Biblio Brat’s Top Ten Reading Goals 2013

TTT3WHere it is, my first Top Ten Tuesday of the year, and it’s being posted on Wednesday. Par for the course it seems. If I said I was already looking forward to February would that be a clue?

Not that my reading is suffering. I’ve just completed my third book and it’s only two weeks into the year. Once of these months however, my personal and reading life will be equally fulfilling and, well, then I’d be in a heavy state of confusion because that never seems to happen and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

But I digress.

This week over at the Broke and the Bookish, they’re asking for our Top Ten Reading Goals for 2013.

This one is right up my alley because I always have goals for the year and list them on the sidebar of my blog. I use a nifty little plugin called ProgPress. Some of them are related to challenges I’ve signed up for, others are personal goals. So far I’ve haven’t met all of them, but I’m usually pleased at the end of the year for the amount I have accomplished – especially the personal ones.

Here are mine. Please leave a comment and a link if you’d like to share yours.

  1. Read 4 books that are generally mistaken for doorstops.
  2. Read 10 books that can be used as bookmarks for those doorstops.
  3. Read 5 non-fiction books just to remind me that before there was reality TV, there was reality fiction. Reality fiction you say? Thanks to James Frey and Greg Mortensen, it’s not as oxymoronic as it sounds.
  4. Read at least 24 library books.
  5. Make sure at least 10 books I read are for no other reason that I felt like reading them at the time. Everyone should read something on a whim. It’s the literary version of stopping to smell the roses.
  6. Read 65 books (or more).
  7. Read 24 books that were on my shelf as of December 31, 2012 – preferably older.
  8. Read enough books to make a dent in the Fill-In-The-Gaps challenge.
  9. Post more reviews this year than last year.
  10. Never let any of the above become more important than reading for the sake of reading. Goals are motivators not dictators.

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Review: Having A Whaley of a Time

Whaley

Having A Whaley Of A Time by Donna Keeley
Paranormal Mystery, 88 pages
ISBN: 9780578104836
Self Published under DKeeley Press
Available as eBook and in Print

FTC Disclosure:
Review copy provided by author

I’m not sure if any remember the review policy I use to have posted, but if you look, you won’t find it. The main reason is that I was getting too many books to review and wasn’t able to keep up. Another was that not all the authors I reviewed were easy to deal with. Some left such a bad impression that for the longest time I refused to review any book that wasn’t published by one of the Big 6 or by an author or small publisher I already had a working relationship with.

But when Donna Keeley contacted me – there was something different about her and her request that made me reconsider. I’m glad I did. Like the other self-published authors I know personally, Donna approaches her writing and publishing with an attitude and care to quality that I’ve seen lacking too many times.

Not that the book itself is perfect, nothing is, but I can honestly say I read it in one sitting – as intended, and I enjoyed it for it’s basic plot, engaging characters, and a finish that completes the story even though it will be part of a series. Which, by the way, I will be looking forward to reading.

As for the reason the book is so short (a mere 88 pages with 10 chapters):

“Many comments I received from friends and family who read my draft manuscript asked why my book is so small. Well, that’s because this book is intended to be what I can an airplane book. Meaning, a person can read the entire thing during a U.S. transcontinental flight. It also brings up the reason I publish for myself.”

She goes on to explain how much she enjoyed science fiction and fantasy novellas as a teenager as well as Sherlock Holmes stories as she got older;  stories that were short, but possessing more quality than quantity. But unless it can be put in an anthology, many publishers shy away from small books, hoping to keep in the black by selling voluminous tomes or marketable series that have movie tie-in potential. (The last sentence having a lot of my opinion in it as much as the author’s).

As she also notes, in 2011 Amazon sold more eBooks than physical ones, which has had an impact on the amount of self-published authors now appearing on the site. Donna wants to “write and publish [books] that do not tip the scales at four pounds” and she has, and I hope she continues to do so.

In Having a Whaley of a Time, she builds a fictional mystery using a well-known haunted location as inspiration:

“Unwillingly given the duty to speak for the spirits, Shannon MacIntyre puts her new-found talents to the test by solving a mystery at the most haunted house in the United States – the Whaley House in San Diego, California. With her new feline friend, Styx, Shannon uses her investigative skills to find out why the ghosts of the Whaley House are so upset that the house is closed to visitors.”

The premise of the mystery is believable and kept me absorbed by not using convoluted sub-plots and too many characters to keep track of. The story is simple, concise, and enjoyable. Definitely perfect for that flight Donna mentioned or for breaks between chores. I’m not as spry as I used to be, so I do mine in spurts.  It’s a treat to be able to get through a book, and several chores all in one day. I feel productive and self-indulgent, which for me is a pretty good feeling.

Upcoming mysteries are planned to take place in such well known haunts as the Queen Mary, the Winchester Mystery House, the Alamo, and Loretta Lynn’s Haunted Plantation. It will be interesting to see what adventures Styx and Shannon get themselves into.

If you’ve been unsure about trying out a new author, especially a self-published one, why not give Donna Keeley a try. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

JC

 

 

More about the author and where you can find her books:

2012 Reading Recap

All in all, 2012 wasn’t a bad year – at least for reading. I’d say my cancer treatment went well, but seeing as I was in the hospital two weeks in April, three weeks in August, and a week in December, it could’ve gone better. However, chemo is finally over and I’ll be getting some follow up scans to be sure nothing is coming back. Until then, I’m going to consider myself in remission and I look forward to 2013 being a much better year for my reading and my health.

I mention all the hospital stays because there is where my reading always spiked. I’m not much of a television person and for me, reading is a much better diversion. Just ask my family. If they want to ask me something while I’m reading they basically have to take a 2 x 4 to my head to get my attention.

In total, I read several essays by E.B. White, two short stories, and fifty-nine books.

My favorites were all the Steampunk novels, mostly by Gail Carriger. Another factor I liked is the amount of library books I read. Being in the hospital so much, I used my Nook more than I ever have.

Some simple stats:

  • 27 books were from my shelves
  • 17 books were from the library
  • 9 books were purchased
  • 5 books were review copies
  • 1 book I borrowed
  • Average pages per book: 369
  • Genres in order of number read: Fantasy/Dark Fantasy (30), Science Fiction/Dystopian (10), Steampunk (9), Historical Fiction (7), Mystery/Thriller (1)

I’m not going to mention ratings because I’m at the point I won’t get a book I don’t think I’d like. All of the books I read rated from ‘like’ to ‘love’’ and there is only one book I didn’t finish.

What I can give you, are the books that are definitely staying in my library. I would never loan any out except with collateral such as, oh, maybe a first born or your soul.

  • Sacre Blue by Christopher Moore
  • The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
  • Matched by Ally Condie (part of a trilogy I haven’t finished, but when I do, they all will be keepers)
  • Ganymede by Cherie Priest (it will go onto the shelf with the rest of her books)
  • The Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong
  • The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

I plan to do as well or better next year, especially in tackling some projects like Fill In The Gaps and The Pulitzer Project.

I hope your reading year was wonderful and that 2013 has great things in store for you.

JC