By the Numbers: December 2013

Books

Total read since January: 39
(target is 36 total in 2013 — to be on track I should have read 36 books by now)

I’ve been devouring books this month — maybe to make up for the lack of reading time last month… I’ve already posted about the first three of these, so I’m just going to provide a link to my Goodreads reviews for those and be done with it.

Here is a summary of the books I finished in December:

  • Suddenly Royal — Four stars. See the review on Goodreads (linked) or read my “What? Me? Read Romance?” post for more thoughts.
  • Night of Cake & Puppets — Five stars (novella length). See the review on Goodreads (linked) or read my “What? Me? Read Romance?” post for more thoughts.
  • Eleanor & Park — Five stars and one of my “best of” 2013 books. See the review on Goodreads (linked) or read my “What? Me? Read Romance?” post for more thoughts.
  • These Broken Stars — Finally! A YA Space Opera! Yes! Where are the others like this one? Give me more! Actually, there is another coming by this author that takes place in this world, but not about these characters. Some reviewers have been lamenting that, but I’m more than okay with stand-alone books. Seems like everything these days has to be a series. I found this one on a Huffington Post list of best YA of 2013, where I realized that I hadn’t read most of the list. This book was selected as “best overall” and after reading it, I’m only a little surprised. The heroine started off kick-ass and then got a little annoying through the middle, but recovered by the end. The hero is definitely cut from the tall, dark, and handsome romance hero cloth. Even if these weren’t my favorite characters, the plot is solid and unique — something I appreciate. It’s not the best overall YA I read this year (that distinction goes to Eleanor & Park), but it is the best YA Sci Fi that I read this year (Blue Remembered Earth is still better for overall Sci Fi space opera).
  • Legend — I had high hopes for this one. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where the West Coast has separated from the rest of the United States. Right from the start the tension is high and the action is packed. I definitely wanted to keep reading to see what happened next. Unfortunately, I kept getting disappointed by two things. First, the two main characters (each chapter alternates perspectives between the two) are way too similar. In order for this to work they needed distinct voices / personalities, but they kept thinking and doing the exact same thing as the other one did in the previous chapter. Second, the plot stands on slightly shaky ground. I won’t give more away, but the premise for why the baddies are doing the bad stuff didn’t have enough weight for me. Then again, this is YA, and I may be getting burnt out on this genre… Overall, it was good enough and I liked it, but I am not chasing down the rest of the series, yet.

Writing

I didn’t do much writing this month. I am taking a post-NaNoWriMo break and relaxing for the holidays. I posted a bunch of end of the year summaries (books, music, feminism, and movies) on this blog. And I did a tiny bit of editing on the first 7500 words of my NaNoWriMo novel. Now I’m gearing up for next year, which I anticipate will be a big writing year for me.

Swimming

My US Masters Swimming FLOG (Fitness Log) says I swam:

  • 17 of 31 days (target was ~20 days)
  • 27 miles (target was ~30 miles)

The first week of December was ridiculously cold in the Bay Area and made swimming outside challenging. I opted for a cross-training workout on days when the temps dropped below 40 degrees (F). Luckily, we found a place to stay on our vacation that has an indoor lap pool. So I was able to swim as much as I wanted over vacation.

I’ve mostly been taking it easy for the last two months. Spring racing season starts next month and I am going to have to seriously step up my training (and rein-in my non-stop noshing) to make sure I’m in tip top shape for USMS Nationals in May. Oh boy!

Movies

Here’s what we watched this month…

  • Bounty Killer — this will either become a cult classic, or it will fade into the sunset. One of my high school friends co-wrote and co-produced this movie. So, I mostly watched it for that. But if you like cheesy, Mad Max, post-apocalyptic stories featuring bounty hunters and an anti-corporation theme, check this one out — bonus: it’s available on Netflix instant streaming.
  • Red 2 — I am definitely not the target demographic for this movie. But, I really like Helen Mirren, and I surprisingly enjoyed the first movie, so I thought I’d check out the sequel. This movie has no real plot. It’s the weakest excuse ever to throw these actors and actresses together and let them play action heroes. It almost seems like the actors know that too. Basically, don’t go rent this one unless you are actually in the target demographic, you just can’t possibly miss a movie featuring this “star-studded” ensemble cast, and/or you have absolutely nothing else better to do.
  • Love Actually — this was the year that I *finally* watched Love Actually. I know. I can’t believe that I managed to live this long without watching it, either. But I did. And it was cute. And I can see why it’s a holiday favorite. And it has Alan Rickman in it. I liked it and it made me smile, but I didn’t *love* it.
  • Done the Impossible — documentary of how the fans of the TV show Firefly (one of my all-time-favorite TV shows) saved the series
  • The Killing — We watched the first four episodes of season one because I saw this on someone’s “best of 2013” list and it looked interesting. I love that it’s set in Seattle, but I’m not really totally into it yet.
  • The World’s End — British humor, pub crawl, aliens… I expected this to be funnier than it was… it was funny, and weird, and I liked it… I think I just over-hyped it in my head before watching.

And that, readers, is one year of monthly “By the Numbers” posts completed. If you’re interested, check out my 2013 summary post and my 2014 preview post

Happy New Year!

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