Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What did I read in 2015?

44 books. I read 44 books last year and my goal was 40. So yay! But I feel kinda bad because I definitely cheated this year. Of those 44...17. 17 were audio books. I drove home to San Antonio at least once a month last year and a couple months twice. So every trip home I got through at least 1 audio book and sometimes two. So now that my dirty, secret (so wasn't a secret), confession is out there lets talk about what I read!

Every year I keep a spreadsheet on Google Drive that tracks what Genre (my defined genre may not align with the rest of the world's), the authors, audio books, if I liked it, how many a month and a few more variables I like to keep track of.  For someone who hates math I love to look at these numbers. Here are the most important ones to me:

13 books in the Memoir/Nonfiction category.
8 books read in July. (only 1 audio book)
6 books by Hugh Howey (but some were a collection- I know cheating again)
480 Pages was the longest book The Hypnotist's Love Story
17 books that were released this year
1973 oldest book published The Princess Bride
4 Sequels
16 Library books (a student worker said I go to the library more than him)
17 audio books
24 EPUB books
3 Physical books

In 2014 I only read 30 books and I remember it came down to December 30th before I hit that goal. In 2015 I hit my goal on November 8th. Comparing from year to year Non-Fiction is a new winner category for me. This year I just couldn't get enough of real stories! And my favorite book of the year comes from this category- we'll get to it. July is typically the month of the year I read the most. It's summer, it's hot outside, so I stay in and read a lot.  Hugh Howey is a two year winner for Author I read the most from, but I only discovered him two years ago so I've exhausted his catalog now. in 2014 my longest book was 1,300 pages...so I fail there. I wasn't tracking the other stats prior to 2015, so I don't know on those, but it does look like in 2014 I read a lot more sequels.

The worst book I read this year I didn't even rate with a star, Holly Madison's Down the Rabbit Hole was a fine book. It probably doesn't deserve a no star review but since it was such a guilty pleasure read I just couldn't rate it.  The second worst book I read this year and did feel it deserved a 1 Star to bring it's rating down was Lena Dunham's Not that Kind of Girl. OMG who is rating this thing so high. If you want you can read my review here but I did not like this book. I assume it was geared towards her fans but there was no redeeming value in this book uhg. Then in the 2 star spot we have a tie between the final installment of The Southern Reach trilogy and The Girl on the Train. Reviews are linked. I actively hated both these books but I finished them because I had to. I'm just that stubborn.

The rest of the books this year I have really fond memories of. Now that they're done the ones that stick out most in my mind that I enjoyed are:

Once Upon a River the second book I read this year, fiction. About a girl who's unfortunate circumstances send her floating down a river and surviving the only way she knows how (by attaching herself to men). A heartbreaking story with a beautiful ending. This was a recommendation and I loved it. Also a library and audio book.

In a Dark, Dark Wood Probably my favorite mystery read of the year. A creepy story of a bridesmaid (Hen) weekend gone awry. There's lost memory and conspiracy and lots of snow and running. I don't know how this book came on my radar but I'm so glad it did. Another library audio book...I'm noticing a trend

The Good Nurse A true story of serial killer nurse! Sign me up! Such a great story too, how did this guy keep killing patients for so many years? Because our health system allowed him to. What a creepy story. This was a library book as well but an Epub one.

Pirate Hunters Okay next year I'll write down how I heard about my books. I loved this! Nothing like scuba diving treasure hunters trying to make history. A great non-fiction account of what it took to find the legendary Golden Fleece. Another library book but I checked out the actual physical book. I read this one at Fish Camp and kept bugging everyone with how good it was.

Isaac's Storm I read this during a particularly rainy weekend and I devoured this thing. I could not put it down. Erik Larson is my favorite nonfiction writer and I just loved this book so much. The story of the great Galveston hurricane. I bought the actual physical book from Half Price and when I went to pay the cashier asked if I was buying it for a class, I told her no it was just for fun and she looked at me oddly. Apparently this book is a textbook!

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage a collection of essays by Ann Patchett. I loved this book. I checked out the physical book from the library and had been wanting it for so long. It was great. All her stories about love and marriage, friendship and opening up a bookstore. I had never read anything by her but have added her fictional works to my TBR list. I remember this book so fondly and with many tears. It was lovely.

My second favorite book of the year another physical library book I was waiting and waiting for it's release. Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami my favorite Japanese author (ok and probably the only one I've read). These are his two first novellas printed in English for the first time. They're also a part of the Rat stories Rat 1 & 2. As the first things he published it was so neat to see where he started and the beginning of what has become such an amazing storyteller. I loved reading about his process of translating and how he originally became a writer, the stories themselves were great as well but the whole was just so special.  I keep a list of all the books I want to purchase hardbacks of when I have my house again and space and this is at the top of that list.

Then my favorite book of the year....a library audio book...DEAD WAKE by Erik Larson. Two of his this year made the list. I started listening to this book during the great Memorial Day weekend flood of 2015. Appropriate as well. I was stressed, the roads were closed and I couldn't get home! We all know the story of the Lusitania, but do you know the story of the passengers or the crew. What about Woodrow Wilson? Did you know he was dating while he was in the White House? Did you know how freaking dangerous U-Boats were? Seriously I question the sanity of those who signed up to be a U-Boat sailor (for many reasons). The stories are all interwoven and anything in this book is there for a reason. Even though you know the ending it is still so suspenseful and I totally kept thinking ooooh they're going to make it! This is why Erik Larson is so great. I got the audio book for my dad for Christmas because he's been driving a lot for work and he recently finished it and loved it too.

Looking back on 2015 I'm happy with what I read. I've started out 2016 reading a book for a book club and planning for a slightly less impressive reading goal of 35 because I hope to move home, start a new job and go to law school this year. I don't think I'll have as much time to read this year. But I will probably continue my audio book trend as I drive to and from San Antonio, I'm really enjoying using my library and I still like to shop for bargain books at half price. Happy Reading in 2016 friends.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What did I see in 2015? Movies!

Happy New Year! This is my first of my annual movies and books and sometimes music of the past year review. Last year I saw quite a few movies, I even saw more movies than a good friend of mine who I feel is always at the movies.  Technically 21 but I saw one twice...can you guess which.

Here's the quick and dirty view of what I saw and my immediate thoughts afterwards (***Star Wars maybe spoilers if you haven't seen it yet****)
  1. Big Eyes- good, predictable, but good
  2. Whiplash- so good!!! OMG why aren't I a musician?
  3. Mortdecai- about what was expected which was not a lot...I don't know why I saw this...who's idea was this?
  4. A Most Violent Year- SO GOOD! Really enjoyed. OMG
  5. The Last 5 Years- terrible, awful, no good. Why God why?
  6. 50 Shades of Grey- about as expected- actually I expected a little more maybe...thank god for purse alcohol
  7. Woman in Gold- nothing special, but fine
  8. Aloha- not as bad as I expected but not good
  9. Magic Mike 2- Tanning Chatum is everyone's type...
  10. Trainwreck- not nearly as good as expecting- such an average chick flick
  11. Minions- saw for work..it was fine
  12. Ricki and the Flash- excellent mother daughter movie...awwww
  13. The Gift***- soooo good!
  14. The Man from UNCLE- really good, very enjoyable, just fun
  15. Grease- Sing-A-Long...ummmm I remember this movie differently 
  16. American Ultra- weird but good
  17. Psycho- TCM September movie- good
  18. The Intern- cute chick flick nothing special
  19. The Martian- LOVE! 
  20. Joy- interesting...not bad but not excellent, loved the actors
  21. Star Wars: The Force Awakens- OMG! Why, why did you kill him? Rey is so Luke's, I must see this again.
  22. Star Wars: The Force Awakens- second viewing...Duh Rey is so Luke's bite me if you don't believe me listen to the music. Also why is their piano, Star Wars doesn't do Piano...this deserves at least one more viewing...
So my favorite movie is a tie between The Gift and The Martian and yah I guess Star Wars (we'll get to that later). The Gift was a total surprise favorite I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. It was creepy it was suspenseful I'm not a good mystery solver so I was surprised. I just loved it.  The Martian was a non-surprise favorite. I loved the book and knew I'd love the movie. This was just a fun feel good movie. 

The three runner ups and also surprises that are in the favoritish category are Whiplash, A Most Violent Year and The Man from UNCLE.  Whiplash was intense, I hadn't planned to see it but some friends were going and I was invited- movies are $4 here it's easy to justify going to any of them- and I was so pleasantly surprised. I knew it would be good but didn't know how good. Fun, intense movie.  A Most Violent Year I really wanted to see because of the actors in it and it did not disappoint. I had just watched another violent movie that weekend and this fit right in. Not a feel good movie but great. It was so pretty in a dark mysterious way. I just really liked it and remember it fondly.  Then The Man from UNCLE I didn't hear about till the week it came out and was like, okay why not go to a movie. It was so fun! I loved it. I found it light hearted and entertaining something I don't normally go for in movies, so it was fun.

WORST movies I saw this year hmmm that' tough there were a lot...Mortdecai- still don't know why we went to this movie, seriously someone please remind me- terrible. The Last fucking 5 Years. Who is responsible for this?!?! Seriously WHO and WHY and please don't ever direct anything again. 50 Shades of Grey- eh we knew what we were getting into so we brought alcohol. It wasn't worse than expected though...

Everything else is somewhere in the middle.  Movies I'll probably purchase eventually from 2015- Ricki and the Flash, The Gift, The Martian and Star Wars. That's really it. 

Now Star Wars- oh Star Wars. I could probably just write a full review but I'm lazy. I loved Star Wars. I was supposed to originally see it at Midnight with my family, I was going to drive to SA and see it with them, but then we decided we were too old and would just see it when I get home. THEN one day I get a message from my brother in law asking me when I was coming home for Christmas...I responded and he said something along the lines of that sucks and I slowly learned that his office has rented out theaters to see it and he and my sister would be seeing it without me. I disowned them and told them they were dead to me...then got over it and made a plan to just see it with my dad when I got home. My sister loved it and decided she wanted to see it with our father too so she saw it for a second time when my father and I saw it for our first on the Saturday after Christmas.

I only cried 3 times. I was expecting more tears, but it was great. I loved it immediately and decided I needed to see it again.  So two days later I got to see it with my brother in law and his best friend for my second viewing. This time I got a little misty but not big tears. I still loved it. In the end I got to see it with my dad, sister and brother in law- the three people I wan't to see it with most and who care that I didn't get to see it when it first came out. I successfully avoided all spoilers for it and didn't know who died or really the backstories of anyone and so all was good. I will still probably see it one more time before it leaves theaters.

So it was a good year for movies. I think like last year I wouldn't have seen so many movies if I didn't live in a town that has $4 matinee prices. Evening prices are only $6 so that's not really bad either. In San Antonio I don't even want to think about how much 22 movies would have cost me, but here in College Station I'm fine with it.

Here's my movie post from last year