My 2020 reading year

My takeaways

  • I read more books last year–120 books–than I’ve read in a number of years.
  • I read 60 ebooks of which 30 were Kindle Unlimited (KU) books. I try to read at least two KU books every month.
  • I listened to 52 audiobooks this year–a big increase from 2019. Most of them were from the library.
  • A little over 50% of the books I read were mysteries.
  • About a third of the books were fantasy and science fiction.
  • My favorite genres continue to be mysteries, science fiction and fantasy (though I did read seven romance books).
  • 2020 was such a stressful year I hibernated (self-quarantined) and read. Most of the books I read were read to escape what was happening in the real world.
  • I didn’t write any reviews for my blog though I did write a few short reviews on Goodreads.
  • I didn’t participate in any reading challenges.

The three things that stood out to me in 2020

My library

My library was a huge comfort to me. Almost half the books I read in 2020 (55 books) came from my library–almost all of them either ebooks or audiobooks.

The Libby app

I use the Libby app which I love. I can search on my phone by author, subject or name of book to see if my library has electronic copies. I can use tags to put a book on my wish list so I remember to check it out when I have time to read it. (Sometimes I have six or seven books checked out to read at the same time and I don’t have time to read all the books if I only have three weeks.) I can check out a book or place a hold right in the app. I can listen to the audiobook using the app. I can even read the ebook in the app though I usually use my Kindle to read ebooks. Only five of the books I read in 2020 were paper books. Those five books all came from my library.

Library closed

My library was closed most of the year for in-person use although I’ve been able to check out books and a librarian brings the books to our car and places them in the trunk. I mostly did that with cookbooks and other nonfiction which I don’t usually read in Kindle versions. A lot of the nonfiction I skim and read just the sections that interest me so I don’t add them to the books I read.

I checked out fiction books a few times, but often returned them unread when I discovered the library had gotten the digital copy of the book. My library focused on adding more digital items to their library in 2020.

New authors

I read 39 books by new-to-me authors. I usually read about a third of my books by new authors. And that was true again this year. I read most of my new authors either as books from the library or Kindle Unlimited books. The rest of the books I purchased for under $5.00. Especially when an author is new to me I don’t buy books which cost over about $3. (Actually, I don’t buy many books over $5.00 even from authors I love.) I try to wait until their books go on sale.

Books I didn’t finish

The last group of books I want to talk about are the books I didn’t finish this year. There were 16 of those books. I read at least 15% of all the books I designate as “not finished.” I usually decide within the first chapter or two whether I want to read a book or not, but I didn’t add the book to my DNF group if I hadn’t read at least 15%. However, I read over 50% of a few of them before I decided to stop.

  • This year I was much more sensitive to the tone of the book–too sad or too depressing and I bailed.
  • A number of books that other times I might have enjoyed just didn’t hold my interest.
  • A few books that I thought would be calming were just too predictable or silly.
  • One thing didn’t change: I will stop reading a book if it’s too violent for me.
  • One book I was enjoying totally changed at about 50% and I suddenly felt like I was reading a different book.

The numbers

2019

Reading Challenge -95

Books Read-90

Ebooks — 60

Audiobooks — 27

Hardcover & Paperback — 3

Library — 28 (audio-15; ebooks-10; hardcover-3)

Kindle Unlimited — 9*

New Authors — 34

Did Not Finish — 1

*I only started KU towards end of the year

2020

Reading Challenge-90

Books Read-120

Ebooks — 62

Audiobooks — 53

Hardcover & Paperback — 5

Library — 55 (audio-40; ebooks-10; hardcover-5)

Kindle Unlimited — 30

New Authors — 39

Did Not Finish — 16

What about you? How was your 2020 reading year?

Sunday Post: A winter saga

A chance to connect with others to talk about books plus a little about our personal lives

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

The saga

One of our daughters wanted some of the furniture we planned to get rid of and had also sold a couple things for us so we rented a small U-haul for a couple days and scheduled a trip to her house. Our daughter got Friday off from work and Monday is a holiday for her so the plan was for them to drive back to Des Moines on Friday and spend the weekend helping us with the house.

We scheduled the trip during a weekend when the weather looked good, but as often happens the forecast began to look worse as the week progressed. Since my daughter had gotten time off we decided to continue with our plans. My husband picked up the truck Wednesday morning and spent the day packing it. And we had to pack additional boxes to fill it up!

Wednesday the forecast began to get more serious and the National Weather Service put out a winter weather advisory. And then the advisory was changed to a winter weather warning. It still didn’t sound too bad at that point and the truck was packed! My husband left early Thursday morning. It rained and was windy during the trip. But he arrived about two p.m. and he and my daughter unloaded the furniture and boxes into her garage.

Blizzard warning

During Thursday the winter weather warning was upgraded to a blizzard warning for Thursday night and Friday. We had a forecast of 4-7 inches of snow and 30+ mph winds. Western Iowa had 50 mph winds forecast so it was much worse there. My husband and daughter changed their plans to drive back on Friday and decided to make the trip in one day. They arrived at our house at 10 p.m. Thursday night and the wind was really blowing and snow was coming down hard. Our driveway was snow covered and it took two tries to get to the top of the drive. They said the roads had started to get bad about 20 miles from Des Moines.

Not as bad as forecast

We did have about 4 inches of snow, but when I got up Friday morning the wind had died down and it had stopped snowing so Friday wasn’t too bad once the roads got cleared later in the morning. Not all the snow we got after Christmas had melted in our backyard and it’s completely covered again.

More snow

We have a little more snow falling this morning which was a surprise. (The forecast said: 30% chance of snow flurries so I didn’t think it would be anything.) A few hours ago my daughter and I went to Starbucks and the roads were already a little slippery. It’s still snowing lightly!

Winter cards

All the snow so far this winter has encouraged me to make winter, snowy cards! One of my sisters-in-law also made cards for me showing a picture of our snowy yard this winter. I love them! I will miss this yard when we move.

Blog Life

Last week was busy getting boxes packed and I forgot to put up posts I had ready. 😦 I did work on a couple posts, but didn’t get them quite ready. I can’t even remember if I visited blogs or made any comments. It was a tiring and stressful week! However, I still hope to post 2020 end-of-year posts. They’re not late as long as I get them posted during January, right??!

Posts
Posts for next week
  • What I read in 2020
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday
  • My favorite 2020 books
  • My five favorite new authors in 202o
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • Chasing the Shadows by Maria V. Snyder
Books I read last week
  • No Past Forgiven by Valerie Keogh
  • The Lasaran by Dianne Duvall
Books I got last week

What are you hoping for in 2021? What are you planning for next week?

Sunday Post: It’s January 2021, but not much has changed yet

A chance to connect with others & talk about books plus a little about our personal lives

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

2020 was a difficult year. I’m hoping for better things during 2021. But maybe that’s going to take some time.

Christmas

I made a Shutterfly calendar for my brother for Christmas and I liked it so much I ordered calendars for myself, my kids and my niece. The calendar had pictures of my parents–mostly from when they were young. The front of the calendar has a photo of the house where my brother and I grew up in Oregon. We all loved the house so much. My dad took a small, old house with no plumbing and rebuilt it adding plumbing and electricity. They moved to the house when I was a baby and I remember when I was a child there was a table saw in our living room since my dad worked on the house after work and on weekends.

We had a quiet, simple Christmas with multiple FaceTime meetings throughout the day with our kids and other family members.

More snow

Between Christmas and New Year’s we had a snowstorm with almost 10 inches of snow. The snow is still around. Our backyard is on the north side of our house so we still have a lot of snow back there.

Preparations for move

During these months my husband and I sold some of our furniture and other items. We’ve continued to find things to throw away, give away and things we want to take with us. My husband’s goal each week is to fill the garbage and recycling bins!

We are doing this move ourselves so we’ve started boxing what we won’t need for a few months.

We’re moving some furniture to one of our daughter’s homes next week. Since we’re renting a truck to do that we’re also taking boxes we’ve packed so far.

Once we finish packing as much as we can we will finish decluttering the house. All the pictures need to come off the walls, all the clutter packed away and massive cleaning plus some painting and any repairs that need to be done. We hope to be done with all that by the end of February so the house can go on the market in March.

Our new house

The builders finally “broke ground” on our house in the last week of December. They poured the foundation this week and hopefully can start the building soon. We’re hoping we can move into our new house by May.

Blog Life

I didn’t post much in November and December. Just too much stress, so I mostly stayed away from the internet. I did do a lot of reading in 2020–120 books…beating my Goodreads goal by 30 books!

The first two books I read in 2021 were both books I read when the books were first published–one in 2001 and the other in 1993. I don’t reread books very often, but I enjoyed rereading these in 2021–mostly because I didn’t remember all the details!

Posts
Posts for next week
  • What I read in 2020
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday
  • My favorite 2020 books
  • My five favorite new authors in 202o
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • No Past Forgiven by Valerie Keogh
Books I read last week
  • The Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr
  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
A few books I got recently

What are you hoping for in 2021? What are you planning for next week?

January 2021 books on my list

A new year of books begins!

books-on-my-list

I keep a list of all the books I might want to read and add to it as the year goes on. As each month comes along I create a list on my blog for others and for me to keep track of as the months go by.

I don’t buy all these books–since I already have way too many books to read and some of the new books are expensive. I’m trying to stick to a budget!

I hope people reading my post may find some new books to read. I also hope these people will point me toward books I might not know about! The links to the following books will take you to the book on Goodreads.

January 5

Persephone Station

by Stina Leicht

Published by Gallery / Saga Press

Genre: Science Fiction

512 pages

Synopsis: Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drank at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who sought to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie.

January 12

The Effort

by Claire Holoroyde

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Genre: Science Fiction

368 pages

Synopsis: When dark comet UD3 was spotted near Jupiter’s orbit, its existence was largely ignored. But to individuals who knew better — scientists like Benjamin Schwartz, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies — the threat this eight-kilometer comet posed to the survival of the human race was unthinkable. The 150-million-year reign of the dinosaurs ended when an asteroid impact generated more than a billion times the energy of an atomic bomb.

What would happen to Earth’s seven billion inhabitants if a similar event were allowed to occur?

Ben and his indomitable girlfriend Amy Kowalski fly to South America to assemble an international counteraction team, whose notable recruits include Love Mwangi, a UN interpreter and nomad scholar, and Zhen Liu, an extraordinary engineer from China’s national space agency. At the same time, on board a polar icebreaker life continues under the looming shadow of comet UD3. Jack Campbell, a photographer for National Geographic, works to capture the beauty of the Arctic before it is gone forever. Gustavo Wayãpi, a Nobel Laureate poet from Brazil, struggles to accept the recent murder of his beloved twin brother. And Maya Gutiérrez, an impassioned marine biologist is — quite unexpectedly — falling in love for the first time.

The Last Exit

by Michael Kaufman

Series: Jen Lu Mystery #1

Published by Crooked Lane Books

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Mystery

Synopsis: Set in Washington D.C. 20 years from now, climate change has hit hard, fires are burning, unemployment is high, and controversial longevity treatments are only available to the very rich. Enter resourceful young police detective, Jen B. Lu, and her ‘partner’, Chandler, a SIM implant in her brain and her instant link to the Internet and police records, and a constant voice inside her head. He’s an inquisitive tough guy, with a helluva sense of humor and his own ideas about solving crimes. As a detective in the Elder Abuse unit, Jen is supposed to be investigating kids pushing their aging parents to “exit” so they are eligible to get the longevity drug. But what really has her attention are the persistent rumors about Eden, a black market version of the longevity drug, and the bizarre outbreak of people aging almost overnight, then suddenly dying–is this all connected? Is Big Pharma involved? When Jen’s investigations of Eden take her too close to the truth, she is suspended, Chandler is deactivated, and her boyfriend is freaked out by “the thing inside her brain.” This leaves Jen to pursue a very dangerous investigation all by herself.

People Like Her

by Ellery Lloyd

Published by Harper

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

288 pages

Synopsis: Followed by Millions, Watched by One

To her adoring fans, Emmy Jackson, aka @the_mamabare, is the honest “Instamum” who always tells it like it is. 

To her skeptical husband, a washed-up novelist who knows just how creative Emmy can be with the truth, she is a breadwinning powerhouse chillingly brilliant at monetizing the intimate details of their family life.

To one of Emmy’s dangerously obsessive followers, she’s the woman that has everything—but deserves none of it.  

As Emmy’s marriage begins to crack under the strain of her growing success and her moral compass veers wildly off course, the more vulnerable she becomes to a very real danger circling ever closer to her family.

Across the Green Grass Fields

by Seanan McGuire

Series: Wayward Children #6

Published by Tordotcom

Genre: YA Fantasy Novella

176 pages

Synopsis: “Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

Into the Heartless Wood

by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Published by Page Street Kids

Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling

368 pages

Synopsis: The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths. For centuries, a witch has harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow her domain.

When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her.

The House on Vesper Sands

by Paraic O’Donnell

Published by Tin House Books

Genre: Historical Mystery

Setting: Victorian England

408 pages

Synopsis: London, 1893: high up in a house on a dark, snowy night, a lone seamstress stands by a window. So begins the swirling, serpentine world of Paraic O’Donnell’s Victorian-inspired mystery, the story of a city cloaked in shadow, but burning with questions: why does the seamstress jump from the window? Why is a cryptic message stitched into her skin? And how is she connected to a rash of missing girls, all of whom seem to have disappeared under similar circumstances?

On the case is Inspector Cutter, a detective as sharp and committed to his work as he is wryly hilarious. Gideon Bliss, a Cambridge dropout in love with one of the missing girls, stumbles into a role as Cutter’s sidekick. And clever young journalist Octavia Hillingdon sees the case as a chance to tell a story that matters—despite her employer’s preference that she stick to a women’s society column. As Inspector Cutter peels back the mystery layer by layer, he leads them all, at last, to the secrets that lie hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.

January 19

Winterkeep

by Kristin Cashore

Series: Graceling Realm #4

Published by Dial Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

528 pages

Synopsis: Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.

But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.

Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.

Remote Control

by Nnedi Okorafor

Published by Tor.com

Genre: Fantasy Novella

160 pages

Synopsis: The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

What books are you looking forward to this month?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Hiding Place by Paula Munier

A series about a former MP and her bomb sniffing K-9

Can’t Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books set to publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

The Hiding Place

by Paula Munier

Series: Mercy & Elvis Mysteries #3

Published by Minotaur Books

Publication date: March 30

Genre: Mystery

336 pages

Synopsis: Some people take their secrets with them to the grave. Others leave them behind on their deathbeds, riddles for the survivors to solve.

When her late grandfather’s deputy calls Mercy to his deathbed, the former MP and her sniffer dog Elvis inherit the cold case that haunted him–and may have killed her grandfather. But finding Beth Kilgore 20 years after she disappeared is more than a lost cause. It’s a Pandora’s box releasing a rain of evil on the very people Mercy and Elvis hold most dear. Most at risk may be her grandmother, and Mercy and Elvis must team up with Vermont Game Warden Troy Warner and his search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear to save her from the man who murdered her husband, who’s escaped from prison and is now out for revenge.

……………………..

A series about a former MP and her bomb sniffing dog. I really enjoy reading about them as well as the search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear in this series. And the books take place in beautiful Vermont. I also love a book with a dog on the cover!