So Long 2019, and Thanks for All the Fish

The end of the year has come around with the usual speed and promptness. From November and December flying by and now the last few days of my break over in the blink of an eye the end of the year is one of mixed feelings. As I write this my state and country is on fire, hundreds of fires, millions of hectares destroyed and an Emergency Warning has been issued for my area with a bush fire only a few kilometres away just this afternoon. This brings a lot of strangeness to this NYE and it’s a strange thing to be wrapping up my blogging year when so much is happening around me.

This is a blog about books and reading and this year has been a great reminder about the joys and magic books can bring. While the world has been falling apart around us this year with incompetent governments and a wide variety of imbeciles ruining the planet with their greed, it has been a wonderful escape to lose yourself in books. They are the distraction you need when you feel helpless and frustrated. Working in a library I have a fortunate advantage of seeing hundreds of books a day and getting to find some interesting reads and snagging new releases. Of course whether I get to actually read a lot of these is a whole other thing, but I have done my best.

My Goodreads challenge was won with a few hours left to go in the year, sneaking in a few incredibly quick reads of a couple picture books I have because the novels I’m in the middle of will not be finished come New Year’s night. I love seeing my Year in Books that Goodreads so beautiful presents for me each year. It is a great chance to look back and see all the books I’ve already forgotten I’d read, or ones I thought I read ages ago only to realise it was only in May. This year has certainly been going on for a lot longer than normal.

In preparation of this post I went back to look at my post where I laid out my 2019 goals. I probably shouldn’t have done that because frankly it was filled with incomplete goals. I only had three essentially:

  • Finishing Series
  • Recapping Books Events
  • Rereading

I didn’t finish a single series I had on my list to finish so fail there.

I think I started strong with my book events before they too were sitting unpublished in a notebook still. I do wonder if I could post them next year, a few (many) months late but still a nice revisit to the event. It may also be a great test of my note taking skills to see if I even know what I was talking about when I wrote them.

I will take a tiny win in that I reread Ready Player One (still amazing, read the book it’s better than the movie). But I didn’t reread the series I wanted to either so also tiny fail.

In a way, I was consistent in my lack of achievement though so…win?

Things to be Proud Of:

Away from my goals I do have things I am proud of that I achieved this year

  • I had more people visit my blog in the first 11 days of January this year than I had in the entirety of 2013. I also saw my total numbers of visitors grow immensely this year which was incredible and something I honestly never thought would happen.
  • I read 181 books out of my 180 set goal which I think is my highest number yet
  • I won AWW 2019 and not just scraping through at the last minute either, proper exceeded it
  • I had a steady blogging schedule which worked like clockwork 99% of the time
  • I won #LoveOzYABookBingo by finishing a line and a few more on top of that
  • I achieved two Book Bingo lines

Looking at that list I am quite impressed, though I didn’t achieve my goals, I did have a lot of wins.

My original plan tonight was to read my book, eat my fill of cheese and wine and enter 2020 with books on the mind and a keen spirit to read as many as I can in this new decade. In light of the events this afternoon, I fear my evening will be to have an eagle eye on the Fires Near Me App, and an eye out the window watching the billowing smoke grow larger.

Honestly, it’s an unideal way to end the year but this has been the reality in this country for a while. I remain hopeful towards 2020 though. I want to find new books to fall in love with, I want to read even more widely and diversely than I currently am, read more Australian, read more YA, read more heartbreaking books and more joyful books.

If you are in any of the fire affected areas I hope you stay safe, if you are fire free I hope your NYE is filled with festivities and frivolity.

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.

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.