Thursday, December 31, 2015

Books Read in 2015

Books Read in 2015 by Month

Arlen, Tessa - Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman (2015) - Crime Fiction (Historical)
Krulewitch, Marc - Windy City Blues (2001) - Crime Fiction (P.I.)
Foley, Laura - Joy Street (2014) - Poetry
Backman, Fredrik - A Man Called Ove (2014) - Fiction
Zahradnik, Rich - Last Words (2014) - Crime Fiction (Reporter)

Hall, Elizabeth - Miramont's Ghost (2004) - Fiction (Historical)
Haynes, Elizabeth - Under a Silent Moon (2013) - Crime Fiction (Police Procedural)
Watson, S.J. - Before I Go Sleep (2011) - Crime Fiction (Thriller)
Davis, Vonnie - The Highlander's Obsession (2014) - Romance (Paranormal)
Davis, Vonnie - The Highlander's Passion (2015) - Romance (Paranormal)
Hankins, James - Shady Cross (2015) - Crime Fiction (Thriller)
Bishop, Anne - Written in Red (2013) - Fantasy (Urban, Dark)
Bishop, Anne - Murder of Crows (2014) - Fantasy (Urban, Dark)

Bishop, Anne - Vision on Silver (2014) - Fantasy (Urban, Dark)
Chastain, Rebecca - Magic of the Gargoyles (2014) - Fantasy (Urban)
Haynes, Elizabeth - Behind Closed Doors (2015) ~ Crime Fiction (Police Procedural)

Wong, Cecily - Diamond Head (2015) - Fiction (Historical)
Enger, Leif - Peace Like a River (2001) - Fiction (Historical)
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre (1847) - Fiction (Romance, Gothic)

McPherson, Catriona - The Child Garden (2015) - Crime Fiction (Mystery/Thriller)
Boecker, Virginia - The Witch Hunter (2015) - Fantasy (Historical)
Rowell, Rainbow - Eleanor & Park (2012) - Fiction (Young Adult, Romance)
Sokoloff, Alexandra - Huntress Moon (2012) - Crime Fiction (Thriller)
Moran, Jan - The Scent of Triumph (2014) - Fiction (Historical, WWII, Romance)
Ellison, Jan - A Small Indiscretion (2015) - Fiction

McCoy, Sarah - The Mapmaker's Children (2015) - Fiction (Historical, Civil War)
Sokoloff, Alexandra - Blood Moon (2015) - Crime Fiction (Thriller)
Greyson, Maeve - My Higland Bride (2015) - Romance (Paranormal, Historical)
Graham, Heather - The Silenced (2015) - Crime Fiction (Paranormal, Romance)
Slomski, Heather A. - The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons (2014) - Fiction (Short Stories)

Sokoloff, Alexandra - Cold Moon (2015) - Crime Fiction (Thriller)
Niffenegger, Audrey - The Time Traveler's Wife (2003) - Fiction (Speculative, Romance)
Logan, Kirsty - The Gracekeepers (2015) - Fantasy
Heaberlin, Julia - Black-Eyed Susans (2015) - Crime Fiction (Thriller)
Stewart, Amy - Girl Waits With Gun (2015) - Crime Fiction (Historical)

Zahradnik, Rich - Drop Dead Punk (2015) - Crime Fiction (Reporter)
Bolton, Sharon - Little Black Lies (2015) - Crime Fiction
Carey, Ella - Paris Time Capsule (2015) - Fiction (Romance)
Bannalec, Jean-Luc - Death in Brittany (2012) - Crime Fiction (Police Procedural)
Vikram, Sweta Srivastava - Wet Silence: Poems About Hindu Widows (2015) - Poetry
Hawkins, Paula - The Girl on the Train (2015) - Crime Fiction (Thriller)
Tansley, K.C. - The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts (2015) - Crime Fiction (Paranormal)
Saintcrow, Lilith - The Society (2005) - Romance (Paranormal/Thriller)

Saintcrow, Lilith - The Demon's Librarian (2009) - Fantasy (Urban Fantasy/Romance)
Backman, Fredrik - My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry (2015) - Fiction
Willig, Lauren - The Other Daughter (2015) - Fiction (Historical)
Davis, Vonnie - Bearing It All (2015) - Romance (Paranormal)

Taylor, Art - On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories (2015) - Crime Fiction
Chastain, Rebecca - A Fistful of Fire (2015) - Fantasy (Urban)
Haynes, Elizabeth - Human Remains (2013) - Crime Fiction
Winters, Cat - The Uninvited (2015) - Fiction (Historical/Paranormal/Romance)
Zevin, Gabrielle - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (2014) - Fiction
Nelson, Michael & Emma Rios - Hexed: The Devil I Know (2009) - Fiction (Paranormal/Graphic Novel)
Waid, Mark & Minck Oosterver - The Unknown (2009) - Crime Fiction (Graphic Novel)
Dunn, Matthew - The Spy Trade (2015) - Crime Fiction (Spy Thriller)
Saintcrow, Lilith - Hunter, Healer (2005) - Romance (Paranormal/Thriller)
Olson, Karen E. - Hidden (2015) - Crime Fiction
McKenzie, Catherine - Smoke (2015) - Fiction

Callahan, Coreene - Fury of a Highland Dragon (2015) - Romance (Paranormal)
Jance, J.A. - Stand Down (2015) - Crime Fiction
Copleton, Jackie - A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding (2015) - Fiction
Kiernan, Denise - The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of Women who Helped Win World War II (2013) - Nonfiction
Thayne, RaeAnne - A Cold Creek Christmas Story (2015) - Romance
Chiaverini, Jennifer - Christmas Bells (2015) - Fiction
Richardson, Sara - One Christmas Wish (2015) - Romance
Struth, Sharon - Twelve Nights (2015) - Romance

Palmer, Alex - The Santa Claus: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York (2015) - Nonfiction
Mooney, Bryan - A Christmas in Vermont: A Very White Christmas (2015) - Romance
Spear, Terry - A Silver Wolf Christmas (2015) - Romance
Hale, Jenny - Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses (2015) - Romance
Danticat, Edwidge - The Dew Breaker (2004) - Fiction
Thayne, RaeAnne - Evergreen Springs (2015) - Romance
Coakley, Lena - Worlds of Ink and Shadow (2015) - Fantasy (YA)
Boynton, Sandra - CHOCOLATE: The Consuming Passion (2015, 1st published in 1982) - Nonfiction/Comedy
Arsenault, Emily - The Evening Spider (2016) - Crime Fiction (Historical)
Foust, Rebecca - Paradise Drive (2015) - Poetry

© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

First Sentences 2015

[First Sentences of books read in 2015]

On the morning of Lord and Lady Montforts' annual summer ball, their housekeeper, Edith Jackson, was up, washed, and almost dressed by six o' clock. ~ Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen

It was just before nine a.m. when the toddler's mother saw his little hands and cheeks covered in a sticky substance mixed with crumbly white particles. ~ Windy City Blues by Marc Krulewitch

I don't recognize her at first ~ Joy Street by Laura Foley (first line of poem, "What Wild Women Do")

Ove is fifty-nine. ~ A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

The dead sitting on his desk could wait. ~ Last Words by Rich Zahradnik

She sat at the piano, fingers still poised over the now-silent keys.Miramont's Ghost by Elizabeth Hall

In years to come, Flora would remember this as the day of Before and After.Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

"As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today." ~ Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Paisley Munro tried not to gawk at the two broad-shouldered men in kilts as she hefted her suitcase off the luggage carousel in the Inverness Airport, located northeast of the city referred to as the capital of the Scottish Highlands. ~ A Highlander's Obsession by Vonnie Davis

Kenzie Denune pedaled the bicycle harder, her thighs burning from the exertion. ~ A Highlander's Passion by Vonnie Davis

"You just got out of jail?" ~ Shady Cross by James Hankins

With one last twist of a filament of earth magic, I fused together the delicate seams of the quartz tube. ~ Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain

Half blinded by the storm, she stumbled into the opening between two buildings. ~ Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Nudged awake by his bedmate's restless movements, Simon Wolfgard yawned, rolled over on his belly, and studied Meg Corbyn. ~ Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Meg Corbyn entered the bathroom in the Human Liaison's Office and laid out the items she'd labeled the tools of prophecy: antiseptic ointment, bandages, and the silver folding razor decorated with pretty leaves and flowers on one side of the handle. ~ Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

With one last twist of a filament of earth magic, I fused together the delicate seams of the quartz tube. ~ Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain

To being with, nothing was certain except her own terror. ~ Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes

Inside the car, it smells like hibiscus. It was his mother's idea; something subtle, she told him, but fresh. Something alive. ~ Diamond Head by Cecily Wong

From my first breath in this world, all I wanted was a good set of lungs and the air to fill them with--given circumstances, you might presume, for an American baby of the twentieth century. ~ Peace is Like a River by Leif Enger

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. ~ Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

It was far from silent in the dark wood. ~ The Garden Child by Catriona McPherson

I stand at the edge of the crowded square, watching the executioners light the pyres. ~ The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

He'd stopped trying to bring her back. ~ Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The city teems. ~ Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Daniell Bretancourt von Hoffman braced herself against the mahogany-paneled stateroom wall, striving for balance as she flung open the porthole, seeking a moment of respite she knew would never be. ~ Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran

London, the year I turned twenty. ~ A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

The old house on Apple Hill Lane shuddered against the weighty snow that burdened its pitch. 
The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

The dark concrete corridor stretched out before him, smelling of blood and semen and terror. ~ Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

"Have ye e'er seen such a lovely set 'o bosoms?" ~ My Highland Bride by Maeve Greyson

Lara Mayhew held her cell phone to her ear, trying to reach her friend Meg as she hurried along the length of the National Mall. ~ The Silenced by Heather Graham

We are sitting at a table in a restaurant. ~ The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski

The moon is high, spilling icy light through the pine branches. ~ Cold Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Clare: It's hard being left behind. ~ The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The first Callanish knew of the Circus Excalibur was the striped silk of their sails against the gray sky.  ~ The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Thirty-two hours of my life are missing. ~ Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five. ~ Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

The great headlines of other newspapers were always to be despised.  ~ Drop Dead Punk by Rich Zahradnik

The parcel was wrapped in brown paper and tied with an unblemished silk ribbon. ~ Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

Widowhood is trapping me unwillingly.
~ Wet Silence by Sveta Srivastava

There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks. ~ Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The two weeks leading up to finals were the perfect time to do research at Gilman Library--if you needed to be surrounded by people. ~ The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts by K.C. Tansley

It was, as Rowan's best friend Hilary often said, a day of small mishaps turning into complete disasters. ~ The Society by Lilith Saintcrow

She ended up knee-deep in slick rotting garbage with one hell of a shiner and a stitch gripping her side, holding a glowing blue knife while something with tentacles thrashed toward her in the foul stinking water. ~ The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow

Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero. ~ My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

"Can we go look, can we go look, can we go look?" Eight-year-old Amelie tugged at Rachel's hand, pulling her toward the stairs. ~ The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

To Ronan Matheson, this was home. ~ Bearing It All by Vonnie Davis

I hadn't been thinking about killing Delwood. ~ On the Road with Del and Louise: A Novel in Short Stories by Art Taylor

A puddle of inky atrum pooled in front of a storage closet beside the hotel elevators. ~ A Fistful of Fire by Rebecca Chastain

When I got home I could smell the trash cans on the cold air, a faint bad smell that made me wrinkle my nose. ~ Opening of Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

I admit, I had seen a ghost or two. ~ Opening of The Uninvited by Cat Winters

On the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow, and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor's notes. ~ The Storied Life of A.J. Friky by Gabrielle Zevin

Later today, Bob Oakland would wish he'd been killed in a manner that was quick and painless and nothing like how he imagined it would feel to have the blade of a penknife saw through his gullet. ~ The Spy Trade by Matthew Dunn

Kick. ~ Hunter, Healer by Lilith Saintcrow

I went missing fifteen years ago. ~ Hidden by Karen E. Olson

Smoke. ~ Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

Standing on top of his favorite cliff, Tydrin leaned forward to peer over the edge. ~ Fury of a Highland Dragon by Coreene Callahan

As the machine spat out the last drops of coffee that Monday morning, a tiny whiff of hairspray wafted down the hallway from Mel's bathroom and mingled with the aroma of freshly ground beans and the distinctive fragrance of Hoppe's #9 gun-cleaning solvent. ~ Stand Down by J.A. Jance

Even the kindness of the half-light could not hide his disfigurement. ~ A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

That morning, the excitement coursing throughout the complex known as the Castle was infectious. ~ The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

If she didn't have thirty children showing up in the next half hour, Celeste Nichols would have been tempted to climb into her little SUV, pull out of the Pine Gulch Library parking lot and just keep in driving. ~ A Cold Creek Christmas Story by RaeAnne Thayne

Only the most jaded of critics would deny that the Winter Holiday Concert had been an artistic triumph, and as far as Sophia could tell as the audience filed from the auditorium to meet the young performers in the cafeteria for juice and cookies, no one fitting that description had attended. ~ Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini

Nothing says Merry Christmas like your mother pimping you out at your brother's engagement party. ~ One Christmas Wish by Sara Richardson

"If you value your reputation, you'll get moving." ~ Twelve Nights by Sharon Struth

How quickly fortunes reversed. ~ The Santa Claus Man by Alex Palmer

It was two weeks before Christmas, but in the desert kingdom, it still felt like a hot, scorching summer afternoon as the young teacher finished yet another day at school. ~ Christmas in Vermont by Bryan Mooney

Connor James Silver, better known as CJ, couldn't believe it had been a whole year since he and his brothers rejoined their cousin Darien Silver's wolf pack. ~ A Silver Wolf Christmas by Terry Spear

Twenty-six--that was the number of windows across the front of this house. ~ Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

My father is gone. ~ The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

She supposed that particular state of affairs wasn't necessarily a bad thing in her current role as substitute attending physician at the Lake Haven Hospital emergency department. ~ Evergreen Springs by RaeAnne Thayne

Charlotte Bronte dipped her pen into the inkwell and dabbed in on a blotter. ~ Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

HARTFORD, Sept. 5, 1878--The dead body of Mary E. Stannard, 22 years old, was found at Durham, hear the border of Madison, on Tuesday night. ~ The Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault

Dusk mud flats mottled silver, mauve, five
shades of taupe. ~ Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust

© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: Year in Review

I enjoyed answering Jamie's (The Perpetual Page Turner) End of the Year Survey in past years and decided to join in again this year.  I did alter some of the questions and subtracted a few to make it my own.

Some fun meaningless statistics:
(Much of what I read was falls under more than one genre. Here, I count them under the genre I most identified with the book).

Crime Fiction (mysteries & thrillers) - 26*
Fantasy - 11*
Paranormal Romance - 7*
Contemporary Romance - 7*
Historical Fiction - 7*
Contemporary Fiction - 12*
Poetry - 3*
Nonfiction - 3*

Of those, 2 were Graphic Novels.
Of those, 3 were labeled as Young Adult.
Of those, 2 were audio books.

63 of the 76 books I read in 2015 were written by women.

Month I Read the Most Books: October (11)
Months I Read the Least Books: March (3) & April (3)

Number of books with "Girl" in the title: 4

1. Best book read in 2015?

Tuesday I shared my Top Ten Books Favorite Books Read in 2015. At the top of the list was a book I have re-read a handful of times: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I am happy to say it remains one of my all-time favorite books to this day.

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

A book that turned out to be disappointing was Bearing It All by Vonnie Davis. I enjoyed the other two books in the series which I read earlier in the year, but this one just fell flat for me.

Another is Lena Coakley's Worlds of Ink and Shadow, which I had high hopes for as I loved her other book.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2015?

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I wasn't sure this book would be for me, but I ended up loving it (I listened to the audio version).

4. Book you read in 2015 that you recommended to people most in 2015?

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman was probably my most recommended book last year. That and Sharon Bolton's Little Black Lies. If you haven't read either one, you really must. Don't wait.

5. Best series you discovered in 2015?

The Others series by Anne Bishop. I read three books in the series and there are no words to express just how much I love this series.

6. New-to-me authors you discovered in 2015 and hope to read more by?

This year, my number of new-to-me authors out-numbered the authors I had read before. And nearly all of them I would like to read more by. These are just the top twelve that I look forward to revisiting in the future, but are by no means the only ones:

Tessa Arlen
Virginia Boecker
Sharon Bolton
Jennifer Chiaverini
Paula Hawkins
Catriona McPherson
Amy Stewart
Art Taylor
RaeAnne Thayne
Lauren Willig
Cat Winters
Rich Zahradnik

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone?

Wet Silence: Poems About Hindu Widows by Sweta Srivastava Vikram was a beautiful and moving collection of poems. I also really enjoyed Rebecca Foust's Paradise Drive, which was both witty and real. I do not often read poetry, and reviewing poetry falls way outside my comfort zone. I always feel as if I will miss something in the meaning.

8. Most unputdownable book of the year? 

Hidden by Karen E. Olson. I could not stay away from this book once I started reading it.

9. Most action-packed books of the year?

Both A Fistful of Fire by Rebecca Chastain and Shady Cross by James Hankins were nearly nonstop action. So much fun!

10. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read In the Next Couple Years? 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

11. Most memorable character of 2015? 

Ove from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman who, although a curmudgeon, was such a sweetheart, and Cara from Alexandra Sokoloff's Huntress series because, although she plays outside the lines, she is extremely resilient, fights for the vulnerable, and is one kick-ass woman.

12. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Despite numerous and rather emphatic recommendations, I did not read this one until it arrived on my doorstep through my Postal Mail Book Club. I had no more excuses. I ended up really enjoying it, even though I wasn't completely thrilled with the end.

13. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015? 

Investigative Reporter Coleridge Taylor from Last Words and Drop Dead Punk by Rich Zahradnik because he is a stand up guy. Troubled, yes, but he pursues the truth regardless of whether it means he will get the story, and he has a good heart.

14. Hidden Gems Of The Year? 

Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain ~ This was such a great novella. I hope there will be more, full-length books featuring these characters.

Also, On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories by Art Taylor, which made me laugh and and wish I could visit longer with his characters.

15. Book That Nearly Crushed Your Soul? 

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton. While this novel has a message of hope, it was still an extremely devastating novel in many ways. 

Another book that fits this category, but in a different way, is Jan Ellison's A Small Indiscretion, which left me with such a heavy feeling at the end. It wasn't because of the ending, but rather the entire tone and subject matter of the novel. It took me a few days to shake the impact this book had on me. 

16. Book Most Beautifully Written?

I was really struck with the writing of Cecily Wong's Diamond Head. Such a wonderful book that brought me to tears.

17. Top five favorite covers of a books you read in 2015?

The Uninvited by Cat Winters

The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Wet Silence: Poems About Hindu Widows by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

18. Shortest and longest book you read in 2015?

Longest: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (546 pgs)
Shortest: Joy Street by Laura Foley (48 pgs)

19. Favorite book you read in 2015 by an author you’ve read previously?

Several actually made my top ten list this year: 

20. Genre you read the most from in 2015? 

Crime Fiction (are you really surprised?)

21. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting?

The Others series by Anne Bishop wow'ed me.  The world Anne Bishop created  was so well done; I hated to leave.

22. Which book made me smile and smile and smile?

A Cold Christmas Creek Story by RaeAnne Thayne. Most of my Christmas-themed books this year probably would fit in this category, but this particular one by Thayne especially.

23. Book that made you cry?

What book didn't make me cry?  I'm such a cry baby. It would be easier to answer this question if you asked me what book didn't make me cry. Seriously.

24. Book that made me laugh myself right off the couch?

Sandra Boynton's CHOCOLATE: The Consuming Passion. This was such a funny book. The section on white chocolate was one of my favorites. 

25. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of 2015?

I failed miserably at my goals this year. I do not know why I even make them.

Reading Goals:
Read more nonfiction - I read two as compared to none the previous year. In a way, I suppose that counts. Still not great though.
Read more diversely - This didn't happen either, at least not as much as I would have liked--although I did keep track this year, whereas in previous years, I did not. One step closer.
Re-discover favorite authors - A few, but not the way I had in mind when I made this goal.
Catch up on at least three favorite series - Yeah, no. I did start a couple new series I'm all caught up in, if it matters.
Read a book whose author's surname begins with an X. - Another no.

Blogging Goals:
Make Mouse's Corner a more regular feature on my blog, including guest posts from authors, fellow bloggers and readers on topics related to children's books and reading. - I think I posted fewer Mouse's Corners this year than last. Best laid plans and all that, right?

One good thing that came out of 2015, was the Postal Book Club I joined. I do not seem to do well when it comes to group reads, but I had no problem keeping up with the Postal Book Club picks, and I had such fun. Each member selects a book and mails it along with a journal at the end of December to their specified person on the club member list. We have two months to read the book, journal our thoughts, and then we mail the book to the next person on the list. I read some wonderful books this year as a result:

Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman (my pick)
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger 
The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski
The Time Traveler's Wife  by Audrey Niffenegger
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin 

26. Looking ahead to 2016, do you have any goals for reading or your blog? Or life in general?

I joined two challenges (What's In a Name? Reading Challenge and Clean Out Your E-Reads Challenge) as well as The TBR Triple Dog Dare for this next year. Both the Dare and COYER will have me focusing on getting caught up with my review books that are sitting on my TBR shelf for at least the first three months of the year. Hopefully I can get a lot accomplished during that time. Mostly though, I am looking forward to reading some great books.

Reading and Blogging Oriented Goals:
1. Keep track of last sentences in 2016.  While first sentences can play a significant role in drawing a reader in, the final sentence also plays an significant role. It is our last impression of the book. I am still on the fence about posting them on my blog (if I did, it would be in an end of the year last sentence type post--not meant to be included in my "Bookish Thoughts" posts). I would not want to spoil a book for anyone.

2. Make more time to read. I hope to do this by turning to a book instead of spending too much time on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. You will still find me in both places, but hopefully (for my sake) not as much. I also want to pick reading over spending an hour playing Sudoku or CrossMe or some such game on my phone or tablet. At least most of the time. I get that sometimes my brain needs to do some brainless (or near brainless) activity. My goal is to really make better use of any possible reading time I have. (Notice how I did not mention television and Netflix? Yeah, I'm not ready to go there yet.)

3. Make Mouse's Corner a more regular feature on my blog. I would also like to start tracking what I read with my daughter, but I am not sure I want to make that piece an actual goal. It's just something I want to work towards.

As for life goals . . . Well, there's the usual. Eat better, lose weight. Those seem to be ongoing battles, er, goals.

**                              **                              **                              **                                

This year has been one full of challenges as well as the building of good memories. I am excited and a lot nervous about what 2016 will hold for me and my family. In some ways, it has already gotten off to a rocky start and will prove to be a challenging year. On the more bookish front, I am excited and not even a little bit nervous about what the New Year will bring. I hope you will join me for another year of book talk, commiseration and celebration of life. 

Thank you for the support you have given me this year and in the many before it. I am glad to share my bookish journey with you and look forward to continuing to be a part of yours.

Happy New Year!

Mouse & Parker Waiting for 2016

© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Top Ten Reads of 2015 Edition)

In just a few short days, it will be 2016. I am already beginning to write the new year when I write the date, and so hopefully I will not have too much trouble with the transition once the year actually starts. I thank having to work on next year's schedule for my department for that. I have already had to write "2016" often enough!

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a pleasant holiday! We hosted Christmas at our house this year, and everything turned out well, I think. My daughter loves a houseful of people, especially one who is willing to shower her with attention.

Christmas, the Hippo

This year I participated in The Broke and Bookish Secret Santa event, which I have done in years past. Besides the fact that it's fun to shop for another book lover, it's one of the rare chances I get to actually receive books under the Christmas tree each year--so I take full advantage. This year, my Secret Santa was Wendy from The Falconer's Library. She spoiled me well, as you can see. Cat socks that my mother-in-law tried to sneak out of the house with (and my daughter likes to wear on her arms), chocolates, bookish buttons, a kitty key chain, a Powell's Bookstore magnet (someday I will make it there in person!), an adorable card, and three books (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, and Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King). 

My Secret Santa gift (Live cat not included)

I received a number of bookstore gift cards from various family members, and my mom gave me a copy of Sandra Boynton's CHOCOLATE: The Consuming Passion, which I nearly immediately read, and interrupted conversations around me to share hilarious tidbits from the book. If you are a chocolate lover and a fan of Sandra Boynton, I highly recommend you check it out.

I am back to reading non-holiday themed books. I was the first in the house to wake up Christmas morning and finished reading Lena Coakley's Worlds of Ink and Shadow, a YA fantasy novel about the Brontë siblings during their younger years. Although reading time is sparse given work and our remaining company, I did start Emily Arsenault's The Evening Spider, and am hoping I will find time to read here and there. This will likely be my final book read this year. (The book cover links to Goodreads if you want to know what the books is about.)

Excerpt from the first paragraph of of The Evening Spider:

Special Dispatch to the New York Times.

HARTFORD, Sept. 5, 1878--The dead body of Mary E. Stannard, 22 years old, was found at Durham, hear the border of Madison, on Tuesday night. She had been living with her father, and on Tuesday left home to go, as she said, into the woods half a mile away after berries. As she did not return, a search was made and she was found dead in the woods, lying in a by-path on her back, with her hands folded across her breast. On the left side of her neck was a puncture wound, apparently made by a pointed knife, which had severed the carotid artery and jugular vein and larynx. There was also a hole through her scalp, and a severe contusion on the back of her right hand. 

Teasers from The Evening Spider at 10%

"What happened to your sweet little face? Did you take a tumble? You've got almost like a shiner there."

"She . . . " I started to explain that we weren't sure what happened, but realized that sounded worse than almost anything else I could say.

and another at 17%:

"Did she say she saw a ghost?"

"No. She just said that their house creeped her out. Stopped showing up for holidays there and gave that as an excuse. But she has a lot of excuses for things."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

I'm finding the novel very interesting so far. It is a dual time line novel, one story thread taking place in the late 1800's and the other in modern day. Both are about new mothers, one in the past who is struggling and who becomes obsessed with the murder trial of Mary Stannard, and the other trying to find out about her house's past given the strange things that seem to be happening to her daughter. Is it supernatural? Or is it psychosis? I am intrigued so far.

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it anything you would recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

I skipped the Top Ten Tuesday post where everyone was asked to post about their favorite books read in 2015 earlier this month, and thought I would go ahead and do that now. These are not all new releases, as you will see. My list is made up of books that have stuck with me throughout the year and touched or moved me me in some significant way. Good writing, well developed characters, an intriguing plot, and a stand out setting (location or time period) are all qualities that I look for in a good book. This turned out to be a tough list for me to make--more so the order--although some titles were no-brainers. Without further ado, here is my Top Ten List of Books I Read in 2015 (the covers are linked to my reviews):


Last Words by Rich Zahradnik ~ I am so glad I said yes when asked to read and review this book. The author does such a good job of making me feel that I am right there in the middle of everything, caught up in the times. And I may have a little crush on Coleridge Taylor too, but let's not talk about that. This will sound strange, and I'm not exactly sure I can explain it, but this book made me feel closer to my dad. Maybe it was the time period the book takes place. I am not sure. I just wish he was alive so I could share it with him.


Hidden by Karen E. Olson ~ I was happy to see Karen E. Olson with a new book out, and Hidden did not disappoint. It's quite different from her other crime fiction novels, and by far my favorite. I really got swept up into the story and the lives of the characters, and I hated to see it end. I am excited, however, to hear there are two more books coming out in the series.


On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories by Art Taylor ~ This collection of connected stories just blew me away. Art Taylor's writing is beautifully understated, his characters quirky, and their hi-jinks and adventures both funny and moving.


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell ~ I decided the best way to experience this particular gem was in audio format, and it was the best decision I could have made. The narrators did an amazing job of bringing Eleanor and Park to life for me. Contemporary YA is hit and miss with me, and I had reservations about this one (it is actually set in 1986--which could be considered historical, I suppose). As I listened, I was taken back to the days of first love and falling in love. And I really came to care for Eleanor and Park.


The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy ~ Sarah McCoy is an author who seems to speak right to me. I can't explain it any other way. This is the second book I have read by her, another favorite, and I am in awe of her talent as an author. Set in both past and present, this novel tells the story of two strong woman finding their way during a difficult time in their lives.


Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes ~ I read three books by Elizabeth Haynes this year and enjoyed each of them immensely. Behind Closed Doors stands out the most, however, likely because of the subject matter and the way Haynes crafted both the characters and the story. Human trafficking is a growing epidemic in our society, one that impacts all of us, including in the United States. This book has stayed with me long after I finished it, both in thought and the emotions it brought up in me.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ~ I gave my mother-in-law a copy of this book for her birthday last year without having read it, and it turned out to be her best read of the year. I knew I couldn't put it off any longer. And now it's one of my top ten reads. This was such a delightful book! I laughed and cried, and I hated to see it end.


Written in Red by Anne Bishop (as well as Murder of Crows and Vision in Silver) ~ It is probably cheating to list all three, but given how tied together they are, I just could not separate them (plus, this way I could fit more books on my top books read list). But truly, each deserve their own spot. They were all 5 paw reads for me.  I requested to review Vision in Silver before realizing it was part of a series. In order not to miss out since this is a series best read in order, I went back and read the first two books. I was absolutely floored by Written in Red and the world Anne Bishop has created. While reading and for awhile after, I walked around in a sort of fog, the characters and their world never far from my thoughts. These books have the feel of an urban fantasy series, but probably fall more into a dark fantasy category. I am eager to read the fourth book in the series which is coming out in 2016.


Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton ~ Why did I wait so long to try something by this author?! Probably because I was waiting for just this book. I loved everything about it. It hits all the points that make a wow book for me from the fleshed out and flawed characters, the atmospheric setting, to the complex and multi-layered story line, and the good writing. Not to mention it had that personal connection that solidifies a five paw book for me.


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë ~ I re-read this classic because my husband decided to finally read it for the first time. It was such a wonderful experience, revisiting Jane and Edward. I have loved this book every time I have read it, and this time was no different. I squealed when familiar scenes would begin and I cried as the story progressed. Jane Eyre is the book I most often list as my all-time favorite, and it remains so to this day.

[Yes, I know I have two #2's. I tried, but couldn't decided which to put where. So, consider it a tie.]

Honorable Mentions (Because I can't help myself):

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen ~ I expected to like this cozy mystery set in Pre-World War I era, but I did not realize just how much I would. There was much more to this novel than at first meets the eye. The attention to detail and the social commentary of the times was woven into the novel so well. It fit around the the mystery perfectly.

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig ~ I swear I am not naming this one because it was the book my daughter gave me for my birthday. Although that would be reason enough, don't you think? I had such fun reading this book, being pulled into the time period and getting caught up in the drama of the characters. I loved the ending. It was the icing on the cake for me with this book.

Have you read any of these books? What made your favorite's list this year?

© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.