Well, this time last year, I was writing about what an amazing year I had had reading over a hundred wonderful books. I was looking forward to reaching for a higher goal this year but then, life interfered, as it tends to do sometimes. I did a lot of reading but found I sometimes couldn’t motivate myself to write up the reviews until I got very far behind. Although I did read more books than my stats show, I only reviewed 65 books and my goal was 125 — only 52% of my goal was achieved. While that should be a huge disappointment, I actually don’t feel too badly about it, as I did read some wonderful books this year, read books by 48 authors I’ve never read before, gained a few new followers, participated in two memes, started hosting a second meme on my own site — Cozy Read Wednesday (my first was Mystery Monday Meme)— and I’m feeling more on track as I look forward to 2017!
Here are some stats and some of my favourite books as well as some of your favourite posts.
I’ve written 690 posts to date, have 175 followers, more than 1700 comments, follow 112 other bloggers, have viewers from 105 countries, and have had over 2600 visitors.
Amazingly, my March 2015 post about Time Inc magazine’s 100 Women Who Changed the World continues to be my most popular post. Over 600 hits last year and 112 this year. The second most popular this year was my review of My Secret Sister by Helen Edwards and Jenny Lee Smith with 99 views.
I don’t often choose non-fiction books but The Triple Agent by Joby Warrick was amazing. I’m definitely going to have to read his book, Black Flags: The Rise of Isis, for which he won the Pulitzer in 2016.
Irma Joubert‘s historical fiction story of South Africa’s implementation of apartheid, Child of the River, was another totally incredible story. Beautifully written and so evocative of time and place, the character of Pérsomi Pieterse will make you laugh, and cry, and be proud for her — of what she has made of her life, stands she has taken, and the plain conviction and uncompromising morality of all her decisions. Another book that can’t be put down until the last page is turned, and even then, you don’t want it to stop.
Another historical fiction that totally caught my imagination was Ariel Lawhon‘s Flight of Dreams — the story of the last flight of the Hindenburg. Despite foreknowledge of the outcome of this flight, the lives, behaviours, dreams, and fears of the crew and passengers as expressed by the author were extremely compelling and wove a beautiful and intricate scenario for both those killed and the survivors.
In Mystery, my favourite genre, I’d have to say Terri Blackstock‘s If I Run (book #1) really caught my attention. It also left me hanging waiting for book 2. I also continue to be a huge fan of Susanna Gregory‘s Brother Matthew Bartholomew series and Thomas Chaloner series from specific periods of history in Britain. They will always be first in my heart, I think.
This year I re-read what I think is my all time favourite book, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman which I still believe to be her best novel no matter how good the others may be. This one is based on such a compelling true story and is so beautifully descriptive of time, place, and emotion that you can truly imagine what it might have been like to be at Masada as the rebellion against Rome drew to a close. It’s a story that truly captures the imagination.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was another historical fiction book that was full of beautiful prose and a captivating story of bravery conquering fear in the face of overwhelming adversity and handicap. Set in WWII France, it was a wonderful story that showed a diverse seashore community during the occupation with unlikely heroes. It is another of those books that was over too soon.
Mary Called Magdalene was one of those books that sparks an interest that leads to other books to shed more light on a certain subject. I have another book on my TBR list which is fiction but concerns the Magdalene scrolls and did quite a bit of research on the Internet after reading this book. Margaret George did a wonderful job of clearing away some of the myths about this follower of Jesus with her impeccable research and perfectly plausible speculation based on knowledge of the times and places under scrutiny.
Julie Anne Lindsay‘s young adult Christian mystery, In Place of Never, was another suspenseful read by an author I was unfamiliar with. This was a book written with great insight into human nature and particularly the adolescent mind and was a real page-turner. The carnival setting added an uncertain element to the whole small town atmosphere and the ending was a completely plausible surprise. Looking forward to more books by Lindsay.
The Mary Handley Mysteries by Lawrence H. Levy were an interesting addition to my library. The setting of the 1890s Brooklyn is intriguing as is the role Mary takes outside of the traditional female role of the times. I love the way real people and events are an intricate part of the story and this was another example of a story that sparks interest in learning more about the time and events.
The Lake House by Kate Morton was an intriguing mystery written in a style that weaved back and forth across timelines and with different narrators/voices. The first I’d read by Kate Morton, it took a bit of time to get used to following the change of voice but once I did, I was totally hooked. Another glimpse into interesting time periods and seeing the relationships over generations as well as totally surprising resolution to a cold case.
Looking back over my top ten picks from 2016, I’m seeing a trend toward more historical/Biblical fiction than I’ve read in the past. Perhaps it’s just that retirement has given me more time to read longer books that require a bit more thinking. Not that thinking isn’t required in mysteries but the mysteries come more easily to me and are usually much faster reads. Maybe that is because I’m so compulsive about finding out if I’m right about who did it. Or that I don’t have a clue and have to know. Also, mysteries are very comfortable reads for me if I’m already familiar with the characters and the author’s style. I also read a few biographies/memoirs that I really enjoyed and will possibly look for more of those in the coming months.
Anyway, tomorrow is the start of a brand new year and I’m looking forward to it and hope you are as well. I wish you all health, happiness, and enough wealth to buy all the books you want to read in 2017!