My year in books

I finished my Goodreads Challenge a week early this year—115 books—and they sent me my stats, so I thought I’d share them, and look back on the things I read this year to see what stood out, what disappointed, and what was engaging but not overly compelling.

First of all, out of those 115 books, the shortest was 78 pages (an “in-between” novella inserted into a series by the author), and the longest was 848 pages. My total number of pages for the year was 37,627—but since I read another book after the challenge was over, I can up that to 38,001 just in time for the new year.

My “most shelved” book (meaning the one more people on Goodreads read than any other on my list) was It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover, which was emphatically not a favorite, but got the need to read at least one of her books (to see what the fuss is about) right out of my system. I have actually read two of them (Verity was the other), and that was enough. I am not her people, nor is she mine.

The “least shelved” (meaning, I guess, that no one on Goodreads knows who this author is, at least in this context) was The Affairs of Ashmore Castle, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, an author I know primarily for her mystery series featuring British detective Bill Slider (which I love). She is quite well known in her own country for writing a long saga, The Morland Dynasty, which family is established in book #1 during the Wars of the Roses and continues, as far as I can tell—barring any new books—to #35, which takes place between the World Wars in 1931. The Ashmore books are a new series for her.

My average rating over 115 books was 3.8, which seems generous in retrospect, considering that not many of those books were huge stand-outs for me; but I do tend to be kind with ratings except in the few instances when I am not! On Goodreads, the highest rated book that I read was Godsgrave, by Jay Kristoff, which somewhat surprises me; it’s a walloping good tale to which I personally gave five stars, but it’s both an oddball variant of fantasy and also incredibly violent and bloody, so it doesn’t seem like it would escape those to become highest rated. Kristoff’s fans are legion, however, so perhaps that’s the answer.

I only re-read 11 books this year, which is low for me, but belonging to the “What Should I Read Next?” Facebook group has influenced me in the direction of reading more new books and revisiting fewer nostalgia reads. As usual, about a third of my re-reads were by the inimitable Georgette Heyer.

So, let’s get into some specifics. FIVE-STAR STAND-ALONE BOOKS, in no particular order, were:

AKATA WITCH and its sequel, AKATA WARRIOR, by Nnedi Okorafor
MARY JANE, by Jessica Anya Blau (a coming-of-age charmer set in the years of my youth)
WE BEGIN AT THE END, by Chris Whitaker (tragically compelling)
THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES, by Alix E. Harrow
THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY, also by Alix E. Harrow
BOOK LOVERS, by Emily Henry (turning a trope on its head)
LITTLE SECRETS, by Jennifer Hillier (best suspense/thriller I’ve read in a while!)
JAR OF HEARTS, also by Jennifer Hillier
HOLDING SMOKE, by Elle Cosimano (a re-read of a YA fave)
BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN, by Diane Chamberlain

FIVE-STARS that were PART OF A SERIES included:
NEVERNIGHT, by Jay Kristoff (first in an intense science fiction trilogy)
DRAGON AND THIEF, by Timothy Zahn (first in a delightful space opera YA series)

FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT, by Elle Cosimano (#1 of a trilogy about an author who is mistaken for a contract killer, 3rd book to come out January 31st)
The INTERDEPENDENCY trilogy, by John Scalzi (science fiction that is both thoughtful and humorous)

OTHER BOOKS I particularly enjoyed, even though they had lower ratings, for various reasons:

The ASHMORE CASTLE series (I read the first two books, which is all there are for now), by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The CHESAPEAKE BAY SAGA (four books), by Nora Roberts
STATION ELEVEN, by Emily St. John Mandel (love a good dystopian)
MOXIE, by Jennifer Mathieu (YA girl empowerment)
Dervla McTiernan’s stand-alone, THE MURDER RULE
THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK, by Jennifer Hillier
and my last book of the year, RAVEN BLACK, by Ann Cleves, first in her Shetland Island series.

And those are the highlights of my year in reading! I have written/published reviews of all of the books I mentioned here, so if anything piques your interest, go to the search box (“Search this site” at the top right under my logo and description), put in a title or an author, and find out why I called out these favorites.

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