March ’21 Roundup & Rambling

Raw Data:

Books – 17 (!!!!)

Pages – 4413

Words – 1493K

Average Rating – 3.59

The Bad:

Break the Chains – 1 star dnf 😦

Descent into Hell – 2.5 stars of pure weirdness and not in a good way.

The Good:

Noir Fatale – 4 stars of femme fatale short stories

Drood – 4 stars of pure psychotropic weirdness in a good way

Movie:

Yeah, the Muppets Take Manhattan was the weakest of the 3 movie so far and didn’t impress me at all.

Miscellaneous Posts:

Personal:

There was sunshine this month. Actual days where the sun shone the entire day. You have no idea how much that helped me.

♪There is Sunshine ♪ in my soul today!♪

I figured out that part of the issue of why blogging last month wasn’t fun was because of stress. I’m hoping the issues take care of themselves but at least I’ve identified some specifics so if it crops up again I can nip it in the bud instead of letting it drag me down. Took a baby step or two in this direction and hope that was enough to change the overall direction.

I was THIS happy to get so much reading done. I haven’t read 17 books since last September. The only downside was that I had to write 17 reviews but that did mean I didn’t have to write so much fluff. Sometimes I worry about things like that. While I’ll be the first to deny that I’m a “critic”, I still want to take myself seriously and that can be really hard to do when I write things like The First Rule of Secret Skull Club™ Is….. At the same time I do not want to become one of those bloggers who get so serious about their pet subject that they act like they have a stick of dynamite up their backside.

Cover Love:

I talked about the cover a little bit in the review for Winter’s Heart. Looking at it right now, Rand’s coat reminds me very much of Vash the Stampede’s coat from the anime Trigun.

Plans for Next Month:

Resurrection Day is next Sunday and I’m planning a slightly different style of post for that than I have done in the past 4 years. Project X, Manga Mondays, Currently Reading & Quotes, those are going to be regularly scheduled as usual. Book Reviews, well, if you’re really good little bloggers Santa Bookstooge might just have a couple of them for you, all nice and shiny! If you’re bad little bloggers, well, I’ll post disco posts where Bookstoogevolta does his thing in that neon green disco suit. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Bookstooge Reviews 2020

THE STATS:

Annual WordPress Blog Stats

Posts – 290 (↑65)
Words Written – 197K (↑72K)
Views – 25K (↑7K)
Visitors – 10K (↑3K)
Followers – 378 (↑100+)

Book Stats

Books read – 156 (↑21)
Pages read – 56,855 (↑11K)
Words read – 16,950K (almost 17million words!)
Average Rating – 3.53 (↑0.25)

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

General Bookish Thoughts in General:

My book’ish numbers were up from last year across the board. My manga numbers are about the same so it means the books ARE actually up. This is confirmed by the Page Count being up as well. While 0.25 might not seem a lot, it is a significant boost in the Ratings. Overall, I’m happy with how my reading for 2020 went.

I stopped pruning my followers part way through the year and that is the real reason for the bump in followers. I wrote a lot more too and more posts tend to translate into more of everything else. Including the damnable Spanish Spam Bots! Thankfully, that particular issue has been dealt with, even while not being solved.

Right now, I am happy with all of my numbers. If I can stay here and not get any bigger, that would be good. I like this level of activity and it is quite reasonable to handle as a hobby. Any bigger and things would start getting stressful for me. I also know myself and if I were to get any bigger I’d start really obsessing about “stats” and all the other stuff that is beyond my control as a blogger. I don’t need or want that. I’m an airplane and I’m at cruising altitude! Slip those sunshades on, turn on the autopilot, sit back and enjoy the ride.

What a year it’s been here at WordPress.com. Can I just take a minute as we all swear, profusely and at length, about the Block Editor?
* clenches fists and swears for 5 minutes *

Ok. Now that that is out of the way, I can talk calmly and rationally about the huge gigantic fuster cluck that the Block Editor was and continues to be. While I am now inured to it and have my routine down (so it doesn’t take me forever to do something like it used to), I have seen bloggers leave because of it. When bloggers leave, you know something isn’t right. WordPress has definitely taken a direction into the “pay for websites” side of things instead of using casual bloggers to increase their reach. The block editor still doesn’t work right all the time, has less capability than the previous editor (where’s my scheduling calendar you flaming jackasses!?!?) and simply isn’t meant for writing. Which makes using it a continually frustrating experience as things seem to break on a weekly basis for no apparent reason. If I hadn’t already sunk in so much time with my Under Construction Project here at WP, I’d have left too. At this point though, I’ve invested enough sweat equity that I don’t see myself leaving WP for anything less than leaving blogging in general.

On the positive side of things. This year has been the best I’ve had at WP since I started full time in December of ’16. My numbers started growing in March and slowly but steadily grew all year. I’m sure Covid19 played a big part, but even with my rather outspoken Christian views on several controversial social issues, the views haven’t gone down. While I wish I could take credit, I didn’t really do anything different, that I’m aware of, than I have in previous years. I’ve just been me. That means the blame is squarely on you. It’s all your fault I had a great year and I hold YOU directly responsible.

Keeping track of my Word Count has been beneficial in that it’s another metric to measure my monthly stats. This is the first Year in Review where I include that data so I don’t have anything to compare it too, yet.

Of course, the Churn has continued to happen. People stop blogging (and not just because of the hated block editor) and I’m continually on the lookout for new people to follow. I change, other bloggers change. It is not a static environment and I think this year I’ve finally come to an acceptance of that. I will enjoy your company for as long as you choose to hang around but I refuse to be anxious in anticipation of you leaving.

Another year on blogger. They changed their editor at the exact same time that WordPress did, so what should have been an easy transition turned into a bloody nightmare because of all the stress caused by WordPress. I’ve got it all settled now and simply put my reviews there. No social posts, no fun post, nothing but the reviews. I consider blogger my blogging backup. I learned, from a young age, not to put all my money in one bank and, when I got older, not to put all my data only on one site. Blogger is my cash hidden under the mattress.

LibraryThing. What to say? They ALSO changed their site near the end of the year. Thankfully, since I’m not invested very heavily, the changes didn’t really affect me beyond some cosmetic look&feel type things. I am still a member of the Green Dragon, but to keep within the guidelines of not discussing Religion or Politics, I simply put links to WordPress in my thread. Not ideal and I’m wondering if it will last through ’21 or not. I only interact with a literal handful of people and after sounding them out, most of them get my WP posts emailed to them anyway. Librarything is a fourth line of backup defense.

Every time that I try to interact in a bigger group, it just falls flat on its face and I get pissed off to no end. Telling people that what they said was idiotically stupid and dumb and just plain wrong doesn’t go over very well I have found. Weird, huh?

I tried Devilreads again to see if the pretty pictures and stats you can get at the end of the year were worth the hassle of using yet another book site, and one that I hate at that. Verdict? Totally not worth it. Will not be trying this experiment in 2021. So long devilreads, don’t let the pitchfork spit you where the Good Lord split you. If it weren’t for the fact that I know so many people who happily use devilreads, I’d gladly wish a hacker death to the site.

Bookhype was just a disappointment. I tried it because a former wordpress blogger (who the bleeding block editor drove away by the way) was trying it out and I wanted to keep in touch. That did not happen. Because bookhype isn’t about the social side of things at all. So I’m abandoning that too.

I have talked about Calibre Here. As I continue work on the blog I tweak the reviews in Calibre so everything matches up. But basically, my Calibre database is up to snuff and it’s more about the day to day reviews now. There have been several major upgrades to Calibre this year (a pretty big jump from 3.X to 4 and then a massive upgrade to 5.X) but I’m holding steady at 4.23 until the de-drm plugin is updated. If none of that made any sense, don’t worry, it only should if you’re vested in using Calibre already.

THE BOOKS:

Best Book of the Year:

Great Expectations
This was the Year of Dickens and it was a wicked close thing between this and Little Dorrit. Great Expectations won by a whisker though.

Worst Book of the Year:

Kingdom Come
I didn’t have a single book this year that I could turn to and easily say “This was the worst book of the year.” I had no half star books and even the 1stars tended to be more “DNF on Principle” than because I hated them. I chose Kingdom Come because it was the one book (besides Rosemary and Rue) that got a real rise out of me.

PLANS FOR 2021:

I actually don’t have any. Survival Saturday didn’t last very long into ’20 and it wouldn’t surprise me if the #6Degrees series follows that trajectory. I seem to have this built-in limiter for how long a specific blog series can run before I just stop it. That does mean that I need to start thinking of something to fill up a Sunday slot or two each month. Any ideas?

Of course, once having written that I don’t have any ideas, they immediately started creeping in. Doesn’t that just figure. 🤷‍♂️ (And you all can thank SDMcKinley for any and all use of emoji’s I use from now on. He has unleashed the Beast)

My Beloved Dickens reading journey is coming to an end. As I’d like to keep the classics rolling, I’ll be adding a Complete Works of G.K Chesterton and the Complete Works of the Bronte Sisters. They’re no Dickens but they’re better than Susanna Clarke! (boo, hiss)

I am going to “try”, really hard, to do less re-reading this year. I re-read 45 books last year. That is almost 30% of my total reading. I’m not looking to make a huge change, but if I can swing that number to below 25% and closer to 20%, I’ll be happy. There are SO MANY new books and some have been sitting on my tbr for over 2 years now. So I’m going to make concerted effort to only add re-reads that are essential.

For movies, I am thinking of taking the advice of someone from Librarything and making this a Muppet Movie themed year. Whether actual movies or the 1970’s variety show, it just sounds appealing to me. To bootstrap myself, I’ve bought 3 of the movies (the original Muppets, The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island) and the first season of the tv show from the 70’s. Singing, dancing, disco-balls, 2021 is the Year that Bookstoogevolta (me, anti-carnating as John Travolta) brings back Disco!

I have added a Statcounter to my page so I’m hoping to get even more Numb3rs for next year’s Year in Review. It’s free so it only holds so much data but I figure if I add a section to my Monthly Roundup’s I can get a good cross section for the year. I used it in December and it is quite different from the WP stats, so I’m not sure it will be truly helpful until I have several years of data to compare against but considering how I like that kind of thing, I can wait until I have it 😀

PERSONAL:

This year. What can I say? It was obviously dominated by Covid19 and yet for Mrs B and I, outside of a few church related activities, it didn’t change OUR routine. It changed everyone around us and thus change was forced on us that way. The stress of it all definitely got to us though. Between people turning into Mask Nazi’s and the inability to interact normally, even I was finding myself snappish by years end.

Work slowed down right at the beginning of covid, but after that, we were gangbusters all year long. I learned that I don’t want anything to do with the office or being inside and I am sure my time is limited before I leave because of general conditions even out in the field. Not worrying about that yet though. I have to survive yet another New England winter and that is about all I’m going to mentally deal with at the moment. Mrs B started working nights around Halloween and next week should be the end of that. I’m probably looking forward to it ending more than she is.

I survived the heat of Georgia for 10 days on Our Vacation. It was sorely needed but a mere month after returning it was like it had never happened. I think we could use a year long vacation!

Our church is still open, our cars are still working, our bills are being paid off and we’re getting fat because we have so much food. And we have more books and movies than we have time to consume. I think that qualifies as a good thing.

TOP 5:

Here are the top 5 viewed posts in each of the various categories. It isn’t quite equal, as posts from November and December just don’t have the time to accumulate the views.

Book Review Posts:

What an eclectic mix. On a “just because” note, I started writing this post at the beginning of December and included the top 5 from then. In the four weeks since, this list has changed twice. The Great Divorce and The Most Dangerous Game were narrowly bumped off, which is why I’m giving them an honorary mention here.

Non-Review Posts:

Anytime I wrote about the block editor I got a flood of views, so I chose the top one to allow some of the other posts to shine. Obviously though, the wordpress community did not, and does not, like the block editor. Personally, I hope wordpress chokes to death on it. Outside of the Vacation post, most were of the more introspective and navel gazing variety of post. I’m perfectly fine with that, as long as you’re gazing at your own navel and not trying to peek at mine.

Honorary mentions go to A History of ….. Magic the Gathering and Need More Space? History was bittersweet for me while Space gave me options for the future if I ever run into storage limits here at WP.

Commentors + Runner Up:

I think this section is pretty self-explanatory. I am wondering if WP is somehow messing with me in what I think are my top commentors. Without digging around though, with very blunt and almost useless tools provided to this lowly peon by my Lizard Overlords at WP, I am going to have to go with what they supply me.

Movies:

Movies weren’t high on my list this year and I ended up watching more seasons of anime than anything. I did want to include the recent Muppets Christmas Carol, but with only a week under its belt, it just doesn’t have the numbers to go against the Big Boys that have been around all year. Better luck next year, Michael Caine!

Turns out the Muppets struck a viewing chord. It rocketed past such “gems” as Karas: The Prophecy, the Revelation. You go Michael Caine! You da man…

Happy New Years!