Thursday, January 5, 2017

Books of 2016

2016 was a cozy reading year. By that I mean it was smaller than usual--only 35 books, as opposed to last year's 52--but it was filled with mostly good, solid stories. There were a few "meh" kinds in the mix, but nearly every month contained at least one wonderful book.

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.

And that, bookdragons, was an overview of my reading year! Now it's my turn to get a glimpse at yours: what was one (or several) of your absolute favorite 2016 reads? Least favorite? What's the most pressing book on your to-be-read pile? (I personally have Winter waiting for me. And Blue Lily, Lily Blue. And Reapers. And Five Magic Spindles. And waaaay too many others!)


  1. Heehee! I'm glad you mentioned "A Snicker of Magic" and "Peter Pan"! Both are SUPER good! ^.^ And no, I don't just liked "Peter Pan" because of Pan in OUaT. xD But c'mon, both are adorable in different ways, am I right?

    O.O MY FAVORITE BOOK IN 2016?! Goodness, I have too many! Here's SOME of them: "Deep Down Popular", all the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, "Gold Medal Summer", "A Pocket Full of Murder", "Cake Pop Crush", "Someday Dancer", "Sit, Stay, Love", "Peter Pan", "Lost in London", "Grounded", "Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes", and "The Fairytale Matchmaker". Gosh, those were pretty much all my favorites. XD Sorry for the long list! ;)

    I have no clue what my least favorite book was... *thinks* It's very hard to pick when I read 120 books last year. (Not all of them were very long, mind you.) ONE of my least favorite book was Mission Atomic. Last book of 39 Clues and ended pretty badly. A sudden change of a character wasn't good at all... Yeah, just a sucky way to end a great series.

    Um, most pressing? *thinks* Perhaps "Disenchanted, the Trials of Cinderella" or "The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase". They both look like amazing sequels and Wendy Mass is a splendid author. ^-^

    *stares at comment* This grew way bigger than I thought it would! Oh well!! :)

    1. They ARE both super good! I'm so glad you had me read "A Snicker of Magic," and that you and C both hounded me to read "Peter Pan." <3 (Heehee, yes, I love both Pans!)

      That's an awesome list! I'm glad you had so many good books this year. I remember at least some of those titles passing through the house. XD Soon I'll be starting the Percy Jackson books, so yay for that!

      120 BOOKS IS VERY IMPRESSIVE. *claps* Aww, that's too bad about the bad ending. It's disappointing when a great series trickles off with a not-so-great ending. :/

      Nice! Both of those sound fantastic! ^_^

      I love long comments. *huggles* Thanks for popping by, Lost! <3

  2. Hello Tracey!
    Wow, what a coincidence! I read 35 books as well! :D I really liked Illusionarium too! Makes me want to read more steampunk books. :)
    I read the Lunar Chronicles a while back and LOVED them. Cress is definitely my favorite out of the series too. <3
    And Paper Crowns! Loved that one too.
    I hope you have a good year in reading this 2017! ^_^

    1. Hi Madeline! That is quite the coincidence! *high fives* I totally agree, Illusionarim whet my appetite for more steampunk. The genre seems to be underrated.

      Cool! Cress was such a fun book. A library copy of Winter is currently sitting on my stack, waiting for me...!

      Yay, another person who's read Paper Crowns! <3

      Thanks, and same to you--I hope you come across many lovely stories this year.

  3. BOOOOKS!!! You're so right. We bookdragons are the most nosiest things when it comes to books. I totally always want to know what everyone is reading and how they like it. XD Needless to say, I was super excited to see this post! *grins*

    Do you realize we BOTH read 35 books for 2016 AND Illusionarium was our first book to read for the year?? O___O We also both read the Lunar Chronicles this year. #BOOKTWINS I love it!

    But but but...ALL THE GOOD BOOKS. Mainly HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. *flaaaaails* But also PETER PAN, and Cresssss, and Paper Crowns (<3333), and and and Five Enchanted Roses. JUST ALL THE AMAZING. I still desperately need to get myself a copy of the Raising Dragons graphic novel! It's shameful I haven't yet. Actually, there's so many of these I need/want to read! I actually have the first of the Bright Empires books SITTING ON MY SHELF. As well as The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker. So yes. ALL THE READING.

    I actually laughed out loud when I saw fantasy covered half of your chart. XDDD It's so perfect! I didn't do a nice chart, but I suspect mine would look like that as well. #FantasyForever

    It looks like it was a good reading year! I hope 2017 is even better yet for you--on the reading AND life department!

    1. OH. This is insanely delayed, but I totally meant to flail about how you mentioned Burning Thorns!!! Sorry, that just made me really happy! ^_^

      Okay, I think I'm actually done now. Just had to add that. XD

    2. I am the exact same way. The instant someone mentions books, what they've been reading, etc., I perk up. XD

      SAY WHAT?? I knew Illusionarium was your first book this year, and that we've both been reading the Lunar Chronicles, but we read the same number of books too?! :O THIS IS CRAZY COOL.

      I could just fangirl on and on about all the books you mentioned! HMC, Peter Pan, Cress, Paper Crowns, FER... Ah, all the wonderful stories! Yes, the graphic novel is so fun! My favorite scene from the novel also ended up being my favorite scene in the graphic novel, and seeing it in picture form nearly brought a tear or two to my eye. :') (But don't say it's shameful--look how long it took me to get Reapers!)
      But OH OH YES, READ BRIGHT EMPIRES, CHRISTINE. Deborah and I will hound you until you do! XD And The Choosing is also a great book. So many books, so little time...

      Haha, really? Didn't see that coming, did you? XDDD Fantasy is basically where I live.

      Thank you! I hope the same for you as well. <3

      No problem--it didn't even cross my mind that you hadn't mentioned BT at first. XD It definitely counts as one of my favorite books this year!!!

  4. Looks like a good year. Look at all those 5 stars!
    I tried reading the first book in the Bright Empire series. I liked it, but couldn't read it fast enough and had to send it back to the library unfinished. Pity.
    This year I intend to read Branch of Silver, Branch of Gold. I also hope to finish The Silmarillion and Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

    1. You know, it was a good reading year. Looking back, I enjoyed most of what I read. :)

      Oh no! I'd definitely recommend trying again. The first book is good, but each one keeps getting better. So far, my favorite is "The Shadow Lamp" (which is book four out of five--and I haven't read the fifth yet, so that could wind up being a bigger favorite).

      How could I forget A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold? I want to read it too. And the of these days... I've never heard of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, but that sounds interesting.

      Hope you have a great reading year in 2017!

  5. Aaaahh, FUN! You're right, I absolutely adore lists of books and yearly wrapups and snooping at other people's shelves, so this was super fun! :D

    So many good books, and I loooove how you summarized each of them in a sentence! *flailing* You're so good at it too -- I just love your writing. AWK. <3

    Illusionarium, Howl's Moving Castle, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, The Shadow Lamp, Paper Crowns, Stone Curse in Five Enchanted Roses, Burning Thorns... SO many excellent books!!! <3333

    I was underwhelmed by Knightley Acadamy... but I'm glad you liked it. :)

    I need to read the Lunar Chronicles and The Raven Boys--maybe this year! (I do own that and Cinder so...) I also got The Realms Thereunder for Christmas so I'm looking forward to reading that one. :) And I have similar thoughts ("quirky") about Artemis Fowl, though I'd like to read more because I'm curious. I also picked up the first Alex Rider since your reading them made me curious!

    AAAH PRETTY PIE CHARTS. How did you make these, if I may ask? :D I also love how half the books you read were Fantasy, and half were also 5 stars. I rated 2/3rds of my reads this year 5 stars (and also averaged 4.4 stars) so I know what you mean about being nice and forgiving. XD


    Heather Dixon, Diana Wynne Jones, and Mirriam Neal are all excellent authors. *approves*

    This was SO fun, thanks for sharing!! ^_^

    I did a wrapup post about my own reading year on my book blog, so if you're curious you could peruse that. :)

    I'm not sure what my most pressing to-read is since I'm kind of taking a break from Goodreads to just read whatever I feel like with no pressure... but I do know that The Fatal Tree will be high on that list, after I review The Shadow Lamp, as is Jenelle's King's Warrior. :D

    I hope your 2017 will be a fantastic year of books for you, darling! ^_^

    1. *glomples your lovely comment* I'm glad I'm not the only snoopy one around these parts! XD

      I'm relieved to hear the one-sentence summaries were actually interesting! I was beginning to think they all sounded the same. So thank you, dearie--that's so sweet! <333

      Yesssss, all those awesmazing books! Listing favorites just makes me feel all happy and content. Maybe it's the cumulative memories of the epicness and emotion. ^.^

      I don't know exactly WHY I enjoyed Knightley Academy as much as I did. It's not like it was super original or unusual... I think it's because it was a light, fun read, and I devoured the second half in a day during a time when I was reading everything else very slowly. Plus I liked the humor. But I can totally see how it wouldn't be the same for everyone!

      BIG YES TO THE LUNAR CHRONICLES! And another big yes (with the caution about the unfortunate language) to The Raven Cycle! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on The Realms Thereunder. You might be able to help me appreciate it more. XD I feel the same about Artemis's strange, but I'm a bit curious about the rest of the books. Aw, I love hearing about people reading books because of me! (Which sounds...awfully egocentric. But you know what I mean, right??)

      Haha, I literally just Googled "pie chart maker" and clicked on the first one, a site called meta-chart. I think it's the same site I used last year too?
      ALL THE FANTASY. ALL THE STARS. Yep, I know I've got a friend in you when it comes to forgiving books. XD



      Thanks so much for reading (ahem, snooping) and commenting and everything! ^_^ I saw that post, just didn't get a chance to leave a comment. I'll get on that in the hopefully near future!

      Taking a break now and then is a good idea. THE FATAL TREEEEEEE. O.O I am so excited/nervous about that book, you have no idea. Oh, speaking of Jenelle, I need to pick up one of her novels sometime.

      Aww, well same to you! Here's to many more good books!

  6. I haven't read any of his books, but I love Dr. Carson. He was by far my favorite Presidential candidate. The only one of those books I have read is Howl's Moving Castle, which was quite good. I don't keep very good track of my reading/audiobook listening for individual years, but I was probably around ten novels for 2016, maybe a few more. There was a decent amount of shorter works read/listened to as well.

    1. Dr. Carson was a presidential candidate? If he mentioned that in his book, I totally forgot. Wow.

      Howl's Moving Castle is one of those books I just know I'm going to reread multiple times in the future. :)

      They say most people stop reading after graduating, so it's good you're keeping up the habit! Hope you enjoy your 2017 reads.

    2. He was a candidate in this past election.

  7. Howl's Moving Castle, you finally read it!

    1. I DID! AND IT WAS MARVELLOUS. I've actually roped one of my sisters into reading it as well. ;D

  8. So many wonderful books! :D

    Quite a few of these are on my TBR list for this year! I'm planning to read Five Glass Slippers and Five Magic Spindles once Rooglewood Press announces the contest, this year. (I have a Red Riding Hood idea, so I'm really hoping that's the theme!)

    I had no idea Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was so incredibly long! That's a lot of pages!

    And Howl's Moving Castle! I really need to read that, once I catch up on all the Realm Makers and Rooglewood Press reading. I have yet to see the movie, so I'm particularly looking forward to that thrill of excitement and anticipation that comes once I've read the original story! :)


    1. *frolics in all the stories*

      Nice! I really enjoyed those collections--well, I haven't read Five Magic Spindles yet, but Slippers and Roses were both a lot of fun to read. I hope you enjoy them too! (Oooh, Red Riding Hood. That would be so FUN.)

      The funny thing is, it didn't feel like a thousand pages. Most of it was quite engaging.

      YES YES YES, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. It's such a delightful, quirky book. I have yet to see the movie myself. :) What sort of Realm Makers reading are you catching up on?

    2. I adored Five Enchanted Roses, so I'm particularly looking forward to reading the other two collections! I have them both on kindle, but I still need to get to them. :)

      I want to knock a few Enclave books off my TBR before I get to Realm Makers -- series like Out of Time, The Follower of the Word, and Bellanok, so if I meet some of the authors who regularly attend, then I'd already have already read some of their books. Plus, it sounds like there might be a book signing the last night of the conference! :D

    3. Good thing you have them there for whenever you get to them. :) (It's better than waiting for an order to come in the mail.)

      The "Out of Time" trilogy is on my TBR! I hear a lot of great things about it. That's a good idea to read books by authors who will be there. I'm planning to bring a decently-sized book fund, since I assume you'll be able to purchase books there. XD

    4. Oh, bringing a book fund is a great idea! I didn't think of that! (*jots idea down on to-do list*)



    but this is what happens when you don't take your laptop to Kenya eh??

    So anyway, you've probs forgotten who I am by this point ... *ahem* however I just read three of your posts and they were delightful. Also I sent you a letter last Thursday! So hopefully you'll get it in a couple of weeks?? Lol who knows. I'm loathe to spill all my chat here bc I don't want to give letter spoilers, but I'm having a great time, I'm super tanned, I miss you, work is well hard but good, I love everything. Now I'm gonna read more of your posts ... This one was delightful, I can't wait to read Jonathan strange. Speaking of Jonathan LMB is well intense and emotional rn, my word! Have you read BLLB yet?? Also congrats majorly on 83k of TPQ in 2016! I'm gonna go but it's been charming to be here in your comments section. Email me when you get the letter!

    1. NOOOOO. Silly phone! I've done that before... accidently swiping to a previous screen and losing a comment. Ugh.

      Hmm, Emily... Who's Emily again? Ink, Inc.? Is that a pen company? LOL, I'm so happy to see you popping up in the blogosphere again! *hugs* Yay, a letter! I can't wait to get it, and I'll definitely let you know when it comes. :D (Letter spoilers, oh goodness, so true. XD)

      I'm so glad Kenya is going well for you! I've been praying! <3

      Ha, when was Les Miserables Book anything BUT intense and emotional? XD Oh dear, I'm totally blanking on what BLLB stands for right now... Fill me in?

      Thanks so much, girl! <333