Monday, June 26, 2017

Mid-Year Review: My Top Ten Favorite Books So Far This Year.

Can you believe the year is half over? With the Top Ten Tuesday theme this week being the best books that I have read so far this year, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to review my reading year so far.

I have read a total of 35 books (not including children's books, of which I have read over 90). I long ago surpassed my Goodreads goal of reading 13 books for the year (okay, so my goal was a bit of a joke this year).  Looking back, I have read a lot of great books so far, and quite a variety. I decided it would be a year of no reading challenges, and so far I have stuck to it  despite some very tempting ones. I avoided making any real reading goals, although I did make a list Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017, which I didn't fare to well with. But let's not focus on what I haven't yet read, rather what I did read from that list.

I read the book my husband recommended, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (review pending). I also read a book my daughter recommended, The Princess In Black Takes a Vacation by Shannon and Dean Hale and LeUyem Pham. Back in December I had asked you all to recommend a book for me to read during the first half the year, and I picked two winners the following month: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal and Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Both of which I have read. My review of Kowal's book is pending, but I did enjoy it. Thank you to those who recommended those books!

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

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is Best Books I've Read In 2017 So Far. Considering most of the books I have read this year are children's books, I thought I would split the list--five of my favorite children's books read in the first half of the year and five of my adult favorites so far. I also included two honorable mentions because I couldn't help myself.




1. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow is a favorite of mine and Mouse's. We both love Molly Lou Melon. Molly Lou tries to live by her grandmother's advice and it is soon put to the test when she encounters a bully at her new school. This book is about having confidence in oneself and celebrating our differences.


2. While in search for a book about the Chinese New Year, I came across this gem of a children's book, The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang, illustrations by Alina Chau. Yet another favorite Mouse and I share, this one about a young girl who goes up against an ancient monster using her wit and charm. I liked how the author incorporates Chinese New Year traditions into the story and the heroine's actions as the story unfolds.


3. Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson is a well written and thoughtful book that introduces children to the difficult subject of slavery. The author does not shy away from presenting some hard facts of the time, making this a good book for parents to read with their children in case they have questions or want to talk about anything and everything that happens to Henry.


4. When I first read Let Me Finish! by Minh Le and Isabel Roxas to Mouse, I was nearing the end when she blurted out the big reveal that was coming (she had read the book at school, evidently). I guess she missed the message of the book. Those of you who don't especially like book spoilers will be able to relate to this book and the main character, a boy who just wants to read his book without someone giving away the ending. That doesn't seem like too much to ask for, does it? Evidently it might be . . .


5. Chalk by Bill Thomson is perhaps a cheat given it was a re-read for me. I fell in love with this book the first time I encountered it--an imaginative story told through illustrations about a group of children who find magic chalk waiting for them at the park. It's one of my daughter's favorites too. We have read it several times now and never tire of it.



6. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See was not only the first book I finished reading in 2017, but it also earned my highest rating. That's quite a way to start the year! I have long been a fan of Lisa See's work, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan being one of my all-time favorite books. This one comes in right next to it. Lisa See is gifted at creating characters that get under my skin and in weaving history, tradition, and cultural issues into her novels. She is an auto buy author for me. I can't get enough of her books.


7. I picked up The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood to read for a read-along and because the timing seemed perfect. I had only read one other Atwood book in the past, which I enjoyed, but found a little intimidating. The Handmaid's Tale is beautifully crafted and such a sad, and, in many ways, frightening story. Especially given how easily it is to imagine the fiction in the novel becoming reality. I can see why The Handmaid's Tale is considered a modern classic.


8. Monstress, Volume One: Awakening by Liu, Marjorie & Sana Takeda is a work of art, both in the writing and the gorgeous artwork. While I enjoy graphic novels, I tend to gravitate more towards graphic memoirs, which tend to have more depth (at least in my relatively limited experience). However, the richness of the world and character building in this volume is amazing. I am anxiously awaiting the release of the second volume next month.


9. LaRose by Louise Erdrich was my first book by the author, but it will not be my last. I found her writing beautiful. She is extremely adept at drawing out the raw emotions of her characters as well as immersing me completely in their lives. I loved how well--and naturally--she incorporated Ojibwe tradition and history into the novel.


10. Uprooted by Naomi Novik was one of the books recommended to me in a poll I held last December. It was also a book I had been wanting to read for some time. It did not disappoint. Naomi Novik's world building drew me in instantly, and I especially appreciated the tie in to existing folklore.


Honorable Mentions:


I could not help but mention The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrations by LeUyem Pham even though the entire series was a re-read this year for us. It remains a favorite for both my daughter and me. It is just so much fun. It's about a princess who has a secret identity. When she dons her black monster fighting attire, she becomes the Princess in Black. Whether hosting a fancy birthday party or beating up monsters, she is a fun character to spend time with.


I was a little nervous about reading Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie at first because of the mixed reviews, but I found it to be an extremely compelling and good read. It took a moment for me to get into because of the unusual narrative style, but once I did, I had a hard time putting the book down. Breq is such an interesting character, and I look forward to reading more about her in the next book of the series.


Have you read any of these? What did you think? What is your favorite book of the year so far?


© 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.

57 comments:

  1. Those children's books look awesome. I'm going to need to check them out for my spawnling.

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    1. J. Hooligan - I highly recommend them. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Aw :-) The children's books look adorable!

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    1. Chrissi - They were all very good. :-) Thanks for visiting!

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  3. I'm loving the look of the children's books. They look adorable! :-) (Sorry if this posts twice, I'm having issues!)

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    1. Chrissi - That's okay. My computer has been giving me trouble as of late. I have a feeling I may need a new computer soon. :-(

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  4. It's been a great reading year for me too, and I think next year I'm going to skip the reading challenges. I only did three this year and they're manageable, but I just like not worrying about that stuff lol.

    Great list, love the kids books, and Monstress is supposed to be quite good from what I've heard on a few blogs. Curious about Ancillary...

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    1. Greg - I think I made a good choice in skipping reading challenges this year. I feel like my reading is a bit more free, although sometimes it makes deciding what to read next more difficult.

      Ancillary has gotten mixed reviews, but I really liked it. I hope you will too if you read it.

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  5. Looks like you've read some spectacular books so far this year!! The Handmaid's Tale is a wonderful read!!

    Here's a link to my TTT post for this week:

    http://captivatedreader.blogspot.com/2017/06/top-ten-tuesday-best-books-ive-read-in.html

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    1. It has been a great reading year so far. I am so glad I finally read The Handmaid's Tale. Thank you for dropping in!

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  6. I LOVE seeing children's book lists! I am constantly adding to books I want to read with my 3 year old. So thank you for that! I particularly love the 2 dinosaur books you've added here as my little girl LOVES them at the moment. :)

    I am also pleased to see Uprooted in this list - I LOVED that book and remember gushing about it for ages afterward!

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    1. Di - Dinosaur books are so much fun. Your daughter has good taste. :-)

      Uprooted was very good! I hope the author will write more books set in that world.

      Thanks for visiting, Di!

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  7. I can't believe the year is already half over!

    Lots of your books look really good and I know you've convinced me to read quite a few too! (:

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    1. Eustacia - I can't believe it either. It doesn't seem possible! If you do decide to give any a try, I hope you like them! Thanks for visiting, Eustacia. :-)

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  8. Your list reminds me that I need to reread The Handmaid's Tale...it's waiting on my kindle. I started LaRose and got sidetracked. Keep meaning to get back to it!

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    1. JoAnn - I know I just read it, but I am very tempted to listen to the audio version now. I hope you like LaRose if you try it again. There were a couple of slower places in the novel, but it picked up for me pretty quickly again once I got past them. It's definitely not a book to rush through. At least not for me. Thanks for stopping by, JoAnn!

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  9. I haven't read any of those but really want to read The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane after seeing your list.

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    1. Kathy - I hope you do get a chance to read Lisa See's latest! Thanks for visiting, Kathy!

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  10. Great list! Monstress's cover art looks stunning, I'll have to check it out at some point. And your list reminds me that I still have yet to read Uprooted!

    My TTT

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    1. Lianne - I hope you are able to read Monstress someday. It's so good! Thank you for visiting!

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  11. I love how you have The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane on your TTT list. Also, thank you for showcasing some picture books. I am now going to add a couple to my TBR list such as The Nian Monster and Let Me Finish! I have Monstress on my TBR list and cannot wait to read it. My boyfriend has a copy of it so I probably will borrow it from him.

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    1. Nicole - The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is so good, isn't it? I love Lisa See's books. I hope you get to Monstress soon. It's worth it! Thank you for stopping by, Nicole!

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  12. The children's books look like so much fun! I read a lot to my children, so I'll be sharing some of these with my children. Here is our TTT.

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    1. I read a lot with my daughter as well (and try to encourage her to read to me). We've discovered so many great books. Thank you for visiting!

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  13. Great choices! The Handmaid's Tale is on my list as well! And Uprooted is fantastic!

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    1. Lynn - Thank you! I am really glad I finally got around to reading both The Handmaid's Tale and Uprooted. Thank you for stopping by!

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  14. The Handmaid's Tale! <3 And I just LOVE the TV adaptation!

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    1. Anastasia - I haven't had a chance to see the adaption, but I hope to one of these days. I am glad you liked it! Thank you for visiting!

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  15. Uprooted is on my list for next year. It looks wonderful. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and pretty much any other book by Lisa See are also on my list. I love all the children's books you've read! The Tornado has been reading more chapter books but I miss picture books. There are so many wonderful ones out there.

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    1. Katherine - I hope you enjoy Uprooted when you read it! I really enjoy Lisa See's books. I still haven't read all of them, but I am working on it. :-) Thanks for visiting, Katherine!

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  16. Look at you already completing your challenge! :)
    So glad to see The Handmaid's Tale on your list. Isn't that a fantastic book. One of my favorite reads of all time. And, now let me freak about about the fact that yes, half of the year is gone! haha..

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    1. Iliana - It really is a great read. Now I want to listen to the audio version. It seems like a book that will be good in that format as well. I'm still in a bit of denial that the year is half over. It doesn't seem possible. Thanks for stopping by, Iliana!

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  17. Uprooted is on my TBR so I'm glad you enjoyed it!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/top-ten-tuesday-113/

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    1. I hope you give it a try! Thanks for visiting!

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  18. Enjoyed reading your list and I'm so glad to see The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane makes the list, too! This book will no doubt make it as one of my favourites this year. :) And Uprooted is equally great, too!

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    1. Melody - The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was so good, wasn't it? I love Lisa See's books. Thanks for stopping by, Melody!

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  19. Uprooted has phenomenal world building. I was so impressed and need to pick up her other novels. I must get to Monstress soon. I hear so many good things about it. Great list!

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    1. Alicia - Yes, it does. I really enjoyed Uprooted. I haven't yet tried her other books either, but I definitely want to. I hope you are able to read Monstress! It's so good! Thank you for visiting, Alicia!

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  20. The only book on your list that I have read is Uprooted which I absolutely loved. I do want to finally read The Handmaid's Tale soon.

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    1. Carole - I am so glad I finally read Uprooted. I hope you do get a chance to read The Handmaid's Tale! Thanks for dropping by, Carole.

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  21. I bought Chalk when it was a $1.00 ebook a awhile ago, and took the chance that one of the girls I babysit would still be interested in it, and she was. I also ended up entertaining a bored-into-misbehaving boy in the Dr 's office waiting room, too. He looked at it with me three times. Haha. The Nian Monster and Henry's Freedom Nox I have seen recommended on quite a few children's blogs. I will have to remember them if I ever get any younger kids to babysit again. I really need to read Uprooted. It has been in my sights for a long time. It never seems to go on ebook sale, so I guess I will have to pick It up from the library.

    I didn't do any challenges this year, either, and I set my Goodreads Challenge counter to one so I could use it as a counter. Less pressure seems to be working well for both of us. I was around 22 books at this point last year and I am at 48 this year. :D

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    1. Chalk is so awesome. Such an imaginative tale. I think we all wish we could find some magic chalk like that. :-) It sounds like the book has come in handy for you quite a bit!

      Sounds like you are doing well with your reading! I'm a little ahead of where I was last year, but not by much. I do like having more freedom in what I read--or rather, no guilt over not reading challenge choices instead of what I want.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  22. I loved reading Henry's Freedom Box and Monstress! Great list!

    Here’s my TTT!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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    1. Ronyell - Yes, both are excellent reads! Thanks for dropping by!

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  23. When I babysit, I always remember to bring along my copy of Chalk. The kids always love the book! I had to read The Handmaid's Tale for class and remember really enjoying it. I haven't had time to watch the show but if it is anything like the book, it will be frightening how close this may be to reality. Fantastic list! Happy reading!

    Here's my Top Ten Tuesday!

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    1. Jeanna - I am glad to hear Chalk is so popular with the kids as well as the adults. I haven't seen The Handmaid's Tale TV series yet either, but I would like to. I've heard it is really good. Thank you for visiting!

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    1. Melissa - You definitely should! Thanks for stopping by!

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  25. I've only read a pathetic 7 books this year and none have been anything really exceptional, although most were enjoyable. However, I recently got People We Hate at the Wedding and I've been looking forward to that one. Also the final book in the Great Library trilogy is out in July.

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    1. Nicole - Quality is always better than quantity. Plus, I know you've had a lot to deal with, especially these days. :-( One of these days I'll jump into the Great Library trilogy. Thanks for visiting, Nicole.

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  26. You have some GREAT kidlit here, Wendy! I know most of them, but need to pick up a few you posted here. (And Isabel is the sweetest, cutest thing!)

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    1. Donna Marie - Thank you! I feel like my daughter and I have found some good books this year. Isabel responded to one of my tweets about her book--she does seem nice!

      Thanks for stopping by, Donna Marie. Have a great weekend!

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    2. Wendy, I really enjoy your blog and honestly wish I could stop by and participate more often! For the longest time I was spending my days following and participating in blogs I love, but couldn't (and still can't) find balance with the rest of my overloaded life. I rarely blog myself anymore :( In fact, I only recently wrote one 'cause I felt so compelled. You may enjoy it: https://writersideup.com/2017/06/15/up-when-a-book-moves-you/ Meanwhile, I jabbed my eye REALLY badly Friday morning and have been "down for the count" for two days (that I can't afford to lose, but did) and am finally at least able to function, however uncomfortably. As long as I'm back to normal by Tuesday 'cause I face paint at a Town Fair every 4th of July! I hope your weekend is going better than mine! lol :)

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    3. Thank you so much! That's very nice of you to say, Donna Marie. I understand that struggle to find balance. There never seems to be enough time to do everything I want to do. I am so sorry about your eye! How awful! I hope it heals soon--and well. I enjoyed your post about books that move you.

      I hope you have a great Independence Day and that your eye is completely better by then. Enjoy the Town Fair!

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    4. Thanks so much, Wendy :) The kids are always fun. This year the weather will make it less-than-fun. Enjoy!

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  27. Just bought LaRose - glad to see it on your list!

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