Good News Everyone!

I’ve mentioned on my blog several times that I bowl quite frequently.  I even work in a warehouse where we distribute bowling supplies.  Well, this past weekend I was bowling in a tournament and I achieved a couple of significant goals for any bowler.  I shot my first (sanctioned) 300 game, and backed it up with a 238 and a 290 to shoot an 828 series, which is also my first 800 series.

It’s been a long time coming, and I’m very glad to get the monkey off my back by finally hitting those milestones.

And speaking of milestones, I hit another one with my blog a few days ago, March 11th marked the 3 year anniversary of starting my blog.  It’s been a fun ride, and I look forward to keeping it going in the future.  Thanks to everyone who stops by to read, comment, and suggest books for the future, I hope you’re looking forward to more of my insanity in the future.

Adam

Advertisements

The New Year

Another year has passed, and once again I sit at my computer trying to think of something creative to say for a New Years Day blog post.  Even saying that is slightly wrong, since it’s almost 9 at night, so it’s not really any kind of a “day” blog post.  But I suppose that’s just my bad sense of humor kicking in to the post, so we move on.

One of the first things that everyone talks about when it comes to New Years is the idea of a resolution.  If you’re really trying to better yourself, the changing of the calendar year is as good a reason as any to start doing it.  If you’re thinking of one, do it the right way and give it some thought for a week or two before you really plan to start it.  There are a couple of things you can do to help achieve your goal; break it down into steps, reward yourself for completing each step, don’t panic and give up if you backtrack a little, and tell other people so that you have support in your goal.  There are a couple of things that I want to do in the coming year, and perhaps in a week or two when I’ve outlined everything better I’ll do a post about it here.

All that said, I hope that you enjoyed the new year however you decided to spend it’s arrival, I hope that you and all of your loved ones were safe after whatever partying they did last night, and I hope that you have something to look forward to in the coming year.

So much as I did last year, in a post with the exact same title, I leave you with an old Irish blessing, or proverb, or whatever you want to call it.  (Although I did look it up online and I found it worded differently than I had it last year, I think I like this version better.)

May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.

2013 Year In Review

As we’re nearing the end of the year it’s time to go back and review some of my reading from the past year.  This was a bad year reading for me, especially compared to the past 2 or 3 years where I had been averaging well over 80-90 books a year.  But while the quantity of books that I read this year was down, I have to say that overall the quality of books that I read this year was very high.

So here we go with the disappointing numbers, as of writing this post I’ve finished 30 books this year.  To be fair, I’m about 3/4 of the way through The Ambassador’s Mission by Trudi Canavan, and it’s very likely that I’ll be able to finish both this book and the second book in the trilogy before the end of the year, but at this point I’ll just include those books for next years year in review.

The past couple of years that I’ve done this I’ve gone through and listed both my favorite books of the year as well as my favorite new author that I read in the past year.  But looking through my list of books that I read this past year, I actually only read 4 or 5 new authors this past year, and everything else was either a continuation of a series by an author I’d read before (i.e. The Wheel of Time) or a new series by an author I’d read before (Jim C. Hines Princess series for example).  So it’s kind of unfair to list a favorite new author, because of the very small pool of candidates, so we skip it for this year, and make a resolution to read more new authors in the coming year.

Favorite book however, that is an infinitely more difficult question.  There are three books this year that are up for consideration here.  Two of the books I gave a 10/10 rating (the only two books that got a 10/10 from me this year) and the third book was unrated because it was the final book of The Wheel of Time, and I didn’t give individual book ratings to any of the books in that series.  The three books that I’m talking about of course are A Memory of Light, Flowers for Algernon, and The Willow Tree.

Ultimately here’s the problem with trying to choose any of those books over the other two.  I love all three of the books, but I love them all for different reasons.  A Memory of Light was a perfect conclusion to a fantastic series that I’ve been reading for over 10 years now.  Flowers for Algernon was a book I loved because of the way that it analyzed several different aspects of our culture, and how it does an excellent job of showing what out culture thinks is important.  Lastly, The Willow Tree is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and how easy it can be to change another persons life.  Often times all you have to do is be there for the other person.

Alas, I once again cheat and say that I won’t decide between the three books, and I’ll simply suggest all three of the books.

So having crapped out on the first two categories, time to go through some of the quick questions that I’ve asked the past two years.

  • Longest book – A Memory of Light – 909 pages
  • Shortest book – The shortest actual novel that I read was The Island of Dr. Moreau at 140 pages, but Legion (which is a novella) was shorter at only 86 pages
  • Best series – I finished The Wheel of Time this year, so that automatically wins here, for another pick I would probably say The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan

As always, I’ll take any other questions about books that I read this year, anything from characters, to the authors, to whatever else you can think of.  As always my one caveat is that I would prefer to avoid any negative questions, so no questions about the worst book of the year please.

Housekeeping

It’s past time to do a little bit of housekeeping for the blog, so hopefully I’ll get most of that settled with post.

So the first thing obviously has been my lack of an online presence.  I’ve said before that it’s for two reasons, the first is that I’m still reading The Wheel of Time (as of writing this I have about 100 pages left in book 13, I’ll probably start book 14 this weekend).  These are all huge books, and they’re taking me a while to get through.  The second is because I still haven’t made myself find some time to fit my blog into my now much busier schedule.  I’m almost done with The Wheel of Time, and I think I’m going to start reading some smaller books after reading the most massive book series I’ve ever seen.  And for the second, I’ll just have to make more time, maybe I’ll start setting up a schedule to blog on certain days every week.  I’ve enjoyed all of the conversations that have come from blogging, and I’m definitely going to continue it.

And now for the second item of housekeeping, today is the 2 year anniversary of my blog.  Yep, two years ago today I started my blog with a review of Peter V. Brett’s book The Warded Man.  From those humble beginnings of having one review up, my blog has gone on strong with reviews for somewhere around 180-190 books, along with another 150ish posts about whatever I felt like rambling on about on that given day.

liebster-award2So what am I going to do to celebrate my two year blogiversary?  (Is that even a word?  It should be.)  I’m going to answer a series of questions posed to me by Terri over at Starlight Book Reviews.  Why those questions specifically, because Terri gave me the Liebster Award.  So without any further ado, here we go with the questions.

(Also, I’m going against the rules of the Liebster award, mostly because at the moment I don’t have time to go through and search for 11 other blogs, if you’re looking for more blogs to read I highly suggest any of the blogs listed in my links on the left hand sidebar, as well as any of the fine commenters who have stopped by my blog in the past.)

  • 1. Describe a piece of art that moved you. – It depends largely upon what you specifically mean by a piece of art?  Are we talking about only visual art?  Or are we including all art forms?  I’m going to assume that we’re including all art forms.  So for my piece of art that moved me, I’m going to talk about the movie The Shawshank Redemption.  This is easily my favorite movie and I consider it to be the best movie ever made.  It’s moving in large part because it takes it’s time.  You feel like you really know the characters, and then when something happens to them it feels like it’s happening to a friend.  The first time I watched the movie I cried like a baby in the middle of the movie with Brooks (not spoiling what happened) and then again at the end of the movie.  In every way it’s a perfect movie, and I’ve watched it at least 10 times and it’s always perfect.
  • 2. What is your favorite book? – Favorite book is a hard question, for one because how do you measure it?  If you’re looking about just how good a book is, I’ve given a 10/10 to about 20 of the books that I’ve read while I’ve had my blog.  I’m going to slightly sidestep this question and simply say that my two favorite book series are the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson).  They’re both wonderful series that I’ve read multiple times and will read again in the future.
  • 3. Why do you blog? – I started to blog because I wanted to have a place to talk about the books that I read.  It’s kind of hard to find people who live around me who read a lot and who also like the same kinds of books that I like.  Starting this blog has given me an opportunity to find many of those people as well as meet a lot of other interesting people with different interests.
  • 4. Do you have one best friend or a “tier” of best friends?  How did you meet them? – I would say I have a group of best friends, and the way I met all of them is simple, I met them through bowling. Prior to bowling with them on leagues, I didn’t know any of my teammates from the 4 leagues that I bowl on, or the people that I’m traveling down to the USBC National tournament in Reno with.  Now I consider them all to be very good friends.
  • 5. Who is your favorite band or musical artist and why? – Probably Barenaked Ladies.  I like them for several reasons.  For one, they’re very skilled musicians.  I don’t care for bands who have to go through so much post-production to get them to sound good that when you hear a live performance of them it doesn’t even sound like the same song.  Secondly, they have a wide variety of music so it doesn’t sound like you’re listening to the same song every time you hear them.
  • 6. Where is “home” for you? – The obvious answer is where I live in Ohio.  But I’m going to come up with a different definition.  I’m going to define “home” as wherever you’re most comfortable.  And for me that’s anywhere that I can sit down with a good book and several hours to tear through a couple hundred pages.
  • 7. What’s your favorite movie? – Hmm, maybe I should have looked through the rest of the questions before I started writing out my answers.  Oh well, see question number 1 for the answer to this.  But since it’s a different question, I’ll just throw out a couple of my other favorite movies.  Pan’s Labyrinth is amazing, a wonderful story told in a unique way.  Mirrormask is a very original movie, well over 2/3 of the movie was made with a green screen and they had quite a few different people working on the different scenes, it’s a visual treat to watch.  I’m also going to throw out a few anime movies, Perfect Blue is a great psychological thriller, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is an amazing movie, Howl’s Moving Castle is another movie that I love as well.  So there you go, a few of the movies that I’ll watch any time I don’t have anything else to do.
  • 8. If you could go anywhere on vacation for a week, all expenses paid, where would you go and why? – Probably Rome, or just traveling across Europe in general.  I would love to see all of the ancient architecture, there’s just something special about many of the structures that the Greeks and Romans made and I’ve always been interested in ancient Greek and Roman culture.
  • 9. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? – This one I’m going to break into two parts, the first was when I stopped going to college after attending classes for 3 1/2 years.  My last semester before I stopped going I only took 2 classes which totaled 5 credit hours, I wasn’t even considered a part time student.  The only reason I took those two classes is because I was afraid that if I stopped completely I wouldn’t go back at all, but I had no idea what I wanted to study, so I was just wasting my time and money.  After that last semester I took a year and a half off from school, and here is the second part, going back to school.  It was very strange to go back back to school after taking that much time off.  Especially when I started back into freshman level courses.  Although she never directly mentioned it, I’m fairly certain that I was older than my Introduction to Psychology professor (she was a grad-student).  I’m not using my degree at the moment, but even without using it I’m glad that I took the time to go back and get it.
  • 10. Have you ever been in love? – Yes, I would say twice, unfortunately neither ended as well as I could have hoped for, some odd circumstances and many bad decisions by myself as well as my girlfriends.
  • 11.  How do you feel about “The Big Bang Theory”?  (The television show, not the origin theory of the universe) – I’m a nerd, but I’ve never watched the show.  I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s a really funny show, but I’ve also heard several people say that the show is more laughing “at” the nerds as opposed to laughing “with” the nerds.  Parts of it sound interesting, but I’ve got too much other media that I have to go through before I could even start watching Big Bang Theory.

Update

The alternate title for this post of course is “where the hell have I been for the past few weeks?”

Well, still reading the Wheel of Time.  I’m going to keep going with my posts that I’ve been doing with it, but I’m also going try and do a few other random posts in between.  As it is, I’ve scheduled the next 5 Wheel of Time posts covering books 8 and 9, and I’m about 1/3 of the way through book 10 now.  So for those of you who don’t care about the Wheel of Time, I’ll get back to my usual random reading habits.

On that note, I’m off to go to bed since I have to work in the morning.

2012 in Review

Another year has passed, and it’s once again time to sum up my reading of the past year.  I started out with an ambitious goal of averaging 100 pages read per day for the entire year.  And I was well on pace to crush that number, until September rolled around and I started working full time and bowling 4 nights a week.  Alas, sometimes life gets in the way, but since I enjoy actually working full time, and I really enjoy bowling, I can’t complain too much.

I finished 86 books this past year, many of them early in the year and through the summer.  Starting in early October I began my re-read of Robert Jordan’s epic Fantasy series The Wheel of Time and I’m currently about 3/4 of the way through book 7.

I’m going to do the same thing I did last year and break down those 86 books by the rating that I gave them, and then talk about a few other random things about the books that I read throughout the year.

  • Not scored – 7 books (I didn’t do a scored review for God’s Debris by Scott Adams, nor am I doing scored reviews for The Wheel of Time books.
  • 10/10 – 8 books
  • 9/10 – 13 books
  • 8/10 – 15 books
  • 7/10 – 16 books
  • 6/10 – 14 books
  • 5/10 – 7 books
  • 4/10 – 3 books
  • 3/10 – 2 books
  • 1/10 – 1 book

So once again this year most of my reviews were on the high side, I’m going to chalk that up to my overall excellent taste in books (just a hint of sarcasm there), along with some fantastic recommendations from various sources (other bloggers, Amazon, various websites and other assorted lists).

So now it’s time to talk about a few things from amongst the books that I read:

Favorite New Author

One of the best things about reading new books is finding a new author to read about and then getting to go through their backlog of books catching up on everything they’ve written.  There were a couple of authors that I picked up for the first time this year, and the ones that I’d consider as my favorite new author comes down to one of three; Christopher Moore, John Scalzi, and Jim C. Hines.

And the winner is, Jim C. Hines.  While I definitely read more of Moore’s books throughout the year, when I started reading Hines’ books I was completely blown away.  The way that he takes common fairytale and fantasy tropes and spins them on their heads was amazingly well done.  His books were thoughtful, funny, and well written.  How many other authors could make you really like a goblin with a pet fire-spider?  I really look forward to reading the rest of the books in Hines’ princess series and then catching up with the other books he’s written.

Favorite Book

Once again this year I read quite a few books that I really enjoyed.  And while I gave 8 books a perfect 10/10 rating, I think my overall favorite book of the year is going to be one that I gave a 9/10, and it’s Lamb by Christopher Moore.  Lamb is one of the funniest books you’ll ever read, but it’s not simply throwing a joke in on every page.  There is a really interesting story there, and the jokes all fit seamlessly into the story, nothing is ever forced.  It’s a wonderful book and one that I’m sure I’ll read again in the future.

Similar to last year, I’m also going to throw out a few quick hits on various books I read over the year, and here they are:

  • Longest book – The Shadow Rising – 981 pages
  • Shortest book – God’s Debris – 132 pages
  • Funniest book – Lamb by Christopher Moore
  • Saddest book – Hyperion by Dan Simmons (specifically the story of the scholar, Sol Weintraub)
  • Best Non-Fiction book – Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
  • Most Unique Setting – On A Pale Horse by Piers Anothy

As I did last year, I once again ask for any questions that you might have about books that I read throughout the year.  I ask again that you keep the questions positive in nature.  I will not answer questions about the least favorite book, least favorite author, etc, so don’t ask them.

All that said, it is a new year, and I leave you with the same thoughts that I had last year concerning the new year.  The first is simply to say that wherever you and your loved ones celebrated the new year, that everyone made it home safely.  And finally I leave you with an old Irish proverb:

May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

Midweek Update

Right now I’m about halfway through Blackout by Mira Grant, which is the third novel in her Newsflesh trilogy after Feed and Deadline.  I’m really enjoying the book, which is why it’s kind of surprising that I haven’t finished it already.  Don’t worry, there’s a good reason for that.

I have a job now.

While I didn’t mention it often, those who have followed my blog for a while know that I graduated from college in May of ’11 with my B.A. in Psychology, and I’ve spent the time since then working part time in a bowling alley and looking for a full time job.  So of course when I finally get a full time job it’s one that has absolutely nothing to do with Psychology.  I’m currently working in a warehouse for a distributor of bowling products, which right now is about as close as it gets to a dream job for me.

Along with the fact that I’m now working 40 hours a week (or I will be from now on, this is still my first week there) I’m also going to keep working a couple of nights a week at the bowling alley, and I’m also bowling on 3 leagues every week plus a fourth league that bowls every other week.  In short, I’m going to be busy.

I’ll still have some time to read though.  Right now I’ve been eating breakfast before I go to work, and then with a small snack during lunch I’m ok until I get home, which means I’ve been using my lunch hour to read, along with reading some once I get home from work.

My book reviews have been the primary focus of this blog since I started it about a year and a half ago, and they’ll still be a big part, but it’s going to be a little more difficult to keep up my current pace of reading for the foreseeable future.  I’ll still try to post 2-3 times a week about various things, and I’m still very much intending to keep my Wheel of Time re-read at the brisk pace of a book a week until A Memory of Light comes out, but my reviews will be a little fewer.

I just wanted to explain why I haven’t been around quite as much for the past few days.  It’s been an adjustment getting back to working full time, but I’ve been glad to do so.

Some Changes and a Warning

When going through the list of blogs I follow, I came upon this post by Morgan over at The First Gates.  He relates the story of a blogger who was sued for use of an image on her blog.  This leads to a very big question and gets into some questionable copyright lingo.  The biggest question as it relates to this blog is what qualifies as fair use when posting an image to a blog?  The answer is tricky.

The basic ideas behind the fair use exemption to copyright law can be found here at Wikipedia.  The problem with this is that it’s very fuzzy as to what qualifies as fair use.  But the most troubling problem from what I’ve read is that there is no set standard for any particular type of media, each case can be looked at individually.

Here’s where that becomes a problem, and how it relates to this blog.  I post pictures of the covers for every book I review.  I’ve obtained all of these images by doing a simple Google search.  When I first started the blog, it was a fairly minor issue.  I only had a couple of reviews up, and very few images.  The problem now comes from the fact that I’ve got somewhere around 160 different book reviews up – all of them with images of the book attached to the post.

My very vague understanding of the copyright and fair use laws means that this could end up being a problem.  If you figure there are 160 book reviews, that amounts to quite a few different authors, artists, publishing companies, graphic designers, etc. who could possibly raise a fuss about the images being on my blog.  Now, my blog has a fairly small audience, and the thought of it getting notice from a major publisher and then being pursued by them beyond a simple DMCA notice and being asked to remove the image is admittedly quite small.  However, the odds of it occurring increase with each review that I post and each image that I attach to those reviews.

So what does that mean?  Well, for starters it means I’m going to go through and remove every image that I have attached to my blog at the moment.  I’ve received no warning about this, but the last thing I need is some new lawyer who just passed the Bar trying to win an easy case by going after my blog.  All of the content of my blog other than the pictures will remain unchanged as I spend the next several days going through my history and editing out the pictures.

One thing that I learned fairly early on in the creation of my blog is that posts look better with an image included.  It’s gives you something to look at as opposed to just staring at a wall of text, and displaces some of the monotony of constantly looking through a series of posts.  I’ll continue to try and include images, but in the future I’ll make sure that they’re all either in the public domain or they have a Creative Commons license that allows them to be shared.

I understand that the actions that I’m taking are a little extreme (just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you), and I’m not suggesting that everyone follow the same course of action.  I am however suggesting that you read Morgan’s post as well as those he links to and take what they say into consideration.  I know that personally I do this because I enjoy talking about the books that I read (or whatever else crosses my mind) and I like the interaction that I get with people through this blog.  However, the potential (however unlikely) legal and financial ramifications of this is something that I can’t overlook.  I’ll still be blogging, but as regards to using images in my posts I’ll be a lot more careful about what I use.

June 2012 Month in Review

So last month I talked about how the weather in Ohio was staring to get a little nicer, now I can talk about how the past several days have been really hot.  That’s the problem with Ohio weather, you have about 5 nice days a year, 3 in the Spring and another 2 in the Fall.  Other than that it’s just kind of crappy all year.

Anyway, on to the books I read this month.  Although I read 9 books this month, I’m a little upset that I didn’t break 3,000 pages, I hit 2,972.  Although part of that was from reading The Malloreon by Eddings.  I bought the series in the two volume collection, and the books are trade paperback size which means that overall there are less pages per book.  For example, in my edition, the first book – Guardians of the West, was 273 pages.  Amazon lists the hardcover edition of that book at 454 pages and the mass market paperback at 448 pages.  So if I adjusted my page count for the year to go by those editions, it would probably put me up to about 3,700 pages this month.  But I’m not going to do that, so we’ll leave it as it is.

(That was actually a really good guess.  Being kind of obsessive about this sort of thing, I checked the paperback page counts against my page counts.  The paperback copies would have added 734 pages, which would have put me at 3,706.)

So anyway, on with the recap of books I reviewed this month:

When I order the books with links for these posts, I put them in alphabetical order by author’s last name, and then for a series I list the books in the order of the series.  Oddly enough, that’s the order that I read the books in this month.  Strange coincidence I suppose.

So at the end of these posts I’ve typically been asking a question of those who read it, but this time I’m going to put in a little bit of blog news.  Probably 2/3 of my posts in this blog have been book reviews.  And while that is still going to be the primary purpose of my blog, I’m going to expand the scope of my media discussions a little bit.  I’m going to start going through some more movies and TV shows and discussing those on my blog as well.  I just recently started watching Joss Whedon’s Firefly and thus far I love it.  I started writing down my thoughts after each episode and in the coming weeks I’ll be doing a series of posts where I talk about the show.  After I finish up with Firefly (and Serenity) I’ll pick another show and go from there, it should be fun.

On that note, I’m off to start reading The Fall of Hyperion.

A Year of Blogging

Hey I made it through a full year of keeping my blog going!  Well, technically a year and a day, March 11th was the one year anniversary of my first blog post for The Warded Man by Peter V Brett.  So what have I been up to in that time?  Well, to start with I’m up to 123 book reviews on my blog, which is a fairly good pace for reading considering a lot of the books that I’ve read were fairly large.  To do my monthly wrap up posts I’ve started keeping an Excel file with all of the books that I’ve read this year, which also allows me to keep track of my page count which is at just over 9,000 pages since 12/25 of last year.

It’s been fun keeping this blog, I’ve met a lot of interesting people and I’ve been introduced to a lot of books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up had I not heard about them by reading other blogs.

All that said, I’m going to keep blogging as long as I have books to read, and there are quite a few books out there that I haven’t read.  But this is a very self indulgent post, so it’s my turn to ask you guys a few questions.  I always think that there are ways to get better, and that’s all that I’m looking for.

  • What do you think of my structure for my book reviews?  Is it too structured?  Too loose?  Is there something you’d like to see me include when I talk about the books?
  • What do you think about my overall layout?  One of the first things I tried to do in setting up my blog was to give it a fairly clear setup.  How am I doing on that front?
  • I’ve done a couple of random posts in the past about different ideas in books (Learning Curve and Uniqueness and Originality come to mind quickly as examples).  Do you want to see more posts like this?  If so, any ideas as to specific topics you’d like to see me address?
  • When I read a series of books on the blog, I generally do a quick recap of the series after I finish the final book.  Most of the time I do just a few quick thoughts in the post for the final book.  But for the Harry Potter series I did a separate post where I went more in depth about the series as a whole.  Do you prefer the shorter series review in the same post as the last book or the longer separate post for the series review?
  • I’ve seen several other blogs do group reads with discussion for the books involved.  For a while now I’ve been considering re-reading the Mistborn trilogy, would anyone be interested in doing a group read of the first book?  Of the entire trilogy?  (I ask here because I know that I’ve plugged that series on nearly every blog I visit at one point or another.)

Well, I’m off for now (to go read of all things, imagine that).  I’d love to hear any feedback you have, and thanks for stopping by.  I’ve really enjoyed all of the feedback for my posts over the past year and it’s been a lot of fun to do this.