Happy Third Blogiversary!

Three years! I have a hard time reconciling that it has been three years since I started the Critiquing Chemist. Adding to that disbelief is that almost 4,000 followers are now on this wild adventure with me! I’m so thankful for each and everyone of you, as through my fellow bloggers I’ve found wonderful recommendations and a supportive community that makes working on these posts a delight. Reflecting back on my first post ever, The Martian, it serves as a perfect example as to how my blog has grown and evolved over time. Now every post still includes a the spoiler free section you’ll find in The Martian, but in addition almost every write up features a spoiler filled additional insight segment, as well as a vocabulary section if the medium it is not an audiobook.  While my regular posts have settled into a routine layout, my year end reviews have yet to take a consistent format. Year one I didn’t post statistics, rather I listed my top favorite reads. In year two I emphasized the statistics in contrast to a more comprehensive post. This year I’ve compiled a combination of the two options. Please note that none of my lists are compiled in order of preference. These are all wonderful books nigh impossible to pick a favorite. I hope you enjoy my year three blogiversary post as much as I did putting it all together! Here’s to a wonderful year four and I can’t wait to see what adventures, literary and real that it has in store! Thank you again for all of your support as the Critiquing Chemist would not be here without my readers!


As an analytical chemist, I hold statistics near and dear to my heart, as such it should be no surprise that I’ve been compiling data regarding works written, words read, along with a variety of other variables.  Over the past three years I’ve posted over 321 times ranging from a variety of topics such as travel, book reviews, author interviews, beekeeping, and DIY.  Some interesting trends I’ve observed:

  • In year three I’ve read the most books to date at 93, while demolishing my words read previous high total in year two by over a million words.
  • My medium of choice has resoundingly become audiobooks, which is interesting especially when viewed in the pie charts over the three year span.
  • My average rating is slowly climbing with a book in year three getting an average of 4.12 rating. I attribute this to being picker about what I’m reading in general and really fine tuning what my preferred genre is. Or perhaps I’m just being nicer in my ‘old’ age.
  • Year three demolishes both my previous year statistics in every category. This trend is likely due to me switching jobs and going from a 20 minute commute to over an hour commute, allowing me to plow through multiple books a week. I’m excited to see what my 2018 year end totals are as I’m hoping to average two books a week
  • On a personal level I’m geeking out that over three years I’ve read 259 books, with the majority of them being set in delightful literary worlds!
  • Looking at the words written it is intriguing that in year two I wrote almost 4000 more words even though I had 24 less posts and read 16 less books.  The key factor here is the massive Song of Ice and Fire reread that I undertook in year two and the detailed reviews I compiled for each book in the series.
  • Focusing on the words total I’ve written over the past three years (214,853) it is worthwhile to note that of the 259 books I’ve read, 45 of those books are longer in word count than my total word count for the Critiquing Chemist.
  • With regard to the topics of my blog, I overwhelmingly post about books (85%) over the past three years.
  • Of note, while I’ve been making an effort to read more nonfiction, the percent differences in all three years is statistically the same at approximately 75% fiction.
  • On of my favorite revelations from these breakdowns was the complete change that my reading medium has undergone in the past three years. In year one I read 60.5% physical books, whereas now in year three I’m reading 74.2% audiobooks. I miss reading books but with my long commute listening is what I can accomplish right now without taxing myself when I get home from work.


Overall Breakdown of Subject Matter


Fiction vs. Nonfiction



Medium Breakdown over Three Years


Top 10 Fiction Books of Year 3

  1. Stormlight Archive series (Books 1-3)
  2. Wheel of Time series (Books 1-6)
  3. The Girls by Emma Cline
  4. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  6. The Core by Peter V. Brett
  7. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  8. Bandwidth by Eliot Peper
  9. Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
  10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margarette Atwood

Top 10 Nonfiction Books of Year 3

  1. Educated by Tara Westover
  2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Mason
  3. Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
  4. Radium Girls by  Kate Moore
  5. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  7. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  8. The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
  9. Missoula by Jon Krakauer
  10. Titan by Ron Chernow

Author Meetings and Interviews

I relatively recently discovered, much to my excitement, that my local independent bookstore, Schuler Books brings in big name authors on their book tours. While my schedule conflicted with a few key names I would have loved to go see, I was able to see and meet the following authors. Of note, when meeting Peter V. Brett, the author of the Demon Cycle series, we hatched the idea of doing a spoiler filled interview, which was a first for the Critiquing Chemist! You can find that interview here.

Peter V. Brett


Veronica Roth and Somaiya Doud


Jim Butcher


Advanced Review Copies of Year 3

This has been a wonderful year for advanced review copies. It ranks as one of my favorite things to get an unanticipated book in the mail and find out it is one that I’ve been looking forward to for months.  Due to my limited reading time as a result of the long commute, I’ve been very picky this year with regard to agreeing to read ARCs. I foresee this trend continuing for the near future until my commute is more manageable.

  1. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  2. The Core by Peter V. Brett
  3. Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel
  4. Bandwidth by Eliot Peper
  5. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
  6. Artemis by Andy Weir
  7. The Hidden Face by S.C. Flynn
  8. The Wolf’s Lover by Samantha MacLeod
  9. Dinosaur Princess by Victor Milan
  10. Endgame by Justin Edison
  11. Angels & Patriots by Salina Baker

Travel of Year 3

Other than reading, travel is my other big passion. As my husband can attest, I want to eventually go EVERYWHERE! My whims change by the week where I want to go the most.  In 2017, Luke and I traveled a ton, but it was mostly with a wedding destination in mind. We went to 13 or so weddings last year, with three of them being significant treks, to Florida and Maryland.  We turned each wedding into a mini vacation as we made the most of each trip.  This year we have less weddings on the books, but just as much delightful travel. In January, my best friend Sarah and I took a relatively spontaneous trip to Spain where we fell in love with its rich history and architecture.  Over Memorial Day, my brother Samuel and I went on a four day road trip back to Michigan as he was moving home from San Francisco.  We jam packed this road trip as we ended up hitting eight national parks within the four day time frame, while still getting home on time. We have a few more unique trips in the works, but you’ll have to wait and see where in the world we’ll end up!






















  • Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado


Beekeeping 2017 and 2018

2018 also marks our third year as beekeepers! Last year as our second year we had three hives in Saginaw, Michigan with our busy bees producing around 160 pounds of extra honey! Unfortunately none of our hives made it through this tough winter. This year we moved our new bees to Waldron, Michigan on the farm property we purchased last February. We have five hives this year, and sadly have already lost one hive to an ill queen early in the spring.  It was a less than optimal spring for the the little guys as they had to fend off ice and snow the week they were seeded in their new homes.  So far though the remaining hives seem very strong and are doing well! I’m sure more updates will follow as we get closer to our first harvest!

Honeybee Update #2 – 2017


Honeybee Update #3 – 2017


Honeybee Update #4 – 2017


Honeybee Update #1 – 2018


Honeybee Update #2 – 2018


Guest Posts from Samuel and Kara

If you think I travel a lot you should meet my brother, Samuel and his girlfriend Kara.  They have had a wonderful year traveling and have generously shared their adventures with us on the Critiquing Chemist. They made their debut post back in August as they visited Olympic National Park in Oregon.  In January they treated us to their Australian excursion as well as their 24 hours in Beijing. Get excited as they are currently working on a post for their 21 day road trip home from Seattle.

Olympic National Park, OR


Eastern Australia


Beijing, China




  1. Dear Sarah,


    I’ve enjoyed your posts…though I’ve felt a bit sad at how little I read when compared to you 😺.

    Eli >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Eli! And thank you for being my master proofreader! 🙂 I love our interactions and don’t feel sad about how much you read. I hope that means you don’t have an hour commute each way that you need to occupy yourself during!


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