Devourer of Books 2014 and Beyond

So, in the last quarter of 2013, it seemed a little like I might have accidentally quitting book blogging.

There was a lot going on with that. For one thing, my motivation has been low ever since my blog was hacked over the 4th of July weekend. Honestly, some things still don’t work right. My WordPress stats can’t be accessed now (which is a little nice actually, not going to lie), I can’t use the link tool in my post editor to search for links within my blog, and pasting text from anywhere is a MINEFIELD because every curly apostrophe I fail to hunt down and remove will just ERASE the rest of the post when I try to save (and actually half of this post disappeared when I saved it despite the fact I had no links or text posted from anywhere else ARGH). Add to this the fact that I spend much of the day with three little children, two of whom would just loooove to bang on the keyboard, which means my computer lives up in my office, where I cannot get unless the littlest ones are asleep or in the care of someone else. I get a ton of stuff done on my phone and tablet but writing posts with any significant formatting (or really writing anything over a couple hundred words) is basically a no go.

All this being said, I’m not really ready to give up on Devourer of Books. It has been a pretty important part of my life for nearly 6 years now, and I think it is time for the blog to evolve so that it doesn’t die. Here’s what I *think* this is going to mean, although I reserve the right to completely change basically all of this:

  • Fewer reviews, particularly formal reviews. You may get more of my responses to books and more responses to a group of books (such as cozy mysteries). I am not going to sit down and force a review just because I read a book, even if I did love it. If I don’t have anything to say, I’m probably not going to say anything.
  • Sound Bytes is going monthly. I will have a monthly linky for January up tomorrow, and am planning to start hereafter on the first of every month. Being able to divorce the linky from a review will make sure that I actually put it up. Each linky will be up all month, so just link up and check out other people’s reviews whenever you can over the course of the month.
  • I will be talking about other media I consume. Inspired partly by Pop Culture Happy Hour (which I will talk more about in the future), I am going to talk, or at least post, about other media I am consuming. I already have a post scheduled for next week about what is hanging out in my Netflix queue.
  • Fitness has been a big part of my life over the last six months. First walking, then running and other workouts have actually taken up a lot of my potential blogging time. I’m doing a 10k training program now and hoping to run an 8k in March, so I may be spending some time talking about that here as well.
  • There WILL still be book stuff here, don’t think because I’m talking about running and Netflix that I’m ditching the whole book thing, I’m just trying to change up what I’m doing so that I – and hopefully you – stay interested in the blog.

Hopefully you’ll stick around as Devourer of Books changes and grows in the coming year.

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Devourer of Books Best Books of 2013

I know some of you think that I’m gone, but I’m not! At least not completely. I’m hoping to talk more over the next week about where I plan to take this blog in 2014 and beyond, but for now I want to wrap up 2013. I can’t tell you how many books I read or how many were audio or anything because sometime in September I sort of stopped actually tracking what I was reading. Oops. It happened around the same time I stopped blogging so much, I’m not really sure what happened there, other than I went on a short trip and didn’t get back into the swing of things when I returned. I do know, though, that I did a whole lot of listening with all the walking, and then running, I did after I got my fitbit back in May (plus a bunch of yard work trying to get our landscaping in some semblance of order). Many of the non-audiobook picks below actually were audiobooks, including all of the nonfiction picks, but despite the fact they were well-narrated I specifically chose some of them for their contribution to the genre rather than their audio production.

Audiobooks

Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio, narrated by Leslie Carroll
Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer, narrated by Angela Brazil and Stephen R. Thorne
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, narrated by Khristine Hvam
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell, narrated by Matthew Wolf (links to Audiofile review)
Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
On the Come Up by Hannah Weyer, narrated by Yolonda Ross (links to Audiofile review)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Maxwell Caulfield
Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois, narrated by Emily Rankin (links to Audiofile review)

Historical fiction


The Other Typist by Susanne Rindell
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Freemantle
The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne (links to Audiofile review)
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Contemporary and Literary Fiction

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle (links to SheKnows feature)
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Driver’s Education by Grant Ginder
The Liar’s Gospel by Naomi Alderman
The Crooked Branch by Jeanine Cummins
The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch (links to Bloggers Recommend blurb)

Middle grade and young adult fiction

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Nonfiction

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

What were your favorite books this year?

Many of the above books were provided to me for review.

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Driver’s Education by Grant Ginder

Driver's EducationSo, here’s the deal. Back in January, this book Driver’s Education came out in hardcover, written by Grant Ginder a guy who was in pretty much half of all my classes in high school. We had far too much fun snarking with one another in the back of our French classes, so I was, understandable, I think, that I was SUPER NERVOUS about reading his book, in case it was terrible or something. I purposely didn’t take a review copy so nobody would know if I had it and would be looking for a review, and then I put off reading it for like 3 months because I was too nervous. I figured with my own copy, I could read it and just NEVER TALK ABOUT IT AGAIN if it was bad.

The problem was, I read it in April and it was FABULOUS and one of the better books I read all year and I STILL didn’t ever write about it because I’m lame and basically a terrible friend from the past and blogger. Now the paperback is out and I am FINALLY rectifying the situation.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

FINN McPHEE EDITS A REALITY TV SHOW. His father, Colin, is a screenwriter. Both are adept at spinning fictions, a skill passed down to them by McPhee patriarch Alistair, whose wild yarns never failed to capture Finn’s youthful imagination – even as they cast a fragile veil over a past marked by devastating loss, unbearable love, and an incessant longing for a life whose heroic proportions could measure up to the breathtakingly vivid color of Alistair’s dreams. As Finn embarks on a road trip across America with his best friend, Randal, and a three-legged cat named Mrs. Dalloway in a last-chance bid to make his grandfather’s dreams come true, he will finally learn that the truth, though not always stranger than fiction, can sometimes make the best story of all.

Here’s the thing. Ginder spins a great story, and the whole thing is wonderful. But I wasn’t expecting what he did with the ending and that took it from a solidly really good book to OMG, THIS IS GREAT YOU GUYS.

So, I was really remiss in not telling you guys about this earlier because then it could have been on some of your best-of lists, but now you know so reeeeead it, please!

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Grammy-nominated audiobooks giveaway

Hey all! I know I’ve been sort of MIA around here and I will be writing more about that in the next couple of weeks, probably after the ‘best of’ post that I’m seriously hoping to get to.

I know you all probably have NOTHING else to do without me around (yeah, I’m sure), so I want to help you fill your time and the hole my lack of blogging has left in your hearts. Enter Meg from Tandem Literary, the Audio Publishers Association, and the publishers whose audiobooks have been nominated for the Grammys.

One lucky reader/listener can win ALL FIVE of these Grammy-nominated audiobooks. In case you can’t read the titles they are:

Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys by Billy Crystal, narrated by Billy Crystal
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris, narrated by David Sedaris
The Storm King: Stories, Narratives, Poems: Spoken Word Set to a World of Music by Pete Seeger, narrated by Pete Seeger
Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Carol Burnett, narrated by Carol Burnett
America Again: Re-claiming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert, narrated by Stephen Colbert, Tim Meadows, and Jordin Ruderman

Just fill out the Google form below by 11:59 pm Central on Friday, December 20th. Please remember these are being shipped by the publishers, so some/most of them will probably not be to the winner until the new year.

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The Whole Golden World Facebook meme – guest post by Kristina Riggle

In November, Kristina Riggle released what is my absolute favorite of her books to date, The Whole Golden World. I never got around to reviewing it, because I read it six months early and I am super lame, but it is really fabulous, written with her trademark empathy and humanity, and her acknowledgement that real life is a messy business. If you aren’t familiar with the book, here’s the description for you:

To the outside Diana and Joe have a perfect family-three lovely children, a beautiful home, and a cafe that’s finally taking off. But their world is rocked when it’s discovered that their oldest daughter, 17-year-old Morgan is having an affair with her married teacher, TJ Hill.

Their town rocks with the scandal. When the case goes to trial, the family is torn further apart when Morgan sides not with her parents – as a manipulated teenage girl; but with TJ himself – as a woman who loves a 30-year-old man.

Told from the perspectives of Morgan, Diana, and TJ’s wife, Rain, this is an unforgettable story that fully explores the surprising, even shocking, events that change the lives of two families.

I love Riggle’s work in general and have, in the past, hosted her for both an interview and a virtual book club and wanted to share The Whole Golden World with you all in some new and unique way. Luckily, Riggle is more creative than I am (this is why she’s the novelist), and suggested a post based on that Facebook meme going around where people share a certain number of things about themselves. If you haven’t yet read the book, this should give you a little taste of the three point of view characters; if you have read the book, here’s some extra insight! So now just sit back and pretend you were Facebook friends with all three of these women before all the drama went down between Morgan and TJ.

———-

Morgan Monetti

OK, so Britney bugged me into doing this, which is not how it’s supposed to work because it’s only supposed to be if you “like” a person’s post, but whatever, here goes.

She wanted me to do eight things but I’m only doing five. That’s where I draw the line.

1) I wanted to play the string bass until I realized how incredibly boring those parts are usually (BOM, BOM, BOM… rest… BOM, BOM, BOM), so I went with the second biggest stringed instrument instead.
2) I’m really good at silent cello practice. I do the fingering and hold my bow above the strings, or just “air bow”. I do this because my cello is really loud and sometimes when I feel like practicing, other people are sleeping.
3) I’ve never read Twilight or The Hunger Games and probably won’t, just because I’m already tired of them without even opening the books. The Fault in Our Stars was great, though.
4) I love old episodes of M*A*S*H. Totally weird because that show was off the air before I was born, but it’s funny as hell.
5) I never want to get a tattoo because I have a scar already and would never do that kind of thing to myself on purpose.

(I’m not going to give you a number if you “like” the post. If you want to do one, make up your own number).

 

Rain Davidson-Hill

Some things about me. Like this and I’ll give you a number. I think that’s how this works.

1) My one brave thing I’ve ever done was go to Italy by myself.
2) That’s where I met my friend Alessia, who visited me back here.
3) Alessia married my husband’s brother so now we’re family. (I know I’m stretching that out for three things. Beverly gave me the number eight, and I can’t think of that many things people don’t already know.)
4) Even though I teach yoga, I really suck at meditating. But I try not to care that I suck at it, which I figure is in the same spirit of non-judgment and being at peace with myself.
5) My siblings’ names are Fawn and Stone. And people think because I have a weird hippie name, I must be a weird hippie myself. Which is funny because I didn’t name myself.
6) I met my husband at a sand volleyball game on campus at college, when a bunch of us chose up teams, and he picked me.
7) I bit my lip digging for a ball with far too much enthusiasm at that very volleyball game, and ended up with a swollen, bloody lip. I figured, “That’s what I get for trying to impress a guy.”
8) TJ Hill was worth a swollen, bloody lip. Love you, honey.

 

Dinah Monetti

I got the number 7 from Joe Monetti.

1) I met Joe at his family’s pizza place and at first I thought he was just a doofus.
2) Some alternate names for The Den, which demonstrate why it’s good that Joe came up with the name and not me: The Hangout, Teen Cave, Live and Let Latte. Yes, I almost picked that last one.
3) My first car was a Chevy Impala and had dents on three of the four corners. I’m really bad at parking.
4) My first nickname as a little girl was Sweetie and I was known for being shy. Yes, really. I don’t know what happened either.
5) Joe fainted when he found out we were having twins, though to this day he denies it and says he just chose to stretch out on the floor of the doctor’s office. To recover from the shock.
6) I love Christmas music and my favorite is “Carol of the Bells”.
7) My greatest treasures in life are my kids, and I will now embarrass them by saying so on Facebook. Love you times a million, Morgan, Connor and Jared!

This was fun! Like this and I’ll give you a number!

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