Friday, December 21, 2012

Reflections on 2012

2012 has been a strange year for me - full of ups and downs.  Between working through some family issues and a number of health issues, including a major breast cancer scare, having time to devote to reading has been rather sporadic.  Some months I read five books; others, I was lucky to finish two.  So I fell far short of my goal of 50 books – only 36.  One of my other goals was to read more of the books I already own and not take on as many new releases for review.  I’m not sure how well I really accomplished that except to say that it was evenly split.  There are still a number of books I received  during the year that need to be reviewed and I expect to continue to be a little more selective about the ones I say “yes” to. 

After stubbornly refusing to buy an e-reader, in October I finally caved, primarily for two reasons.  I really wanted to read Games of Thrones but since most of my reading is done during my work commute or on an airplane, I didn’t want to lug a huge book around with me.  The other reason is the switch to e-books from publishers for review copies.  In some instances actual printed ARCs were not available and so I was missing out on some that I really did want to read.  I splurged a little and got the Kindle Fire which I absolutely love – it goes with me everywhere!  Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks??

Blogging has also been somewhat inconsistent throughout the year especially on the review front the last several months.  I am dreadfully behind and despite good intentions to get caught up, it just hasn’t happened.  I’m still trying though…

Getting new releases for review has allowed me to use my book allowance for collecting out of print books and I’ve managed to acquire quite a few gems this year, including some that are very hard to come by and often exorbitantly expensive.  But the thrill of the hunt is part of the fun!  I only broke my “not more than a new hardback” rule once – for a pretty good copy of Eleanor Fairburn’s Winter Rose.  I justified it to myself that it didn’t break my new secondary rule:  “not more than two new hardbacks”!

Although these older books don’t always stand up well compared to some of today’s better offerings, they are often fun to read and let’s be honest - I buy a lot of them for the covers!  But there are some really good ones as well.  So, what were my favorite books of the year? 

The Lion of Alnwick by Carol Wensby Scott.   The first in a trilogy about the Percy family, this was by far the best book I read this year and one of those OOPs (it’s also in my review backlog pile). 
Other favorites were Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham, Voice of the Falconer by David Blixt, The Love Knot by Elizabeth Chadwick, The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot, The Purple Shroud by Stella Duffy and Harold of the English by Brenda Honeyman (another OOP also languishing on the backlog pile).

For 2013, I’m going to stick with a goal of reading 50 books and make a real effort for more than half of them to be books I already own.  The Kindle may make that a little harder, so we’ll see how that goes. 

As far as the blog goes in 2013, besides doing a better job of posting my reviews in a timely fashion (really – cross my heart…), I plan to get back to my Photo Friday feature and hope to do an overhaul of the blog’s design at some point during the year.  The bookmark giveaways will continue and I plan to start giving away an ARC a month (although sometimes they will be the actual finished book).  I also plan to revive the (mostly) daily posting of covers of old, out of print books on my facebook page - please "like" us there if you're interested.

There is one thing I've been debating with myself about.  The last few years when I’ve turned down a request to review a historical fiction book, I’ve usual offered the author an opportunity to do a guest post and/or giveaway as a way to help them get some exposure for their book.  I’m debating whether to continue this practice or not.  On one hand, it does help me have some content to post, especially if I don’t have much to post myself at that time.  On the other hand though,  it is my blog and shouldn’t the content reflect me and my interests?  If I’m not interested enough in the book to read it myself, should I really be “advertising” it?  Anyone have any thoughts??

Well, I guess that’s another year done.  I’ll be travelling quite a bit over the coming holiday period (through the first of the year)  so there won’t be much going on for the next few weeks.  Although I may try to get some of those reviews done on the 10 hour (one way) car trip …

Happy Holidays and may your lives be filled with love and peace.


The Flashlight Reader said...

Good luck next year!

Tracey said...

Daphne, your reviews on new, and old, books are very appreciated, and seeing what is in the pipe-line for publication has helped me keep a TBR list constantly by this computer.

This site is visited every day, and seeing that something new has been written always gives me a grin...except for author guest posts. I will enter a contest to win a book if the subject matter looks interesting. However, how the author found themselves at the last page, how they feel about their subject, and why they made their character do what they did does not interest me.

I would much rather get the feed-back from a person who has actually read the pages and has no 'hidden agenda' to get a particular book sold. Just my thoughts :)

Here's wishing you and yours a lovely holiday.

nrlymrtl said...

Congrats on the ereader. I got one in 2010 and it has allowed me to be more versatile in my reading, especially with small publishers and indie authors. Good luck with next year.

Helen said...

I read Lion of Alnwick this year and loved it too - I can't believe such a great book is out of print! I'm reading The Master of Verona by David Blixt at the moment and am looking forward to Voice of the Falconer.

Happy holidays!

Sarah Johnson said...

Happy holidays! Hope 2013 is a good year for you health- and reading-wise.

I've offered authors the opportunity to do a guest post if their novel appealed to me, and the only thing preventing me from accepting a review copy was lack of time. Susan Sherman's novel (on my site now) is a good example. I hope to read it eventually. If the book wasn't something I'd ordinarily read or want to promote, though, then no. I don't usually do giveaways if I haven't read a book, but guest posts allow me to vary the content on my site, and the authors usually have interesting things to say about their novel's background or historical fiction in general.

That's exciting that you found a copy of the Fairburn novel. It is very elusive!

Daphne said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone - especially on the guest posts. It's kind of a fine line for me and I've been trying to figure out exactly where to draw it!

Joanne said...

I always enjoy visiting your blog and reading your thoughts on historical fiction selections....I, too, collect old OOP paperbacks and read some gems this year. (Joan Wolf's Dark Britain series was wonderful.)

As far as allowing authors to spotlight their books, I feel as long as the book is a reflection of your reading tastes and might be something you would read in the future, I would let them guest post. Otherwise, no.

Hope you have a healthy, happy new year!

Daphne said...

Joanne - I've read two of Wolf's books in that series and agree with you - they are great books!! I like your thought on the guest posts - that might be one way to approach it.