Looking Back at 2013

For the past two days I’ve been writing about my personal reading goals and the blogging goals I’ll be working on for 2014. Now, three days into the new year it’s time to take one last look back at 2013 and how things went. I sort of fell off the band wagon a bit in the second half of the year, really losing a lot of steam in regards to how often I was publishing new posts, especially book reviews. But, 2014 should be better.

Let’s start by taking a quick look at the last few books I finished before the new year. The weeks of the year saw me driving my way through six pieces of literature, just narrowly surpassing my total pages read mark from last year. They were:

The Daedalus Incident was an absolutely spectacular debut for Michael J. Martinez, so much so that I’ve added him to my “must read” list already. He took some amazing chances with his storytelling and put together a tale that is unlike anything I’ve seen. Abaddon’s Gate was a wonderful installment to the continuing story that is The Expanse and I can’t wait for the next book in a few months.

Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft gave me a lot of motivation and hope for my own fledgling writing dreams and I’m hoping I can incorporate some of the insights and lessons I took from it into my routines this year at some point. The other three items on the list were all short stories written by the authors to add a bit of depth to the universes they exist in between the most recently released books and the upcoming ones. I enjoyed all three of them immensely. It was a good month of reading for me in the realm of quality writing.

As far as reading statistics go, here are a couple that might be interesting:

  • Total Books Read: 84
  • Total Pages Read: 31,512
  • Average Book Length: 375 pages

I had sort of hoped I could get all the way to 100 books read, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I had to navigate my way through some unexpected circumstances during the middle of the year that took my focus away from blogging and put it elsewhere.

In the world of blogging statistics, 20four12 saw 7,600 unique visitors over the course of the year for an average of about 20-21 visitors per day. That’s not too bad, but I would like to see it be significantly higher by the time this new year is finished.

And, last but not least, let’s take a look at two lists. In reading 84 books and novellas over the course of the year it is inevitable that I would find some favorites and least favorites. Part of me thought I should only list my favorites, but then I decided I was interested in seeing if any of the ones on my least favorite list would incite some discussion. Maybe some of them are favorites to other people, or maybe even some of the books I considered my favorite from this year are hated by others. I always find that to be incredibly fascinating. In no particular order:

Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2013:

Honorable Mention

Ten Least Favorite Books I Read in 2013:

I feel compelled to note that of the books listed in the least favorite category, I only find two of them to be absolutely atrocious, but I’m not going to tell you which ones. All of the others I just didn’t like as much as I wanted to, or they just simply were not my style when all was said and done. Take, The Great Gatsby for example. Widely considered to be a premier piece of fiction, I can’t stand it. It’s a matter of taste.

So, there you have it, a snapshot of my reading and blogging experiences from 2013. It was an interesting year for me as both a reader and as a blogger, but ultimately I feel like I did an okay job with both. Here’s to 2014 and making 20four12 really shine!

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Looking Back at November 2013

The year is drawing swiftly to a close and it won’t be much longer before I turn the page on 2013 and begin working on my 2014 reading goals. But, it’s still 2013 as of today, so it’s time to take a look at what I read during November. A quick glance at the list reveals I was a little bit wild in my reading selections for the month. I have some middle-grade fiction mixed in with young adult, sequels to books I read last year, and some recommendations I received from co-workers and friends. There was even one novel I read which had been on my Kindle for over a year waiting for me to get to it.

The books I read in November:

Of these eight books, I can easily divide them into two groups: ones I thought were fantastic, and ones that were just okay. The books from November that I thought were fantastic are Crown of Midnight, Caliban’s War, Lot Beta, and Storm Front. All four of these were everything I hoped for and more. In the “just okay” category fall Allegiant, The Eye of Minds, Year Zero: A Novel, and The Fall of Five.

Crown of Midnight was a magnificent example of how an author can learn from their writing and improve immensely. Everything I found lacking in the first book of its series was fixed in Crown of Midnight. The characters were more balanced, the story more grounded and believable, even the general quality of the writing. I went into reading Crown of Midnight thinking it would be similar to the first book, Throne of Glass, and that was okay because the first book was a good bit of fun. Instead I was blown away by the growth Sarah J. Maas demonstrated in her writing and her ability to tell a story. At this point I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment of the series.

Caliban’s War was simply a terrific sequel to an already very strong first book in a trilogy. I enjoyed it much more than I enjoyed Leviathan Wakes, and I’m expecting the concluding volume, Abbadon’s Gate to keep the trend alive. As for Lot Beta and Storm Front, they were books recommended to me by my brother-in-law and co-worker. I realized they weren’t very long so I gave them a shot and wound up loving them.

As for the other four books, they were all decent enough, but they just didn’t impress me in particular. James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds was solid work, but in my opinion doesn’t live up to the same level as his first offering in the genre, The Maze Runner. The trouble I had with Allegiant isn’t that its a bad book, it’s actually the best of the trilogy it serves as the end for, but as a result of that, it sort of fails because the entire trilogy should have been written at that level, not just the final book.

With December already halfway done, and the holidays fast approaching I’m not sure how much more reading I’ll get through before the new year. I’m almost finished with The Daedalus Incident, and after that I’m hoping to get through the final four books in my “Waiting to be Read” pile: Abbadon’s Gate, On Writing, Promise of Blood, and Dragon Wing: The Death Gate Cycle. Two of those are quite short, the other two are around 500 pages in length. If I can get that list finished before New Year’s Day I’ll be sitting pretty having beaten last year’s books read and total pages read marks.