Saturday, July 02, 2011

Midyear Reflections: January to June 2011

2011 has been an interesting reading year for me. It hasn't exactly been a predictable reading year either! Who could have really predicted that I'd fall in love with mysteries? That I'd become obsessed with authors like Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, and Dorothy Sayers? Who could have guessed that falling in love with a new genre would keep me away from reading middle grade and young adult novels? The good news is that I don't have regrets. I am ALL about reading what I want to read. And my blog reflects that to some degree. It has to be flexible, because I can't stay the same month after month, year after year.

So far, I've read 273 books this year. My lowest month was April with 31 books. My highest month was June with 56 books. Though three months have totals in the fifties (February, March, and June). 139 of those have been library books! 102 of those have been review copies. And 32 of those have been books I've bought myself. I expect to read fewer books in the second half of the year. Though I hope to still reach 365 by the end of the year.

While I kept track of my Bible reading last year, I didn't think to include it directly into my records. I am this year. In the first six months, I've read 307 books of the Bible! (Granted, Philemon, Jude, Obadiah, 2 John, and 3 John are only one chapter apiece. But for all the books that are only a couple of chapters long, there are books like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Psalms. In other words, while there are some very short books of the Bible, there are also some long ones!)

I've read 144 books for Becky's Book Reviews. I've read 69 books for Young Readers. I've read 60 books for Operation Actually Read Bible. I added in my Bible reading, and the chart reflects my mostly balanced reading life! I am SO happy with these numbers, I am!!! For the first time in almost five years, I've found a way to balance my time with God with my reading time. Part of this was claiming some freedom...I didn't want to HAVE to read a certain number of books per week, per month for this blog. I needed the freedom to say this is my time, my life, I am going to read for me.

Favorite Authors discovered in the past six months:

Agatha Christie: The Mysterious Affair At Styles. Murder on the Orient Express. Murder at the Vicarage. A Miss Marple Mystery. The A.B.C. Murders. (Hercule Poirot). The Body in the Library. (Miss Marple). Five Little Pigs. (Hercule Poirot), A Murder is Announced. 4:50 From Paddington. Cards on the Table. Appointment with Death. At Bertram's Hotel. Cat Among the Pigeons. Sad Cypress. And Then There Were None. The Moving Finger. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. A Caribbean Mystery. The Big Four. Evil Under the Sun. Taken at the Flood. Dead Man's Folly. Nemesis.

Rex Stout: Black Orchids. Silent Speaker. Some Buried Caesar. The Golden Spiders. Death of a Doxy. Three at Wolfe's Door. Too Many Cooks. Fer-de-lance

Dorothy Sayers! Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness Unnatural Death, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. Strong Poison. Have His Carcase. Gaudy Night

Top Ten Books I've Read This Year (So Far)

Strong Poison. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1930/1995. HarperCollins. 272 pages.
Gaudy Night. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1936/1995. HarperCollins. 512 pages. 
The Moving Finger. Agatha Christie. 1942/2007. Black Dog & Leventhal. 208 pages.
Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1864/1865. 880 pages.
Divergent. Veronica Roth. 2011. May 2011. HarperCollins. 496 pages.
Kinfolk. Pearl S. Buck. 1945/2004. Moyer Bell. 408 pages.  
Some Buried Caesar. Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1938. Random House. 288 pages.
The Virginian. Owen Wister. 1902. Penguin Classics. 370 pages.
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton. With illustrations by Brett Helquist. 2010. Penguin. 352 pages.
The Golden Spiders. Rex Stout. 1953. Random House. 206 pages.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous,  8:39 PM  

Wow, and people tell me I read a lot! I only just finished my 83rd book of the year.

Cindy Swanson 9:48 PM  

Whaaaaaaat?????? I've read 37 so far, and I thought I was an avid reader! You must also read extremely fast. Again, I thought I did too! :)

That's really cool. I really love your blog1

Hope you'll stop by my latest review!

Cindy @ Cindy's Book Club

Cindy Swanson 9:49 PM  

By the way, do check out Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone mysteries. (A is for Alibi, etc). They're a total change of pace from Agatha Christie, but they're immensely enjoyable and addictive!

Cindy @ Cindy's Book Club

Becky 10:03 PM  

Thanks for visiting, Cindy! I checked out my first P.D. James book, Cover Her Face, because I read your review of one of her later books.

Lisa 10:27 PM  

Wow Becky!You've been traveling a lot!And yes, spiritual journey is still the best!Keep it up!
Cheers to more classic books!

Kailana 3:12 PM  

I really must get around to trying Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers...

Unknown 10:34 AM  

I saw that you ranked Divergent on your list of top ten! I'm reading (actually listening, as I have the audiobook) it right now, and I'm really into it. Four... *sigh and smile*

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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