Category Archives: Annual Wrap-Up

Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden

Temujin, the second son of Yesugei and Hoelun, grew up to be Genghis Khan. Genghis: Birth of an Empire tells the beginning of his story, from about age 12 until he united several tribes under him, defeated the Tartars, and renamed himself Ghengis. I enjoyed this historical fiction book way more than I thought I would. The author tells the story in a way that helps you really “see” what went on. There is a lot of violence as one would expect when it comes to the story of Ghengis Khan. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Ghengis Khan and the history of the Mongol Empire.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 22
Pages Read in 2018: 4346
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)


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2017 Annual Wrap-Up

How many books did you read and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?
I read 173 books (plus 20 short stories/kids books I read to the boys or pre-read for Adrian for school). I always set my initial goal at 52, then double it. After I passed 104, I kept setting new goals that were prime numbers (since 2017 is a prime number) just above the number of books I have already read. I ended up setting my goal at 173 and had to cram in a lot of reading at the end of the year to meet it.

What story stayed with you a long time, left you wanting more or needing time to digest?
Aaru by David Meredith. The author actually contacted me on Twitter to ask me to read his book. I am so glad he did! I still think about the implications of being able to “save” someone to a hard drive so they never really die and all the questions that brings up (are they alive? what make you you?) sometimes and it’s been a few months since I read the book.

What are some quotes that made you laugh?
“I’m homeschooled,” Jameson observed. “Can I just give myself A’s too?” (Absolution by Karen McQuestion)

“If by that you mean that I dislike celebrity magazines, prefer food to anorexia, refuse to watch TV shows about models, and hate the color pink, then yes. I am proud to be not really a girl.” (Let it Snow by John Green)

I glanced at my mother and wondered if she recalled my exact age. (“You Look Like That Girl…” by Lisa Jakub

My favorite type of physical activity usually involved reading or watching a movie. The Black Masquerade by Andrea Pearson

Top 5 Books of the Year
Aaru by David Meredith
Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo
The Only Witness by Pamela Beason
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Upstairs at the White House by JB West

Bottom 5 Books of the Year
Zera and the Green Man by Sandra Knauf
Wulf the Saxon by GA Henty
Traditional Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens
God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark
Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

How many books are in your To Read pile right now?

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2016 Wrap-up

Where did your reading take you this year?
I hung out in Britain a lot this year. I found a couple amazing authors (self-published). I entered Narnia (for the first time) and Oz (for the first time beyond The Wonderful Wizard). I went to ancient Greece. And I discovered Cozy Mysteries to be a lovely and fun mind vacation to go on on occasion.

How many books did you read and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?
I read 132 books. I don’t set specific goals anymore, really. Mostly just to read at least two books a week on average and I easily beat that. I’d love to reach an average of 3 books a week, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen. I beat my previous record of 126 books, but not page count.

What countries and time periods did you visit?
Mostly, Britain from Roman times through the Middle Ages. This was not planned. It just happened.

What were your most favorite stories? Any stories that stayed with you a long time, left you wanting more or needed to digest for a while before starting another? Which books became comfort reads?
My favorite stories were the young adult dystopian ones. I didn’t realize just how much I enjoy that genre.

The Breadwinner series stayed with me. They changed me, really. I am much more inclined to help people in any way I can. I’ve become determined that even though fixing everything is literally impossible, I can find the Starfish in need and help them. Spending time digesting that series really made me look for opportunities to help. Also, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I really have never even considered what it is like and the issues surrounding Native Americans living on reservations. I’m still mulling that one over, actually. I think both that book and the Breadwinner series have helped me to become a kinder, more compassionate person.

The Deltora Quest series became, or, really, already were comfort reads. I read them to my older children several years ago. I read them to myself 7 or 8 years ago. I read them to my little boys this year. Every time I return them, they are like visiting a friend I’ve missed, but didn’t quite realize I did.

What is the one book or the one author you thought you’d never read and found yourself pleasantly surprised that you liked it?
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I’ve heard lots of negative stuff about it so I have avoided it. It was a Kindle Deal of the Day so I decided for two bucks I could see what the fuss is about myself. The negativity really misses the point. Completely. I’m glad I read it.

Did you read any books that touched you and made you laugh, cry, sing or dance?
The Fifth Floor made me sad, but hopeful at the same time. It made me dance because the author was amazing and when a self-published author is that good, it’s like the angels are singing in the background while you read. All the Tony James Slater books I read made me laugh. A lot. Out loud. The Breadwinner series made me cry at various points.

Any that made you want to toss it across the room in disgust?
Coffee, Tea or Me made me want to toss it across the room for lack of the Oxford comma in the title. Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon and Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’ve Got Henchmen made me want to toss them across the room because they were so, so bad after the first book in the series, Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain, was so incredibly good.

Please share a favorite quote.
“A gal can cope with anything when her shoes match her bra.” ~A Trifle Dead

“She’s homeschooled because she can’t pass for human.” ~Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’ve Got Henchmen

“__________, __________, and __________ __________ __________! __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________. And before we knew it, we were on the plane home.” ~Can I Kiss Her Yet? (This is from the chapter about their honeymoon. Tony said he actually wrote words in those blanks and made it as incredibly boring as he possibly could.)

“She would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men. Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior.” ~Cranford

“Still, Lex ran unopposed for city council and won every time.” ~The Last Bookstore in America

“Remember that misuse of language can lead to miscommunication and that miscommunication leads to everything that has ever happened in the whole of the world.” ~Welcome to Night Vale

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2015 Wrap-Up

How many books did you read this year and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?
I beat all my goals. First, I wanted to read more than 100 books. Second, I wanted to do the special 52 book challenge in among my books. And, third, I wanted to read more books and pages than I ever have before. I read 126 books and 37,104 pages (294 pages per book on average). That’s one more book than my previous record (2014) and 7,955 more pages (2012).

Share your top 5 favorite books.
Messenger by Lois Lowry
Moonraker’s Bride by Madeleine Brent
Petey by Ben Mikaelsen
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

Which books or authors you thought you’d never read and were pleasantly surprised to like them?
The 100 Series. My daughter begged me to read them. I was surprised how much I enjoyed them!

One book that touched you – made you laugh, cry, sing or dance!
Petey by Ben Mikaelsen

Share your most favorite character, covers and/or quotes?
Character: Miri from Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters

The Elements

Library of Souls

“Are we absolutely certain he’s a wight?” asked Addison.
“Do cats grow on trees?” Emma replied.
“Not in this part of the world.”
“Then of course we aren’t. But when it comes to wights, there’s an old saying: If you’re not sure, assume.”
(Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs)

“Don’t worry, Herman, the Russians won’t bomb this place [a nursing home].”
(Petey by Ben Mikaelsen)

One book you thought you’d love but didn’t?
Call the Nurse by Mary J. MacLeod

What countries or centuries did you explore?
Ancient history.

What books would you recommend everybody read?
The Gregor the Underlander series
The Giver series
The Wave by Todd Strasser
Petey by Ben Mikaelsen

What was your favorite part of the challenge?

My favorite part was doing the special 52 book challenge. It encouraged me to find books in categories I might not have otherwise read.


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Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks 2014 Wrap-up

How many books did you read and did you meet your own personal goal?
I read 125 books. I exceeded my personal goal. That is the most books I’ve ever read in a year, but not the most pages.

Most thrilling, oh my goodness, I want to read it again, unputdownable book?
The best book I read this year was Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. I think it’s the only one I wished I could rate higher than 5 stars.

Top 5 favorite stories?
My top five favorites this year, aside from Calling Me Home, in the order I read them, are Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell, Michael Vey 4: Hunt for Jade Dragon by Richard Paul Evans, Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I did not choose any books that I reread this year because of course those are some of my favorites already!

Least favorite book?
I really did not like Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

New author discovery? New genre discovery?
I didn’t discover any new authors this year. I did discover that I don’t hate almost all classics. I really thought I did, but enjoyed many over the course of the year. In a way I suppose I “discovered” L. Frank Baum. I had read The Wizard of Oz before, but this year I read two other Oz books and really enjoyed them. At some point I want to read all the rest of the Oz books as well. He was a really good author.

One book that touched you – made you laugh, cry, sing or dance.
Definitely Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. I think it made me do all of those things!

Are you ready to do it all over again?

Do you have any goals to check out different genres or authors, read translated books or stories in another language for 2015?
In 2015, my daughter and I are both going to do a reading challenge she found somewhere. It requires a pretty large variety. My daughter’s already figured out nearly every book she’s going to read for the challenge. I’ll figure it out as I go along.

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