Bookdragons are notorious for their nosiness. Come now, admit it. We're the sort who are drawn instantly to the bookshelf when entering someone's home, the sort who click around Goodreads to see what our friends are reading, the sort who like reading others' year-end book recaps . . . or writing our own, if we're so inclined. So here's mine!
(Click here to see my Books of 2015!)
Illusionarium // Heather Dixon
Shadowmancer // G.P. Taylor
Illusionarium was a smashing way to start off the reading year! Steampunk, airships, disease, creepiness, humor, precious characters, and snarky footnotes made this an instant favorite. Shadowmancer, on the other hand, was a sorry slew of poor writing, cardboard characters, and heavy-handed Christian themes.
The Invaders // John Flanagan
A Snicker of Magic // Natalie Lloyd
The Romeo and Juliet Code // Phoebe Stone
Artemis Fowl // Eoin Colfer
The Invaders was a fun Flanagan concoction of wit, cleverness, sailing, and--you guessed it--invasions. A Snicker of Magic was possibly the sweetest, spindiddliest middle grade book I've had the great pleasure of reading! The Romeo and Juliet Code painted a bittersweet picture of a little girl uprooted from home during WWII. Artemis Fowl was . . . quirky, I suppose you could say.
You Have a Brain: A Teen's Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. // Dr. Ben Carson
Cinder // Marissa Meyer
Paige Turned // Erynn Mangum
In You Have a Brain, there are a number of stories about miraculous surgeries Dr. Carson performed, followed by some decent bits of advice for young people. Cinder sucked me into the fabulous world that is the Lunar Chronicles, and I don't plan to leave anytime soon. Paige Turned proved to be the perfect bow on top of the fluffy romance trilogy featuring busy, sarcastic, 20-something Paige Alder.
Merlin's Blade // Robert Treskillard
Knightley Academy // Violet Haberdasher
The Raven Boys // Maggie Stiefvater
I found Merlin's Blade to be slightly underwhelming, but the protagonist's blindness was a neat twist. Knightley Academy--ah, what an amusing romp of a school novel! And The Raven Boys was a piece of gorgeousness (minus a couple issues) that had me wanting to savor every sentence.
The Prayer Box // Lisa Wingate
Water Walker // Ted Dekker
Howl's Moving Castle // Diana Wynne Jones
The Prayer Box was a sweet romance sprinkled with letters detailing a storyline from the past. Water Walker read like an extended parable, packing a solid punch with its vivid imagery and characterization. I finally read Howl's Moving Castle, and it was another one of those insta-favorites that I know I'll be rereading multiple times in the future.
Skeleton Key // Anthony Horowitz
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell // Susanna Clarke
Skeleton Key was pretty much a secret agent movie disguised as a middle-grade action novel. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell . . . now that was one of the most impressive novels I've read, rife with unexpected humor, striking descriptions, and complex characters.
Raising Dragons Graphic Novel // James Art Ville and Bryan Davis
The Shadow Lamp // Stephen Lawhead
Scarlet // Marissa Meyer
The long-awaited Raising Dragons Graphic Novel met my expectations and brought a hit of nostalgia as it retold one of my favorite books in comic book form. The Shadow Lamp, as the second-last book in the Bright Empires series, completely blew my mind with its rising stakes and seamless blend of science and fantasy. And then Scarlet proved to be a little less stunning than Cinder, but still a fun read.
The Realms Thereunder // Ross Lawhead
The Runaway King // Jennifer Nielsen
Peter Pan // J.M. Barrie
The Realms Thereunder had a great plot, but its characters weren't quite as emotionally alive as I had wanted. The Runaway King made up for it with a fast pace and its characteristic humor--and also pirates. And then I read the classic Peter Pan at long, long last. Such a delightful little tale!
Five Enchanted Roses // Browning, Jezowski, Schmidt, Tsukioka, and Wand
The Calling // Rachelle Dekker
I discovered a well-rounded collection of Beauty and the Beast retellings within the beautiful covers of Five Enchanted Roses; and then followed gritty, brave characters through their battle with fear in The Calling.
The Dream Thieves // Maggie Stiefvater
Into the Wild // Erin Hunt
Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink // Gail Carson Levine
Eagle Strike // Anthony Horowitz
The Dream Thieves bore the same stunning writing style as the previous book in the series, along with some of the same irksome issues. Into the Wild was less gripping than I remembered it being when I was a youngster. Clear, concise, engaging advice on the craft was found in Writer to Writer. Eagle Strike took the Alex Rider series on a turn for the better, with a different plot than its predecessors.
Journey to the Center of the Earth // Jules Verne
Prophet // R.J. Larson
Journey to the Center of the Earth was a surprisingly interesting little classic. Prophet proved to be as pretty inside as it was outside, with lovable characters, a unique world, and thoughtful questions about free will and responsibility and mercy.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children // Ransom Riggs
Cress // Marissa Meyer
Treasures of the Snow // Patricia St. John
Paper Crowns // Mirriam Neal
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was somehow less creepy than I'd expected, but still eerie and, well . . . peculiar. Cress became my favorite Lunar Chronicles instalment to date. Treasures of the Snow brought back fond memories of my childhood, and Paper Crowns made me grin with its cast of delightfully snarky, witty, lovable characters.
It also bears mentioning that I beta-read two novels this year as well: Christine Smith's Beauty and the Beast retelling called Burning Thorns, and Emily's high fantasy called The City and the Trees.
(because numbers + books = fascinating, right?)
I read 35 books this year, an average of 2-3 per month. Paper Crowns was the shortest book at 190 pages, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was the uncontested longest book at a humongous 1,006 pages. In total, I read 12,705 pages.
Here's how 2016's genres broke down:
It's no surprise that fantasy once again dominated my reading choices! Sci-fi was a bit higher this year than it was in 2015 because of reading the Lunar Chronicles, and everything else was like little scraps in comparison. I'm a bit embarrassed at how few nonfiction books I read. Perhaps I'll do better in 2017!
Since I joined Goodreads in 2016, I've started rating books. My average this year was 4.4 stars. What can I say? Either I just read a lot of good books, or I'm a forgiving reader. (Or both. I'm a paradox in how I judge a book--critical and forgiving at the same time. I think if a book works for me, I'm willing to overlook the flaws I notice?)
My most-read authors were Marissa Meyer (3 books) and Maggie Stiefvater (2 books). Didn't take much to become a most-read this year, obviously!
My favorite authors that I discovered in 2016 were: Heather Dixon, Marissa Meyer, Diana Wynne Jones, and Mirriam Neal.
My least favorite book of 2016 was definitely Shadowmancer. Just . . . no. None of it worked for me--not the clunky writing style, not the unbelievable character motives, not the hit-you-over-the-head themes. Sorry.
My favorite books of 2016 . . . Well, given that half of them were five-star reads, I could list all of those, but I'll shrink the list down a bit by mentioning only those that really stood out to me this year. Illusionarium, A Snicker of Magic, Cinder, Knightley Academy, Howl's Moving Castle, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, The Shadow Lamp, Peter Pan, Cress, Prophet, and Paper Crowns! Okay, that didn't really diminish the list by much, after all.