Seven years! I honestly had to verify multiple times to make sure seven was correct. How has that much time passed since I started my little blog as a side project? Post graduate school I had more time on my hands than I’d had since middle school to pick my love of reading back up, and the Critiquing Chemist was born out of the intent to build a personal archive I could reflect back upon if needed. Plus I wanted a way to capture the many theories my lab mates and I had speculated upon with titles such as The Game of Thrones. While my review style has evolved along the way, I always find it a good reminder of the start to revisit my first review, The Martian.
I’m beyond thankful and a bit stunned at how the Critiquing Chemist has grown beyond anything I could have every imagined. That said, my favorite part of starting this blog has been the platform it has provided to connect and network with fellow book lovers, authors, and bloggers. This blog would have likely passed into oblivion years ago had it not been for my new friends all over the world who have encouraged and supported me along the way. Thank you for helping create this community I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy!
Highlights of the Critiquing Chemist over the past seven years would include surpassing the 5,000 follower mark, interviewing Peter V. Brett, and incorporating my love of traveling into this platform. Being a judge for Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Fantasy Blog off for the past three years would definitely be another high. My absolute favorite reading moment of the past five years has been receiving an advanced review copy of Dark Age by Pierce Brown. Really, finding any much anticipated advanced review coopy in my mailbox has been a major source of excitement, ultimately fulfilling a bucket-list item that never quite seems to be sated. Specifically for this past year, I could hardly contain my excitement at being selected as a beta reader for Brent Week’s new novel, Nemesis. I loved seeing the behind the scenes of how a major book is edited and evolves throughout the process. I’m so looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of Week’s newest installment of the Night Angel series in spring 2023.
Lastly, I’m thankful to all the authors I’ve met along the way and grateful that you are brave enough to sharing your literary worlds with your readers. It takes courage to open up to the world anything you create, let alone when it takes the time and effort needed to produce a book.
This year was held a record of firsts, especially as this was my first full years as a mom. My sweet Quinn is now just over a year old and making every day better than the last. She is such a happy little girl whose curiosity and determination is limitless. Quinn’s been walking since just over 8 months so we’ve been chasing her ever since. We couldn’t have dreamed of a more easy going baby as she’s proven to be the perfect little traveler with trips to Alaska, North Carolina, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula already under her belt. At seven weeks she slept through a six mile hike to our favorite Chapel Beach and just a few weeks ago she napped during an unexpected icy decent of a hike in Denali National Park. This summer she’s discovered the pool and water table so we spend hours every night outside in her ideal environment. Other favorites of hers include side walk chalk, bananas, coloring, Dragons Love Tacos, Little Red Barn book, her Baby Yoda doll, and her first engineering book. We absolutely love this age, and can’t wait to watch her grow over the next year.
As with last year‘s annual post, I’ll refrain setting any reading or blogging goals for year seven due to the time commitments around being a new mom. I was able to read a lot of books this year while nursing or pumping, but as I’m now done with the latter and the nursing is winding down it will be interesting to see the how the volume of novels I’m able to read in year seven is impacted.
That said, The Critiquing Chemist has joined with Lynn’s Books as a team of judges the second year, our third year total in Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO). Last year, it was such an exciting finish as the top spots rotated several times in the weeks leading up to the ending. This year we are making great progress currently working through our Phase One batch with our first elimination posts to follow soon.
I’d lamented in my year six blogiversary that my Excel sheet tracking my reading list and stats had grown unwieldy, with my issue only growing more cumbersome over the past year. Exasperated, I’d debated scratching the whole sheet and had been pondering the best way to reformat it. Work then sent me to a four day advanced Excel course that totally blew me away. Whoever thought I’d geek out so hard over Excel capabilities. When the subject regarding Pivot Tables came up, I had an instant lightbulb moment, and within minutes my mammoth, sprawling list had been tamed into an organize table that automatically churned out the stats I needed, plus, as I add new books it would automatically update. I can’t express enough how amazing this development has been and yes, I’m still geeking out about it!
As expected, my book totals for year seven were my lowest since starting blogging at 59 books, but I’m in so way complaining as I still managed to get through a book a week. Not included in these stats are the two beta reads I completed for Brent Weeks. The manuscripts were quite lengthy at approximately 1,000 pages and it was a quite time consuming process, so it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that this commitment placed a bias on year seven statistics.
Since year one I’d been holding steady at reading approximately 20% nonfiction, however that stat seems to be the biggest casualty since Q’s arrival as year seven saw me only reading 6% nonfiction. With regard to my medium of preference, audiobooks have held sway since year two, with the highest prevalence was in year four when I had an hour commute to work at 88%. This year, likely due to the influence of SPFBO, my audiobook usage dropped to 63%, however it has been a nice change to pick up real or ebooks again.
One of my favorite stats to look at is my words written. I’ve written over half a million words on the Critiquing Chemist over seven years. This means for the first time, my blog has surpassed the length of any book I’ve read in the same timeframe (just barely). Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer was the longest novel I’ve read at 479,080 words, with Grant (454,755) by Ron Chernow and A Storm of Swords (442,152) by George R. R. Martin coming in close behind. It is important to keep in perspective the length of these novels I love so much, with the time commitment of this blog to really appreciate the quantity and quality that these authors churn out. Let’s keep this in mind next time we grow impatient while waiting for the next installment. Take your time George!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Denali National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park
Whale Watching Tour
Our bees were another casualty of Q as we were not able to spend as much time with them as we had in previous years. Thankfully they’re resilient and had another great year. So far our bees are looking healthy going into the heart of the summer. Let’s hope for a little rain on the farm today!
Congrats on 7 years of Blogging🥳
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Thank you Michael!
Fantastic achievements in all areas
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