the year in books / 2014

First of all, hi! How is everyone doing? I miss you all. Well, probably. Except for you. Yes, you. You’re on my list, pal.

I read a ridiculous amount of books last year, so this post is a bit longer than usual. Also, the books I read, on average, last year were very, very good. Either I’m really easy to please or I am getting REALLY good at picking out books to read. The full list of all 156 books I read last year is below the cut, but as usual, I wanted to feature my favorites (and my least favorites) so I can bring everyone over to the dark side of reading all the books I love. Just so you know, I have excellent taste.

golden boyGolden Boy, Abigail Tarttelin
Originally Published: May 21, 2013
Read In: January 2014 and September 2014 (yes, I read it twice in one year–it’s that good)

From my review: “HOLY SHIT, Y’ALL. Sending out the Bat Signal. This is a book you should read probably as soon as possible . . . Everyone should be reading this book and singing its praises to the rooftops. Fucking everyone. Golden Boy centers around Max Walker, an intersex teenager who identifies as male. The only people who know about his ambiguous gender are his parents, who have done all they could since he was a baby to make his life as normal as possible. In fact, everyone loves Max. His brother adores him, he’s popular at school, is great at sports, the top in all his classes, and is kind to everyone. But when Max is raped by a trusted childhood friend, things fall apart quickly. It sets in motion a process of self-discovery not just for Max, but for his entire family, and the girl he’s fallen in love with.

What I say now: This was my favorite book I read in 2014. I made my book club read it. I bought it for at least five people on their birthdays. It’s got some rough material in it, and Max is such a gentle soul I can see where someone might have a hard time dealing with it, but the payoff for sticking it through is so good, and the journey of getting there so rewarding. I guarantee you will want to throw the book across the room during some parts, but the way Abigail Tarttelin structures the story is so so so satisfying.  This is a book I will return to over and over again, and I will not shut up about it until you read it, too.

– – –

the martianThe Martian, Andy Weir
Originally published: 2011 as a self-pub, picked up by Crown and published in February 2014
Read in: August 2014 and December 2014 (yup, read this one twice, too!)

From my review: “It’s sort of hard to describe this book without using the word ‘awesome.’ It’s told mostly in astronaut Mark Watney’s first person POV, as he writes a log as a way to pass time, and to document his attempts to stay alive. You know, just in case the log is all that’s left of him when the next mission to Mars in FOUR YEARS comes along. (This is a problem because Mark doesn’t have four years of food left and everyone thinks he’s dead.) There is a lot of science in all of this (as Mark is a scientist and solves his problems with science), but by no means is it inaccessible. Mark’s voice is very human and very lovable, and he gets so excited about all the science and he explains it really well that you can’t help be just as excited about everything as he is.

Normally the nature of this type of story (man has to survive perils thrown at him) would just exhaust me and stress me out, but Andy Weir makes the incredibly smart decision to have Mark’s problems be ones that derive naturally from both his actions and his situations. He doesn’t just throw shit at Mark for dramadrama. Everything that happens to him makes sense. Mark is so resourceful, it’s thrilling to watch him overcome these obstacles, all while creating (knowingly or unknowingly) more problems for himself down the line. I finished the book and pretty much wanted to start it all over again (which wasn’t an option because: library, six month waiting list).”

What I say now: This book is funny. It’s thrilling. It holds up on re-read. I love all the characters. I love the scope of the near future world. It has excellent swearing content, and it makes science not just fun, but exciting. This is a book anyone can love, even those who normally don’t like sci-fi. Read it. Read it now. Continue reading

Readathon Log 2014

joshua-jackson-w724Note: Will be updating this post every couple of hours through the 24 hour period.

6:50 AM: Got a late start this morning because my brain forgot it was supposed to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Started at 5:35 instead of 5. Alarm went off at five AM. Brain went whaaaaaa? Writing this from phone. There was no sun! Cats very confused. One sat in lap and was warm and soft. Very helpful. Made some green tea and settled down to finish Columbine, which is excellent and really eye-opening. Not eating anything yet because am lazy and have run out of food. This could be a problem later.

Pages read: 68
Currently reading: Columbine, Dave Cullen
Books completed: none

8:24 AM: Just finished Columbine. Heading in for a shower now. Need to leave house for sustenance. Full update from coffee shop soon.

9:28 AM: Sitting in Tucson Coffee Roasters (yum) eating an everything bagel and cream cheese, sipping on my iced coffee with the caramel sauce floaters (mmmm floaters). Have I ever told you guys that I ate way too much cream cheese? I would put it on everything if I could. My cat loves cream cheese, also. He knows what the sound of the crinkly wrapper opening sounds like. My everything bagel has anise seeds on it, so I’m picking those off. Whose idea was that? Bagels shouldn’t taste like licorice. Had a hard time deciding on second book, but picked one I knew I could get through in a couple of hours. Starting off easy. Well, Columbine wasn’t easy. But I was already more than halfway through, so. Oh! And I listened to ten minutes of my The Dragon’s Path audiobook. Counting that as ten pages. Almost done with it. Will probably finish today in my wanderings from place to place, trying to keep my butt from atrophying. Have just now decided that Joshua Jackson’s arms will be my mascot today. Mmm, hairy. (See updated photo at top of post.)

Pages read: 192
Currently reading: Sandry’s Book, Tamora Pierce
Books completed: 1 (Columbine)

coffee_dead-thumb-300x434-1211:02 AM: Fifty pages in to Sandry’s Book. Really like it! It’s fun to read a Tamora Pierce book not set in Tortall, and not centered on one heroine. Four main characters instead of two. Hopefully will finish book by 1 PM AZ time, just in time to switch locations again. Was probably mistake to go for coffee this morning, despite warnings in Readathon FAQ to go for lower caffeine drinks to avoid buzzing and crashing. Was definitely a mistake to get the refill. Am also wondering why Sandry’s Book has two titles. Looks like it was originally published under that name, but then in 2005 was reissued as The Magic in the Weaving? I like the second title better. Seems less corny and pre-packaged commercially (two things Tamora Pierce definitely isn’t). After I finish this one, I think ya’ll are going to be intrigued by my next choices . . . I’m going for ‘eclectic’ in my book line-up. Continue reading

24 Hour Readathon Madness

Hi, guys! How’s it going? I’m okay. Things are samey samey for me, which is part of the reason I don’t blog much anymore. Nothing really happening in my life, nothing really to blog about. Or maybe that’s just an excuse. Whatever. The point of this post isn’t to wallow, it’s to make an announcement that I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this Saturday. It’s a spur of the moment decision on my part. I’ve watched friends take part the last couple of years and derived strange satisfaction from seeing their reading progress, and how many and what kinds of books they read in their 24 hours.

And I guess I’m just a joiner at heart. (Even though I’m totally not, except it’s books, so probably that’s the real reason. I’m a book joiner.)

Not much else to say for now, other than:

  1. Watch this space on Saturday starting at 5 AM Arizona time (which is my start time). I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to get up that early, but it’s always nice to try! (I defintely won’t be staying up the whole 24 hours, and fully expect to be a huge weenie about the whole thing.)
  2. You should play along, too! Or at the very least stop by to heckle me here and on Twitter once in a while. I’ve been reliably informed that loopy Ashley is a good-time Ashley.
  3. I will bring snacks. But you can’t eat any of them. I am eating all of them.

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