2016 Reading Tracker Year in Review

It’s time for my annual break down of my reading tracker posts for the year.

January:

  • Read: 11
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 21

February:

  • Read: 8
  • Bought: 1
  • ARCs: 4

March:

  • Read: 10
  • Bought: 3
  • ARCs: 7

April:

  • Read: 10
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 4

May:

  • Read: 8
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 6 (these are outside of BEA ARCs which I tracked in a separate post)

June:

  • Read: 9
  • Bought: 5 (I ordered from BookOutlet twice this year and legit forgot!)
  • ARCs: 0

July:

  • Read: 14
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 1

August:

  • Read: 15
  • Bought: 9 (Book Outlet rears its head)
  • ARCs: 5

September:

  • Read: 16
  • Bought: 1
  • ARCs: 4

October:

  • Read: 10
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 4

November:

  • Read: 8
  • Bought: 1
  • ARCs: 1

December:

  • Read: 18
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 2

Yearly Totals:

  • Read: 137
  • Bought: 28
  • ARCs: 55

Details:

According to Goodreads I read 239 books but that includes a lot of picture books. I’ve started tracking comics/graphic novels/manga in my tracker on here and comparing the numbers that jives with my reading in general: 137 books/comics and 102 picture books.

I’m happy with these numbers. I read more books in general but I also read a lot of longer books. This year on Goodreads I read the most pages since I actually started tracking books meticulously. I’m floored by the volume of books I read some months. I think partly that’s a result of really not wanting to waste time on books I know do not work for me once I know enough to determine whether or not I can recommend it professionally or here on the blog.

I had been feeling major guilt about all of the books that I bought but it turns out I only bought 5 more than last year (granted, nowhere near my goal of 12 for the year). It also doesn’t reflect the immense work I’ve been doing in giving away my owned books.This year I gave away a lot of books at work (I lost count), and donated 30 to Toys for Tots in December. I still have a lot of books at home and should definitely go through my shelves again soon. But it’s progress!

ARCs this year (and actually bought books too) got a little weird because I wound up with a lot of duplicates so I think my real ARC number might be more like 48 but I’ll continue breaking down with the 55 listed in my tracker.

Here’s how I got those 55 ARCs:

  • Unrequested from publishers: 8
  • Amazon Vine: 14
  • Requested: 26
  • Gifts from friends (Nicole from ALA especially): 10

I’m pretty happy with those numbers because taking out the gifts/unsolicited books that brings me down to 35 (not counting BEA) which is much more reasonable and I think I’ll be able to cut that down even more going forward because looking at what I requested it definitely wound up including some titles I didn’t read or books I got elsewhere.

So that’s my year in reading according to the blog. You can also see my year in books on Goodreads. And check out my Top Ten list for 2016.

Wild Swans: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Wild Swans by Jessica SpotswoodThe Milbourn legacy started with Ivy’s great grandmother–a talented painter who killed herself and two of her children by driving in front of a train. Dorothea survived the crash and went on to meticulously journal her life, win a Pulitzer for her poetry, and be murdered by her lover’s wife. Ivy’s mother fled her responsibilities as a mother and a Milbourn when Ivy was two-years-old. Ivy hasn’t seen her mother since.

Now Ivy is seventeen and looking forward to a summer free of the responsibilities of being a Milbourn and the numerous enrichment classes that Granddad usually encourages in his efforts to support Ivy and find her latent Milbourn talent. Those plans fall apart when her mother comes home unexpectedly with two daughters who have never met, or even heard, about Ivy.

Confronted with the reality of her mother’s indifference and her family’s broken edges, Ivy begins to crack under the pressures of her unexpected summer. Ivy finds solace in poetry, swimming, and a beautiful tattooed boy but she isn’t sure any of that will be enough to help her determine her own legacy in Wild Swans (2016) by Jessica Spotswood.

Wild Swans is Spotswood’s first foray into contemporary fiction and demonstrates her range as an author. This novel is grounded in the creativity and madness of the Milbourn women whose shadows haunt Ivy even as she struggles to find her own place among her talented ancestors.

This character-driven story is a charming and effective book. The story is quiet in terms of action, a fact that is balanced well with Spotswood’s characterization and ensemble cast. This relatively slim slice-of-life story touches on poetry, feminism, family, and even transgender identity.

Wild Swans is an introspective and evocative story about family, inspiration, and choice. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary fiction, readers (and writers of poetry), and feminists (or proto-feminists) of all ages.

Possible Pairings: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett, The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu, Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy, Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot, What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones, Your Destination is On the Left by Lauren Spieller, This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson, The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

You can also read Jessica’s guest post for Poetically Speaking about this novel and the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay!

Top Ten: 2016

This is my annual list of favorite books that I read and reviewed this year.

Break Me Like a Promise and This Raging Light were the two books that were most impactful to me and the two I most desperately needed to read this year. I haven’t stopped thinking about The Star-Touched Queen and In Some Other World, Maybe since I finished them. Passenger has become a defining book of key moments of this year and last (which is why I have three copies of it). Bookishly Ever After, Iron Cast, Tell Me Three Things, Three Dark Crowns, My Lady Jane, and The Museum of Heartbreak were all delightful surprises this year. Hands down, The Anatomy of Curiosity is one of the most inspiring books I have read. Ever.

You can click the cover photos to read my reviews. Since it’s 2016, I’m giving myself ten slots plus up to six honorable mentions. Alphabetical by author because picking favorites any more specifically is too hard.

Top Ten:

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel BandeiraPassenger by Alexandra BrackenTell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani ChokshiIn Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen

  • Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
  • Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  • In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen

This Raging Light by Estelle LaureThe Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter HapgoodBreak Me Like a Promise by Tiffany SchmidtIron Cast by Destiny SoriaThe Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff

  • This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
  • The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
  • Break Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt
  • Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
  • The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff

Honorable Mentions:

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoThree Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  • Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi HeiligThe Museum of Heartbreak by Meg LederThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

  • The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
  • The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

 

This list is also a Pinterest board.

End of Year Giveaway: Pick Me Up by Adam J. Kurtz

Pick Me Up by Adam J. KurtzI heard about Pick Me Up by Adam J. Kurtz in one of the most inventive pitch emails I’ve received as a blogger. My interested immediately piqued, I requested a review copy which I’m currently working with and planning to review in January (for the new year). And I also have a copy to giveaway to one reader.

To explain exactly what Pick Me Up is (and why it ties so well with my resolution to be more mindful this year) let me quote the summary from Kurtz’s website:

PICK ME UP: A Pep Talk For Now & Later is a new interactive book-journal-guide-thing from the artist/author of 1 Page at a Time that will help you write and draw your own way through the dark parts.

This weird, optimistic book pushes you along with unexpected prompts, “existential activities,” some dark humor, and pages that keep you #connected, even when you feel alone. More than anything, you’ll build your own guide now for figuring shit out later – because someone telling you to “cheer up” is infuriating, but a pep talk from yourself might just work.

Pick it up and leave your mark. When you come back, leave a little more. Watch yourself change as you record and reflect on where you are and where you’re going.

Thanks to the publisher, I am excited to have a copy to giveaway to a US reader.

The giveaway will run from today through January 3.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post with one good thing that happened in 2016 (there has to be something, right?) OR one way you’re hoping to pick yourself up in 2017.

(No need to follow me or promote this giveaway but it would be appreciated.)

Dial Em for Murder: A Review

Dial Em for Murder by Marni BatesSixteen-year-old Emmy Danvers dreams of becoming a published author. Her latest attempt at a romance novel is proving troublesome when an old man latches onto her at Starbucks. The man seems to know Emmy and refuses to leave her alone. He also slips a tablet device into her pocket as he tackles her.

Then he dies. Still sprawled on top of Emmy.

Turns out the whole thing is more than an extremely unlucky moment in an otherwise ordinary day. The tablet, locked with a password Emmy can’t figure out, contains dangerous secrets. Information someone might even kill to get.

Emmy will have to find the father she’s never met, deal with a bad boy who may or may not be an ally, negotiate complicated feelings for her long-time best friend, and avoid the killers who are still hunting her down. At least Emmy will have lots of material for her next novel in Dial Em for Murder (2016) by Marni Bates.

While Emmy comes across as a bit brassier than her sixteen years would suggest, she is a fun heroine who is easily swept along in the myriad conspiracies and spy games that seem to surround her as she tries to make sense of recent events and unlock the mysterious tablet.

Dial Em for Murder is a fast-paced mystery filled with action and adventure. Although it is currently a standalone, the ending (and its lack of closure on several fronts) suggests that readers can expect further installments. Sure to appeal to fans of Ally Carter and other spy-centric adventures.

Possible Pairings: All Fall Down by Ally Carter, Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel, Pretending to Be Erica by  Michelle Painchaud, Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Week in Review: December 25

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

I was on vacation this entire week and had a blast!

Happy Holidays :)

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my December Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

Resurrecting Sunshine: A Review

Resurrecting Sunshine by Lisa A. KoosisAdam Rhodes, Sunshine’s boyfriend and backup guitarist, wishes he could process his grief in private for both rockstar Sunshine and the girl she used to be when she was still called Marybeth and they were growing up in foster care. Instead Adam settles for dulling his senses–and the pain–with alcohol.

When Dr. Elloran shows up at Adam’s door he expects her to be looking for a last piece of Sunshine. Instead, she offers Adam the impossible: Elloran plans to use cloning and Memory Archiving Port (MAP) technology to bring Sunshine back to prove to the world (and her investors) that Project Orpheus can resurrect the dead.

The project will go forward with or without Adam, but if he plays along–helping this new Sunshine remember the final days of her life and restoring other degraded memories–he’ll have the chance to see Marybeth again. And maybe this time he can keep Marybeth alive and well.

As Adam remembers the tragedy that led to his and Sunshine’s fame, he is forced to confront painful memories of her death and begins to question if bringing Marybeth along the same path is right for anyone in Resurrecting Sunshine (2016) by Lisa A. Koosis.

Simplistic and utilitarian world building ground this science fiction novel in the near-future of 2026. While Koosis is careful to name all of the relevant technology (most notably MAP technology) but never explains it enough to provide the proper backdrop or urgency for the story.

A slow start and weak execution detract from this potentially intriguing premise. Short chapters will appeal to reluctant readers willing to play along with the often tedious plot. Koosis raises some interesting questions about cloning, depression, and suicide but her prose falls short of insightful answers. Appealing for fans of this specific sub-genre of science fiction.

Possible Pairings: Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler, The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in School Library Journal from which it can be seen on various sites online.*

The Sky is Everywhere: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“You can tell your story any way you damn well please. It’s your solo.”

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy NelsonLennie Walker plays second clarinet, reads avidly, and always acted as a sounding board and companion for her dynamic older sister, Bailey. Lennie had always known that Bailey was the star of their family. She never minded.

When Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie feels like the world has tilted off its axis. Her grandmother and Uncle Big are both hurting too. But none of them seem to know how to talk to each other anymore let alone articulate the full scope of their grief.

Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend, offers Lennie an unlikely source of comfort. Toby is just as wrecked as her and might be the only person who can fully understand the enormity of Bailey’s absence. Lennie knows her sister wouldn’t approve of the physical turn their relationship has taken. But Lennie also doesn’t know how to stop.

Joe, a new boy in town, seems determined to befriend Lennie and lift her out of her sorrow, Lennie finds herself swept along with his exuberant enthusiasm for life. Joe makes Lennie happy and reminds her of the girl she used to be before Bailey died–and maybe even shows her an improved version she can be now. After. But Lennie doesn’t know how she can ever let Joe make her feel so happy and so alive when Bailey is gone.

Lennie knows that Toby and Joe can’t exist in the same world, that they can’t both be part of her life forever. But she also doesn’t know how to choose in The Sky is Everywhere (2010) by Jandy Nelson.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Sky is Everywhere is frenetic, serendipitous, and sometimes painful–things readers will recognize in Nelson’s subsequent Printz/Stonewall Award winning I’ll Give You the Sun.

This story has the same sense of wonder, the same vibrancy found in I’ll Give You the Sun. Even Lennie’s narrative voice is familiar compared to that of Noah and Jude. Unfortunately, The Sky is Everywhere lacks the tight plotting and pacing. While utterly sympathetic, Lennie’s story often feels meandering and contrived.

This novel is peppered with memorable characters, especially in Lennie’s grandmother and local Lothario Uncle Big. Moments of share grief are contrasted sharply against these quirky and strong personalities.

Lennie’s hurt and grief are palpable as she tries to reconcile the fact that she is still alive and growing up with the reality that Bailey never will. Nelson expertly communicates the suffocating nature of that sadness in Lennie’s first person narration. Each chapter also begins with a poem Lennie has written and left somewhere around town.

Although Lennie spends the novel torn between two boys, The Sky is Everywhere is largely introspective and firmly focused on Lennie. In some ways both Toby and Joe often feel under-developed by comparison as they help Lennie’s development. Romantic elements aside, this book is very much about a character learning to find her voice and articulate her wants and feelings.

The Sky is Everywhere remains a solid debut and a thoughtful meditation on grief, loss, and moving on. Nelson includes a compelling romance with a bit of a love triangle and, of course, an empowering character who only grows stronger and more confident as the novel progresses. Recommended for fans of Nelson’s and readers looking for a story in this vein. (Just don’t expect it to measure up if you read I’ll Give You the Sun first.)

Possible Pairings: Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali, Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz, The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy, The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood, You Are the Everything by Karen Rivers, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, Odd One Out by Nic Stone, Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Goldenhand: A Review

Goldenhand by Garth NixSix months ago, Lirael was instrumental in the binding of Orannis where she lost her hand and was separated her from her truest friend, the Disreputable Dog. Now Lirael has a new hand forged out of metal and Charter Magic. She is no longer a Second Assistant Librarian in the Clayr but the Abhorsen-in-Waiting using her bells to bind and banish both Free Magic creatures and the dead.

When Lirael’s duties as Abhorsen-in-Waiting bring her across the wall to Ancelstierre, she saves Nicholas Sayre from a dangerous Hrule only to realize his injuries are slow to heal because of the Free Magic that riddles his body despite the Charter mark meant to contain it.

As Lirael seeks help for Nick at the Clayr’s Glacier, trouble brews near the northern borders of the Old Kingdom. A girl named Ferin leaves her nomadic clan to travel across dangerous terrain evading pursuers and Free Magic creatures as she makes her way toward the Clayr’s Glacier with a message for Lirael about a threat from the Witch with No Face.

Lirael, Ferin, and others will have to work together to unravel the truth of who the Witch with No Face is and what she is planning. With magic keeping the Witch alive both in Life and Death, it will take everything Lirael and her friends have to stop this new threat in Goldenhand (2016) by Garth Nix.

Find it on Bookshop.

Goldenhand is the fifth book in Nix’s Old Kingdom series. If you’re new to the series, start at the beginning with Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, and Clariel. This book is set six months after the events of Abhorsen and picks up immediately after the conclusion of Nix’s novella “Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case” found in his short story collection Across the Wall.

Nix blows the world of the Old Kingdom wide open in this installment as he brings his characters and readers North of the Old Kingdom where even the Great Charter cannot reach.

Written in close third person, Goldenhand alternates chapters following Ferin’s journey to deliver her message and Lirael’s travels to the Glacier with Nick and then beyond the borders of the Old Kingdom.

Ferin is a fine addition to this series with a brusque manner and directness that is refreshing and contrasts particularly well with Lirael’s often tentative interactions as she makes sense of her new status and notoreity.

It’s fantastic to see Lirael’s growth as she processes and reacts to the fact that she is not the person she once was (a Sightless Second Assistant Librarian, that is) and learns to embrace her new position and everything that comes with it. Lirael’s relationship with Nick is guileless and utterly charming as these two characters circle each other and ultimately make each other better as they grow closer.

Goldenhand is an interesting expansion of the world of the Old Kingdom and the conclusion this series needed and deserved when the original trilogy ended. A completely satisfying end to a favorite series. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Plain Kate by Erin Bow, Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Fire by Kristin Cashore, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Week in Review: December 18

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Busy week on the blog with lots of fun posts if you haven’t seen them already! This was my last week of work before vacation. I’m excited to have a little over a week off to hang out at home and relax and enjoy Christmas.I am even finished gift shopping, wrapping, and mailing so everything from here on out is cake.

As this posts I will also be hosting my annual cookie swap. Yay friends and cookies.

I am still posting pictures I took of holiday windows on Instagram so check out my account for that (I’m tagging them all #TourdeXmas2016 for easy finding.)

I’ve been doing very well with getting real about books I want to read and books I don’t so I have been giving away books at a fierce rate and knocking down that to read pile. Finally!

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my December Reading Tracker.

How was your week?