Tag Archives: didn’t finish

Best and Worst of 2016

It’s a new year and time to start some new reading challenges. But, before I do that, I want to look back at my favorite and not-so-favorite books of the year. I read quite a few excellent books, so I’ll break them up by genre and link to the original review.

Science fiction/fantasy:

Rosewater by Tade Thompson was an ARC I loved because of its Nigerian setting. There were aliens slowly taking over the Earth and providing some people with special abilities.

I reviewed (but didn’t read) a couple of books in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I wholeheartedly recommend the early books in the series. This year I reviewed book four, The Lunatic Cafe, and book five, Bloody Bones.

The Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie, including Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy were a compelling space opera full of political machinations and some interesting gender politics.

The Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach, including Fortune’s Pawn, Honor’s Knight, and Heaven’s Queen was another great space opera series, although this one had more fighting involved. The books all end on cliff-hangers (except the last one), so be prepared to read the whole series if you start it.


Still Alice was a book club choice that I read a previous year whose narrator was experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George started out my reading year with an excellent book about a literary apothecary – a bookseller that can find a book for what ails you.


A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle was a surprise hit. I loved her writing as a kid, and found this collection of writing about her early writing career to be delightful and lyrical. I’ll be finishing the series this year.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – based on how much I enjoyed Eleanor and Park, I’m not surprised I loved this one as well. It’s all about a girl who goes off to college and is worried she won’t fit in, but finds some good friends and writes fanfic in the process. This was one of Mr. Curiosity’s favorite books of the year as well.

Middle grade:

Nearly all of the middle grade I read is for read alouds to my kids or listening in the car, so you can also take this list as a recommendation for bedtime stories.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex was an awesome audiobook. Six months later, we’re still quoting bits from this alien invasion story in the Boov voice. There are illustrations in the book, though, so the hard copy is also worth checking out. This was one of Miss Adventure’s favorite books of the year as well.

Seedfolks was a short read about a neighborhood coming together to create a community garden in an abandoned lot.

Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon is a fairy-tale princess story about a hamster princess who does things her own way.

I did pretty good in not picking bad books since I only didn’t finish three: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco because I just couldn’t handle the writing style; Stay Crazy by Erica Satifka because I stopped caring about the characters; and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving because it was long and boring.

I’m pretty happy with that collection of great books, with just a few that left me wanting something different.


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The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

I needed an E author for my Reading the Alphabet Challenge, and this book was on the BBC’s The Big Read list.

Published: 1980 in Italy, translated into English in 1983

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 512 pages

Setting: 14th century Italian monastery
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Stay Crazy by Erica L. Satifka

Published: 2016 (it comes out today)

Genre: science fiction

Length: 256 pages

Setting: a town in Pennsylvania, present day

Interest: I was provided a copy of the book to review (but my opinions are my own) Continue reading

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A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Published: 1989

Genre: fiction

Length: 543 pages

Setting: a small town in New Hampshire, 1950s-1960s

Interest: It’s one of the BBC’s Big Read books that my library had with an I author. Continue reading

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Best and Worst of 2015

As I’m looking back on the books I read the previous year, there were some winners and some losers. Let’s start with my favorites of the year. Click on the link to read my full review.

Middle grade fiction:

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo – all about a young girl moving to a new town and trying to make friends.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron – another book about a young girl trying to find her place in the world.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan – the first in a new series focusing on Norse mythology.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli – was a great read aloud about a kid trying to find a home.

YA fiction:

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – such a good book about growing up, relationships, and being there for a friend.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein – a WWII book that shows women played a larger role than they often get credit for.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London – a classic adventure story about the gold rush in 1890s in the Yukon.

Adult fiction:

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett – a Discworld book that should be read by everyone who enjoys fantasy or humorous books.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – a nested book with stories running from the 1800s to the future of humanity.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – this is definitely for adults, in a magical Earth, slightly fantastical setting. The second book was just as good.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – a book about a bookseller on an island who is drawn into life by a child left at his store.


Okay, So Look by Micah Edwards – a highly amusing retelling of Genesis.

Play by Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughan – all about the importance of play in everyone’s life, children and adults.

As for the worst of 2015, I did much better this year picking random books. There were only two I didn’t finish – Pallas by L. Neil Smith, because of its female characters who were too quick to jump into bed with the main character, and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I found it boring and full of too many similar characters.

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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Published: 1967 in Spanish, 1970 in English translation

Genre: fiction

Length: 448 pages

Setting: Macondo, probably starting in the 1800s

Interest: It was part of the BBC’s The Big Read Continue reading


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Short Stories by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Sorry for the little break in posts. We went to Gettysburg this past weekend so my daughter could compete in the Level 3 Gymnastics States meet. It was a long drive for us, so we took a couple days and got to visit the Gettysburg National Park visitor center. It did a great job of occupying a morning. Now, on to my Monday short fiction post!

L.A. Actors

Published: May 2013 in Arc 1.4

Genre: science fiction

Length: 7 pages

Setting: Hollywood, in the future

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Hollywood is still the king of acting, but now acting is done via someone controlling the nervus (kind of like turning the actor into a marionette). Latchka is one of the best, moving from the acting troupe of the Queen of Spades, to leading his own troupe, to busking on the streets when the revolution happened.

Title comes from: The narrator who was an actor from L.A.

Inside the Crown

Published: May 2013 in The Night Land

Genre: science fiction

Length: 8 pages

Setting: Redoubt One, sometime in the far future

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: It purports to be a translation of a broadcast from someone who plans to take over the Redoubt.

Title comes from: I don’t know since I couldn’t read far enough to figure it out.

Final thoughts: I didn’t really enjoy either of these stories. I found the settings too odd and off-putting. The type of acting described in L.A. Actors would be avant garde pieces now that I’m sure I would watch and just be confused. Inside the Crown was even more difficult to understand and get into. The narrator kept jumping around between pieces of his story and I didn’t understand any of them, let alone how they worked together. Not my style at all.


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