Thank you so much to Jamie of the Perpetual Page Turner for coming up with this end of year survey. I had planned to write a Best Books of 2016 post – and I probably will still write one to highlight my favourites – but there are some great questions here to review my reading year.
Number Of Books You Read: 87 books
Number of Re-Reads: Mmmm not sure. Four or five maybe?
Genre You Read The Most From: YA fantasy
Best in Books
1. Best Book You Read In 2016?
This honour will go to Caraval by Stephanie Garber. This hasn’t actually been released yet, but I was lucky enough to get a copy at Book Expo of America. The world of Caraval is just so fantastic and beautifully described and the plot has so many twists and turns. I can’t wait for you guys to read it in January.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Gemina. I absolutely adored Illuminae, especially in audiobook format, but two months after picking up the audiobook (I got an ARC at Book Expo of America) I’m still struggling to finish it. I think it’s because of one particular image early on in the book that really disturbed me and put me off. I am still valiantly pushing ahead with this, because the audiobook production is top notch.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
I was really surprised about how engaged I was by Robert Harris’s Conclave. At first glance it could be hit or miss; the story of a fictional conclave to choose a new Pope. In the end it was just so fascinating and gripping I couldn’t put it down.
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)
This one probably goes to Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin. This is an alternate history in which the Nazis won World War II and a young death camp survivor with unique skills must compete for the chance to get close to the Fuhrer. I ADORED this – it was so beautifully written – and I have regularly mentioned it and its sequel Iron to Iron in my blog and other social media.
5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?
I really really loved Lady Midnight, the first in Cassandra Clare’s new Dark Artifices series set in her Shadowhunters world. I loved the new characters, the new setting and the new challenges facing our heroes. I can’t wait for book two.
Best sequel: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. This is the penultimate in Maas’ Throne of Glass series and things are definitely gearing up for the finale. It promises to be one heck of a series ender.
Best series ender: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. The second and final part in Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. This was excellent, fast paced and was a very satisfying ending to the duology.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
If we’re talking debut author this would be Stephanie Garber for Caraval. This isn’t out yet; it comes out in January. I picked up a copy of Caraval at BEA and loved, loved loved it. The world, the characters and writing are all superb. You guys have a treat come next month.
With new to me, I’d probably say Claudia Gray. I read several books of hers in 2016, some Star Wars novels and her Firebird trilogy, and she has quickly become an auto buy author. Her writing is immediate and engaging, she has a wonderful grasp of pacing and character and all in all is a really solid writer. She has a new series coming out next year which I definitely intend to pick up.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
This would be The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. This is a novel focussing on the inhabitants of a small village in the south of England in the summer of 1914 and how the start of the first World War affected them. I don’t read much social historical fiction and this one was excellent. This was a turning point in British society and it was captured wonderfully. I really was rooting for these characters.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Here, I can’t decide between two books. The first is Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom, the second and final book in her Six of Crows duology. I was completely invested in these characters and the pacing was relentless. Unputdownable indeed.
The second was Robert Harris’s Conclave. I’m really not sure how you’d describe it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it’s a novel following a fictitious Conclave to choose the next Pope. Again this is not my usual reading genre. It’s not really a thriller in the sense that characters are not in mortal danger, but the twists and turns, secrets and revelations of the Conclave, as well an insight into a most secretive process, kept me on the edge of my seat.
9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I will definitely re-read Caraval – see above. To be more specific, I will pick it up in audiobook format – I recently learned that the awesome Rebecca Soler will be narrating this. The combination of Garber’s writing and Soler’s narration will make for a wonderful listen.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
I love the cover for Marissa Meyer’s Heartless and also that of Marie Brennan’s The Tropic of Serpents. Both are gorgeous.
11. Most memorable character of 2016?
I really enjoyed reading about young Scorpius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It was really nice to see a Slytherin who is funny, smart and not particularly interested in the pureblood claptrap spouted by his seniors. His friendship with Albus was excellent.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. Now, while I can’t say I loved this book (it really wasn’t my cup of tea) I cannot deny that Mafi’s writing was simply beautiful Her turns of phrase were exquisite.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I loved this book – why did I wait so long to read it?!?
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?
Sorry, I’m blanking here. Honorable mention though from A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson:
“Suddenly, Olver felt a deep warmth. He had lost so many people, but one of them… one… had come back from him.” Even now, years later that brings tears to my eyes.
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?
Longest book: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon at 880 pages
Shorted book: Watson meets Sherlock (the Cat Chronicles) by Keith Whiting at 36 pages
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
There were points in Brent Weeks’ Blood Mirror where I really felt, “oh crap, he’s really going to go there.” However, we’ll need to wait until book five to know how things play out. If it does go as I suspect it will be a real shocker. Weeks is known for pulling the rug out from under his readers.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Without a shadow of a doubt this is Kip and Tisis from Brent Weeks’ The Blood Mirror. Some context for those unfamiliar with Weeks’ epic fantasy Lightbringer series; Kip and Tisis are two older teens who due to political expediency must marry and more importantly, consummate that marriage, in order to prevent war. Despite the fantastical context, Weeks has written a beautiful description of that first serious relationship where you must move on from having a crush on someone to living with them, supporting them and loving them on a day to day basis, getting to know their quirks and the reality of being in a long term relationship. Both Kip and Tisis make mistakes and learn from them and their relationship is the stronger for it. It is a thing of beauty.
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Here I think I’ll go with Scorpius and Albus in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I really enjoyed their banter.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
For me this is Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. I love her Shadowhunters world, and her newest series got off to a great start with this one. I especially enjoyed seeing a post Dark War world with the Shadowhunters.
21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?
Actually, there were no characters who leapt out at me this year. Pity.
23. Best 2016 debut you read?
Caraval – see above
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Caraval – see above
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne. This is a short story in Hearne’s Iron Druid series told from the perspective of Oberon, the Irish Wolfhound. it was very amusing, especially in audiobook format. HOWEVER. I will say that I don’t think I would have liked a full novel like this. Oberon is great, but in smaller doses.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?
The Summer Before the War. I listened to this in audiobook format and there was one particular scene in this book where I had to move to the side of the street to catch my breath it hit me so hard.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Hmmmm. Most of the books I’ve read have been pretty well published so this is quite a tough one. I will go with On the Merits of Unnaturalness by Samantha Shannon. This is a companion volume to her Bone Season series and provides some excellent background and context for the events of the series. I would have liked to have seen this published much earlier as it really enhanced my enjoyment of the series and increased my anticipation for book three.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The Summer Before the War. Damn.
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?
For this category I will go with Replica by Lauren Oliver. The format makes this somewhat unique, even if the content is your average YA story. Replica is the story of Gemma and Lyra. The novel part of this is that you can either read Lyra’s story through then Gamma’s or read alternating chapters in their storylines which dovetail beautifully. Oliver put a great deal of work into aligning the storylines.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Yeah, here I have to go with Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, the reimagining of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as part of the Austen Project. I love Pride and Prejudice, so it hurt my soul to see these beloved characters treated in such a fashion.
Your Blogging Life
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?
Caraval yadda yadda yadda
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?
I am particularly fond of my review of Lady Midnight – I felt I made some interesting points.
3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
In August, I wrote a long blog post on my dealings with my lymphedema, the condition which causes my legs to swell like sausages and carries a high risk of serious infection. I wrote the post after a stay in hospital and it was one of my most personal posts.
4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
This year for the first time I attended Book Expo of America in Chicago. That was the most amazing experience, getting to mix with my favourite authors and other bookworms. I wish I could do it every year.
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?
BEA – see above.
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
In September I moved to a new role at work, one which takes a lot of time and energy. It has left me with much less time and energy for reading which is a real shame. My blogging has been very sporadic of late due to this. Also, I’ve not been able to take as much pleasure in it as I would like.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My review of Helen Fielding’s Mad About the Boy still gets a significant amount of hits even though I wrote it a few years ago! Of posts I wrote this year, my post on my most anticipated reads for 2016 is the most popular.
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I’m happy if my readers enjoy any of my posts!
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Yes! I completed my GoodReads challenge and read 87 (probably 88 or 89 by year’s end) books for a challenge of 80.
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?
As I said, I’m still struggling with Gemina. I will try to finish it in 2017.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?
This is probably Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare, the next in her Dark Artifices series.
An honorary mention to George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, which doesn’t yet have a release date. I suppose there’s a chance it will be released in 2017…
3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Claudia Gray has a new book out in 2017 called Defy the Stars. I don’t know a great deal about this except that it’s a sci-fi novel in which a young woman and an AI have to work together reluctantly. It sounds intriguing and in Gray’s hands very promising.
4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?
Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb, which has a May 2017 release date. In all honesty, I’m both anticipating and dreading this. This is the final book in the trilogy and I fear for our assassin’s fate. Fitz and the Fool have one of my top three fictional relationships and I want to know if they can work things out.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?
I hope to get my new role at work under control and to get back to a regular blogging schedule.
6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Do I really need to say Caraval?
Thanks for reading – let me know in the comments what your favourite books of 2016 were and which ones you’re most anticipating for 2017.