Top 5 Books Read in 2016

I’d love to hear about the best books you read last year, so please feel free to share your favorites in the comment box. They can be from any genre, published in any year; the only stipulation is that you read the book sometime during 2016.

For those interested, here’s my complete reading list for 2016. I had more 4- and 5-star reviews than I expected, and many of those books had the WOW! factor for which I’m always on the prowl. Sadly, I have to whittle that list down to only my Top 5 (except for the few honorable mentions I sneaked in at the end). 😛

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Published 9/13/2011)

The circus arrives without warning. If you’re not compelled to read on, after that first sentence, you may not fall as head-over-heels as I did. When it came time to share my thoughts about this book, I was stumped. So many feelings to sift through to find an actual, logical thought. At its heart is a love story, surrounded by a competition between masters and their apprentices, wrapped in lots and lots of magic. I could see that magic, close my eyes and touch it. All my senses were fully engaged. It’s a rare book that uses smells and sounds with such clarity and power. My favorite book read in 2016!

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Published 4/5/2016)

Most of us have read a portal fantasy; The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland being two of the most widely read. The adventure in a portal fantasy often focuses on escaping the fantasy and getting back to the “real” world. So what happens to the characters who found their portal but had to leave? Every Heart a Doorway explores that very situation. I loved this – beautiful, macabre, diverse – book, and I cannot wait to read its companion (available for pre-order). For anyone who ever searched and searched for their secret door, or for those who still do.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane AndersAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Published 1/26/2016)

A weird mash-up of science fiction and fantasy presented with a unique voice. And I mean “weird” in the best possible way. Highly recommended if you’re looking for something different, something simultaneously imaginary and realistic.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerParable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Published 11/1/1993)

It’s always bittersweet to read a new-to-me author praised as a master of their craft. I’m overjoyed to have FINALLY read one of their works; I’m also sad because I wish I would’ve read them decades earlier, especially in my tweens and teens. At the age when I so desperately wanted stories with strong female characters who weren’t white Mary Sues nor obsessed with romance. Lauren Olamina is forthright, loyal, rational…all qualities I look for in my real-life friendships. She’s the kind of leader a non-follower like myself would be proud to join on any quest.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

Where Futures End by Parker PeevyhouseWhere Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse (Published 2/9/2016)

Young adult dystopia. I can almost hear the eye rolls. 😉 But don’t let the saturated genre fool ya; this is young adult literature for the thinking teen (or adult). There’s time travel, an alternate universe and some scary ideas of just how far social media and corporate sponsorship could go. The author has described it as”Donnie Darko + Cloud Atlas.” Recommended to readers who like interconnected stories, non-linear narratives, and generally hard to label books.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads


Honorable Mentions:
Weird Girl and What’s His Name by Meagan Brothers
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Top 5 Books Read in 2015
Top 5 Books Read in 2014
Top 5 Books Read in 2013
Top 5 Books Read in 2012

Top 5 Books Read in 2015

Of the 126 books I read in 2015, these five really stood out for me as having a WOW! factor that immediately earned their place on my “Top 5” list. For anyone interested, here’s my complete reading list for 2015.

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahonThe Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon (Published 8/4/2015)

Alternating timelines. A family-owned motel in small town Vermont. Best friends. First love. A disappearance. Secrets. A murder mystery. And, at the heart of all that, is the enduring bond of childhood friends and the destructive nature of sibling rivalry. Recommended for hot summer nights, curled up in a chair by an open window, a warm breeze sneaking in to tickle your bare toes, and the sound of darkness pulsing on the other side of the screen.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads


Memory of Water by Emmi ItärantaMemory of Water by Emmi Itäranta (Published 6/10/2014)

Dystopias centered around global warming or water shortages aren’t new. What is refreshing about this story, though, is its protagonist. Seventeen-year-old Noria is unforgettable. Couple that strong character with Itäranta’s evocative prose and the result is one of the most believable (and frightening) looks at a future we might face if nothing changes.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads


Ancillary Justice by Ann LeckieAncillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Published 10/1/2013)

Mind blown! A story set in space, thousands of years in the future, in which people are not distinguished by gender; hence, everyone is referred to using only female pronouns. It took about 25 pages to get lost in the book but after that I was gone. (It may be important to note that I’m relatively new to the genre.) I absolutely loved everything about this story, and it’s the reason why I now actively seek out more science fiction.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads


Big Fish by Daniel WallaceBig Fish by Daniel Wallace (Published 10/1/1998)

I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, so I’d already watched the movie by the time I learned it had been based on a book. Having adored the movie, I decided I better give it a few years before I read the book; I didn’t want to constantly compare the book to the movie which, I admit, is often unavoidable. Thankfully the book version was every bit as good, if not better than, the movie adaptation. Ultimately it’s a father-son story, but I was able to easily relate based on my own life experiences.

When a man’s stories are remembered, then he is immortal.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads


The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari JääskeläinenThe Rabbit Black Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Published 1/20/2015)

The Land of Laughs meets The Snow Child.

A secret Society for writers, a book plague, a (maybe murder?) mystery, the disappearance of a Snow Queen-ish character, mythological mapping … will absolutely be a hit or miss for the average reader. For me, it was the perfect amount of weird. Matter of fact, as I’m writing this, I want to pick it up again to re-read it. Loved, LOVED, loved this story!

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads


Top 5 Books Read in 2014
Top 5 Books Read in 2013
Top 5 Books Read in 2012

Top 5 Books Read in 2014

Every year for the last five years I’ve challenged myself to read a certain number of books. The first couple years I came up short, but since 2012 I have met and exceeded my yearly challenge. For 2014 I wanted to read at least 100 books – my biggest goal ever – and I ended up reading 112! For anyone interested, here’s the complete list.

In looking back over the year’s reads, there weren’t many with that coveted WOW! factor. So this year I’m sharing with you what I consider the best of what I read in 2014.

The Supernatural EnhancementsThe Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero (Published 8/12/2014)

You might expect a run-of-the-mill haunted house story, and you’d be wrong.

Instead you get a mysterious family history, a secret society, tons of riddles and puzzles, and one of THE best sidekicks ever. Oh, and said sidekick is also mute.

Highly recommended to the thinking reader.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

 

20th Century Ghosts
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (Published 10/16/2007)

I loved this collection! It’s only one of two 2014 reads that I had to buy as soon as I finished with the library’s copy. (Einstein’s Dreams was the other.) My favorite thing about Joe Hill’s writing is how he takes a seemingly overdone, cliche theme, such as ghosts, and gives it a whole new perspective. Genre doesn’t matter; his are simply great stories.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

 
 

Bird Box
Bird Box by Josh Malerman (Published 5/13/2014)

What’s scarier than something you can’t see but know is right beside you? Eek!!

An impressive debut which I hope will lead to many, many more terrifying tales from Malerman.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

 
 
 
 

Raising Stony Mayhall
Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory (Published 6/28/2011)

One of the most touching zombie-themed books I’ve read to date. Gregory writes the (yes, often overused) subgenre exactly as I think it was meant to be written: as an allegory for society’s current events, issues, fears, beliefs, etc. I still haven’t finished writing my full review for this one – that’s how much it affected me.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

 
 

The Golem and the Jinni
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Published 4/15/2013)

Uses two mythological creatures to explore what it means to be human. Some might even call it a love story…without romance. The beginning has a slowish pace but I promise it’s SO worth your patience. Truly powerful stuff for those who want to dig below its surface.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

 
 
 

Top 5 Books Read in 2013
Top 5 Books Read in 2012

The Classic Bribe 2012 Challenge

Some of you may remember this challenge from last year. While I didn’t post a review in the 2011 challenge, I did participate. This year I plan to read AND post at least one “review.”

Here are the details:

The Classic Bribe – Challenge & Giveaway:

  • Read at least 1 Classic over the summer – between Memorial Day and the end of Labor Day Weekend, September 3rd
  • You can have begun the Classic prior to Memorial Day, but it needs to have been completed between the challenge dates above
  • Post a review on your blog of each Classic that you read during the challenge period and reference a link to the “The Classic Bribe” challenge page
  • Link to each of your reviews separately by clicking on Mr. Linky
  • Each linked review counts as 1 entry – no entry limit per blogger – read and review as many as you like
  • Each entry builds up $1 toward an Amazon gift card – the more entries the higher the balance can grow – capped at $35
  • Random winner selected Labor Day weekend from all entries- no restrictions on region
  • Winner receives the full Amazon gift card balance accumulated based on entries received

Click to join: The Classic Bribe 2012 Challenge

My “Classics” Reading List for June 11 – September 3, 2012

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Wyvern Mystery by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (or J.S. Le Fanu)

I may read others during the challenge, but above are the books I already had on my list prior to the 2012 challenge announcement.

Thanks again, Molly, for hosting this challenge!

The Stephen King Challenge: Mini-Challenge #2

Photo three Stephen King booksThe second mini-challenge for The Stephen King Challenge kicked off on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. The prize for this mini-challenge is a surprise. (Psst! I won the first mini-challenge: a brand new hardcover of 11/22/63. I’m pretty stoked about winning.)

The mini-challenge schedule is:

Feb | March | April
May | June | July
Aug | Sept | Oct
Nov | Dec (free months*)

*November/December are free, non-mini-challenge months due to the holiday season.

For the second mini-challenge you must read one book per month in the three month period. And you must read a book that contains the quote listed on the Challenge page. You will get three entries in the giveaway, if you read the three books required. If anyone reads more than three books, they will get one extra entry for each book over the required reading.

My Reading List for Mini-Challenge #2

“It was like drowning, only from the inside out.”
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon – May 2012

“The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”
Night Shift – June 2012

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger – July 2012

Once you’ve read and reviewed a book for this mini-challenge add your entry on the May – July Mini-Challenge Review page.

The Stephen King Challenge: Mini-Challenge #1

Covers Eyes of the Dragon 'Salem's Lot Carrie Bag of BonesThe first mini-challenge for The Stephen King Challenge kicks off on Wednesday, February 1, 2012. The prize for this mini-challenge is a brand new hardcover copy of Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/22/63!

The mini-challenge schedule is:

Feb | March | April
May | June | July
Aug | Sept | Oct
Nov | Dec (free months*)

*November/December are free, non-mini-challenge months due to the holiday season.

For the first mini-challenge you must read books within certain themes. Choose three themes and read three books that fit each of the themes during the three month mini-challenge period. If you complete the three themed reads, you will be entered in the book giveaway. A bonus entry will be given to any person who reads a fourth book that fits within the fourth theme. And another bonus entry will be earned if you read a book of King’s short stories.

Examples of themes:

Fantasy/Post-Apocalyptic
i.e. The Stand, any book from the Gunslinger series, Under the Dome, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Talisman (with Peter Straub), Black House (with Peter Straub), 11/22/63

Ghosts/Hauntings
i.e. The Shining, Bag of Bones, Duma Key, It, Insomnia

Creatures: supernatural (werewolves, vampires, demons/devils, zombies, etc.) or other
i.e. Salem’s Lot, Needful Things, Cycle of the Werewolf, The Eyes of the Dragon, Dreamcatcher, Pet Sematary, Cell, Cujo, It, The Tommyknockers

The Mind: psychic, psychological, possession, abuse, etc.
i.e. Misery, The Green Mile, Dolores Claiborne, Rose Madder, Carrie, Gerald’s Game, The Dark Half, The Dead Zone, Desperation, The Regulators

Once you’ve read and reviewed a book for this mini-challenge add your entry on the Feb – Apr Mini-Challenge Review page.

My Reading List for Mini-Challenge #1

‘Salem’s Lot – February 2012 – Creatures
The Eyes of the Dragon – March 2012 – Fantasy
Carrie – April 2012 – The Mind
Bag of Bones – BONUS – Ghosts/Hauntings

Have you read any books by Stephen King? Ever wanted to?

The Stephen King Challenge

Medium Button The Stephen King Challenge ItSo the plan was I wouldn’t join any challenges until I finished my site’s re-design. Well that only lasted until I received an invitation to join The Stephen King Challenge, hosted by Michelle (True Book Addict) and Kate (Read 2 Review), which was too good to pass up.

What’s the goal of this challenge?

Read Stephen King’s published works, all of ’em.

What’s different about this challenge?

It’s perpetual. That means it lasts as long as you take to read all of Stephen King’s books. BUT, there will be mini-challenges throughout the year 🙂

When does it start?

February 1, 2012

Click here to join the challenge.

For full details visit the challenge’s official website. (For a complete list of King’s work visit his official website.)

NOTE: Re-reads are allowed.

When I signed up on January 23, 2012 I’d already read the following:

‘Salem’s Lot
The Shining
The Stand
Firestarter
Cujo
Christine
Pet Sematary
The Talisman
Thinner
It
The Eyes of the Dragon*
Misery
The Dark Half
Four Past Midnight (Collection)
Gerald’s Game
Dolores Claiborne
Nightmares and Dreamscapes (Collection)
Insomnia
On Writing (Memoir / Non-Fiction)
Everything’s Eventual (Collection)
The Green Mile (Read the original serial format, which I own)
Cell**

*My all-time favorite book by Stephen King.

**Notice the rather large gap between The Green Mile and Cell? Yep, from 1996 to 2011 I didn’t read anything new; I just re-read what I owned and loved.

Click here to join the challenge. (A big thanks to Michelle and Kate!)

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge Is Over

Banner The Christmas Spirit Reading ChallengeBut that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy and share Christmas spirit all year long 🙂

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2011 was hosted by Michelle/The True Book Addict and ran from November 21st through January 6th.

Unfortunately, I’m still reading one of the books I picked up for this challenge; it’s proving a trickier read than I expected.

I did reach my goal for both the book and movie levels,  Mistletoe and also Fa La La La Films, respectively.

My Book List
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Read but did not review. It’s seems odd to “review” a story that’s been around as long as this one.
A Vampire Christmas Carol by Sarah Gray – Still reading. [Edited 1/10/12: Read and reviewed.]
All Through the Night by Mary Higgins Clark – Read and reviewed.

My Movie List
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Frosty the Snowman (1969)
One Magic Christmas (1985)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Elf (2003)

Thanks, Michelle, for such a fun challenge!

My 2011 Reading Challenge

Icon 2011 Reading ChallengeI challenged myself to read 75 books in 2011.

This year’s to-read list included many classics by authors such as Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, and Oscar Wilde; plus, the “must-reads” for horror writers that I hadn’t read yet, such as Richard Matheson and M.R. James. I also wanted to delve deeper into the works of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. However, there was modern fiction I’d been dying to read by authors such as John Ajvide Lindqvist and Stieg Larsson.

Well it took most of the year before I realized I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted. Instead I was wasting time – and I detest wasting my time – doing pretty much nothing. I used to read every day for hours in my teens. So, in the last quarter of 2011, I read like I have always wanted to: daily. I didn’t meet the 2010 or the 2011 challenges, during which I read 32 books and 60 books, respectively, but I believe I will read 75 books in 2012.

Fiction: 38 | Non-Fiction: 22 | Total: 60

January 2011

  1. By Cunning & Craft by Peter Selgin [About]
  2. On Writing Horror (Revised Edition) edited by Mort Castle [About]
  3. The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft edited by S.T. Joshi [About]
  4. Small World by Tabitha King [About]
  5. In the Shadow of the Master edited by Michael Connelly [About]

February 2011

  1. On Writing by Stephen King [About]
  2. Poe’s Children – The New Horror: An Anthology edited by Peter Straub [About]
  3. Fear by L. Ron Hubbard [About]
  4. The Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard [About]
  5. Great Ghost Stories edited by John Grafton [About]
  6. Classic Ghost Stories edited by John Grafton [About]

March 2011

  1. Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond by Hans Holzer [About]
  2. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James [About | Free eBook]
  3. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan [About]
  4. Let the Right One In (aka Let Me In) by John Ajvide Lindqvist [About] Small heart icon: You MUST read this book!
  5. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan [About]
  6. The Ultimate Unauthorized Stephen King Trivia Challenge by Robert W. Bly [About]

April 2011

  1. Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation… by Stephen Thrower [About]
  2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. [About]
  3. The 5 Things We Need to Be Happy by Patricia Lorenz [About]
  4. The Everything Body Language Book by Shelly Hagen [About]
  5. Let It All Bleed Out edited by Alfred Hitchcock [Front and Back Cover | Contents ]

May 2011

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey [About]
  2. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan [About]
  3. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore [About]
  4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman [About | My “Review”] Small heart icon: You MUST read this book!
  5. Bones: A Forensic Detective’s Casebook by Ubelaker and Scammell [About]

June 2011

  1. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan [About]
  2. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris [About] (paperback)
  3. Darkness Creeping by Neal Shusterman [About]
  4. Now You See It by Richard Matheson [About] (hardcover)
  5. Hunted Past Reason by Richard Matheson [About] (hardcover)

July 2011

  1. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan [About]
  2. Cracking Creativity by Michael Michalko [About]
  3. Container Gardening Through the Year by Malcolm Hillier [About]
  4. Container Gardening for Dummies by Bill Marken [About]
  5. Window Gardens by Stephen Roberts and Jane Forster [About]
  6. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells [About | My “Review”]
  7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro [About] Small heart icon: You MUST read this book!

August 2011

  1. The Radleys by Matt Haig [About]
  2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley [About | Free eBook]
  3. The Unauthorized X-Files Challenge by James Hatfield [About]

September 2011

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson [About]
  2. Debt Free for Life by David Bach [About]
  3. The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes [About]
  4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke [About] (I stopped at page 82.)

October 2011

  1. The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard [About]
  2. The Power of Focus by Les Hewitt [About]
  3. Getting Things Done by David Allen [About | My “Review”]
  4. Silent Children by Ramsey Campbell [About]
  5. The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston [About]

November 2011

  1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris [About]
  2. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber [About]

December 2011

  1. Tell No One by Harlan Coben [About]
  2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy [About]
  3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens [About | Free eBook]
  4. Digging into WordPress by Chris Coyier and Jeff Star [About | My “Review”]
  5. The Long Dark Night by Joseph Hayes [Front and Back Cover | My “Review”]
  6. All Through The Night by Mary Higgins Clark [About | My “Review” (Coming Soon)]
  7. Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto [About]
  8. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway [About]

Did you read as much as you wanted in 2011?

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2011

Banner The Christmas Spirit Reading ChallengeI just signed up for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge! Okay, so I told myself no more challenges for 2011. But then along comes such a fun one that I couldn’t resist. And besides, I planned to read the first book and watch these movies anyway.

The details for this challenge are as follows:

  • Challenge will run from Monday, November 21, 2011 through Friday, January 6, 2011.
  • Cross over with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged!
  • These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time…a children’s Christmas books level!
  • Visit THIS POST for a list of new Christmas books for 2011.
  • The most important rule? HAVE FUN!

Click here to sign up for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2011.

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