2016 Survey

central-library-20141213-032I’m a bit late with this, a look back on my reading in 2016, the template comes from ZeZee With Books though it originated at The Perpetual Page Turner, apparently.

Reading Stats:
Total books read: 107

Canadian  43   40.2%
USA         25   23.4%
UK           31   28.9%
Other       8   7.4%

Male        40   37.4%
Female    64   59.8%

Fiction     97   90.7%
Non-Fiction 7   6.5%

Paper books 16  15%
eBooks        91   85%

Graphic Novels   3
Books not finished   2
Books I’ve reread   3
Classics (including Canadian classics)   13

Best Books read in 2016
Ragged Company – Richard Wagamese
Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thu
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden – Jonas Jonasson
The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love but didn’t.
The Night Stages – Jane Urquhart
The History of Us – Jonathan Harvey

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way).
Walt – Richard Wangersky (unexpected. quirky.)

Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did).
I don’t know if there was any

Best series you started in 2016. Best sequel of 2016. Best series ender of 2016.
Unseemly Science – Rod Duncan

Favorite new author you discovered in 2016.
Richard Wagamese
Val McDermid (been around awhile but I’ve never read her)

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone.
Daydreams of Angels – Heather O’Neill (short stories, don’t usually read them. Might start reading more)
Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood (graphic novel)

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book.
Wire in the Blood – Val McDermid
Arctic Drift – Clive Cussler

Book you read in 2016 that you are most likely to reread next year.
I doubt I will reread any of the books in the next year.

Favorite cover of the books you read.
Mainly all ebooks and I don’t really get the full impact of the cover as it’s black and white

Most memorable character.
Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger from Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese
Nao from A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Wayne from Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Most beautifully written book.
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyn Saucier

Most thought-provoking/life-changing book.
Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read.
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2016.
I didn’t write anything down.

Shortest and longest books you read in 2016.
Longest: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, over 1100 pages
Shortest: Mary’s Christmas – Laurie R. King (really just a short story)
Other Novellas:
The Hand of God – James Craig
Virgins – Diana Gabaldon
A Highland Christmas – M.C. Beaton

Favorite book you read in 2016 from an author you’ve read previously.
Unseemly Science – Rod Duncan
The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald

Best book you read in 2016 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure.
The Birth House – Ami MacKay

annabelBest 2016 debut you read.
Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting.
Against a Darkening Sky – Lauren B. Davis

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read.
The Stupidest Angel – Christopher Moore

Book that made you cry or nearly cry.
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Ragged Company – Richard Wagamese

Hidden gem of the year.
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden – Jonas Jonasson

Most unique book.
Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood

Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it).
Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro (bored me to tears)

Best book title.
Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood
The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton

New favorite book blog you discovered.
A Year of Books
 746 Books

Favorite review that you wrote.
Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards

Best discussion/non-review post.
Doesn’t apply. I’ve only just started this blog in 2017

Meeting Ami MacKay at the Halifax Central Library, October 27, 2016

Meeting Ami MacKay at the Halifax Central Library, October 27, 2016

Best event that you participated in.
Went to hear Ami MacKay read from The Witches of New York at the library, got the book signed, met a fellow Goodreader.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016.
Deciding to start a reading blog in 2017, I guess

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year.
Finding books to match all the squares in the Bingo challenge I participated in.
Reading more Canadian authors


Most popular post this year on your blog. (N/A)

Post you wished got a little more love. (N/A)

Best bookish discovery.
Richard Wagamese, Ami MacKay (2016) and honourable mention to Michael Crummey (2015)

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Met and surpassed a goal of 90 books on Goodreads
Finished the Bingo challenge
Read some classics (like to try to read a few each year)

One book you didn’t get to in 2016 but will be your number 1 priority in 2017.
I have a stack of To Be Read books.

Book you are most anticipating for 2017 (non-debut).
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2017.
Last of the series Jeffrey Archer read about the Clifton/Barrington families, “Cometh the Man”

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2017.
Borrow more from the library

Two sides of the coin

Every now and then you read a book and it really affects you. It might be profound and sad, it might be touching, or funny, or the story draws you in completely and the characters stay with you for days.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you A Train in Winter by Carolyn Moorehead and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. The topic is the role of French women in the Resistance during WWII and both books have sections that describe the atrocities that happened to these women in the German concentration camps.

I read A Train in Winter (ATIW) last year in May that was a tough book to read but I learned something I didn’t know before and I gained a lot of new respect for the type of people that sacrifice their lives for what they believe in.

Then, imagine my surprise, I read The Nightingale (TN), a book that was a popular best seller, and is a romanticized account of much the same topic, in part, but from a fictional point of view. It was interesting to compare them. ATIW was bleaker and a lot more raw when describing the day to day danger of covert operations or dealing with occupiers who could be brutally abrupt and punishing at the drop of a hat or when describing the horrific things that went on in concentration camps. The novel, of course, had a romantic thread through the story but did throw some light into the concentration camps as well, and it didn’t sugar coat it but also didn’t go into as extensive an account as ATIW because that’s not what the primary focus of the novel was. The two books did complement each other, with “Here’s a story” on one side and “Here’s what really happened” on the other. I’d recommend both books but the atrocities in ATIW are not for the faint of heart.

With that in mind, I will post my reviews here:

atiwA Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
by Carolyn Moorehead
I learned about an aspect of WWII from this book that I didn’t know before, the role of women in the French Resistance and what happened to the ones that were sent to concentration camps. I knew there were women in the Resistance but I didn’t know there was a specific camp that they sent the French women to. I didn’t know the kinds of things that the women did to help oppose the German occupation of France, mainly Paris in these accounts.

This is not an easy book to read. The things that happened to the women in the camps are indescribable, horrific, tragic, horrendous, nightmarish… there really are no words that do it justice. The author tells it like it was, gleaning from research, letters and diaries, and her interviews with the handful of women that were in the camps. The stories of how they managed to survive are just as brutal as the stories of the torture and deaths.

The book starts off slowly, introducing a great number of women who were involved with the grassroots resistance movement pretty much as soon as the Germans occupied most of France, Paris being the main focus. The women that were involved were all ages from young teenagers to senior citizens. They were messengers, printers, distributors of posters and pamphlets, providers of safe houses and hiding places as well is participants in sabotage sometimes. The police methodically gathered evidence and eventually zeroed in on them. They were captured and sent to concentration camps, work camps and the like.

From there, the book gets dark and heavy with the awful things that happened but the survival instinct and the spirit of many of the women is astonishing. The author describes how they got through it, supported each other, adjusted to life after the war, or not, how it affected not only the women but their families and the families of the women that did not come home. Many of the women were awarded the Legion of Honour for their services. Some helped convict many collaborators and Germans for war crimes. It’s a tough read but a very interesting aspect of history.

tnThe Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

Viann and Isabelle are sisters with very different personalities. Their mother died when they were young and their father sent them away, unable to cope. Viann lives with her husband and daughter in a village in France while Isabelle is a handful, continually being ejected from one school after another. World War II arrives and everything changes. Isabelle spends the war working for the Resistance and Viann must keep her and her daughter alive while her husband is away. She must billet two German officers over the course of the war. One is a decent man, the other is not. There is danger, starvation, risk, fear, regrets and tragedy.

Isabelle’s story somewhat crosses over with a non-fiction book I read earlier in the year about French women that worked for the Resistance and went to a concentration camp which was an interesting aspect to the novel. Viann finds her courage, Isabelle is driven to do anything she can to work against the Germans. The sisters are continually estranged through most of the story. The author seems to have done some very good research not only into the types of things that the women in the resistance did and what kinds of things happened to them in the camps but also what it was like to deal with the occupation, food shortages and the daily fear. There is very good character development and the story kept me turning the pages.