28 December 2007

December 2007 Bibliometer and 2007 totals

So, with four days left in this month and still needing to finish the book Word Nerd's currently in, she figured (counting that one) it was pretty safe to go ahead and total up the books for December and then for 2007.

Here are the readings:
7 books
2605 pages
84 pages/day average

96 books
32,747 pages
89.7 pages/day average.

Word Nerd read two more books in 2007 than in 2006, an increase that hardly seems significant.

In March, Word Nerd will post her book year totals. (A book year is like a fiscal year... since Word Nerd didn't start this habit with a new year, she tracks book years from the start of the list to a year later.)

21 December 2007

Best of 2007 -- Top Ten Books

And the moment you've all been waiting for. Word Nerd's Top Ten Book of 2007. (Just a reminder, while some of these actually were 2007 releases, Word Nerd makes her list based on books she's read in the past year, regardless of publication date.)

The envelope, please.

The winners are:

10. Destroyer, C.J. Cherryh (sci-fi)

9. Kushiel's Dart, Jacqueline Carey (fantasy)

8. The Hand of Oberon, Roger Zelazny (sci-fi/fantasy)

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling (fantasy)

6. Nobody True, James Herbert (horror)

5. The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper (juv. fantasy)

4. Whistling in the Dark, Lesley Kagen (literary fiction)

3. Something Rotten, Jasper Fforde (mystery/comedy)

2. The Blade Itself, Marcus Sakey (thriller)

1. The Liar's Diary, Patry Francis (thriller)

For comparison, the 2006 list is here.

There are no repeat winners on this list from last year. Also, 60 percent of the authors on this list were people that Word Nerd started reading in 2007.

A word of explanation about the winners in the #3, #5, #8 and #10 spots. Word Nerd wanted to nominate the whole series that these titles came from, but forced herself to pick the ones she most enjoyed out of multi-book cycles.

The dark horse pick for this year's top 10 pick is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Word Nerd wouldn't have expected Rowling's final book to make the top ten list, but when looking at the whole book list for 2007, it really stood out since it tied the whole series together so well. (Yes, there will be disagreements by some on that... post comments if you want to discuss. As an FYI though, Word Nerd's not the only one to put it in a Top Ten list list; Newsweek did too).

If Word Nerd had written the list on another day, it's quite possible that the 1-4 spots would have come out in a different order. As it is, Sakey's debut novel and Francis' debut novel were both stellar and Francis' only beat out Sakey's for the top spot because the twist at the end was so good.

If you search the blog, past reviews for the winning titles are available.

20 December 2007

Best of 2007 -- Discovered Author

The second of this year's "Best Of" awards is the one for author who Word Nerd discovered and started reading during 2007.

She discovered this author very early in 2007 and in the ensuing year has read his entire back list and his newest book which hit shelves on this side of the pond in July.

The winner of 2007's Best Discovered Author award is, Jasper Fforde!

Fforde is the author of the brilliantly zany Thursday Next series and equally odd-but-wonderful Nursery Crime series, featuring detectives Jack Spratt and Mary Mary.

This series was recommended to Word Nerd by two other bibliophile friends and she didn't hesitate to dive right in to reading them.

Fforde gets the nod this year because his books are so original. Word Nerd's not sure there's anybody else out there writing books quite like this, that blend mystery, science fiction, satire and literary history so well and are such a joy to read. Fforde has a delightful imagination that takes unexpected turns in the stories. He's also got a gift for puns and literary and cultural humor and all three are peppered through his books. (Word Nerd's fav? Probably the special agents Lamb and Slorter or the citing of Triffids in one of the books.)

Just for fun, Word Nerd names Jim Butcher as the runner-up. Butcher writes the Dresden Files series. They are entertaining, but don't quite rise to the level of Fforde's body of work.

Word Nerd earlier this year had a chance to interview Fforde and you can find the Q&A here.

In series order, here are links to all of Word Nerd's reviews of his books.

Thursday Next

The Eyre Affair

Lost in a Good Book

Well of Lost Plots

Something Rotten

First Among Sequels

Nursery Crime

The Big Over Easy

The Fourth Bear

19 December 2007

Book Banter -- New Moon

Title: New Moon
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: YA
Length: 563 pages
Plot Basics: SPOILER ALERT (it's the second long book of a series... can't avoid this)

Bella Swan doesn't want to celebrate her 18th birthday. She's not enthused about it because it means she's growing older while her beau, the vampire Edward, will continue to remain 17 forever. And then Bella gets the birthday shock of her life: Edward breaks up with her. Bella becomes morose and severly depressed until she renews a friendship with Jacob Black and starts trying various extreme sports -- a dangerous pasttime for one as klutzy as Bella. Jacob's friendship starts to fill some of the hole in her life, but then Jacob starts acting strangely and Bella again gets caught up in a dangerous plot.
Banter Points: Word Nerd was so excited to read this one, after devouring Meyer's first "Twilight." These books are full of teen angst and kind of girly, but they are compelling. The plot remains tight, the emotions strong and it has a great twist at the end.
Bummer Points: The Cullen family is missing from about half of this book. It's unfortunate because all of them have interesting character traits.
Word Nerd Recommendation: If you are a girl and you like paranormal romance type stories, this should be on your to-read list. The Shakespeare overtones in this book were great.

18 December 2007

Best of 2007 -- First Book in a Series

It's that time of year again for Word Nerd to dole out her completely subjective awards for Best Books of the year.

These are not titles that will likely show up on anybody else's top books of the year, largely because Word Nerd read mostly back-list books in 2007, trying to catch up in serieses (can she make that a word? Serieses? Seriesi? Anybody?) and be ready for new releases by those authors.

In addition to catching up, Word Nerd started reading several and it was a tough pick for which book would take top honors in the First Book in a Series category.

This year's winner is, Glass Houses, by Rachel Caine.

This marks the second year running where Caine topped Word Nerd's best first book in a series list. In 2006, she tied in the category with Garth Nix.

Caine won again, this time with the first book in her Morganville Vampires series because her writing is just that darn good. Morganville Vampires is YA fiction, but that's no barrier to winning in Word Nerd's mind.

Glass Houses was so good because it smoothly introduced the world of Morganville, the main characters and got the reader emotionally invested in what's going to happen to them. There are great levels of tension all around between the good guys and bad guys and within the ranks of the good guys themselves. You can read Word Nerd's original review here.

Word Nerd picks Kelly McCullough's WebMage as the runner-up in this category. This book was a great combination of sci-fi and fantasy and technology and mythology.

Up next: Best Discovered Author

17 December 2007

Book Banter -- Cybermancy

Title: Cybermancy
Author: Kelly McCullough
Genre: Sci-fi
Length: ~280 pages
Plot Points: After his big battle with the Fates, Ravirn (now dubbed Raven) is plotting his next move. He feels responsible that his girlfriend Cerice's webgoblin, Shara, was killed, and so Ravirn decides he's going to pull an Orpheus and get the webgoblin out of Hades. He gets in and out with Shara and the whole mission was easy... too easy, in fact and it sets off a whole new problem that could threaten the entire magic-web.
Banter Points: This series is a great combination of things. First, the combination of sci-fi technology and Greek mythology is just brilliant. Word Nerd loved reading Greek myths as a kid and it's very fun to see them recast this way. Second, the writing is propelling and intense. Scenes go from something right out of a James Bond movie to the "Matrix" quite seemlessly.
Bummer Points: McCullough's in the middle of writing this series so it'll be a while before book three comes out.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Word Nerd was a little skeptical of this series when she read the first book, thinking it depended too much on Ravirn's sidekick. For once though, a second book didn't drop in quality from the first but improved and became a series to look for in Word Nerd's list.

14 December 2007

Watch out, word fans

So, one of Word Nerd's Indiana VISTA colleagues found this site and it is way too cool not to share.


Test your vocabulary and help donate grains of rice through the UN to countries that need it.

So far, Word Nerd's donated more than 3,000.

Also, if you go under "options," you can set the computer to remember you vocabulary level so you always get challenged with tougher words. So far, Word Nerd's top level (of 50) was 47, but seems to hover most of the time in the lower 40s. She keeps playing, donating rice, and hoping to hit higher levels of words because it's fun!

13 December 2007

Book Banter -- Kushiel's Avatar

Title: Kushiel's Avatar
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Length: 702 pages
Genre: fantasy
Plot Basics: SPOILER ALERT (it's the third book in a trilogy... what do you expect?)

Phedre no Delaunay, now the Comtesse de Montreve, has enjoyed the 10 years of peace that were promised to her. Her beloved homeland, Terre D'Ange, is at peace and her arch-nemesis Melisande Shahrizai is still in exile. But one day, Phedre receives a letter from Melisande, explaining that her son, Imriel, the third in line for the Terre D'Ange throne, has gone missing from where he had been living, ignorant of his own bloodline and importance. Phedre agrees to help Melisande by finding Imriel in exchange for Melisande's help to find the information necessary for Phedre to free her childhood friend, Hyacinthe, from his eternal duty as Master of the Straits. Phedre's quest -- on which she is accompanied by her ever-diligent consort Joscelin -- takes them to uncharted lands beyond Terre D'Ange and into the most trying times they have ever known.
Banter Points: This book, seriously, was like a cross between Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lord of the Rings and bits of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series combined with Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Absolutely sweeping in scope and adventure, it's 700 pages of one great story. Phedre is a wily heroine and Joscelin is great male lead character.
Bummer Points: The middle of this book gets very dark. Very dark. Also, as in the other books, Carey's denouement takes a few chapters, which makes the end feel sort of like it peters out. Additionally, Carey gets caught up in the descriptions sometimes (not as bad as Robert Jordan, mind you) but there are places where it takes away from the main action of the story.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Fantasy lovers this series is a must if you haven't read it. If you are new to the genre, these are good too, unless the book length intimates you. Also, there's another trilogy set after these. Word Nerd is planning to read them after a break from this world.

12 December 2007

2007 Word of the Year

Merriam Webster has unveiled the top word of the year again.

All Word Nerd could think upon seeing it was, "Huh. Really?"

Maybe your reaction will be similar because the 2007 word of the year is..... (drum roll please)....


Yes, that's right. The word of the year only has two letters in it, the o's in this case being double zeros. How can the word of the year not even be a word!!?!? It's an acronym! (We Owned the Other Team... a reference from the world of gaming).

Anyway, the full release is here along with the rest of the top 10 words for 2007.

11 December 2007

Wisdom from the Masters

This was on Neil Gaiman's journal blog. Advice worth taking, Word Nerd thinks.

Dear Neil,I read your site everyday, and STILL I'm not a famous author,
what am I doing wrong?-mE.

At a guess, either you aren't writing enough, you aren't finishing things,
you aren't getting them published, or, if you're doing all of those, you're
worrying about the wrong things. Anyway, famousness is probably about as useful
for an author as a large, well-appointed hiking backpack would be for a prima
ballerina. Honest.Right. Back to work.

10 December 2007

Book News

Word Nerd discovered two great book things this weekend.

1. The opening of the renovated, expanded downtown Indianapolis Central Library. It is floors and floors (ok, six of them, plus the old library building) of book-y goodness. Though Word Nerd already had quite the TBR pile on her living room floor, she couldn't escape without checking out a few titles.

2. Half-Price Books. Just like its name, all the books there are half-price. They are remaindered titles and books sold back by readers. It's likely paid writers don't get much/any of the cut from the resale of these titles, but it's a great place to go to fill in missing books in a series you are collecting, or to go unload some books you don't want anymore. Word Nerd will definitely be doing the latter sometime soon here. After moving a number of titles from Wisconsin to Indiana, that she didn't want to move in the first place, it'll be nice to get at least a little $$ for them and not ever have to move them again.

04 December 2007

Book Banter -- Silver on the Tree

Title: Silver on the Tree (Dark is Rising sequence bk. 5)
Author: Susan Cooper
Length: 274 pages
Genre: juv/fantasy
Plot Basics: Will Stanton, Bran Davies, Merriman Lyon, and Simon, Jane and Barney Drew are on their last quest to help the powers of the Light triumph over the rising Dark. They must retrieve the crystal sword and be ready to stand against the Dark in a final battle. Will and Bran travel out of Time to get the sword in a daring race against the Riders of the Dark. Then, all Six -- who were chosen in prophesies beforehand -- have the final confrontation with the Dark and must make some difficult decisions.
Banter Points: Cooper again crafts magical descriptions of the places the characters visit and weaves enchantments with her very words. Will and Bran are highly compelling characters for being so young. Also, several of the old creepier enemies from the first two books (Mr. Hastings and the Riders) show up again which is nice that the group has more tangible enemies for this last volume.
Bummer Points: The end happens all in a rush, but that's how all of Cooper's other books in this series have been so it's not surprising it's like that in this one too. It's such high energy at the end, it would be nice to have it drawn out and keep the excitement going longer.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Word Nerd knows she's trumpeted the reading of these books in the recommendations for the other four titles in the series, but really, they are good and worth reading. Older kids can read these on their own, or they would be good read-aloud books for slightly younger kids. And adults... if you like fantasy, don't pass these by.

03 December 2007

Making the Goal

So, it was a hard-fought writing goal month, particularly right at the end, but Word Nerd hit her 10,000 words for November. It's probably about 2/3 new material and 1/3 typed in old stuff (the handwritten pages preceeding), but that's ok. The typed stuff all has to get typed in at some point and there's a small degree of editing going on while she's typing in the material.

The December goal, you will note, is already posted and underway. It's a cumulative goal of reaching 30,000 words, or 20,000 new ones over the November goal. It's a pretty aggressive goal for this month of holiday happenings, but Word Nerd's confident she can make it. Truth be told, she'd like to surpass 20K words, but whether that's possible is still an unknown so far.

This book will get finished.