Miscellaneous

My Year in Reading 2016

As awful as 2016 was in nearly every other aspect, it was a greating reading year for me. For the first time ever I took a Goodreads reading challenge and made my goal of 150 books easily and read 179 books with an average of 335 pages, which isn’t bad. But the reading was great not just in quantity but also in quality – as I struggle to remember what exactly I read, the books that stand out are J.J. Voskuil’s massive novel of office life, Het Bureau and of course my foray into the Classic Chinese novel – four of which I’ve read so far and have been enjoying immensely, so that I’m quite confident that I will be reading the remaining two in 2017. For anyone curious, here is a link to Goodread’s nifty page of My Year in Books.

Quite obviously, the amount of my reading done last year is in no way reflected in this blog. I have not counted, but my estimate is that 2016 may well have seen the lowest amount of posts ever since I dedicated myself to book blogging; weirdly enough there has a been an overall increase in visitors (it’s still a very, very low number per day, but stil somewhat higher than it used to be), accompanied, I think, with an all-time low in comments. Obviously, I’m not very happy with that state of affairs – but not unhappy enough to actually write any more blog posts, in fact I’m in the middle of another dry spell now. Which I may get over or may not, one will have to see.

I don’t feel optimistic enough for any new year’s resolutions, so there will be none this time.

And finally, a happy new year to anyone who happens to read this in actual prosimity to the start of 2017. Have a music video, from one of the great musicians who died in 2016 and whose passing did not get nearly the attention he deserved.

Seven Years of Blogging

WordPress informs me that it was seven years ago on January 17th 2008, that I registered this blog with them and made my first post, with not the faintest clue what I was going to do with this shiny new toy. It took me some time to figure it out and to focus on book blogging, but I have not looked back since.  A total of 326 posts, 12,825 views and 266 comments later I’m still (and even with the occasional extended lapse) having fun with this. Which is to no small part due to the very few but very much appreciated regular readers of this blog (you know who you are – thank you all very much!).

I was tempted to celebrate this with some Valer Barma-Sabadus (for which you could have blamed Leander and her infectuous enthusiasm for Baroque opera), but I decided to keep more in style with the other stuff I’ve posted here, so have some Justin Townes Earle instead:

Going With the Times

For being a virtual person I’m rather conservative about social media and all that other newfangled interwebs stuff. I do have a Facebook page somewhere that I never log into, have a Plurk account (which used to be all the rage in Second Life for a while – I wonder whether anyone is still using that?) that I have not touched in years, and never had a Twitter account.

Well, in the hope of giving this blog a publicity burst and maybe even gaining an additional reader, I have decided to give Twitter a try after all. I can’t see myself using it for much more than announcing new posts (like I’m already doing on google+), but you never know… There’s a widget with timeline and shiny “Follow” button if you scroll down the sidebar a bit, in case you feel the irresistible urge to check it out.

Book Diary: Sandra Antonelli – A Basic Renovation

A Basic Renovation by Sandra AntonelliAlong with Meg Maguire and Ruthie Knox (and doubtlessly many other authors I have yet to discover), Sandra Antonelli is another excellent example of Contemporary Romance that is contemporary not only in its setting but also in its sensibilities. What all three of them share (and what more traditional Romances are often lacking in)  are protagonists that are flawed but likeable, heroines that have agency, and plots that avoid clichés but still push enough of the right buttons to trigger that fuzzy happy Romance feeling in their readers.

A Basic Renovation is Sandra Antonelli’s first novel (first published one, anyway), and it does show in parts – sometimes the plot machinery has to do some really heavy-duty lifting to keep events moving forward, and then it’s creaking rather loudly. Not loud enough, however, to seriously impede the enjoyment of what is a highly entertaining novel and one of the funnier ones I have read in recent memories.

The witty banter and the quirky characters with which Sandra Antonelli has filled her novel have garnered her many comparisons with Jennifer Crusie; but while there are some similarities, A Basic Renovation covers territory that is all its own. Most strikingly, this is noticeable in the age of its protagonists – the main couple are both in their mid-forties and the secondary couple even several decades older than that. And this is not just window dressing to make the novel seem different, but affects it at its heart and is what drives the plot forward: The characters behave (for the most part) like responsible adults and thus avoid all of the often rather silly behavioural patterns infecting younger Romance protagonists  but are suffering from their own, age-appropriate set of insecurities instead that Sandra Antonelli describes with wit, verve and sympathy. Overall, another author who proves that it is possible to write Romance that is both intelligent and fun to read; also, bonus points for the non-embarrassing cover.

New Shiny!

Just in case anyone has not noticed yet – I added two new widgets to the sidebar, one from Shelfari showing what I’m currently reading (thus preparing you for what to expect review-wise) and another one, somewhat farther down, from Librarything showing the books I’ve recently acquired.

Librarything has a really cool and flashy animated widget – but unfortunately it uses Javascript which is blocked by WordPress.com, so I can not install that and had to join Shelfari so I could use their Flash widget (after spending hours googling and fiddling around, as WordPress.com also blocks Flash…). Now I’m thinking about moving this blog to Blogger so I can use the shiny Librarything widget (not likely, as I overall rather like WordPress) or join Goodreads as there is a widget for that among the regular WordPress.com ones. I wish they added one for Library thing, too…