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text 2017-01-09 17:50
2016: Year in Review

I've been trying to post this for days with little success.


Anyway, 2016 was a very weird year. Not just for reading, of course, but my reading was most certainly affected by it. I went through a pretty solid reading slump and I've yet to really pick up the pace, though I'm hoping my desire to up my political and historical reading might give me the incentive that I need.


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text 2017-01-01 08:48
2016: The (fiction) books I liked best
An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James
The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell
Old Herbaceous: A Novel of the Garden - Reginald Arkell
The Improbability of Love - Hannah Rothschild
As Death Draws Near - Anna Lee Huber
Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope - Berkeley Breathed
Magic Binds - Ilona Andrews

My favourite fiction reads of 2016 were probably as varied as they've been been.  While once I was a tried and true mystery-or-bust sort of gal, my favourites this year only include 2 mysteries, both historical.  2 were popular fiction, something I almost never read; 1 an almost forgotten classic re-released, 1 Urban Fantasy and 1 collection of comics from my personal comic hero, Berkeley Breathed.


I had a lot fewer 5 star, books-I-want-to-hug in fiction but I had a lot more 4.5 star fiction reads this year.  It's been a great year for me reading-wise: while admittedly generous with my ratings, I rarely rate much 4.5 or 5 stars; I usually top out at 4 (something I'd re-read but not gush about).


My 4.5 star reads this year were:

Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop

Lady Cop Makes Trouble

Girl Waits with Gun

Undeniably Yours

Stiff Competition

The Circular Staircase

The Locked-room Mysteries

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


The Single Undead Moms Club

Dear Committee Members

A Bed of Scorpions

Design for Dying

The Curse of Tenth Grave

The Semester of Our Discontent

The Canterville Ghost

The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories

The Other Side of Midnight

Something Rotten

The House at the End of Hope Street

Marked In Flesh

Fire Touched

Faux Paw

Daisies For Innocence


My first love, mysteries, make a very strong showing in the 4.5 star list.  Lots of cozies, of course, and historicals, and lots of UF, but a couple of classics and some great literature are on this list too as well as some YA and a sneaky contemporary fiction.


Overall, I'd incredibly pleased with my reading this year; I broke my personal record for most books read, yes, but I'm even more thrilled with how much broader my reading has become.  I even read a Science Fiction book this year!  *gasp*.  (I still don't like SF.)  This is 100% because of this community.  I've said it before, but it bears repeating:  I owe my TBR mountain range entirely to this community.  Without all of you I'd still be reading all cozies, all the time.  So thank you, and keep 'em coming!

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text 2017-01-01 08:32
2016: The (non-fiction) books I liked best.
The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted - Mark Forsyth
Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World - Lawrence Goldstone,Nancy Goldstone
The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase - Mark Forsyth
The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language - Mark Forsyth
Going to Hell in a Hen Basket: An Illustrated Dictionary of Modern Malapropisms - Robert Alden Rubin
Housekeeping vs. the Dirt - Nick Hornby
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader - Anne Fadiman
Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing - Melissa Mohr
Completely Superior Person's Book Of Words - Peter Bowler
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well - Meik Wiking

So I read a lot of non-fiction this year.  76 books.  I've been thinking about why my non-fiction reading exploded this year and all I can say is that this year I craved an escape into facts, or as must be evident by my list above, the desire to escape into a bookshop and hide for the duration.


With few exceptions, the ones I liked best, the 5 star books-I-want-to-hug were all about books or words.  A definite theme going on this year.  The exceptions were all over the place though: a gardening book, a cultural anthropology book and an illustrated book of the Psalms.  The two that didn't fit above are below:



The Produce Companion: From Balconies to Backyards--the Complete Guide to Growing, Pickling and Preserving - Meredith Kirton,Mandy Sinclair  The Produce Companion: From Balconies to Backyards--the Complete Guide to Growing, Pickling and Preserving - Meredith Kirton,Mandy Sinclair  









The Illuminated Book of Psalms: The Illustrated Text of all 150 Prayers and Hymns - Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers  The Illuminated Book of Psalms: The Illustrated Text of all 150 Prayers and Hymns - Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers  










My 4.5 star reads this year are also worth mentioning and even more numerous (15) and are much more varied in subject.  More books about books and books about words or grammar, but science and history also make a showing. These are books that were excellent but for whatever reason had something I questioned or found confronting.  With scientific books that's almost always animal related.  Sometimes the book just didn't make me want to hug it, but I still recommend it.  Who knows?  Maybe it'll be one you want to hug. :)  


Fucking Apostrophes

The Gift Of The Magi And Other Stories

The Book of Human Emotion

The Polysyllabic Spree

A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury 

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure

Lost in Translation

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

The Poisoner's Handbook

The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

The Sceptical Gardener: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Good Gardening

Why The Dutch Are Different: A Journey Into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands


Happy Reading!

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text 2016-01-03 20:41
2015: A Year in Review

Another year, another 100 books read. 2015 included some fabulous, memorable reads that I am happy to look back at here. I've also reached the point in my life where I am not afraid to DNF or skim to finish a book that is not proving worth my time. Thankfully, this year didn't include too many of those. 


A complete list of what I read can be found here, but these are the highlights.


Best Reread

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

With so many books waiting for my attention, I do not do many rereads. The main reason this and its sequel found there way into this year's shelves was because I listened to them on audio book. Wolf Hall is the kind of book I could read over and over again. It's intelligent, funny, and paints such an original portrait of Thomas Cromwell that no fan of Tudor history should miss it.


Best Mystery

Lamentation by CJ Sansom

I don't know how it took me so long to discover CJ Sansom, but he has quickly become one of my favorite authors. This has a lot to do with Matthew Shardlake, the protagonist of this astoundingly well written Tudor era mystery series. Lamentation is the latest, but hopefully not last, installment in Shardlake's adventures and brushes with royalty.


Best Self-published Book

The Serpent Sword by Matthew Harffy

This was one of my favorite books of the year and takes place in England before it was England. If you love gritty historical fiction and want to support an independent writer, I highly recommend this one. It is the 7th century at its best. The sequel, The Cross and the Curse, is also being released this month.


Best Audio Book 

A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

This was the first book I read by this author and remains my favorite after this one impressed me enough that I went on to read March, People of the Book, and Caleb's Crossing. This novel is based on actual events in England during the 14th century when people who did not understand how to stop fatal illness from wiping out entire villages. This is a book that will remain with me and I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone.


Best Nonfiction

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

As fast paced as any novel and revealing the intriguing life of a relatively unknown US president, Destiny of the Republic should be required reading. If you haven't read this and are looking for ways to include more nonfiction in your TBR, you MUST pick this one up. You will wonder how you never knew more about James Garfield.


Also Rated 5 Stars:

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Heartstone by CJ Sansom


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text 2016-01-02 02:31
My Life According to the Books I Read in 2015

This is a little something I did when I kept a blog.  It started with my blog buddy Christine.  I always like seeing what others write, so I hope you all do this as well.


Describe yourself:
PUCKED Up (Helen Hunting)


How do you feel:
Wrecked (Deanna Wadsworth)


Describe where you currently live:
Hidden Gem (Lissa Kasey)


If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Jesse's Diner (Cardeno C.)


Your favorite form of transportation:
First Class Package (Jay Northcote)


Your best friend is:
Grown-up (Kim Fielding)


You and your friends are:
Strange Bedfellows (Cardeno C.)


What's the weather like:
Winter on Spring Street (Stacey Darlington)


What is life to you:
The Deal (Elle Kennedy)


Favorite time of day:
Coming Home (MJ O'Shea)


Your fear:
Falling from the Sky (Sarina Bowen)
Crash & Burn (Abigail Roux)


What is the best advice you have to give:
Barring Complications (Blythe Rippon)


Thought for the day:
The Right Time (Lane Hayes)


How I would like to die:
The Lightning-Struck Heart (T.J. Klune)


My soul's present condition:
A Time for Loving (Nico Jaye)


My family is:
Cherish & Blessed (Tere Michaels)

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