily with my impenetrable emotional brick wall in place we don’t have to acknowledge those months now that it’s over. I have had it worse, of course it was more spread out than this year so whether that is a good thing or not I don’t know. But moving on!

Bookwise it’s been sad but wonderful. Because of things and stuff and life and everything I have hardly read anything. I managed just a mere 45 books this year, I think last year was 114 or something. Of course uni made that a problem because who has time for decent reading when you have too much to do and no time to do anything fun. But what I did manage to read was pretty spectacular. I am still behind on reviews, I know, I keep saying I will and I don’t, it’s the freedom. The fact I was locked into this uni thing with absolutely no time for months with barely a chance to think or relax or even watch TV, the thought of sitting too long on the computer writing is actually hard, I need to vege. I want to write, I do honestly, but relaxing and just enjoying my days catching up on doing nothing is wonderful. I am trying though. I need to keep trying.

I started this blog in January. In that time we have had so many things happen it is unbelievable. For newbies who may not know I started on, and after a few smooth months it crumbled and it crumbled bad. Server issues, site issues, an issue you want to imagine they caused me and after five months I had to pack up and move. I must say WordPress is better, much better. In the remaining seven months or whatever it has been great. I wrote some good reviews, I got to interview one of my favourite singers Voltaire about his debut book Call of the Jersey Devil and I wrote a wonderful review that people loved. I am still very much regretting that when I met him I froze completely and never got to mention I was the one who had interviewed him or wrote the review, but maybe next time when I have a bit more composure and less awe, I even forgot to take the book to get him to sign, granted I was there for a concert of his but that is besides the point.

I have said I do not want to stop doing this, I just need to find my way in again, get to a point where I can just finish a book and sit down and regurgitate all the emotions and feelings I had about it, that’s how most of my reviews have begun. Then I can find my way to finishing others, they are there, half finished and waiting. I think the new year is going to bring challenges but I want to be determined. Uni is coming to an end by mid year and after a stressful and crazy time when it starts again I am going to be at a loss and a freaking out state of mind where we could grab some evaluation time about what I am doing with my days. Christmas flew by, the year ends in six hours and who knows what is on the other side. I would love to just relax and watch TV and get invested in books and watch the days fly by until it is suddenly the end of January but the urge to not let that happen is also tugging at me. I have prac coming up in a couple of weeks in a library which is itself terrifying so we have an end point to my vegging, I am trying to do everything at once and it is making my head jumbled. So deep breaths everyone and let’s see in the new year like the responsible stable adult we’re convincing the world we are.

We’ll start with news. I have been lucky enough to be asked to review a book called Sun Poisoned by Nikki Rae, as a YA/NA paranormal romance it is intriguing. I also have been given the first book of the series Sunshine, so with both of them hopefully we can make them the start of our regular return. I miss you guys and my regular posts, they were a lot of fun. The other thing I must do is I also need to construct my Top Five list for the year. Last year had some wonderful books, this year had excellent books as well, they all seemed pretty spectacular so I get to revisit a few favourites, maybe it can help me finish the reviews as well, can’t be bragging about books when you don’t know what I really thought of them.

Other than that I think that’s all. It has been a good year, it has, all dramatic obscurity aside, it was a bit of everything, adventure, drama, action, young adult, fiction and non fiction, emotions and chaos, love and conflict, we’ve had it all. I hope you had a wonderful year yourselves, I implore you find and watch any fireworks you can get to tonight because they are sent by the gods and are the greatest things ever created. My absolute love and fascination with the beauty and gloriousness of fireworks can never be underestimated. Happy New Year guys, I will see you on the other side.