2017 End of the Year Book Survey

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What a year! I read a ton on audio this year. With a toddler I'm still struggling with print books and have found I do best with re-reads in that format. This was a fantastic year for nonfiction books for some reason.

Any books I reread this year are not eligible for this list. I didn’t count the piles upon piles of children’s books I read in this list. I also don’t limit myself to one book per answer if there are two or three that are a perfect fit.

Number of Books You Read: 143
Number of Re-Reads: 17
Genre You Read The Most From: I feel like there was a ton of nonfiction and mysteries this year. I was way down on the number of classics I read.

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?
Classics — Adam Bede and Crossing to Safety
Historical Fiction — The Paris Architect
Mystery — In a Dark, Dark Wood 
Literary Fiction — A Gentleman in Moscow
Nonfiction — At Home in the World, My Own Words, Five Days at Memorial, Lab Girl, A Spy Among Friends, and Four Seasons in Rome
Fantasy — Norse Mythology and The Bone Clocks
Play —  Amadeus
YA —  The Hate U Give
Children’s —  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Graphic Novel — Bone

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Caraval, ugh, I heard this was like The Night Circus, but that was NOT the case. Also, Today Will Be Different, I loved Where'd You Go,Bernadette by the same author, but this one fell flat for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 
Bonfire, I’m so skeptical of “celebrity” novels, but this one was actually a pretty decent thriller.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
The Bone Clocks, it’s a strange book, but I co-hosted a readalong of it and we had a great discussion!

5. Best series you started in 2017?
The Hogarth Shakespeare series; each book is written by a different famous author (Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, etc.) and retells one of Shakespeare’s plays. I read four of them this year (Dunbar/King Lear, NewBoy/Othello, Hag-Seed/Tempest, and Vinegar Girl/Taming of the Shrew).

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?
Ruth Ware and Celeste Ng, I read multiple novels from both authors and I was so impressed with them.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Book of Joy and The Reason I Jump, one is a conversation between Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the other is by a boy with autism and gives a powerful window into his complicated world.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Dry, In a Dark, Dark, World and Slade House

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and At Home in the World

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?
The Fox and the Star and The Card Catalog

11. Most memorable character of 2017?
Holly Sykes from The Bone Clocks and Dinah from Adam Bede

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Everything I Never Told You, A Gentleman in Moscow, and Manhattan Beach

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Dinner: A Love Story, the author mixes her personal experience with recipes. The end result is a cookbook of sorts with family togetherness as the end goal. It’s definitely changed the way I’m approaching dinner time. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?

Foundation and Tarzan of the Apes 

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

“And the thing is, when you lose someone, you realize you’ll eventually lose everyone.” – Turtles All the Way Down"

“This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others.” – Homegoing

"Presently the smell of coffee begin to fill the room. This was morning's hallowed moment. In such a fragrance the perversity of the world is forgotten and the soul is inspired with faith in the future.” – Independent People

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

The Night Bookmobile 40 pages and The Bone Clocks 829 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Rad Women Worldwide, it was shocking because there were so many incredible women whose stories I’d never heard!
18. One True Pairing (a couple that you ship):
Mal and Inara and also Zoe and Wash from Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of The Year

Count Alexander Rostov and Nina in A Gentleman in Moscow

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From an Author You’ve Read Previously

Four Season in Rome (by the author of All the Light We Cannot See)

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Clan of the Cave Bear, my Dad told me that this was one of my Mom’s favorite series when she was younger. She passed away a long time ago and I’ve always wanted to read it because of that recommendation.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Finn Kilgore from The Alice Network

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

I Let You Go

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Lying Game’s description of the village of Salten and Kate’s house, also the beautiful Italian Riviera in The Enchanted April.

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

Norse Mythology, Gaiman’s descriptions of Loki and Thor’s interactions are particularly hilarious. I actually read the whole book twice this year because I loved it so much.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

The description of the sled dogs being killed in Endurance and The Paris Architect’s scene of a couple trapped behind a fireplace.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, I was expecting a quirky bookstore story, but instead I got a mystery of sorts as a woman with a horrific experience in her past tries to solve the reason behind the suicide of a young man in the bookstore where she works.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

In My Hands, a nonfiction account of one Polish woman’s experience during WWII.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

The Bone Clocks by far! Six different time periods all connected through the life of one woman, it was unique to be sure.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad?

Independent People, this tome chronicles the life of one Icelandic farmer. He is ridiculously stubborn and turns away from everyone who offers help. The writing was actually beautiful, but I struggled with it for MONTHS! Also, the scene at the end of Clan of the Cave Bear (SPOILER!) where the main character leaves her baby behind. Seriously, if you're leaving anyway, why would you not take your child?!?!

Thanks to Perpetual Page Turner for once again hosting this survey!

Photo by me.

Dewey 24 Hour Readathon!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

*********  UPDATED HOUR 24 ********

This is my 12th read-a-thon! I can barely believe it. The last few have been with a baby, which is sooo much harder. My husband is handling toddler duty for the first half of the day, so I'll hopefully get the most reading done then. Here's a link for more info about the Dewey Read-a-thon.

Pages Read: 964
Currently Reading
Turtles All the Way Down, Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Guide to His Tell-Tale Stories, How Did You Get This Number, The Hobbit 
Books Finished: 5 - The Man in the Picture, Bone Vol. 2 & Vol. 3, She Persisted, Rad Women Worldwide
Snacks Eaten: Orange & Cranberry Scone, PSL, peach, Chili & Salad, cheese and crackers
Mini-Challenges Completed: 9

Introduction Quiz:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Indianapolis, IN

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? 
The Man in the Picture because it looks a bit scary, prefect for October!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  Dark chocolate covered pretzels and, maybe a flat white from Starbucks.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! 
A few weeks ago I traveled around the entire country of Iceland and saw the northern lights for the first time! It's an incredible country.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? 
Not throw up! During the April read-a-thon I had a nasty flu bug and kept puking. 

Mini Challenges: 
10 Years in 10 Books
Ten of my favorite books. One for each year the read-a-thon has been in existence. 

2007: The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin
2008: City of Thieves by David Benioff
2009: Catcing Fire by Suzanne Collins
2010: The Lotus Eaters  by Tatjana Soli
2011: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2012: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
2013: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
2014: Station Eleven by by Emily St. John Mandel
2015: Dead Wake by Erik Larson
2016: The Trespasser by Tana French 
2017: American Fire by Monica Hesse

Books and Beverages

Readathon Memories Challenge 

Your favorite book from each readathon you've participated in: 
April 2011: Howl's Moving Castle
October 2011: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
April 2012: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
October 2012: AD: New Orleans After the Deluge
April 2013: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
October 2013: This is Where I Leave You
April 2014: The Witch of Blackbird Pond
April 2015: I Remember Nothing
October 2015: The Stepford Wives
April 2016: Embroideries
October 2016: We Should All Be Feminist
April 2017: Amadeus

#ReadMore Women 

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? A book on Edgar Allan Poe's life
2. How many books have you read so far? 5
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? John Green's new one, Turtles All the Way Down
4. Have you had many interruptions? Yes. How did you deal with those? I tried to listen to audiobooks while handling things like my kiddo's bath time.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I've gotten a lot of reading done! My daughter has done pretty well playing next to me while I read, which is awesome! 

Decades of Reading

Books and Pets

You're Wearing That?  
End of Event Meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I fell asleep on the couch around hour 17. I got a short second wind after that, but didn't last long.

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read! The Man in the Picture, Bone: The Great Cow Race, She Persisted, Rad Women Worldwide, and Bone: Eyes of the Storm

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners? Rad Women Worldwide was a perfect one! The Bones graphic novels were great too.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile? I'd love more involvement on the app Litsy! I'm happy to help with this if you need someone.

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Of course I will! Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep? I would definitely help. 

April and October 2011  /  April and October 2012 / April and October 2013 April 2014 / April and October 2015 /April and October 2016  /  April 2017

Photos by me.

RIP Reviews

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

So far I've had a great R.I.P. Challenge year. Between the group read of Slade House and a few other mysteries that I took on vacation, I'm loving it! I even stumbled upon one that I wasn't reading for R.I.P. at all and was surprised to find a scary mystery within the novel's pages. I've officially finished the Peril the First level, but I'll keep reading anyway. More info here! #ripxii

Slade House
by David Mitchell
Loved reading this creepy book. I'd highly recommend reading The Bone Clocks first as it will give you a much better understanding of what's going on. Mitchell continues to impress me with his writing and the variety of genres he tackles. He doesn't shy away from plots that stretch your mind, but this is definitely one of his most accessible and easy-to-read books.

He manages to capture the eerie feeling of a haunted house while at the same time crafting a great story. It's part of the complex world he created in The Bone Clocks, but it also works as a stand alone story. It's broken up in chapters (The Right Sort, Shining Armor, Oink Oink, You Dark Horse You, and Astronauts). With each new chapter his main character changes, once again demonstrating his ability to right from incredibly different points of view convincingly. He's an awkward young boy, then a jaded cop, then an insecure college girl, etc.

BOTTOM LINE: I loved seeing Mitchell explore a new genre and will continue to be a fan!

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
by Matthew Sullivan
This one surprised me. I was expecting a quirky bookstore novel, but instead found a strange mystery. Lydia witnesses the suicide of a man named Joey in the bookstore where she works. She ends up going down a rabbit hole searching through the clues that he left behind. Her own troubled past begins to surface the deeper she digs. 

The book explores how a history of violence can travels down through generations. It's about the bad decisions or past traumas we try to hide to protect ourselves but really enough isolating ourselves. Lydia's life is shaped by the horrifying event that shattered her world as a child. From peaceful days spent at her friend Raj's donut shop, to living in a cabin in the woods with her father, Lydia's life has never found its balance again.

There were only a few moments in this book where the plot didn't work for me, mainly when her father was involved. Most of the time I was completely sucked in and I love the way it all came together in the end. 

BOTTOM LINE: A very satisfying read and way darker than the cover and title might suggest.   

The Lying Game 
by Ruth Ware
I really enjoy Ware's style and her books suck me in quickly. This one had a great atmosphere even if some plot points were a bit of a stretch. I wasn't a huge fan of The Woman in Cabin 10, but I loved her first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood.  That one remains my favorite of hers so far.

This one relied a little heavily on the gimmick of "the lying game" which felt like the weakest point of the plot to me. It's part boarding school friendship story and part mystery. It takes place in a secluded spot on the coast of England in a dilapidated house that's only reachable at certain times of the tides, similar to The Woman in Black (which I loved). 

Four girls, Isa, Fatima, Thea, and Kate have a shared secret from their past that has come back to haunt their lives. I really loved the character of Fatima. Even when some of the other's would grate on my nerves, I always enjoyed her. At the same time, she always seemed a little above the struggles of her friends and didn't quite fit with the group. Kate's father Ambrose was also a complex character that never felt like a cliche to me. The little town of Salten felt like a character as well. From the small houses covered in fishing nets to the nosy neighbors, it was alive in every way.
I also just left the stage of having an infant and so I love her descriptions of the the struggles and joys of new motherhood. The main character, Isa, has a six-month-old baby and the book talks about nursing, losing yourself in motherhood, the strain on a relationship, etc. It all felt so accurate and recent to me.

BOTTOM LINE: A quick read that's hard to put down. It doesn't quite measure up to her other's, but she has an undeniable talent for portraying characters and creating tense situations. 

Faceless Killers 
by Henning Mankell
This is the first book in the famous Wallander series. It's set in Sweden, which made it a perfect choice to read during a recent trip to nearby Iceland. The novel is much more about detective Wallander than the mystery itself, but a friend had warned me about that, so that helped set my expectations in the right place. He's a typical detective in so many ways, self-destructive, with a single narrow-minded focus on the case at hand. I love some of the supporting characters at his office, particularly his good friend Rydberg an older detective. 

The case in this one follows the murder of an elderly couple living in the countryside. Even though the novel is more than 25 years old, it delves into the controversy of immigration and refugees and so it felt quite timely.

BOTTOM LINE: I definitely liked this one enough to continue the series. If you read it, just be prepared for the fact that it's much more about developing Wallander's character than the mystery itself and so it's not a fast-paced thriller.

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Jumping on board for this fun event. I do love reading mysteries in the fall and already had The Lying Game by Ruth Ware on my radar. Thinking about reading Lisey's Story by Stephen King as well. Also, the whole group is reading David Mitchell's Slade House together! Obviously I love reading Mitchell with a group (see the fun we've had with Cloud Atlas and Bone Clocks). I'm going to attempt the Peril the First level (see below). Happy spooky reading everyone!

Andi and Heather are hosting it here if you want more details

Peril the First:
Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (our very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson or Tananarive Due…or anyone in between.

Austen in August

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I've read at least one Austen book every year since 2002. I worked my way through her six novels, then I reread them, then I read all of her juvenilia. I just love her work. I just realized that I didn't read ANY Austen last year! I'm horrified. In my defense, I did have a baby and not get a lot of sleep, so all of my reading suffered last year. 

Anyway, I'm back and obviously miss Jane. Roof Beam Reader is once again hosting the annual Austen in August reading event and I'm thrilled to have an excuse to just back into her work.  I'm planning on rereading my very first Austen, Pride & Prejudice, this month. If you want to join in the fun you can see the details here