Looking Forward – 2019 Goals

Well! 2019 promises to be a year of great change for me personally – my husband graduated from college in December, and went full time at his job at the beginning of the year. (Computer Science.) In April we’re planning to start the process to buy a house! So very soon, we’ll be moving, and we won’t have roommates anymore. (OH THANK HEAVENS.) With that in mind, I’m toning down my Goodreads goal slightly to 150 books this year, since the move will take a lot of my reading time. (And we have a two-week vacation planned later in the year.)

As for reading challenges, I’d like to do the 50 books in 50 states challenge, with a small twist – no straight white men. So a book set in each state of the US, while avoiding white male authors. (I made it straight white because there’s a few states – like Vermont – that it might be pretty difficult to find a non-white author in, but I should be able to find a queer white author writing there. I will be doing my best to avoid white authors entirely, though.)

My library is doing a reading challenge, but it’s only one challenge each month so that shouldn’t be hard to keep up with, and they’re all pretty easy tasks. For example, January is “Read A Book You’ve Been Meaning To Read” which is pretty much everything on my desk!

I’m planning to start the Dewey Decimal Challenge, but I’m not putting a time restraint on it. The Dewey Decimal Challenge is read a book for each category of the system – so each 10s place, I believe. I’ll make a page in the sidebar to keep track of it. I also need to make a page for the 50 states challenge and a page to keep track of my books about and by autistic people. I’m also planning to make a page to gather links to Chronic Illness books and posts. I could make a page for LGBT content, but that would be 75% of the fiction I read! I think using the tag is the better idea for that.

For the blog, I’m going to continue to try to post every day. I’d really like to get a short fiction series going on Sundays, I’m just having trouble writing the beginning of the story. I’d like to post more regularly on Instagram and Litsy, as well, I just keep forgetting about them! Lately I’ve been most active on Twitter. The Facebook mobile app changed and it’s a lot harder to post to my Facebook page from my phone, so that has just been getting the automated posts whenever I post here on the blog.

statsDecember was my best month ever, in raw views, and each month this last year was better than the last, except for the spike I had in July and August. I assume that’s related to people wasting time on the internet during the summer. I beat both summer months in December, though, so hopefully the growth will continue building! Maybe I’ll host a giveaway when I hit 1000 views in one month or something.

In more personal hopes for this year, my husband going full-time at his job means our insurance is changing and so is my doctor, which is actually a good thing. I’m going to be looking into a functional doctor (there’s a few in my area) who will be more willing to try other drugs for my thyroid and autoimmune disorders. I’d really like to kick these constant fatigue, insomnia, and digestive issues.

I’m also really looking forward to our wedding anniversary this year, we’re planning a trip to Toronto in early July to celebrate! I might simply take a short hiatus from the blog over those two weeks, if I don’t have enough of a backlog of entries built up. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

So those are my plans for this year. On Tuesday I’ll be talking about some of my most anticipated releases this year, so stay tuned!

End of Year Wrap Up!

So it’s the end of 2018. Good riddance, really. It’s been a hell of a year, right? I didn’t actually fully complete any of my reading challenges – I totally bailed on my intentions to read the American History book (Oops) – but I’m still pretty satisfied with my progress on the rest.

I completed 42 out of the 50 PopSugar tasks.

I did 19 out of the 24 Litsy Booked tasks, even if I didn’t do so well at actually posting them to Litsy!

I finished last year’s Read Canadian Challenge (It goes July to July) and didn’t do this year’s.

I DEMOLISHED my original Goodreads goal of 100 books. As of this writing, Goodreads says I’ve read 209 books (I upped my goal to 200 midway through the year, when I hit the original 100!). I’ve read 64,992 pages, according to Goodreads. I’m going to round that up to over 65,000 since I’m most of the way through The Dreaming Stars!

I haven’t gone back through and tallied things, but I feel pretty good about my personal goal of reading more minority authors. Once I actually started looking for them, I found my reading list absolutely FULL of minorities! From black authors to Asian authors to LGBT authors, Jewish authors, Middle-Eastern authors, Native Americans, Autistic authors (I simply do not have the room to link all the books I’ve read this year!) – the variety of stories is amazing, and once you’ve found a couple of places that are publicizing minority authors, your reading list will be too full to complete, very quickly! It’s honestly astounding how easy it is to overlook them if you’re not actually looking for them. And these stories are SO. GOOD. So that’s a total win this year. I was horrified when I originally looked back through the blog and realized how white my reading had been. I hadn’t purposefully been excluding minority authors, so why weren’t they represented in my reading? But that is fixed now, and going forward. I love the non-Western European fantasies I’m reading, and seeing old tropes reinvented for minority stories. That’s probably my favorite thing about what I’ve read this year. I’ve fixed my reading habits and I’m definitely the better for it.

Another pretty big win – Around April and May I started trying to post here almost every single day, and I’ve mostly succeeded. I’ve only missed 10 days since the start of May! There’s been a distinct positive effect on the blog’s views, so that’s pretty exciting. I’m still very much a small-time blogger – I haven’t broken 1000 views in a month yet – but every month it gets a little busier!

I’m currently in the middle of the #EndofYearathon, a mini reading challenge hosted by Amanda at Classy x Book Reviews and Vicky at Vicky Who Reads. I unfortunately haven’t had a lot of time to read since Christmas; I read Give the Dark My Love for a book released in 2018 (review will be up tomorrow!), and I’m currently reading The Dreaming Stars (sequel to The Wrong Stars) for a Christmas-colored cover. (Red, Green, or Gold – this cover is gold.) I hope to read Black Wings Beating for the “Over 400 pages” prompt, Silence Fallen for the “next in a series” prompt (Mercy Briggs), and any of a NUMBER of books on my nightstand for the “before 2018” prompt.

Tuesday I’ll be posting my Best of 2018, so I won’t go into that here. Next Sunday I’ll detail my goals for the blog (and life!) for 2019! I hope everyone has survived 2018 more or less intact, and may 2019 be a better year for everyone!

Sunday Funday

black catfolk2So I have a Catfolk Assassin (Ninja) in a Pathfinder game that has gotten so into my head that I’ve been writing short fiction about her downtime. I’ve written enough that I’m considering writing a few more about the beginning of her story and major plotpoints and running it as a weekly series here on Sundays. It’s kind of a major change, because I haven’t posted any of my creative writing here on the blog, just reviews, but I’m pretty proud of my little peeks into her world, and my DM, at least, thinks they’re really good. (He’s my husband, though, so maybe he’s biased?)

I don’t know, would any of you be interested in the story of a young catfolk, traumatized by the murder of her entire clan at the hands of a fascist government, escaping into another country to make a life for herself far away from everything she’s ever known?

So far she has found a new goddess, found a group of adventurers that seem to like her, taken out some goblins, a couple of demons, and some ghouls, and died, talked to her goddess, and come back with a newfound commitment to her purpose. Our D&D group resumes meeting January 2nd, so we’ll see where her story goes from there!

Philadelphia Trip and the Poe House!

So. I did promise a real entry with pictures of Philly!

So. Friday around noon we headed up to Philadelphia from Baltimore, listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, which I hadn’t yet actually listened to! It was quite appropriate, driving through Pennsylvania and seeing all the old buildings while listening to Hamilton sing about the civil war. So that was fun, and I definitely see why my husband loves Hamilton so much! (I also really want to read My Dear Hamilton now….)

 

Our first stop was Baldwin’s Book Barn. I mentioned this place on my Top Ten Libraries or Bookstores I want to visit, partly because I knew we were going to Philly soon and it was actually doable! It was pretty incredible. It’s a giant old barn, with four floors of used books. Lots of first editions, signed books, rare stuff. The stairs are narrow, and ceilings low – there were several rooms my husband couldn’t stand up straight in, and one stairwell he had to bend nearly double to go through! We picked up two books, one on sewing for my husband and one called How to Read Novels Like a Professor for me.

20181123_1915064012322295710401610.jpgFrom Baldwin’s we drove in and checked into our hotel, which was a really nice hotel, actually. We then got dinner before going to the concert that was the whole reason for the trip, VNV Nation at Union Station. The space was really neat – we found a spot on a ledge near the rear of the balcony, we had a good view but weren’t down in the crush, and we could sit. All things that were important to me. I like VNV, but not as much as Alex does. This was my first VNV concert, and his third! I was very lucky and managed to NOT get a migraine out of the concert, so that was fantastic. It was really fun, and he played three songs from previous albums that I knew and really loved. One of the songs was one that meant a lot to Alex and I while he was in the military, so that was pretty special. They were also selling a certain style of shirt that Alex really wanted, as his shirt in that style is wearing out and getting a little small. So he was very excited to get a replacement.

20181124_112512-effects4245030461536022959.jpgSaturday was our day for tourist-y things! First we walked over to City Hall and admired the architecture and statues. Google kindly filtered one of the photos I took and made it look really neat. I also had a moment, looking up at a statue of a dude riding a horse, where I discovered the horse was very much a stallion. (Loving care in that sculpture, man.) There’s a lot of neat sculpture built into City Hall, and I took a TON of pictures of it. Not sure you want to see all of them, though!

 

Next we drove over to Independence Park, since we needed to move the car anyway. (Parking downtown sucks, man!) We walked around and saw The Liberty Bell and the remains of The President’s House, which was the third Presidential Mansion, according to Wiki. I was impressed that a LOT of the exhibit addressed the slaves that lived there. It’s good that we don’t forget that even in the North slavery existed. We didn’t actually go over to Independence Hall, just took pictures. (That’s the photo on the left.)

 

After Independence Park, we walked up to the Poe House several blocks away. Philly is – an interesting city. There’s weird sculptures everywhere, and they have some DEDICATED graffiti artists – one of these pictures shows graffiti on the smokestacks of an old factory building!

I actually forgot to take any pictures of the inside of the Poe House, but I took several of the outside. There was also a big mural of Poe on a neighboring rowhouse! The Poe House in Philly is much bigger than the tiny cramped one here in Baltimore. Now we just need to get to the museum in Richmond!

 

After the Poe House, we walked back to Independence Park, passing by Franklin Square, which had a carousel and mini-golf and what looks like a giant fountain in the summer. It was currently drained and strung with lights, and probably looks pretty cool in the dark.

20181124_2158541914165567501657854.jpgOnce we retrieved the car, we headed back to the hotel. We’d planned on hitting up Reading Terminal for dinner, but my feet were BEAT. It was a good decision, because it started raining shortly after we got back to the hotel. I had some fun taking artsy photos of raindrops on our hotel window with the Philly lights behind them! We ordered in Chinese for dinner and watched several hours of the Holiday Baking Championship on The Food Network and just generally had a cozy evening.

We did make it to Reading Terminal for brunch the next day. I didn’t take any pictures, but that place is really neat. And one of the bakeries whose name I cannot remember now makes THE MOST AMAZING flourless monster cookies. SO. GOOD.

Once we ate, we headed back south to come home – kind of! We actually stopped off at a friend’s in Baltimore and played board games for the rest of the afternoon, and got home pretty late in the evening. It was really a fantastic weekend, and oh man, I have missed traveling SO MUCH. We have a trip to Pittsburgh and Toronto planned for this summer, and I can’t wait!

Sunday Stuff

Oh man, I am so tired of being sick. I am over the worst of it, and I’m getting better, but it’s in small increments. I’m still pretty stuffed up. I just want to be better by Thanksgiving, because we’re leaving for Philadelphia the next morning! We’ll be spending the weekend in Philly – there’s a VNV Nation concert Friday night, then we’ll be doing tourist things the rest of the weekend, because I’ve never been to Philadelphia! My husband has been once or twice, but it’ll be all new to me. There’s a couple of museums we’ll be going to, as well as the Poe House. (We’ve been to the Poe House in Baltimore, and Poe’s grave here, but not to the Philadelphia one! Have I ever posted those pictures here? I should do that, even if they’re from many years ago.) We’ll also be stopping by Baldwin’s Book Barn, a giant old barn converted to a bookstore just outside Philly. I’m pretty excited. I just want my head to clear up before all of that, especially because an industrial concert while my ears are wonky from a head cold sounds like migraine territory to me.

I’m a little sad to discover that Katherine Locke, who wrote The Girl with the Red Balloon, is doing an event in Philly the Wednesday AFTER we’re there. I was really hoping she’d be at something that weekend and I could meet her! Oh well. I’ll have to keep an eye on her author events. She’s based out of Philadelphia, she’ll have to do something I can make it to eventually, right?

I am so glad I normally have posts scheduled out two weeks in advance, because that means I didn’t actually miss any days here while being sick! I’ve run out of leeway just in time to be leaving for a weekend, so I’ll have to hurry and review this stack of books now that I have some focus back, but that cushion really helped. Definitely going to have to build that back up again.

And the past couple of days have sucked, because we rent an old house with terrible plumbing, and right now any water that goes down drains winds up coming up in our laundry room! The plumber is coming sometime today, so hopefully that will get figured out soon. And I really hope he gets here early in the day, because we were planning to go see a friend perform in The Toxic Avenger this afternoon!

Blargh. Being sick and not being able to take a shower or flush the toilet has also not been real pleasant, either. I can’t wait to buy a house this spring and get away from this shoddy plumbing!