31 December 2016

2016 Reading Challenge and 2017 Reading Goals

For my Goodreads reading challenge this year I set myself a target of 30 books. Last year I had the same target but only just managed to scrape it, so I'm pleasantly surprised that this year I've been able to read 42 books! Here's everything I read this year in date order, with my star rating.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman - ★★★★★
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman - ★★★★
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman - ★★★★
The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith - ★★★★
Peter Pan by JM Barrie - ★★
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson - ★★★
The Ballroom by Anna Hope - ★★★★★

The BallroomThe Ballroom by Anna Hope
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful love story set against a fascinating historical backdrop, with a very vivid and atmospheric setting. Completely absorbing.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin - ★★★★
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit - ★★★★
The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen - ★★★
The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan - ★★★★★

The Last Days of SummerThe Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ticks all the boxes for a perfect thriller. Complex characters, atmospheric setting and a smart, tense narrative. I couldn't tear myself away from it especially towards the end.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark - ★★
Little Tales of Misogyny by Patricia Highsmith - ★★★
Dreaming The Bear by Mimi Thebo - ★★★★
St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell - ★★★★
Perijee and Me by Ross Montgomery - ★★★★
The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters - ★★★★
LaRose by Louise Erdrich - ★★★★★

LaRoseLaRose by Louise Erdrich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much. It was a really absorbing but delicate human story and I kind of feel like it sneaked up on me in the way that even though it was a simple plot, it develops into a deeply affecting story. I got so involved in the lives of the characters and really cared about what would happen to them. The story flows really nicely between past and present, offering an insight into the family histories and personal connections of the characters, which are interesting as well as moving. I appreciated the insight into Ojibwe traditions and history and I thought the concept was fascinating.

The main thing that struck me about this book was the writing. There are some beautiful descriptions, and I thought Louise Erdrich captured the humanity and experiences of her characters perfectly. I would go as far as to say her characters are some of the most authentically human I've ever read. LaRose is a powerful book, one to read slowly and savour, and its well worth the time.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - ★★★★★
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave - ★★★★
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman - ★★★
The Midnight Watch by David Dyer - ★★
The Trap by Melanie Raabe - ★★★
The Ornatrix by Kate Howard - ★★
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - ★★★★★

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book in so many different ways - it feels like a long time since I have been so transported by a novel or become so involved with the characters and their lives but I have been so absorbed! A really wonderful book.

Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse - ★★★★
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore Presents #1) by J.K. Rowling - ★★★★
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists (Pottermore Presents #2) by J.K. Rowling - ★★★★
Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Pottermore Presents #3) by J.K Rowling - ★★★★
Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter - ★★★
I See You by Clare Mackintosh - ★★★★★
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - ★★★★
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue - ★★★★
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper - ★★★
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson - ★★★★
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain - ★★★★
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan - ★★★
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf - ★★★★
Room by Emma Donoghue - ★★★★
A Snow Garden and Other Stories by Rachel Joyce - ★★★
The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher -

Some reading stats for 2016:
12,240 total pages read
1 non fiction book
30 books by female authors / 12 by male authors

Looking back over everything I've read this year, I'm really pleased! I discovered Kate Atkinson whose books I've been meaning to read for years, and also Emma Donoghue who only came on to my radar after the release of Room - having read two of her novels this year I have definitely added her to my list of auto-buy authors and I plan to read more of her back catalogue.
A few of the books I've read have become firm favourites, especially Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. I'm so glad I finally read them and I'm actually quite glad I did so at an age where I could fully appreciate them. Also joining the list are The Ballroom by Anna Hope and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - both absolutely beautiful. My least favourite read of 2016 was Peter Pan - I know, I was surprised too! I thought it was absolutely horrible. You can read my full review here.

Reading Goals for 2017
One of my reading resolutions for 2016 was to read a popular trilogy that had passed me by. As I've mentioned, I read His Dark Materials and absolutely loved it, so I'm sticking with this idea for one of my 2017 goals. The trilogy I'd really like to get to this year is The Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson. I've heard good things!

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 2017, I'm also going to be doing a full HP re-read. I've purchased myself a brand new boxed set of the children's paperbacks and I can't wait to settle back into the wizarding world.

Last year I said I wanted to challenge myself to take on a really big book, with 1000+ pages. In particular I really wanted to read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but I didn't get around to it, so I'm taking this goal with me into 2017, and I will read it this year! I might even make it one of the first books I read as I think it will be perfect to chase away the January blues.

More generally, I'm going to set my Goodreads challenge goal slightly higher and aim for 35 books in 2017. Wish me luck!

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