Interestingly enough, my search for my list has turned up another list I kept like 6-8 years ago. It wasn't dated, and it has books on there that I don't even remember. I think I'll add a little blurb on these to spark my memory.
Books I want to focus on this year include: More sci-fi novels (I read a lot of short stories but am woefully ignorant in novels), books that have won awards (especially recent Pulitzer winners/contenders, Hugo or Nebula winners, and especially novels that won both Hugos & Nebulas), literary fiction (basically just trying to figure out what that really is, at this point), the 8 Books that Neil deGrasse Tyson feels every intelligent person should read, anything on writing craft, and all of the unread books on my bookshelves.
1. Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman - 5/5 Love it! So glad Josh finally got these for me.
2. Walking Dead Compendium Two by Robert Kirkman – 5/5 Also love it! Whole family enjoyed these two. Had to fight Josh & Eden to get to read them first.
3. Dialogue: Elements of Fiction Writing by Lewis Turco – 0/5 I usually like the Elements of Fiction Writing books, but this was HORRIBLE. It took me months to wade through this (small) book, but by the time I'd read a few chapters, I didn't want to have 'wasted' the time and not count it toward my list. I should have just given up. Worst book on writing I have ever read. Turco should have listened to his editor.
4. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - 1/5 I almost gave this 2/5 because it somehow managed to sustain my interest through the end, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It was far too clichéd for me. I was able to call every "twist" in the book, including the big two really early on, which was disappointing. Also, all of the similes were very forced and really bothered me. They brought me out of the story every time. Perhaps I'm just not a YA fan, though I've been trying to read more of it. I only read this one because it was a discussion over on bookclubfiction. I have absolutely no desire to see the movie nor finish out the series (which I usually want to do even with poor books, just to see it through).
5. Dune by Frank Herbert - 4/5 It was a little slow to start for me, and I wasn't a fan of the appendices, but I liked it overall. Surprised it took me this long to read it. This was suggested to me as a fantastic example of omniscient POV, so I read it from a more writerly viewpoint than I would normally read for pleasure. But I learned a lot about a POV that I normally hate, and it was very well done so that I forgot at times and just got swept in the story. Wish they'd put the maps & glossary in the front of the book though. Kind of crappy to see after the fact that I could have been referencing those the whole time.
6. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - 1/5 Jesus, what a crappy book! This book won tons of awards/best of lists, but I really don't see how. I found it incredibly pretentious and depressing. It took me two months to read, and I always felt just horrible while reading it. The awful characters' self-pitying funk was cloying and clung to me so badly that I could only read it in spurts. I can't believe the hype around this thing. I'm still not even sure why I continued to suffer through it.
7. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey - 5/5 Had to run to the arms of my favorite book after hitting so many bad ones this year. Sped through it easily, drinking it up like water after a desert crossing. I love Dart best. Love the world building, love the plotting, love most of the characters. A delightful palate cleanser after several crappy reads. On to Chosen!
8. Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey - 4/5 Still love my books, but this does suffer from a smidgen of "middle book syndrome". Not badly though, so I still rate it high. The end scenes, imo, more than make up for the very slight drag in the middle.
9. Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey - 5/5 Part of me wanted to give this 4/5, but that's only because some of the content is hard. And it was handled well while causing the desired emotional reaction in me, so that's some stellar writing. The second half is much better, and still very well written.
10. Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey - 4/5 A separate but equally awesome trilogy with roots in the first. Again, I was torn between a 4 & a 5. I love Imri's voice, which is, thankfully, his own and not just a Phèdre echo. I love the [Mild Spoiler]possession scenes, which I know when it came out that some didn't. Given my experiences with channeling, I found the scenes to be quite believable and well written. But something about this one just isn't my favorite, even as much as I love discovering Imri as an MC. I found certain aspects disappointing. But still an above-average rating from me.
11. Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey - 5/5 I loved learning more about Alba! I had wanted that ever since book 1. Certain portions dragged for me, and certain (religious) parts just hit my ugh button, but the magic of Alba, Imri's growth into a secure & awesome young man, and the emotional heartstring twanging was enough to win me over. I can't dock it a point just because certain aspects weren't my cuppa tea, because it was still handled well from a writing standpoint.
12. Kushiel's Mercy by JC - 4/5 Okay, as much as it pains me to do so, I do have to drop a point due to the bait-and-switch nature of this book. While I'm always excited to learn more of how magic works in the Kushielverse, after two trilogies of waiting, I was sorely grieved at some of the things that transpired in Imri's last book. However, the POV change to Lysander and back to Imri again is expertly done and one of my favorite things ever. So many characters come into their own and rise above the shadows of the main characters in the first trilogy. If I hadn't expected a completely different book, I'd give it a 5. But, as an end to two stunning trilogies, it did leave me feeling just a bit disappointed. I suppose maybe I should go ahead and give it the 5 for not being predictable, but in the end, I still feel a bit cheated.
13. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - 4/5 It started off really slowly for me and didn't really hook me like I'd hoped, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I found it to be a pretty good book, though I'll be honest and say that certain portions seemed a bit purpley/try-hard for me. Funny to hear on the tail of my waxing poetic about the Kushiel books, I know, but it didn't have the amazing world-building and plotting to balance it out. A lot of it seemed a bit forced to me. But I liked it overall.
14. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - 3/5. Like City of Bones, I read this one for bookclubfiction. Like City of Bones, I found it a bit too predictable for my tastes. Although I think that if it weren't quite so hyped here in Missouri (it's set in Missouri) and I'd just found it on my own, then I probably would have been more surprised by some of the twists. It was very well written and I was definitely pulled into it, zipping through it in just a couple of days. So I enjoyed it, but each discussion post we did in the community, where they asked what you think is going to happen, I called it. And I called it even earlier in my head. So only a 3 for that reason.
15. Talking to Heaven: A Medium's Message of Life After Death by James Van Praagh - 3/5 This is a decent little book about mediumship. I nearly gave it a 4. Perhaps if I didn't know much about mediums I would have learned a lot more. As my mom was a channeler, I have some familiarity with the practice. Most of what he said resonated as true for the experiences I've had. He offered a few new exercises for psychic development that I might try. I liked it well enough and made pretty quick work of the book.
16. A Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling - 2/5 Sadly, I was once again disappointed with this choice from bookclubfiction. The first 2/3 were terribly slow and didn't keep my interest at all. Which is pretty bad for a mystery-type thing where you're trying to figure out the bad guy. It ended up being another really predictable one for me despite blatant attempts not to be. The last 1/3 finally got going and held my interest pretty well, but if it hadn't been for book club, I would have put it down looong before I reached that point. All in all, I felt it was a waste of time, tbh.
17. The World of Emily Dickinson by Polly Longsworth - 2.5/5 I have to give this one an average rating. If you're really into old photographs, you might like it more. It's mostly pictures. I had found it at the library and thought it was a biography. I did learn more about E.D. than I had known previously, but I actually got more info out of Wikipedia. Not bad for what it is though.