books & reading

Books I Read in 2016.

Update: I finished one more book after I published this so my graphic is now sort of correct again because I finished 2016 having read 27 books after all.

It’s coming down to those final days of 2016 and the odds of me finishing another book before I ring in the new year are getting decidedly smaller so I’m going to call it now and say that I read 26 books this year and if a miracle happens and I read one more, we’ll deal with that then, mkay?

My “reading goal” for the year was 50 books but I pretty much knew I wouldn’t get anywhere near that so I’m not too concerned. I average about 30ish books a year so I’m really pretty much on target yet again, if a tiny bit low?

Goodreads.com just put out their Year in Books for all their users with every stat you could imagine about your reading habits.

Here’s what 2016 looked like for me:
yearinbooks2016-b

Note: They listed 27 books incorrectly because for some reason one of the books is in there twice. I didn’t notice it until I had already edited all the graphics and I’m too lazy to do it again.


Those are the highlights. These are the books I read this year and a little review of each book:

  1. 2016books-allREALLY LIKED Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate RacculiaFinished Jan. 17th – It took me awhile to warm up this one, largely because I had to get used to each narrator and accept the fact that the author doesn’t always tell the truth right away sometimes even in the same sentence it seemed she would write in one direction and then be like jk that didn’t happen. But eventually the characters began to find little corners of my heart to nestle themselves in and the mystery itself became enticing enough that I found myself wanting to follow it through to the other side and I was pleasantly surprised when I found that NONE of my suspicions were correct and the author had managed to write a mystery that I could not predict the outcome to. JANUARY BOOK CLUB *
  2. REALLY LIKED The Royal We by Heather CocksFinished Jan. 29th – This book was kind of a major undertaking – spanning the course of ten years in the courting, dating, breaking up and getting married of Prince Nicholas and Rebecca – who are basically a fictional Kate Middleton and Prince William. This story should have been ridiculously cheesy from premise alone, but the writing is so compelling and the characters are so well written that I found myself cheering for them from the start and rooting all the way to the finish line. *
  3. LOVED Winter by Marissa MeyerFinished Feb. 23rd – This book was such an undertaking – each book in the series seems to get bigger as it goes and more characters are introduced. This book felt like the fireworks finale that it should be with #allthefeels all over the place. Every moment you were waiting for finally happens and Meyer only tries to break your heart eleventy billion times so it’s all good. I’ve already got Stars Above waiting for me to crack into. *
  4. LIKED Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson Finished Feb. 24th – I wasn’t sure I would finish this one in time for the book club discussion, if at all, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Although many of the chapters felt excessively long at times and filled to the brim with information that might be fascinating for some people (not me), there were a lot of golden nuggets inside. The story this book tells is incredible especially because it’s a true story – and the people within the book have a lot to say. Lots of life lessons to be learned and everything you ever wanted to know about deep sea diving, shipwrecks and U Boats. FEBRUARY BOOK CLUB
  5. REALLY LIKED Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber DusickFinished Feb. 27th – I’m a fan of Amber’s blog and this book was like a sweetened condensed version of that. My only complaints would be that some of the stories felt abruptly cut short and the book itself seemed to end so soon! I want more!
  6. REALLY LIKED Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle Finished Feb. 29th – This book is kind of like that high school English assignment where you write a chapter and then one of your classmates writes the next chapter and so on. Except the three authors each wrote one short story – about 10 chapters – and all their stories linked up and eventually featured most if not all of the same characters. I’ve read several John Green books before but the other two authors were new to me. All have a fairly similar vibe but the different characters in each story were all very unique and different from each other. I think Maureen Johnson’s story and characters might have been my favorite of the three so now I’m adding all her books to my wish list.
  7. LIKED Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell BartolettiFinished March 14th – I thought this was extremely well written and engaging for a nonfiction title, the author did a good job at breathing life and wit into an old story and kept it from getting to try. MARCH BOOK CLUB
  8. REALLY LIKED 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen JohnsonFinished March 18th – I loved the premise of this book. The plot lagged occasionally but overall I really enjoyed it and downloaded book two pretty much immediately after finishing this one. *
  9. LOVED The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen JohnsonFinished March 20th – I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed this book more than the first one. Something in the writing felt fresher and tighter and it probably helps that I’d grown accustomed to the cast of characters. I also really loved Oliver – probably more than I’d liked Keith in book one.
  10. REALLY LIKED Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling Finished March 23rd – I think I liked this book even more than the original. It was funny, informative, dishy and inspiring jut like Mindy. *
  11. LIKED Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine ReayFinished March 28th – It took awhile to warm up to this book. Initially I was irritated by the main character and the whole thing was too similar to Daddy Long Legs (which I loved) but the book picked up in the second half and I ended up enjoying it.
  12. REALLY LIKED Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – Finished March 30th – Short but sweet. I enjoyed it but was kind of bummed when it was over. I’d gladly read a full novel about these characters.
  13. LIKED The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina BivaldFinished April 14th – It took me a little while to get into this book but once the plot started to pick up and I got to know all the characters I found myself reading in larger and larger chunks until the last two nights when I stayed up WAY to late to finish. I found the premise interesting if at times a bit unrealistic but a few of the characters tugged at my heart strings enough that I suspended my disbelief long enough to enjoy the ride. Still, I always felt slightly at arms length away from everyone. For a book full of internal dialogue, it still felt like it was slightly emotionally removed and the end of the book wrapped up almost too quickly and left me feeling unresolved even though all the plot points were mostly tied up. A good book but not quite great. APRIL BOOK CLUB
  14. REALLY LIKED Night Film by Marisha PesslFinished May 25th – I think I’d only give about 3 stars to the first half of this book, but somewhere around the middle the plot picks up and the mystery starts to get a little bit more intriguing, making me more inclined to read a few more chapters each night than I was reading before. The last 150 pages I read in basically one day. There are a few characters and plot developments that I had problems with and I do think the book bordered on TOO LONG but over all, I did really enjoy it and I found the overall story to be really fascinating and the pictures and clippings were a nice touch. I was kind of disappointed that the google play app at least doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Unless Cordova got to it. MAY BOOK CLUB
  15. REALLY LIKED Eligible by Curtis SittenfeldFinished June 7thI’m a sucker for Pride and Prejudice adaptations and thoroughly enjoyed this one. Sittenfeld took some interesting departures from the original but overall I think it was an excellent modernization. I would imagine some people might not enjoy a few liberties taken, especially P & P purists, but I thought it was a lot of fun.
  16. REALLY LIKED Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst Finished June 24th – I live in Wisconsin so it was a lot of fun reading a murder mystery that takes place in my state. Lots of local references to enjoy. Additionally, it’s a good and compelling story that took awhile to build but kept my interest and then consumed my interest in the second half. It ends on a cliff hanger that led to me immediately downloading the next book.
  17. LIKED The Raven Boys by Maggie StiefvaterFinished June 29th – I’ll be honest, I didn’t love this as much as I was hoping too. I think the hype got the better of me. Something about the book kept me at arm’s length and I wasn’t able to really lose myself to the story. But it ended with a lot of questions still unanswered that have me considering reading the next book at some point. I liked a lot of aspects of this book, I just didn’t quite love it. *
  18. REALLY LIKED Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadFinished July 18th – I really enjoyed this. One of the rare instances where having seen the movie first did not deter me from reading the book later – definitely planning to read book 2! *
  19. LIKED The Versions of Us by Laura BarnettFinished July 26th – This book was such an undertaking to read and parts of it I really enjoyed but the book bordered on being both too realistic and too absurd much of the time. I don’t think there is a better way that Barnett could have written this – the whole Sliding Doors aspect is tricky and complex and she handled that well but it was still hard work to read through and keep all the versions separate. As the story progressed, each of the versions became very heavy and that heaviness took awhile to wade through. It really deserves more than 3 stars in many ways but doesn’t quite earn 4 stars for me.  AUGUST BOOK CLUB
  20. LOVED My Lady Jane by coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi MeadowsFinished Aug. 19th – I honestly loved everything about this book from the premise to the characters to the writing style. Hysterical and well written with several characters that you will root for and an incredible story to boot!
  21. REALLY LIKED Finding Audrey by Sophie KinsellaFinished Aug. 31st – I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to read this one and it was definitely worth the wait. After just a few chapters in, I found myself carrying this book with me everywhere I went so I could sneak in a few more pages here and there until it was done. A sweet love story, an honest and up close peek at social anxiety at it’s worst and a surprisingly funny tale of family life and coming of age.
  22. LOVED Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson Finished Sept. 13th – I got sucked into this story really quickly. The main character, Emily, is extremely shy and totally oblivious but you love and root for her anyway and Frank is just allllll the things. I loved this book. The list of items that Sloane left for Emily to do really made for a funny and interesting book and the characters are all very fleshed out. I liked that the book felt real and honest – characters felt authentic even when you sometimes wished they wouldn’t.
  23. LIKED Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayFinished Sept. 27th – I liked this one but didn’t quite love it. Although the plot was interesting and the characters were pretty well fleshed out, I couldn’t really lose myself in this one. I kept relating to the parents in the book instead of the teenagers which doesn’t happen often with YA novels for me as I have a tendency to get swept up in books and kind of forget myself as a reader. So good – but not quite great.
  24. REALLY LIKED Circling The Sun by Paula McClain – Finished Oct. 26th – I really enjoyed this. I could relate to Beryl in a lot of ways, especially with her early family life – and I found myself rooting for her from cover to cover. She led a fascinating life that was both difficult and admirable. McLain’s story is well written and absorbing. OCTOBER BOOK CLUB
  25. REALLY LIKED Modern Romance by Aziz AnsariFinished Nov. 24th – I thought this was a really interesting look at modern romance and how it compares to dating before the technological advances of this day. It was a good blend of sociological information and Ansari’s trademark humor. NOVEMBER BOOK CLUB
  26. REALLY LIKED Heartless by Marissa MeyerFinished Dec. 23rd – It took me awhile to get into this one. Probably a case of having my hopes up a bit too high given how madly in love I am with the Lunar Chronicles series. But around the second half of the book, the plot definitely picks up and all the little plotlings that the author had developed all start to tie together and blossom. It’s hard to really emotionally invest in a book that you know isn’t going to have a happy ending, but eventually I couldn’t help but fall for everyone and half hope that they might have a different ending than I’d expect.
  27. REALLY LIKED A Boy Called Christmas by Matt HaigFinished Dec. 30th – This was a really cute book. I liked Haig’s take on the origin of Santa Claus a lot and thought it had some great life lessons for kids to soak up – not to mention some awesome illustrations.

*Owned Before 2016 (or more than 6 months before reading)

And if you feel like stalking my reading habits…

Books Read in: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

books & reading

Predicting the Future: Books I May Read in 2017

I told you guys a couple days ago about Anne’s reading challenge for 2017. Today she shared the books she may read for the challenge to give her readers book choice ideas. I thought I’d share some of the books I’m considering as I look through the challenge.

As I said before, I’m tackling her Reading for Fun challenge:

reading-challenge-02

A book you chose for the cover:

51porsplnjl-_sx326_bo1204203200_The first book that came to mind when I read this prompt was Replica by Lauren Oliver. I am so intrigued by the two books in one thing and the cover art is gorgeous and pulls at you from across the room.

A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able:

I’ve been hearing great things about the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown.

A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit:

51vf1u6wpflAnne mentioned The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell in her list and I was immediately intrigued.

A book you’ve already read:

I’ve been thinking about rereading Catch-22 because I didn’t really give it my full attention when I read it in college.

A juicy memoir:

51sksyfzidlI’ve got a couple in my wish list but Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham is pretty high on my list. Or perhaps Anna Kendrick’s.

A book about books or reading:

Perhaps The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan?

A book in a genre you usually avoid:

51xidvcqmql-_sx273_bo1204203200_I’m weirdly half tempted to read The Gunslinger by Stephen King because my husband loved the series so much. He insists it’s very different from King’s usual books and not so much horror. I’m also frankly intimidated just by the sheer size of the book.

A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read:

I’m not really embarassed by any of the books I want to read by Moone Boy by Chris O’Dowd is probably a strange one to mention. More of a middle reader book that I’m guessing my ten year old might like but being a fan of the actor, I kind of want to read it as well.

A book in the backlist of a new favorite author:

61c6fbw1q3lThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson after absolutely loving Since You’ve Been Gone.

A book recommended by someone with great taste:

A couple of my fellow book clubbers recommended The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith awhile back and I keep meaning to dig into that series.

A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet:

51ewt6q24clThis could be half my book shelf but honorable mention goes to Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige which I stalked in bookstores for ages before I finally broke down and bought a copy and then promptly got too busy to read it.

A book about a topic or subject you already love:

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrove Manner by Stephanie Barron because you pretty much just have to say the words “Jane Austen” and “retelling” or “modern adaptation” in close proximity and apparently I’m there for it.

What books are you eyeballing for 2017?

books & reading

Reading Goals for 2017.

reading-challenge-02

I’ve learned that when it comes to reading that I like to make goals but I rarely achieve them. This might sound discouraging but I try to keep in mind that it’s about the journey, you know? I like to give a modicum of attention to what I’m reading and being a nerdy little tracker, I am always keeping track of how many books I’ve read and what I thought about them.

Here’s what I know: I’ve finished 25 books this year (so far, I think I’ll finish at least one more before we ring in the new year) and although that’s five books short of my initial goal set way back in January, I’m happy with the number and unsurprised by it. I know myself and I know that I tend to read about two books a month and that one of those books is usually whatever my book club is reading.

reading-challenge-04Next year I’m planning on tackling the reading challenge in the photo above. I’ve attempted Anne’s reading challenges for a couple of years now and I have to say the 2017 reading challenge looks like the best one yet. She’s going for a choose your own adventure style where you can choose between two different sets of goals or really go for it and tackle both challenges. I read through the first challenge (above) and kept nodding and thinking, “Yes, I totally want to read something like that!”

Then I read through the second challenge which is all about reading for growth and I’ll be honest, my eyes glazed over a bit. But I can tell from a glance that a lot of my reading buddies from book club would be all over that challenge and probably wouldn’t be sure what was so challenging about the list above. See the genius happening here?

Since half of my reading choices throughout the year are basically providing me the growth and outside of my comfort zone style reading that I think the second challenge would tackle, I’m so amped about making sure that my other twelve-ish picks really embrace the “reading for fun” challenge. It’s all about balance, you know?

So which challenge would you tackle? Fun or Growth? Do you track your reading habits throughout the year?

 

 

 

 

books & reading, family fun

Top 10 Favorite Books From 2016

Can you belive that it’s already December? I won’t stress you out with the countdown of days until all the things, but seriously. It’s all happening. And now everyone is writing up end of the year roundups on all of the things and I don’t want to be left out, so I thought I’d share my ten favorite reads from 2016. Thus far. Obviously I might read something amazing before the year is out, but it will have to earn its fanfare organically.

So without further adieu: The 10 Best Book I Read This Year

top10p1

The Royal We by Heather Cocks is basically Prince William and Kate Middleton fanfiction but it was actually a really great read. It was kind of an undertaking, spanning the course of ten years in the courting, dating, breaking up and getting married of Prince Nicholas and Rebecca (i.e. William and Kate). I know it sounds ridiculously cheesy by the premise alone, but the writing is so compelling and the characters are so well written that I found myself cheering for them from the start and rooting all the way to the finish line.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl – It really wasn’t until the second half of the book that this story really picked up for me and consumed my very being. This is a hefty mystery with a lot of moving parts and it took awhile to ease into but I read the last 150 pages in basically one day. I found the overall story to be really fascinating and the pictures and clippings were a nice touch. I was kind of disappointed that the google play app at least doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Unless Cordova got to it.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice so you shouldn’t be surprised that it gets mixed reviews. I’m personally a sucker for Pride and Prejudice adaptations and thoroughly enjoyed this one. Sittenfeld took some interesting departures from the original story but overall I think it was an excellent modernization. I would imagine some people might not enjoy a few of the liberties taken, especially P & P purists, but I thought it was a lot of fun.

Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst is a cozy mystery that takes place at Old World Wisconsin. I live in Wisconsin so it was a lot of fun reading a murder mystery that takes place in my state. Lots of local references to enjoy. Additionally, it’s a good and compelling story that took awhile to build but kept my interest and then consumed my interest in the second half. It ends on a cliff hanger that led to me immediately downloading the next book.

Circling The Sun by Paula McLain was one of my favorite book club reads this year. I could relate to Beryl (the main character) in a lot of ways, especially with her early family life – and I found myself rooting for her from cover to cover. She led a fascinating life that was both difficult and admirable. McLain’s story is well written and absorbing and based on a true story.

Okay we’ve gotten the more adulty books out of the way (with a few exceptions, I know, shhhh). Now here were my five favorite YA novels that I read this year:

top10p2

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows – This is a strange, strange book to describe. It’s about Lady Jane Grey, who was briefly the Queen of England, except the authors took some pretty major, fantastic, hytertical liberties with the story.  I honestly loved everything about it. It’s part historical fiction, part fantasy, definitely some romance and very funny. You will root for basically every character, even the horses.

Winter by Marissa Meyer – The final book in the series. Each book seems to get bigger as the series goes and more characters are introduced. This book felt like the fireworks finale that it should be with #allthefeels all over the place. Every moment you were waiting for finally happens and Meyer only tries to break your heart eleventy billion times so it’s all good. New to the Lunar Chronicles? Start with Cinder.

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson is a sequel so definitely read the first book before you read this one. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed this book more than I loved the first one. Something in the writing felt fresher and tighter and it probably helps that I’d grown accustomed to the cast of characters. I also really loved Oliver – probably more than I’d liked Keith in book one.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – I got sucked into this one quickly. The main character, Emily, is extremely shy and totally oblivious but you love and root for her anyway and Frank is just allllll the things. I loved this book. The list of items that Sloane left for Emily to do really made for a funny and interesting book and the characters are all very fleshed out. I liked that the book felt real and honest – characters felt authentic even when you sometimes wished they wouldn’t.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – This was a case of the hype totally matching the quality of the book. I waited for what felt like FOREVER to get my hands on a copy of this book and it was totally worth it. After just a few chapters in, I found myself carrying this book with me everywhere I went so I could sneak in a few more pages here and there until it was done. A sweet love story, an honest and up close peek at social anxiety at it’s worst and a surprisingly funny tale of family life and coming of age.

What are some of the best books you’ve read this year?

books & reading, family fun, top 10 tuesday

Holiday Book Gift Guide: For Your 7 Year Old Daughter Who Is Reading You Out of House and Home.

When I buy gifts for people, I tend to look at books first. I was a big reader growing up and now I find myself raising big readers. It’s a proud momma moment when I see the whole family curled up with respective books. Our house is fairly crawling with good books and I do not mind this problem at all. If you have a seven year old girl looking for her next good read, here are ten books I’d suggest sticking under the tree for her this Christmas.

51jwweqe08l-_sx336_bo1204203200_Christmas Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This whole series of Little House Chapter Books is fantastic for kids just getting into chapter books and a great introduction to the Little House series. This one seems like an obvious choice for this time of year.

518gvkn9val-_sx359_bo1204203200_Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea is one my own daughter has her eye on. It’s heavy on the pictures and perfect for building your kid’s confidence in reading a larger book because it’s a deceptively quick read despite its size. It’s reminiscent of the Piggie and Elephant books by Mo Willems that both my kids love.

51sosm4erml-_sx428_bo1204203200_Clarice Bean: The Utterly Complete Collection by Lauren Childs has three Clarice Bean books in one box set. This are chapter books by the same author who wrote Charlie & Lola. I love her writing style because it tosses in larger words in a funny way so it’s secretly increasing your kid’s vocabulary, too. If your daughter isn’t quite ready for chapter books, the Charlie & Lola books are fantastic, too.

61qnfm9ir0lWonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee is a great chapter book to offer your comic book loving girls. It all takes place at Super Hero High where some of our favorite super heroes go to school to learn to be super heroes. Join Wonder Woman’s first year at school and meet all your favorite comic book heroes in a way you’ve never seen them before!

51jmfvi-xcl-_sx342_bo1204203200_Kristy’s Great Idea: Full Color Edition by Ann M. Martin is a major nostalgia alert. I bought this for my daughter to lure her into my favorite series from childhood and found myself sitting on my bed reading the whole thing in one sitting. I loved the illustrations and my daughter was immediately hooked and asking for book two! Only a small handful of the books have been given the graphic novel treatment, but you can go from these to the regular series or even check out the Baby Sitters Club Little Sister series which are shorter in length and feature younger girls.

51xxd20z2wl-_sy395_bo1204203200_Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke looks like a beautiful picture book to add to your collection. Even when your kids start reading to themselves regularly, they still love to be read to. This is when you up the ante and get picky about your picture books. Gorgeous illustrations and stories good enough that you actually want to find out what happens next. This one looks fantastic.

41pbrsgesil-_sx399_bo1204203200_Mercy Watson Boxed Set by Kate DiCamillo is going under my Christmas tree this year. My daughter is reading one of the books for school and cannot stop the gushing. I like to keep a good thing going and this little pig seems to have the power to captivate my daughter with every page. These are kind of a hybrid between chapter books and picture books. Lots of illustrations but plenty of words, too.

51ldqls0g3l-_sx321_bo1204203200_Buckle and Squash: The Perilous Princess Plot by Sarah Courtauld is a mixed-up fairly tale chapter book with scattered sweet illustrations about two very different sisters who find themselves on a daring adventure. It’s praised for it’s wit and wordplay and seems to be a hit for all ages.

514bxlelovl-_sx337_bo1204203200_Kiki: My Stylish Life by Kyla May is one of my daughter’s favorites. It’s part of a series of books, each told from a different girl’s perspective. It’s written like a diary and has lots of cute illustrations and a lot of sass and silliness. My daughter laughed out loud over this one and frequently asked to read section aloud to me. It’s a great forray into chapter books for kids that are kind of ready for more but still love plenty of pictures in their books.

511r-wotp9lOkay, so you have a big reader – maybe they are ready to start writing, too? I just ordered my daughter this adorable “secret” diary with a pretty little box to keep it in. Now she can write her own stories and feel like she’s part of her own novel in the making.

 

What books would you add to this list?

What was your favorite book at this age?

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.