Monday, January 02, 2017

2016: A Year in Review (Part 1)



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.

Read Part 2 of my 2016: A Year in Review & Looking Ahead.


Overall I felt 2016 was a good reading year. I read less than I have in a while, but, for the most part, I enjoyed what I did read. There's a feeling a reader gets when opening a new book, one of anticipation and maybe a little fear. What if I hate it? What if I love it? Oh, I hope I love it! This year I was swept off my feet, visited new worlds, cried until my eyes were swollen and red, laughed, paced while I read as the tension kept building, and closed many books with an audible sigh of contentment, some of which left me deep in thought for a long time after.



Some Fun Meaningless 2016 Reading Statistics:

Number Of Books Read: 65

Genre Read The Most From:
(Some of what I read falls under more than one genre. Here, I count them under the genre I most identified with the book, Also of note, my categorization of each book by sub-genre using broad definitions).


Fiction - 23
  • 11 Contemporary Fiction (Literary, Women's, General)
  • 9 Historical Fiction
  • 2 Young Adult
  • 1 Thriller
Crime Fiction - 21 
  • 6 Thrillers
  • 5 Historical
  • 4 Cozies
  • 3 Mysteries
  • 2 Science Fiction 
  • 1 Paranormal/NonCozy
Fantasy/Science Fiction - 15
  • 7 Urban Fantasy
  • 2 Young Adult High Fantasy
  • 1 Middle Grade Fantasy
  • 2 High Fantasy Romance
  • 3 Science Fiction (1 Dystopian)
Romance - 5

Nonfiction - 1 

Of the book I read, 6 were audio books.

19 of the 65 books I read in 2016 were written by men.
1 of  the 65 was written by a male/female writing team.

Month I Read the Most Books: May (8)
Months I Read the Least Books: March (3)


Best In Books

1. Favorite Reads in 2016?

Five books earned my top rating in 2016 (5 Paws).  They each had that "wow" factor that is made up of a combination of good writing, well-developed characters, a memorable setting or world-building, an entertaining or thought provoking story, and one that brings out an array of my emotions. A book that makes me cry is worth its weight in gold. I went back to read my reviews when compiling this list, and I still feel the same excitement and awe I felt when I was reading them. 



The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary 

I had this to say about The Night Parade in my review: 
What a delightful book The Night Parade turned out to be! I loved every minute of it. I lost myself in the pages and wished I could join Saki on her adventures through the spirit world. The vivid descriptions, the sometimes quirky and always interesting characters, and the world Kathryn Tanquary has created had me under their spell as I read this novel. The story may seem simple on the surface, but it is quite complex when you look at it more closely.


The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

I had this to say about The Hummingbird in my review: 
Healing and forgiveness are at the center of this novel as it deals with the difficult topics of war and dying. Stephen P. Kiernan expertly takes three seemingly different stories, one from the past and two from the present, and weaves them together. The Hummingbird is an emotional and thought provoking novel that will resonant with many readers.



Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I had this to say about Neverwhere in my review: 
A mixed band of individuals going on a quest is not new to the fantasy genre, but I like Gaiman's approach to it in Neverwhere. An astute reader may notice the several literary allusions, although it isn't at all necessary to do so to enjoy the novel. I'm sure I missed half of them at least. Gaiman's sense of humor, the enduring and interesting characters, and the mystery surrounding Door's family's death kept me riveted to the pages of the novel. I found Neverwhere to be extremely entertaining and a fun read over all.


When the Moon Is Low by Naida Hashimi

I had this to say about When the Moon Is Low in my review: 
I fell in love with this novel from the start. The writing is beautiful. The characters feel so real. The story is such a sad one, intense, and heartbreaking, and yet there is also hope. Hope that they will reach their family in England. Hope that they will find a better life elsewhere. There was breath-holding and tears--both happy and sad.


The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I had this to say about The Sun Is Also a Star in my review: 
Fellow readers, I am so enamored with this book. Eleanor and Park, move over. There's a new young couple in my heart. [...] Nicola Yoon's writing style drew me in immediately. I appreciated the way Yoon told Natasha and Daniel's story. I liked the shifts in perspective, including the side stories of some of the minor characters. It was a good reminder of how our actions or inactions, however big or small, something so simple as a smile or a thank you--or lack thereof--can impact another's day. Our actions have consequences, whether good or bad, intended or not. We are all connected in some way.

Although not in my top five, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss came close and was my favorite crime fiction novel of the year. It is rare a cozy ends up being one of my favorite, although I do enjoy the sub-grenre from time to time. There was just something about this one that set it above the rest, and I am looking forward to reading the next in the series this coming year.




2. Book I Was Excited About & Thought I Was Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones sounded so good from its description, set in the South around the time of Hurricane Katrina. The writing is beautiful, and it's one of those books I feel like I would have loved if I had been able to get past the animal cruelty and dog fighting. Alas, it was too much for me and it ultimately hurt my enjoyment of the novel.


3. Most Surprising Book I Read?

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister was a surprise to me. Somehow I got it in my head this was more of a mystery than it actually was. I also wasn't expecting it to be a historical novel. I must have forgotten that when I finally picked up the book to read. Regardless, I ended up really enjoying The Magician's Lie.


4. Book I “Pushed” The Most People To Read? 

Both my mom and mother-in-law received copies of Nadia Hashimi's When the Moon Is Low for Christmas this year. And I have been recommending The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan right and left. Also, Nicola Yoon's The Sun Is Also a Star. The Invisible Library series is a must read for anyone who enjoys fantasy and adventure.


5. Best series I started in 2016? 

So many! I am always starting new series (which is bad for all the series I have yet to finish). If I had to pick just one, I would have to say The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman. I read both The Invisible Library and The Masked City. It is such a fun series that features a librarian spy who travels between dimensions. Her home base has a distinct Victorian feel to it, with steampunk qualities.

Seraphina and Shadow Scale, books in Rachel Hartman's duology featuring dragons and humans living side by side, was quite enjoyable as well. I look forward to visiting that world again.


6. Favorite Authors I Discovered in 2016?

I know I should narrow this list down more, but I I find it impossible to do so any further. All of these amazing authors are new to me, and I definitely plan to read more of their books at some point in the future.

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Katarina Bivald
Genevieve Cogman
Lia Davis
Nicole Dennis-Benn
Rachel Hartman
Naida Hashimi
Ninni Holmqvist
Greer Macallister
Danielle Monsch
Delores Fossen
Jaime Lee Moyer
Amanda Quick
John Scalzi
Kathryn Tanqaury
Ruth Ware
Kirsten Weiss
Nicola Yoon


7. Best Book From a Genre I Don’t Typically Read/Was Out of My Comfort Zone?

Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age by Katherine Ozment came at the perfect time for me, and I could relate to much of the author's own struggles with faith and religion. While the subject matter has long interested me, it isn't something I often read about and it definitely isn't something I am comfortable talking about on such a public forum as my blog. And yet, I did, and it was worth it.


8. Most Action-packed/Thrilling/Unputdownable Book of the Year?


In audio, that would easily be John Scalzi's Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, which I couldn't tear myself away from and listened to in one day.

In print, I will have to go with The Invisible Library and The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman. Both books had me from the start, and were almost full of nonstop action from start to finish. Another one that comes close to being just as action packed is Charming by Elliott James, an urban fantasy novel that, once it had me in its clutches, wouldn't let go. 


9. Top Five Favorite Covers of Books I Read in 2016?


Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer



Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister




The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary 


The Ninja's Daughter (Shinobi Mystery #4) by Susan Spann




The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam


10. Book I Can’t Believe I Waited UNTIL 2016 to Finally Read?

Why did I wait so long to read The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)?! I know why, of course, but my excuse is silly given how much I ended up liking this book. I am eager to read the other books out in the series now.


11. Shortest Book I Read in 2016? 

White Christmas by Rebecca York - 86 pgs


12.  Longest Book I Read In 2016?

The Fireman by Joe Hill - 747 pgs


13. OTP of the Year (you will go down with this ship!) (OTP = one true pairing)?

Natasha and Daniel from Nicola Yoon's The Sun Is Also a Star. No question about it.


14. Favorite Book I Read in 2016 From An Author I’ve Read Previously?

It would be easy to say Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman or The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan, both books which made my top five list in 2016, but I really want to give some love to Tessa Arlen's Death Sits Down for Dinner, the second in her Edwardian series, featuring Lady Montfort and her servant, Mrs. Jackson. I adore this series and am anxious to read the next book when it comes out.

I also really enjoyed Amy Stewart's Lady Cop Makes Trouble, A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik, and Curse of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain, all of three of which are great series I am reading and can't help but mention.



15. Best World-building/Most Vivid Setting I Read This Year?

I have so much love for The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary. The world-building is amazing and it's such a good book, combining modern day Japan with mythology and old traditions. Everyone should read it.

Also, Anuk Arudpragasam's writing in The Story of a Brief Marriage vividly brought to life the conditions Dinesh and his fellow evacuees were living in on the coast of Sri Lanka during the civil war. It's one that stays with you quite a while after reading.


16. Most Unique Book I Read In 2016?

Elan Mastai's All Our Wrong Todays. It was . . . mind-bending. Seriously.


17. Book That Made Me The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn had some pretty ugly mad-making moments. From colorism to the human trafficking and everything else that came with it. Amazing book, but a very difficult read. 

Another book that got my ire up rather significantly, but not in a good way, was Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. I really struggled with this one because it hit on a subject matter I have difficulty reading about (animal cruelty).


18. Book That Made Me Cry in 2016?

I say it every year, but it would be easier to ask me which books didn't make me cry. Of all the books I read, the one that made my cry the most was Stephen P. Kiernan's The Hummingbird. It hit so close to home, and is such a beautiful book.


19. Book That Put A Smile On My Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?



I loved every minute of reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, which was such a fun read.


20. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. I thoroughly enjoyed it--even gave a copy to my mother for Christmas this year. A dual time period novel set in 1955 and the present, it's set in a grand old house and has a little bit of everything-romance, family drama, intrigue, and even ghosts.


I would love to know what your favorite reads of 2016 were! Please share a link to your favorites list below if you posted one--or just tell me in the comments. Did we read any of the same books? If so, what did you think?

Here's to another great year in reading in 2017!


© 2017, 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.

36 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading your post, Wendy. It's always interesting to see what other readers' favourite list and adding them onto ours as well. Here's to another great reading year in 2017!

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    1. Melody - I kept my favorites list short this past year, but enjoyed so many of the books I read. I feel it was a good reading year overall. :-) I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 will hold. So far it's off to a great start reading wise.

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  2. The invisible library series sound really good!

    And I can't believe I still haven't found a copy of The Night Parade :p I guess I just have to wait patiently and hope my library adds it to the ebook collection.

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    1. Eustacia - It really is good! I hope you will consider giving it a try. :-)

      I wish I had a copy of The Night Parade to share with you. :-( It's so good and I think you would like it.

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  3. I need to get back to Scalzi - thanks for the great idea! :--) I also loved the Yoon book so much I just ordered it for my niece as a "New Year's" present!

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    1. Jill - I definitely would like to read more by Scalzi. Redshirts is my first by him. Wasn't the Yoon book great? I hope your niece enjoys it as much as we did.

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  4. What a memorable way to remember 2016. My book of the year remains A Man Called Ove.

    Looking forward to your 2017 reads, happy reading.

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    1. Tracy - A Man Called Ove is an awesome book. :-) I hope you have a wonderful year in reading too!

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  5. Great list! I love the cover of The Night Parade...I must get that one. An I can't believe I haven't read June yet!

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    1. Melissa - Thank you! I really enjoyed The Night Parade, and hope you do read it! I hope my mom likes June. She's a little unsure about it, I think. She should know by now she can trust me. LOL

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  6. An eclectic list! I like the way you have categorized some of your books! I was recently thinking of making a list of "bad sister" books, since I've read a couple recently. :) I think my hidden gem would be The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace, but I have not yet gotten around to surveying my 2016 reads.

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    1. Jenclair - I think last year I had a "girl" category because I read so many books with "girl" in the title. "Bad sister" would be a good one too. I just went back to look at your review of The Girl in the Garden. I remember reading it, but am surprised I didn't leave a comment. I even have a notation on my wish list that you recommended it. :-)

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  7. Ooh, I'll have to look into these books by Cogman! I have never even heard of them but they sound like ones I would enjoy.

    Happy new year, Wendy!

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    1. Aarti - Cogman's books are a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy them if you give them a try.

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  8. Really enjoyed this post. I share your feelings about Salvage the Bones, but there were so many great reads in 2016. You've reminded me of several books I've been meaning to get to: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, June, and The Readers of Broken Wheel. And I must get back to The Invisible Library also. Happy reading!

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    1. Catherine - Yes, lots of great reads in 2016 even with the two or three disappointments. I think you'll really like Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, June, and The Readers of Broken Wheel when you get to them!

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  9. So many good books you've read and shared! It is hard to say no. The Ninja's Daughter cover makes me think of "A" from Pretty Little Liars and how they were portrayed in the show.

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    1. Charlie - So many good books. :-) I hadn't thought about it, but you are right. Spann's book cover does bring to mind "A". How funny.

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  10. I love reading these end of year posts. I get so many ideas of books I must read! :) Of course I definitely have The Sun Is Also A Star on my TBR list.

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    1. Iliana - I love these posts too. My wish list always grows by a mile this time of year. :-) I hope you enjoy The Sun Is Also A Star when you read it!

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  11. Looks like you had a great year of reading!

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    1. Kelly - I am happy with my reading in 2016. :-)

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  12. This post is great! I now know where to go if I run out of books to read this year. :)

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    1. Lark - I doubt you could run out of books to read. :-)

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  13. It sounds like you had a great year. I have to agree with you regarding The Invisible Library series - these books are so much fun. I love getting a chance to look at all of your reading stats. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Carole - It was a great year in reading. :-) I just love the Invisible Library series. I am glad you do too!

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  14. I'm so pleased you also loved Neverwhere! Such a great read. Now you'll have to listen to Neil Gaiman read it. Redshirts is one that I've been meaning to get to - hopefully sooner, and hopefully in audio.
    Books that make me cry also get high praise from me, so I've noted Hummingbird. Thanks, your recc from last year, The Policeman, was a definite winner for me.
    I can't believe we both, mystery lovers, missed The Cuckoo's Calling until this year. I understand the last book ends on a cliffhanger, so I'll prob wait until the 4th is closer to being released before I get to the third.

    Here's to another wonderful year reading together!

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    1. Elizabeth - I am glad I got the chance to read Neverwhere--finally. I have enjoyed everything I have read by Gaiman so far. I am sure Redshirts is good in print too, but I really enjoyed the audio. I hope you are able to to get to it--and like it when you do.

      The Hummingbird was so good. I hope you are able to read it.

      At least you are reading the second book in the series. I need to get to that one soon. Thanks for the heads up about the third book and the cliffhanger.

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  15. Quality over quantity, that's always good :-) I've never even though to keep track of the gender of the author, so that's interesting. I'd guess I probably read more female authors too. Not on purpose, they just seem to be more common in the genres I read.

    The Night Parade has such an interesting cover! The world building sounds interesting too. And I'm glad you found five books that met your perfect 5 star rating :-) I only found two lol.

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    1. Kristen - Yes, that's what I think too. :-) I used to read closer to an even balance of male and female authors, and it's interesting to see how much that has changed over the years. I am not sure it was a conscious effort on my part to read more women.

      I thought about doing a top ten list, but in the end thought I would just focus on the top five. Two is good too!

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  16. These lists are so dangerous. I end up adding too many books to my list for the new year. I haven't read any of these books, but I did happen to meet Greer accidentally when hanging out with Sarah McCoy!

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    1. Serena - I did too! So many great sounding books to try. How neat that you got to meet Greer. I really enjoyed her book, The Magician's Lie.

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  17. Hi, Wendy!!! I know I owe you several comments, and am trying to catch up. Just bear with me, lol. <3 :)

    You know, you always have such wonderfully MEATY posts to be enjoyed by your readers!! I will have to come back for more than one comment, for sure!!

    This is an AMAZING post!! So much bookish AWESOMENES!! All those books you've read!! HOW do you manage to read so fast? PLEASE tell me your secret!! I am SO green with envy.....lol.

    Right off the bat, I want to read The Invisible Library Series, as well as "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend". "The Night Parade" and "Neverwhere" are other books I'm interested in. And then, of course, there's "The Sun Is Also A Star"!!

    I LOVE your idea of including excerpts from your reviews of your favorite reads from 2016!! And these excerpts are very well-written, as well as evocative of each book's world!

    Well, I'll be coming back with more comments!! Thanks for being such an AWESOME blogger friend!! Have a TERRIFIC week!!! HUGS to Mouse!!! <3 <3 :) :)

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  18. I LOVE the first three book covers you've shared! They're all so unique and eye-catching! And I really want to read "The Magician's Lie". That one has a GREAT plot!

    You've made me feel SO excited about reading "The Sun Is Also A Star"!! Well, I've read some very positive reviews of it, and of course, if there's romance involved, I'll be interested!

    Since I ADORE Christmas romance novels (or novellas), I've just checked out the plot of "White Christmas". It's SO cute! So I definitely will be reading this one when Christmas rolls around again!

    I think I'll check out that Edwardian mystery series you love. I like the combination of historical fiction and mystery. It reminds me of my favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes.

    As for my favorite 2016 reads, I can recommend the Shadow Falls series, the Vampire Academy series (both are YA paranormals), "Belle Chasse", by Suzanne Johnson (adult paranormal and urban fantasy), and "Just For Christmas", by Scarlett Bailey.

    Thanks for sharing all of your bookish news!! <3 :)

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