Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A Different Kind of ROW80 Update: Non-writing Hobbies!

Unusual sort of post today.

I haven't been editing lately due to stuff happening at home (good things, but things that take time), and I'm very far behind in updating the knitting blog!

For this week's ROW80 update, then, I'm cross posting a knitting update from my Simple Scarf blog!

First a quick recap of 2013 in my knitting life:

I was nominated for a Liebster Award in February! As part of the award, I answered eleven questions and, funnily enough, this was the first one:

1. What prompted you to start your blog?
I was trying to keep knitting and cats off my writing blog!

A temporary lapse in format, I suppose!

I also offer the Liebster Award to anyone who'd like to accept it, but I've got eleven questions for you to answer!

Next up, I shared knitting related photos from a visit to the New York Public Library, and then I offered a sneak preview of mini-Alex's Doctor Who scarf!

Inspected by Sam, along with a Christmas scarf that I knit

Here's mini-Alex sporting the scarf during his first concert - a live performance of Rush's YYZ.

Later, in April, I got a booth at the Notre Dame de Grace Artisan's Fair to benefit our local food bank!

Actually, that was a spring for fairs. I attended a beer fest, hosted a charity book fair, and spent a day at that artisans' fair. Here's me at the latter:



Later on in the summer I started a long, complicated blanket, mixing a basic pattern with a leaf pattern from the turn of the century, which I found after Googling Mrs Lynde's apple-leaf patterns, from Anne of Green Gables.

Begun!

First set of leaves

Nearly there...

Finished!

There was also a visit to Upper Canada Village, a recreated 19th Century village, with lots of photos. I shared some of my Shetlands visiting dreams...

And another blanket, this one for Christmas!

At the start
Ongoing...
Nearly done!

Sam and I had a dispute over who the knitting bag belonged to:


And because he seems to be in all the photos, he's a gratuitous shot of Frodo:


To bring it all back to reading, here's a lovely shot of a crochet Amanda Palmer and a crochet Neil Gaiman, reading a book, a screenshot from Amanda's blog post:


Regular writerly posts to resume next week, with a review of Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada, the Wonders of Winter, and a guest spot with Tara Watson!

What are you busy with when not writing or reading?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

ROW80 Check In and New Releases: Theresa, Tara, and Anne of Green Gables

Belated ROW80 check in - from last week!

(By the way, the honeycomb in that B is for all of you who might be suffering from colds or flu this week.)

So I haven't actually done any editing this past week. I did finally share my vignette with a couple of betas, and am eagerly awaiting feedback. I also hope to participate in the January Exercise on the Forum before the month is out. It's a great one!
"A Moment of Explosive Change

In every life, there are moments where change comes upon us suddenly, unexpectedly, or with a force we could never have predicted. And in fiction, it's change we want to see.

What is explosive change? Anything that has a permanent impact on your character, good or bad. What kinds of things are we talking about? Well, there are break-ups, deaths, unexpected positive pregnancy tests. There are stunning events - terrorist attacks, natural disasters, revolutions - whether we're involved in them directly, or only seeing the world as we know it change from a distance. We fall in love. We fail. We succeed! We have diagnoses, redundancies, accidents, lottery wins... The list goes on.

What we're looking for in January is simple. A 500-word depiction of a moment of explosive change, with no preamble and no concern for what comes after - just that very moment, and how your character lives it."

25 January is the anniversary of Robbie Burns' birthday! Will you be participating in a Burns supper? I don't know any pipers, but I might just wear a kilt and have a wee dram of Lagavulin or The Glenlivet to toast the poet!

Wonder if I could hunt down a proper haggis around here?

Speaking of food, Theresa of Outlander Kitchen has a non-Outlander-related book out!



In other releases, Tara's novella Hands-on Therapy is out now on Kindle and Nook!


You really want this book, trust me. Hot and sweet all at the same time. One of those have-to-read-it-in-one-sitting books, definitely.

And in other book news, the Anne of Green Gables series is getting a makeover!


"Sourcebooks is proud to be the new home of L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novels and will continue to publish gorgeous brand new editions of all her classics throughout March and April.

Bookpage is hosting a contest for the Anne of Green Gables series through 31 January 2014 where all entries will have a chance to win the following:
1 Grand Prize Winner will win 2 Tiffany and Co. sterling silver key pendants
5 Second Place Winners will receive a full set of the Anne of Green Gables series from Sourcebooks Fire (6 books)
10 Third Place Winners will receive a copy of Anne of Green Gables

Visit their website here for a list of official rules. Plus, you can tell us about your experiences and send us the links so we can share them on our social media sites.

What memories do you have about reading Anne of Green Gables?

How did Montgomery's stories inspire you?"

After I clicked through, I realised the contest is only for United States residents! So go forth and enter, and think of me.

I'm trying to remember the first time I read Anne of Green Gables, and failing, mostly because I reread them so often. They always seem just as new and exciting as the last time. Anne was the first to introduce me to the phrase 'kindred spirit' and I've been keeping an eye out for them ever since.

I just realised that if there are only six books in the reprint, that means they're not including Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, or The Blythes Are Quoted, which seems like a serious omission, especially to not include Rilla of Ingleside in the centenary year of World War I. But perhaps they'll be included later. I wonder if they'll add the authorised prequel Before Green Gables, written by Canadian MG/YA author Budge Wilson.

Here's my new favourite song of the moment (link added in case the embedding doesn't work):



What songs/albums are you listening to right now?
Which new books did you buy this week?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Coffee Hop!, a New Release, and Betty Ren Wright

Coffee, coffee, coffee! I love coffee!

As a Turkish Anglophile, I keep trying to like tea. I drink it the Turkish way, and I've tried it the English way, with milk, but... I just can't do it. It simply doesn't taste as good as a shot of espresso with steamed milk, or a 'perfect cup' (where the filter is set directly over the mug and hot water's poured over the coffee grounds and filters directly into the mug. Yes, there's a proper name for this, but I can't remember it).

I do love a Turkish tea with simit (sort of like a bagel), though!



But back to coffee. Why all this coffee talk, you ask? Because Michael's hosting a bloghop on Friday!



I'm a little early, but that's because I've already had a few lattes... I love coffee!

I mean, look at this happy row of lattes!



Look at this yummy coffee!



My favourite is actually a flat white, as they call it in New Zealand, apparently. No foam at all, just steamed milk over espresso. I Googled public domain images for flat white, and for some reason this guy came up:



I could have a saucer of milk ready for him, if he wanted to snuggle while I sip my coffee...

And then, of course, there's Turkish coffee!

Contrary to what people might think, it's not bitter at all. Especially not if you make it with sugar (though I don't). Here's a quick how-to:

Find a cezve (any local 'ethnic' shop, whether Lebanese or Arabic or Armenian, should have some).



Find a Turkish cup (because this is the only way I know how to measure the water), which is a wee thing about three fingers high.



And find a Turkish teaspoon, which is half the size of a North American teaspoon. Also, you need your coffee ground as finely as possible. The blend or roast doesn't matter too much; you could use some of Michael's Colombian coffee! Just make sure it's ground very fine; a number 1 on most coffee shop grinders or, if you ask for Turkish grind, they ought to know what you mean.

Cezve, cup, spoon, coffee, and sugar if you want it. This all works on an electric stove, but it's better over a gas flame. Heck, I suppose you could do it over the fire if you're camping!

Directions for Making Turkish Coffee: Measure one heaping teaspoon of coffee per person and a level teaspoon of sugar per person, if adding, into the cezve.
Then fill coffee cup with water and add that water to the coffee (and sugar) in the cezve (one cupful per person).
Stir with the teaspoon to dissolve the coffee and place cezve over medium heat/flame. Watch it until it just begins to bubble and boil.
Once it starts to boil, pour a bit into the cup(s), just enough to coat the bottom. Return cezve to flame and let it boil again. Pour some more into the cup(s). Repeat a third time.
On third boil, pour the rest into the cup(s). Serve with a glass of water and maybe a square of Turkish delight on the side.
Drink all the liquid, leaving the sludge on the bottom. Invert your saucer over your cup, and flip, so that the cup is now upside on the saucer.
Wait till it cools, then lift the cup and read your fortune from the shapes you see. If there's a half moon in the liquid on your saucer, that's good luck!



Meanwhile, guess what? Tara has an erotic novella coming out on Monday! Visit her blog and check out the cover for Hands-on Therapy. Can't wait for this release!

In sad news, author Betty Ren Wright has passed away. I found out yesterday, through Scholastic's Twitter feed. Appropriate, really, since it was through a Scholastic book order that I got the two Wright books I've read, Christina's Ghost and A Ghost in the Window. I wonder what made me choose them from the catalogue? Having loved them, I wonder why I didn't get more? She's written over 30 books, plus short stories and board books! The most well-known of her novels, apparently, is The Dollhouse Murders. I'm going to reread the two I have, and then maybe start to get some more, probably from Abebooks. I tried Alibris, but they don't offer free shipping to Canada. The books cost about 1.50$ each, but then they charge you 20$ shipping per book!

This week is Get Real on the Internet Week, hosted by Real Simple magazine.
"For every day until Friday, we're encouraging people to be completely honest when they post on social media. Real Simple staffers (starting with yours truly) are no exception — we'll kick things off with unfiltered glimpses of our own lives on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. What you see might scare you. Or make you feel a lot better about yourself. Or a little bit of both.

So if you want a dose of reality on social media, join us by using the hashtag #rsgetreal. Then visit RealSimple.com for more, including a hilarious caption game where you can tell us what's really happening in those annoyingly perfect Facebook pictures, plus a photo album of Kodak moments gone awry."
I just might post some photos of renovations at my house, which happen to be progressing more slowly than I'd like to let on...

What unfiltered photos would you share?
Which Scholastic authors do you love?
Are you a tea person, a coffee person, or neither?
Perhaps you'd prefer some single malt, in honour of the just-release trailer for Outlander!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Year-end Review, ROW80 Goals, IWSG, a Tammy Interview!, and Harry Potter

Goal time!

A new round of A Round of Words in 80 Days has begun (not to mention a new year).

My goals in January 2013 were to:

Finish editing Druid's Moon and share with betas
Done and done! Well, sort of (see 2014 goal below).

Continue querying Out of the Water
Done, a few times. No joy. Unfortunately, even this story needs more editing.

Start typing up Captive of the Sea
Started and finished! Now to print and edit...

Finish editing Rome, Rhymes and Risk
Hmm, I never got around to this.

Get some of my short stories fixed up
Done, and how! One of my stories was shortlisted for the Surrey International Writers' Conference Storyteller's Award.

Introduce some new tabs on the blog, linking to snips that I've posted and events I've hosted
Done! Lots of one-off snips there, including for our Stream of Consciousness exercises on the Forum and Twitter.

Scale back on Facebook
Done! I only check about once a week now.

Keep up with knitting projects Done, except I keep forgetting to blog about them.

Read some of the books I already own instead of buying more (ahem, especially the ones off the list of 180 books down the left-hand side of this blog)
Not going so well. I've got a year left to tackles that list of 180!

Tidy up the garage (full of boxes of books) and the library
Begun! I'm very excited about this. Give me another month or so, and the house should really look proper.

I like these sorts of lists because, looking back after a year, it's nice to see that I accomplished something, at least, even if I feel like I haven't gotten as far ahead as I like.

Which brings me to my Insecure Writer's Support Group suggestion: a brilliant idea from Terry Lynn Johnson:

The Good Things Jar
Isn't that a wonderful idea?

I'm going to start two, one for daily life, and the other for writing.

As for my current ROW80 and 2014 goals, I'm going to keep things simple for now: edit Druid's Moon further. It needs about 20,000 words added to it, some more tension in the character interaction, and a tighter ending. (I could add more about editing short stories, blogging about Tolkien, sorting photos, editing and querying other novels... But I won't).

Something coming up on Monday:


Yes! I was interviewed by Tammy and I survived!

Despite our snowball fight (you'll see!) I had a great time; if you haven't gone through a Tammy interview, you should definitely sign up!

Meanwhile, I've been rereading all the Harry Potter books, again.

J. K. Rowling recently gave an interview on the 15th anniversary of the books:

   

I was catching up on the latest news on her website (wish I had time to play in the Pottermore world!) and realised she's also a very good non-fiction writer. Read Rowling's essays on her foundation Lumos, on her mother and MS, and on her views of government and benefits in the UK, they're worth it.

Have you set goals for the new year?
Which books do you reread?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Toast to the Professor, Books Read in 2013, and Visiting Deanna Raybourn's Blog

Join me on 3 December for a toast to Tolkien!



I shared a post over at Deanna Raybourn's blog the other day, all about how to kick start your writing!

And now... The annual Books Read Statistics!

Books read: 188, of which 124 were novels and kids' books (I count 'em all!), 21 were short stories, 13 were poems, and 30 were essay collections and comics and the Bathroom Reader, and so on.

This is compared to 142 novels and short stories in 2012 (plus poetry), 124 in 2011, 92 in 2010, 131 in 2009 and 101 in 2008. That's not counting the thousands of words written and read for writers' houseparties over at the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum, plus other forum writings, and magazines and newspapers, etc.


My average over 50 weeks, not counting the poems, is one more than the last couple of years, 3.5 books per week (or three books and two short stories). I think I read more non-fiction this year than usual.


Authors read: 88 (counting board books and poets and betas this year), compared to 105 in 2012, 89 in 2011, 63 in 2010, 57 in 2009 and 69 in 2008 (not counting anthologies). So a definite drop from last year. That happens when you reread a lot of favourite series...


Most Books by One Author is still Neil Gaiman with eight books, three short stories, two poems, a speech, and five Sandmans. Also nine by L. M. Montgomery (I reread the Anne of Green Gables series again), eight by Josephine Tey, and eight by Tolkien (including a poem; I'm rereading the twelve books of the History of Middle-earth). Also Brenda Novak, Stephen King, E. L. Konigsburg, and Budge Wilson (she's the author of the authorised prequel to Anne of Green Gables, and I realised how much I loved her MG The Best Worst Christmas Present Ever, so I got a bunch of her other books in that series from Abebooks).

Last year I read Tolkien and Stephen King, plus four Talli Roland books! The year before I reread The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, Outlander, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (before seeing the last movie), and in 2010 I again reread L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, including The Road To Yesterday. Rereads in 2009 included J. K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon, and Agatha Christie.


Oldest book: This year it was Keats and Byron's poetry, plus The Count of Monte Cristo and, if you go by the stories themselves and not the publication date, Land of the Seal People by Duncan Williamson, which is a collection of retellings of ancient silkie stories from the Scottish islands. Along with a John Clare poem and an old song from the Shetlands that I read on Kate Davies' blog. Then there was the short story "Why, Of Course" by James Edmond Casey (published in 1912 in Top Notch Magazine), which was a sort-of-predictable-but-mostly-unsatisfying tale of a con artist.

Last year Cyrano de Bergerac and Voltaire were the oldest, and the oldest published books (not reprints) were the two anthologies, The Land of My Fathers - A Welsh Gift Book, and Princess Mary's Gift Book, both from 1914, including stories and poems by Arthur Conan Doyle, Kipling, etc. There was also Ah King by Somerset Maugham, Shakespeare in London by Marchette Chute, and Helena by Evelyn Waugh. In 2011 it was the 14th Century Book of Good Love by Archpriest Juan Ruiz, though the translation was only a hundred years old. After that, it was the chapter on the Earl of Rochester from Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets, and Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers, as well as P. G. Wodehouse. In 2010 it was the Earl of Rochester as well (and Perreault's fairy tales), plus Hours at the Glasgow Art Galleries by T. C. F. Brotchie, An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott and When the Going Was Good by Evelyn Waugh; in 2009, there was Shakespeare and a handful of books from pre-1950; in 2008, the oldest authors were Aesop and Pliny, but the oldest original book was by Dorothy L. Sayers, followed by John Fante and John Steinbeck.


Newest book: 37 this year, including some amazing short stories on the Cabinet of Curiosities site, and the 60th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (with an introduction by Neil Gaiman).

I had 36 in 2012, including nine Forumites, 44 in 2011, and 13 in 2010 plus 10 new books by Forumites. In 2008 I had only two books, by Joanna Bourne and Marilynne Robinson. Many more in 2009, including books by kc dyer, Hélène Boudreau, Linda Gerber and Diana Gabaldon - Forumites all!

This year, Forumites have done it once again:
Voices of the Deep Forest by Ron Wodaski (poem)
Ramshackle Wisdom by Ron Wodaski (poem)
Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels by Helene Boudreau
A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan
Quick Fix by Linda Grimes
In A Fix by Linda Grimes

New stories and poems by blogging buddies:
"The Dead Party" by Shah Wharton
Riven by Kait Nolan
Vampire Games by Tiffany Allee
"Masked Love" by Nicole Zoltack
Last Christmas by Talli Roland
Harwich, Essex, England by Glynis Smy (poem)


Stories/Authors I didn't like: Last year there were no books I actively disliked, but there were two I distinctly felt "meh" about: Before Versailles, and Inkheart. The year before that featured Jonathan Franzen, Philippa Gregory and Gillian Bagwell, and 2010 Libba Bray and Thomas Cobb. One author in 2009 (Ilyas Halil) and three authors (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ian McEwan and Ian Rankin) and one story ("Hairball" by Margaret Atwood) in 2008.

This year I only have two! I think I'm getting better at not forcing myself to slog through books I'm not instantly attracted to. The one book I didn't like, but finished, was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The one book I didn't like and didn't force myself to finish was Jenny Lawson's semi-autobiographical memoir. I explain a bit about why on the Forum (will add the links once the Forum's search function is reinstated).


Books that made me cry:
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)
The Lay of Aoutrou and Itroun by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb (skimming reread) (it's that last line ("Thayer, I saw her!" I yell. "I saw!") that gets me. Every. Single. Time.)

I'm thinking that this isn't a very accurate list, because I don't seem to have noted, when adding it to a list, whether a book made me cry or not. I'm sure I cried on rereading Rilla of Ingleside, but who knows? I'll have to remember to note this category throughout the year in 2014.

In 2012 I listed: Bag of Bones by Stephen King; Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury; The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; The Fault In Our Stars by John Green; The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (because of Krystal); and Lunatic Heroes by C. Anthony Martignetti (if you haven't yet, you have to listen to him reading the chapter The Swamp. Bullfrog.).

In 2011 (the first year of this category) I had many books that made me cry: The Scottish Prisoner, and Outlander, both by Diana Gabaldon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, all of which were rereads, but there was also Rowing in Eden by Barbara Rogan, The Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen Randle, This and That by Emily Carr, The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells, Dancing Through the Snow by Jean Little, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson, and Fifteen by Beverly Cleary.


Youngest books: Quite a few board books, just as in the last few years, including: two Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems; Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman; The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman; The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman; Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman; To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr Seuss; Who's A Pest? by Crosby Newell Bonsall; Star Trek Book of Opposites (board book); Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch; and Rainy Days with Bear by Maureen Hull (this one should appeal to writers!). Also quite a bit of YA and MG. Old favourites never leave you.


Fluff but Fun books: The year before I read Andy Capp, MAD, and an Archie, which was fewer than the past three years. Last year was even fewer than that, with only two issues of MAD. This year, I reread some more Andy Capp, the Far Side, and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, the Music edition. Lots of interesting tidbits in that!


Books/Authors I'd recommend: Last year I recommended the books that made me cry, and the year before that I gave a shout out to Forumites, and to my old favourites, Tolkien et al. This year, I’d recommend (besides all Forumites and blogging buddies!), bearing in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, all of Josephine Tey and E. L. Konigsburg, plus:
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (for general intriguingness)
The Reader Over Your Shoulder by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge (for writers)
A Calendar of Tales by Neil Gaiman (for storytelling)
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (for all-around strength of purpose)
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl (for the sweetness of it all)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (for the wonderfulness of it, and the fact that it's a wartime story)
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (for the wonderful tone)
A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan (for the keep-you-on-your-toes mystery, and the characters)
the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems (for the witty kid in all of us)


Shortest book: Last year I recommended the longest of the short pieces: The Space Between, a long novella by Diana Gabaldon. In 2011 the shortest was The Tales of Beedle the Bard, same as in 2008 and 2010, and The Object Lesson by Edward Gorey (besides the short stories, the youngest books, Andy Capp, Archie, and MAD). This year I read a lot more essays and short stories in general, so it's hard to single out just one.


Longest book: Every year there's a Tolkien or Gabaldon in there, and this year was no exception. All the others seem to be about the same length. Last year I had no long series that I could count as one book, so I decided to mention Neil Gaiman. This year I reread the Anne of Green Gables series, read all of Josephine Tey's books, and also read John Scalzi's wonderful Old Man's War series. Also some long Stephen King: Under the Dome; the uncut The Stand; and 11/22/63. I also read The Count of Monte Cristo. In French.


Research books: I had a hodgepodge in the last two years, including books on English history, poetry, Mediterranean flora, Ottoman history, and the Renaissance. This year's crop was just as varied, given that I was reading for Druid's Moon (contemporary paranormal romance), Captive of the Sea (15th Century historical romance), and Larksong (pre-WWI Canadian romance). Some of the novels I read (especially Forrester's) doubled as research. I loved Archaeology is Rubbish by Prof. Mick Aston and Tony Robinson. And I skimmed the following:
Medieval Civilisation by Jacques le Goff
The Great Explorers (Folio Society edition)
Parragon's Encyclopedia of Animals: a Family Reference Guide
Celtic Myths and Legends by Mike Dixon-Kennedy


Books from the 19th Century: Only one! Le Comte de Monte-Cristo par Alexandre Dumas. And a handful of poems. And the Grimm brothers' story "The Blue Light". Last year: The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, plus poems by Longfellow and Browning, and "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe. I must read more in this category.


Books from 1900-1960: Counting the short stories, I had a lot in 2012, including all the Tolkien, plus Christie, Sayers, Milne, Bradbury, Waugh, Chute, Maugham, Remarque, Chesterton, and Bodies and Souls (1950s Dell Paperback featuring crime stories by Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterton, etc.).In 2011 there were only 12 novels and two short stories. Honourable mention went to The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, which is all about growing up in a small midwestern US town in the 50s. There were 27 such books in 2010, 17 in 2009, and in 2008 this time period made up 1/4 of my list.

This year was no exception. Lots of Tolkien, all the Josephine Tey and L. M. Montgomery, plus:
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl (such a sweet love story!)
Poet's Pub by Eric Linklater (so much fun!)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (reread)
To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr Seuss
The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis (reread)
"Four Fables for Our Time" by James Thurber (short story) (reread)
"You Should Have Seen the Mess" by Muriel Spark (short story) (reread)
"Ha'penny" by Alan Paton (short story) (reread)
The Screwtape Letters, Chapter 1 by C. S. Lewis (read by John Cleese) (reread)
"Why, Of Course" by James Edmond Casey (short story)
Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost (poem)
Medieval Civilisation by Jacques le Goff
All My Life Before Me: the diary of C. S. Lewis (finally finished this one – I’ve been reading it in fits and starts for over 15 years!)
Stories in Words by C. S. Lewis
Emerson (bits and pieces of his essays on his travels through England and Scotland; read aloud to me)
The Reader Over Your Shoulder by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge


I also had two beta reads this year, two fewer than last year. And, here's the list of poems:
The Lay of Aoutrou and Itroun by J. R. R. Tolkien
On This Day I Complete My Thirty-sixth Year by Lord Byron
Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost (read by Amanda Palmer)
muckle osla's flitting
Flitting by John Clare
Home by Neil Gaiman
the [backspace] merchants by Neil Gaiman
HAPPY is England! I could be content by John Keats (reread)
KEEN, fitful gusts are whisp'ring here and there by John Keats (reread)
Harwich, Essex, England by Glynis Smy
His Last Party by Michael Tolkien
Voices of the Deep Forest by Ron Wodaski
Ramshackle Wisdom by Ron Wodaski

And then there's the lovely Year Round Things To Do, which really doesn't fit into any category:


Finally, a category introduced this year as a result of comments from last year: Most Surprising Book.
Last year it was World War Z by Max Brooks. This year I'll list three: Poet's Pub by Eric Linklater (a fun, romantic romp through 1930s England), The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (I was not expecting anything about this story. It's truly different), and Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling (I sort of wish I'd discovered the book before I knew it was her!).

Which surprising books have you read this year?

Happy New Year to all!

Here's the full, unedited list for 2013:
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)
Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman (reread)
Listen to My Trumpet by Mo Willems
Let’s Go For a Drive by Mo Willems
The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes
Poet's Pub by Linklater
You're a Riot Andy Capp by Smythe (reread)
The Blue Light by the Grimm brothers (short story)
Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit by Corey Olsen
The Reader Over Your Shoulder by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge
A Christmas Walk by Zan Marie Steadham (reread)
Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
The Human Division by John Scalzi
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman
Riven by Kait Nolan
The Final Sacrament by James Forrester
A Dream of You Sandman #5 by Neil Gaiman
Vampire Games by Tiffany Allee
The Lay of Aoutrou and Itroun by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
Through the Smoke by Brenda Novak
Take Me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak
Last Christmas by Talli Roland
secret beta read!
Masked Love by Nicole Zoltack
A Room Made of Windows by Eleanor Cameron
Year Round Things To Do
Margaret in the Middle by Bernice Thurman Hunter (reread)
Masked Love by Nicole Zoltack
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Clarence Goes to Town by Patricia Lauber
The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C. C. Humphreys
The Grey King by Susan Cooper (reread)
The Screwtape Letters, Chapter 1 by C. S. Lewis (read by John Cleese) (reread)
Why, Of Course by James Edmond Casey (short story, 1912 Top N
otch Magazine)
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey
Ramshackle Wisdom by Ron Wodaski (poem)
The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
The Stand by Stephen King (uncut edition) (reread except for new bits)
The Girl in Room Fourteen by Carol Drinkwater
Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wending
My Mother's Ghost by Margaret Buffie
Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman
the [backspace] merchants by Neil Gaiman
His Last Party by Michael Tolkien
muckle osla's flitting (half a Shetland song from Kate Davies' blog)
Flitting by John Clare
Voices of the Deep Forest by Ron Wodaski (poem)
Still Life by Louise Penny
Andy Capp Man of the Hour by Smythe (reread)
Four Fables for Our Time by James Thurber (short story) (reread)
You Should Have Seen the Mess by Muriel Spark (short story) (reread)
Ha'penny by Alan Paton (short story) (reread)
Joyland by Stephen King
Land of the Seal People by Duncan Williamson
Singing Sands by Josephine Tey
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (reread)
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
Knitwits by William Taylor
A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey
Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey
Trucks by Stephen King (short story) (reread)
Stories in Words by C. S. Lewis
Sandman: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
Sinister Scenes by P. J. Bracegirdle
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (reread)
The Cuckoo's Calling by Galbraith/Rowling
T-backs, T-shirts, COAT and Suit by E. L. Konigsburg
A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan
The Return of the Shadow - Book 6 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
Night at the Museum (our latest writers' houseparty)
When We Touch by Brenda Novak
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things 1 by Cynthia Voigt (arc)
The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman
The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
It's So Easy and other lies by Duff McKagan
The Blythes Are Quoted by L. M. Montgomery
Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery
Rainbow Valley by L. M. Montgomery
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb (skimming reread)
Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery
The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern
Anne's House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery (reread)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Archaeology is Rubbish by Prof. Mick Aston and Tony Robinson
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon (pre-publication booklet)
Just A Geek by Wil Wheaton
Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery (reread)
Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery (reread)
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery (reread)
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (reread)
Harwich, Essex, England by Glynis Smy (poem)
Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson (prequel authorised by the L. M. Montgomery estate)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (reread, but this one's the 60th anniversary edition with an introduction by Neil Gaiman)
Feminine Endings by Neil Gaiman (short story)
Home by Neil Gaiman (poem)
HAPPY is England! I could be content by John Keats (poem) (reread)
KEEN, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there by John Keats (poem) (reread)
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Lorinda's Diary by Budge Wilson
Thirteen Never Changes by Budge Wilson
Mystery Lights at Blue Harbour by Budge Wilson
Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak
A House Far From Home by Budge Wilson
Breakdown by Budge Wilson
The Fall of Arthur by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Dead Party by Shah Wharton
To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr Seuss
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (half/skimmed)
Magic Tree House #6 by Mary Pope Osborne
Who Is Frances Rain? by Margaret Buffie (reread)
Blubber by Judy Blume
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (reread)
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
Runaway by Bernice Therman Hunter
Magic Tree House #5 by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Tree House #4 by Mary Pope Osborne
Who's A Pest? by Crosby Newell Bonsall
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume
Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Silent to the Bone by E. L. Konigsburg
Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman
Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost (poem) (read by Amanda Palmer)
Star Trek Book of Opposites (board book)
Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (reread)
Poison by Bridget Zinn
Causeries: l'Etat Civil du Comte de Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (essay)
Le Comte de Monte-Cristo par Alexandre Dumas
About the B'nai Bagels by E. L. Konigsburg
Parragon's Encyclopedia of Animals a Family Reference Guide (skimmed)
Throwing Shadows by E. L. Konigsburg
The Devil on the Staircase by Joe Hill (short story)
Horns by Joe Hill
Altogether One at a Time by E. L. Konigsburg
Orders From Berlin by Simon Tolkien
The King of Diamonds by Simon Tolkien
Quick Fix by Linda Grimes (arc)
Jack Absolute by C. C. Humphreys
The Lost Road - Book 5 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
The Roots of Betrayal by James Forrester
Leaf by Niggle by J. R. R. Tolkien (short story) (reread)
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)
Sandman: Doll's House by Neil Gaiman
secret beta read!
An Easter Walk by Zan Marie Steadham (reread)
Celtic Myths and Legends by Mike Dixon-Kennedy (reread) (skimmed)
Rainy Days with Bear by Maureen Hull
Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman (short story)
Sandman: Prologues and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, the Music edition
The Circus by Emma Trevayne (short story)
Ghost Stories of Canada (compilation) (read a few)
Red Shoes and Doll Parts by Claire Legrand (short story)
In A Fix by Linda Grimes
A Calendar of Tales by Neil Gaiman
It Came from the Far Side by Gary Larson
Boy O'Boy by Brian Doyle
Mary Ann Alice by Brian Doyle (so sweet! I wish there was a sequel)
The Man Who Loved Flowers by Stephen King (short story) (reread)
Night Surf by Stephen King (short story) (reread)
On This Day I Complete My Thirty-sixth Year by Lord Byron (poem)
11/22/63 by Stephen King (brilliant)
When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak
All My Life Before Me - the diary of C. S. Lewis (finally! after 15 years!)
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
The Cake Made Out of Teeth by Claire Legrand (short story)
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (wonderful!)
Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels by Helene Boudreau (arc)
The Great Explorers (Folio Society edition) (skimmed)
The Shaping of Middle-Earth - Book 4 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
Medieval Civilisation by Jacques le Goff (skimmed)
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (sooo many questions!)
Highland Moonlight by Teresa J. Reasor (skimmed very fast)
Not So Funny When It Happened (a travel humour anthology; I read a few of the essays, specifically by Douglas Adams, Dave Barry, Bill Bryson, Anne Lamott, etc.)
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (reread)
Greenwitch by Susan Cooper (reread)
The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis (reread)
Emerson (bits and pieces of his essays on his travels through England and Scotland; read aloud to me)
The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
The Cove by Ron Rash

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • beta read! (JB)
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Children of Men by P. D. James
  • A Daughter's A Daughter by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • Sunlight by Margaret Rucker (poem; floating in a cocktail glass)
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Preface to The Hobbit, by Christopher Tolkien
  • Ilk Defa... by Beste Barki (essays)
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (essay)
  • The Moon and I by Betsy Byars
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Rogue Warrior by Regan Walker
  • Beauty and the Beast by Villeneuve
  • Black (what was this? I don't remember!)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  • Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Awry (26 book collection)
  • beta read (Born to Run by RB)
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
  • Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg (reread)
  • Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
  • Miniatures by John Scalzi
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter (illustrated by Quentin Blake)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (short story)
  • Merry Christmas, Emily (board book)
  • Extra Yarn by __ and Jan Klassen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Outlandish Companion II by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outlandish Companion I, Revised by Diana Gabaldon
  • MacHinery and the Cauliflowers by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Dileas by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Gold Watch by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • betty, butter, sun by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Scholastic)
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • see the 2016 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2016/12/annual-books-read-statistics-2016.html
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2015/12/annual-books-read-statistics.html
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2014/12/books-read-in-2014-review.html
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2014/01/toast-to-professor-books-read-in-2013.html
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-and-year-end-books.html
  • see the 2011 statistics on http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011-statistics-fourth.html
  • see the 2011 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011.html
  • see the 2010 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/12/books-read-in-2010-listed-here.html
  • see the 2009 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-ii.html
  • also in 2009 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-iv.html
  • see the 2008 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-ii.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-vi.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-iv.html