What I Read This Year – 2016 Edition

Yes, I know I haven’t written since March but I couldn’t NOT make a post recapping and recommending my reads from this year. It was a record breaking year for books due to many flights and also using audible while traipsing up and down the road to Saigon. I finished 57 books, 5 ahead of my goal of 52.

First let’s start with my favorites:

Book I couldn’t stop recommendingA Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. I absolutely loved everything about this book. It made me cry.

Favorite Series: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. It’s a futuristic telling of classic fairy tales. I thought it was a really fun take and I didn’t even notice that the final book was over 800 pages long.

Favorite Truth: Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach. This was a hard choice since I find reading non-fiction to be utterly fascinating. Truth to the saying “you just can’t make this stuff up”! Mary once again brought her humorous approach to researching interesting things about War that frankly I never think about.

Favorite YA: The Serpent King Jeff Zentner. Confession: I was planning a book club reunion/ girls trip to Nashville and wanted us to read a local author. My brother mentioned a book a friend recently had published so I choose it sight unseen. WHAT A GREAT CHOICE, which has also been reflected in many “Best of 2016” lists.

Favorite Book Published in 2016: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, historical fiction I found this one very interesting and wanted to learn more about the history behind the real life characters.

5 Star Books

4 Star Books

3 Stars

2 Stars

 

*drum roll* The 2015 Book Review!

I can barely believe it, five years ago I started my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge and this is the first time I finished before the 31st! Here is my annual read book list sorted by a very scientific star rating (click here if you missed the 2014 , 2013 or 2012 reviews). For full reviews on all of my books check out my Goodreads link on the side. My top recommendations for the year are:

The Martian by Andy Weir The movie adaptation was pretty darn close but I think if you saw the movie you’d still enjoy the book, it’s pretty funny even if there is a bunch of science.

The Pearl that Broke it’s Shell by Nadia Sashimi. Set in Kabul is the parallel stories of Rahima and her great-aunt almost 100 years earlier as they were dressed and treated as boys (bacha posh) until marriageable age is reached as per local customs.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This National Book Award winner tackles teenage mental illness drawn from the experiences of the Author’s family. It is also illustrated by his son.

5 stars

  • Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi (Cookbook)
  • The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Circling the Sun by Paula McClain (previously read author, The Paris Wife) – Audiobook
  • My Life in France by Juila Child – Audiobook
  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough – Audiobook
  • The Book of Mormon
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Dead Wake by Erik Larson (previously read author, Devil in the White City, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck) – Audiobook
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

4 Stars

  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Loving Frank by Nancy Horan – Audiobook
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle
  • The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riorden
  • Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
  • The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
  • The Lake House by Kate Morton
  • I Must Say: My life as a humble comedy legend by Martin Short
  • The Swimmer by Joacim Zander
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • The Paris Architect by Charle Belfoure
  • Stronger by Jeff Bauman
  • The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
  • The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Red Queen by Victoria Avenyard
  • Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

3 Stars

  • Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Yesterdays Echo by Matt Coyle
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
  • Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
  • The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

2 Stars

  • The Mind Readers by Lori Brigham
  • The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  • The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • China Dolls by Lisa See

1 Star

  • Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green
  • Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
  • Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont
  • Buried Giant by Kazoo Ishiguro
  • The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

 

2014 Was a Good Year for Reading!

I’ve always been an avid reader, which I’d like to attribute to my mother – as she used to pay me 1 penny per page of books read (Rob is unwilling to continue on with this tradition).  Four years ago I made a New Years resolution to read 1 book per week for the year and this is still going strong.

I felt like 2013 I read a good number of books that I felt a bit ho-hum for but 2014 made up for it with what seemed like a record breaking 4 & 5 star rated books.  Here are all 52 books, please feel free to click on my Goodreads widget (or friend me on Goodreads!) to see the full reviews!

5 Stars

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Fiction – Top recommended book of 2014
  • As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. Memoir
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Fiction
  • At Home by Heston Blumenthal. Cookbook
  • The First Fifteen LIves of Harry August by Claire North. Fiction
  • The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henken. Youth
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio. YA
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Fiction

4 Stars

  • Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar.   Non-fiction
  • Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris.  Memoir
  • All the LIght We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Fiction
  • We Were LIars by E. Lockhart. Fiction
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to LIfe on Earth by Chris Hadfield.  Memoir
  • Empty Mansions: The Mysterious LIfe of Huguette Clark and the Spending of Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman. Non-fiction
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Fiction
  • Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lo. YA
  • Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lo. YA
  • Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lo. YA
  • Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lomong. Memoir
  • Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. Fiction
  • The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson #1) by Rick Riorden. YA
  • The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson #2) by Rick Riorden. YA
  • The TItans Cure (Percy Jackson #3) by Rick Riorden. YA
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson #4) by Rick Riorden. YA
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. FIction
  • Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik. FIction
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. YA
  • Dark Places by GIllian Flynn. Fiction
  • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. FIction
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

3 Stars

  • One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak.  Short stories
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Memoir
  • The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass. YA
  • The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass. YA
  • The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass. YA
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCeight. YA
  • The Devil’s Grin by Annelie Wendeberg. FIction
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith. Fiction/ Mysetry
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman. YA
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Fiction
  • Lost and Found by Brooke Davis. Fiction
  • The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5) by Rick Riordan. YA
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. HIstorical Fiction
  • The Husband’s Secret by LIane Moriarity. Fiction
  • The Last Runaway by Travy Chevalier. Fiction
  • Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

2 Stars

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  Fiction
  • Mermaids in Paradise by Chris Hadfield. Fiction
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Fiction
  • The CIrcle by Dave Eggers. Fiction
  • The Triple Package by Amy Chua. Non-fiction

1 Star

  • The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Walker.  Total suck-dom

Books I Read in 2012 (Sorry for the lame-o title but I’m not feeling creative)

I did a stupid thing last year.  I read 53 books.  I then thought I should definitely read 53 books this year too.  I even used those goal setting techniques you’re always taught that include making it measurable and having steps and telling people about it so you don’t slack.  I personally like the last one, I think it’s less of a concern of slacking but instead puts you in a mode of self shaming for not achieving your goal.  Anyway, by December 1st I realised I somehow had 11 books to go (7 books behind – math was never my strong suit).  People told me to just change my goal but I’m a little too obsessive for that (plus that aforementioned self shaming thing I have going on).  Instead I neglected any duties I had for the month (sorry if my clothes are a bit wrinkly and I smell like Febreeze instead of Dove body wash) and finished book 53 by December 27th!  Ta-dah!!!

So here are my books, broken down by stars.  If you are looking for recommendations might I suggest starting with the 5 or 4 star books – and not making your way to 2 or 1 star.  I included my reviews for the 5 star books.  For reviews of all of the books I read click on the Goodreads Widgets on the right.  Happy judging me by what I read!

5 Stars

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  It’s been a while since I’ve cried while reading a book.
    If I ever get a dog again I’ll never look at them the same.
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick – Non-fiction.  Painful. Moving. The survival of Arn Chorn-Pond in Cambodia from 1975 – 1979 and life beyond.
  • Moloka’i by Alan Brennert.  Painful. Moving. The survival of Arn Chorn-Pond in Cambodia from 1975 – 1979 and life beyond.
  • The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.  Loved this!!! 7th grade coming of age in the late 1960’s amidst the Vietnam War, school bullies, and Shakespeare. I typically don’t quote from books but I had to share some gems, from one part of the book that left me panged for Holling Hoodhood.
    “You got no clothes that any decent person would wear … No bus fare. And no baseball. How’re you going to make it in this world, kid?”
    “When gods die, they die hard. It’s not like they fade away, or grow old, or fall asleep. They die in fire and pain, and when they come out of you, they leave your guts burned. It hurts more than anything you can talk about. And maybe worst of all is, you’re not sure if there will ever be another god to fill their place. Or if you’d ever want another god to fill their place. You don’t want fire to go out inside you twice.”
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.  Utterly delightful.
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom – Non-fiction.  Inspiring and though provoking. Corrie Ten Boom had exemplary character where I wouldn’t faltered many many times.
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I hadn’t read short stories since I was in the 7th grade and found this to be a much more agreeable experience. I enjoyed interloping into bits of lives of people who all share the feeling of displacement or aloneness but still find internal resolution or solace. I also thought it was going to be entirely depressing but found it enjoyable!

4 Stars

  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – YA
  • Thunderstruck by Erik Larson – Non-fiction
  • A Natural Woman: A Memoir by Carole King – Non-fiction
  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • Pandemonium (Delirium, #2) by Lauren Oliver – YA
  • Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
  • Black Out (All Clear, #1) by Connie Willis – YA
  • All Clear (All Clear #2) by Connie Willis – YA
  • The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
  • Black Heart (Curse Workers, #3) by Holly Black
  • Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth
  • Insurgent (Divergent, #2) by Veronica Roth
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  • The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1) by Shannon Hale
  • House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – YA
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

3 Stars

  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – Non-fiction
  • Delirium (Delirium, #1) by Lauren Oliver – YA
  • No Angel (The Spoils of Times, #1) by Penny Vincenzi
  • Something Dangerous (The Spoils of Times, #2) by Penny Vincenzi
  • The Expats by Chris Pavone
  • Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson – Non-Fiction
  • Reached (Matched, #3) by Ally Condie – YA
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrin, #1) by Riggs Ransom
  • A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harkness
  • Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness
  • The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal – Non-fiction
  • Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum, #2) by Janet Evanovich
  • Destined (House of Night #9) by P.C. Cast – YA
  • I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce – YA

2 Stars

  • Silver is for Secrets (Blue is for Nightmares, #3)by Laurie Faria Stolarz – YA
  • Red is for Remembrance (Blue is for Nightmares, #4) by Laurie Faria Stolarz – YA
  • White is for Magic (Blue is for Nightmares, #2) by Laurie Faria Stolarz – YA
  • Blue is for Nightmares (Blue is for Nightmares, #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz – YA
  • Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12) by Charlaine Harris
  • Whateverland: Learning to Live Here by Stewart Alexis – Non-fiction
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson – Non-fiction
  • Then Again by Diane Keaton – Non-fiction

1 Star

  • Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson
  • I Hate Everyone … Starting with Me by Joan Rivers

More Books & FWQB Weeks 15 – 18

Can you say slacker?  I’ve had these book reviews and quilt blocks just sitting around, waitin’ to be posted and I’ve been having too much fun wallowing in President Day bliss.  So I have put my patriotic celebrations aside and here are my recent reads and blocks.

Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce – First book of The Circle Opens quartet. Light read full of YA magicnessment. (I swear that’s a word).

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – I read this with all of my Apple product en towe (iPad, iPod, iPhone, MacBook Air, iMac). Walter Issacson wrote a very good book. He was very thorough in his research and interviews and did not get pulled into the subjects charm. That being said, Steve Jobs was charismatic and calculated. He was the driving force for so many life changing technological advancements but I don’t care how smart you are, how rich you are, or how awesome you think you are – it doesn’t give you the right to be such a jerk to people.

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III – Such a well written, tragic book. The reading of this caused me so much anxiety that I kept wanting to take a break from it, but kept me drawn-in in a way that people can’t jump off a sinking ship (unless they’re an Italian cruise ship captain). I felt heart breaking-ly opinionated about the characters and the decisions they made.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin –  love non-fiction books – when they’re written well. Oh yeah, and when I don’t find the main character annoying. I think the work that has been done is great I couldn’t get past Greg Mortenson (and the pending law suit of his lies included in the book).

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – I hadn’t read short stories since I was in the 7th grade and found this to be a much more agreeable experience. I enjoyed interloping into bits of lives of people who all share the feeling of displacement or aloneness but still find internal resolution or solace. I also thought it was going to be entirely depressing but found it enjoyable!

and onto the quilt blocks …

FWQB Weeks 12 & 13 & 14, Books, and My Thoughts on Pop Culture

Books

So I’ve read some new books with this new year.  I’m 3 books into my 2012 goal (once again see GoodReads links to your right hand side).  Here are my reviews:

Then Again by Diane Keaton – How not interesting. First of all – STOP MAKING COLLAGES, YOU ARE A GROWN WOMAN, NOT A 12 YEAR OLD! … and although she seems anti-marriage because it was oppressive to her seemingly creative mother to me it was apparent that it was because neither Woody Allen, Al Pacino, nor Warren Beatty would marry her (and she’s obviously still in love with the first two).

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Intriguing point of view. Christopher’s story, outlooks, and achievements were endearing. I found some situations hurt my heart a bit, but realised he wouldn’t understand why they should hurt his too.

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – Kept me laughing (technically giggling on the couch), I’d be willing to trade-in two friends to be friends with Mindy. (Don’t worry, if you’re a friend reading this review I wouldn’t trade you in).

Thoughts on Pop Culture (specifically Beyonce and Jay-Z)

Apparently Beyonce and Jay-Z had a baby this week (I normally pretend to not pay attention to celebrity “stuff” … or something like that).  I’m kind of getting over the name (Blue Ivy Carter for enquiring minds) however I was verbally assaulted by Jay-Z’s new rap to his daughter not once but TWICE whilst in the car today.  At first I thought it was a radio station joke … and then I realized it wasn’t … here are some of my “favorite” lyrics …

  • Your grandpa died of liver failure
  • The most beautifulest thing in the world
  • You was made in Paris
  • Make sure the plane you on is bigger than your carry-on baggage
  • You’re my child with the child from Destiny’s Child

And it times for the quilt blocks.  Weeks 12 and 13 and 14. 

Book it! Book it! Real Good

I’m a reader.  We know this.  That’s why I saw my 2011 resolution as a fun (and apparently anti-social) goal.  Reading 52 books or 1 book per week.  Before I give you a Becca-ized recap of my reading here are some random reading thoughts …

  • I agree with the library poster that “reading is fun-damental”
  • I think Pizza Hut should have a Book It!  program for adults, I’d be willing to be a spokesperson for a free tee-shirt.  That being said, if anyone is willing to buy me this Book-it! tee shirt (or this one) I will promise you a lot of friendship and that I will always photoshop pics of you before posting them on facebook.
  • When my elementary school switched from using the trusty card catalog to a new and flashy computer system they had a naming contest.  My suggestion was “The Booker Hooker” … get it, because you could hook the books you were looking for.  It should’ve won.

My book reviews are all available through my goodreads link (view widget on the right hand column please) so I won’t bore with a recap of those.  What I’ll do instead is put the books in the following categories: Highly Recommended, Guilty Pleasures, ‘Eh Decent *shoulder shrug*, Stay Away at all Costs

Highly Recommended 

Non Fiction

  • The Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard (Also recommend Millard’s River of Doubt)
  • In the Garden of the Beasts By Erik Larson (Also recommend Larson’s Devil in the White City)
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
  • Down Under by Bill Bryson
  • Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (Also recommend Vowell’s Assassination Vacation)
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
  • Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall
  • Immortal LIfe of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Fiction
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Teo Obreht
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  • The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
  • The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Young Adult
  • White Cat by Holly Black(Curse Workers #1)
  • Red Glove by Holly Black (Curse Workers #2)
  • Matched by Ally Condie (2nd books in the series is under guilty pleasures because it wasn’t good …)

‘Eh Decent *shoulder shrug*

  • The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins
  • A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey
  • When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
  • Faith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh
  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of LIfe in the World by Mary Roach
  • The Lollipop Shores by Joanne Harris
  • The Postmistress by Sarah Black
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Guilty Pleasures

  • The Litigators by John Grisham
  • Crossed by Ally Condie
  • Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  • Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
  • Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
  • Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris
  • Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
  • House of Night Novels by P.C. Cast
  1. Marked
  2. Betrayed
  3. Chosen
  4. Untamed
  5. Hunted
  6. Tempted
  7. Burned
  8. Awakened

STAY AWAY AT ALL COSTS!

  • Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger
  • Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis
  • Incendiary by Chris Cleave
  • Mennonite in a LIttle Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
  • An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
I’m setting the goal a bit higher this year – a whopping 53 books.  My wish in 2012 is to decrease books in the “Stay away at all costs” category …  and with that I leave with you with the following …

Source: songsungmeg.tumblr.com via Becca on Pinterest

Oops – I meant this … silly computer …

Source: 9gag.com via Becca on Pinterest