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.


  1. Sounds like you had a great reading year - love Crime Fiction :D

    And thanks to you, I found out about Sharon Bolton!

    1. Eustacia - It was a good year in reading. :-) Crime fiction is my favorite as well. I am glad you were able to give Sharon Bolton a try!

  2. Love that sweet little picture! Wendy, here's hoping that 2016 will have lots of good surprises and much joy. I'm so pleased that you are still around and sharing your life, both personal and reading, with all of us. Hugs!

    1. Kay - I am so glad to count you as one of my friends. I hope you have a wonderful New Year as well.

  3. I loved Eleanor and Park too. I don't keep good stats but I'm sure I read a lot more female authors (vs male authors) and I'm not sure why. Happy New Year to you and your family!

    1. Kathy - I wasn't trying to read more by one gender or the other either. It's interesting to see how that turned out, isn't it? I think some of it, for me, had to do with my reading choices. I read more romance than usual and more often than not the authors are female. Happy New Year to you and your family as well!

  4. Oh that picture is wonderful! I haven't read Eleanor and Park but I want too. I'm pleased to hear that you really enjoyed it. I love the books I've read by Rainbow Rowell but have been a little nervous to try her YA books because it's outside of my usual genres but I'm trying to stretch my reading boundaries a bit for 2016 so I'm really going to try to get to it. Happy New Year!

    1. Katherine - My husband actually took that photo one day while I was at work. :-) It seemed fitting for this post.

      I need try Rainbow Rowell's adult books.

      I hope you have a Happy New Year!

  5. Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful post. It sounds like you had a great year! Hear's to having a very Happy New Year!

    1. Pat - It was a good reading year. I can't wait to see what's in store for us this year. :-) Have a Happy New Year, Pat!

  6. What a great reading year you had. I need to read Jane Eyre again after way too long. I love the picture of Mouse and your cat:) precious.

    Have a Happy & Healthy 2016

    1. Diane - I just love Jane Eyre. It was such fun re-visiting my old favorite. Isn't that a great photo? I love it too. :-) I hope you have a wonderful New Year, Diane.

  7. Wonderful post, Wendy! I'm sure that took a lot of effort and it's appreciated. Adorable picture of Mouse and Parker!

  8. I read more women authors than men too. Eleanor and Park was wonderful. I read some really good Christmas themed books as well. Happy New Year!
    My Favorite of 2015

    1. Nise' - I loved Eleanor and Park. I hated to see the story end. I had such fun reading Christmas-themed books this year. I might do it again this year. Have a Happy New Year!

  9. Love hearing your thoughts on the books you read and others, Wendy! It sounds like you'd a wonderful reading year in 2015. And I love that pic of Mouse and Parker! So sweet and precious. :-)

    1. Melody - Thanks! I think there were only a couple of disappointments this past year, which is pretty good. :-)

  10. Happy New Year, Wendy! I loved reading about your year in books. I think one thing I particularly want to do as well is make more time for books. Somehow I get caught up doing all sorts of things and before I know it, my reading time gets so limited. Here's to a great year in books!

    1. Iliana - Same to you! I always have fun putting this post together even though I wonder how I'll ever do it when I start. Haha

      I know what you mean about being so busy you don't have to time read. We do the best we can, right?

  11. I'm still not sure what I think about A Small Indiscretion. I am so bad at keeping stats ... maybe I'll try once again this year. Ha!! Happy new year.

    1. Beth F - I finally decided I liked it even though I had my doubts at first. I can almost feel that heaviness I felt after I first finished reading it when I think back on it. . . I hope you have a Happy New Year as well!

  12. You had a great reading year! I need to read Jane Eyre, like asap. I feel the same way about the Jan Ellison book and I've added the Cecily Wong to my TBR.
    I need to make more time for reading too, but with social media always there it can be hard. Don't get me started on I get sucked into the Pinterest vortex so easily because there's books, quotes, crochet and recipes to look at and Pin.
    Cute pic of them waiting for the new year!

    1. Naida - It was a good reading year, wasn't it? I hope you like Jane Eyre if you do read it. Cecily Wong's novel is good as well!

      Social media is such a time suck. It's hard to stay away from. I haven't figured out Pinterest, although I have an account. It's probably for the best.

  13. Oh that picture of Mouse and Parker waiting for 2016 is adorable! I'm hoping to work in more reading time this year as well. For me, it will be a matter of moving out of the room the television is on in. I'm not necessarily even interested in what's on but it's so distracting.

    1. Lisa - I love that photo too. :-) I've started moving to the living room/library when I read and the television is set to something I'm not interested in watching, and so Mouse now calls it "Mommy's Reading Room." I love that.

  14. Love this wrap-up Wendy! I hope that 2016 proves to be your best year yet! I would like to see more Mouse, but I know from experience that's the first thing that gets pushed back when there's not enough time. Why can't Santa bring us more hours in a day?

    1. Stacy - Thank you!I hope that for 2016 too--and for you and your family as well! More hours in the day would be so nice!

  15. What a terrific post! I loved reading all your answers to the survey and the other tidbits you shared. I ended up creating a list! Thanks! :) Also, the pic of Mouse & Parker is adorable. I did a Postal Book Club once, but it wasn't anything special. Yours sounds good.

    1. Joy - Thank you! If you read any of these, I hope you like them, Joy. The Postal Book Club has been fun. I enjoyed some books more than others, but overall it's been a really good experience.


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