The Book Review of 2016

I totally stole this from Kezzie. I think it’s a fantastic way to look back on the books I read last year!

2016-books

Best book you read in 2016:

This is really hard, but I think I would have to go for either Saturday Requiem by Nicci French or Different Seasons by Stephen King.

Best children’s fiction:

I don’t read a lot of “children’s” fiction as stuff, more YA. I think Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell counts as children’s?

Best crime fiction:

Oooh, this is hard! I read a lot of crime fiction! I will choose Friday On My Mind by Nicci French since Saturday requiem already got a mention above.

Best classic:

I suppose it depends a bit on what you actually consider a “classic”. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey was good, but if 1962 is too modern then Kim by Rudyard Kipling was my highest rated “true” classic of 2016.

Best non-fiction:

I read very little non-fiction, and I think I only read 2 or 3 non-fiction books again in 2016! Papillon by Henri Charrière is an autobiography and therefore technically non-fiction, but reads like a novel so I loved it. (Basically I prefer my non-fiction disguised as a story 😉 ).

Best dystopian fiction:

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, without a doubt.

Best YA:

I want to say Noughts and Crosses again but that seems unfair, so Among Others by Jo Walton.

Most surprising (in a good way) book read in 2016:

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake was actually quite good, which I didn’t expect at all! Strange, but good. (I only read it because I need to read the sequel, Gormenghast, for the BBC Big Read). The Secret History by Donna Tartt is another one that I went into with no idea what to expect and ended up really enjoying it.

Book You Read In 2016 That You Recommended Most To Others:

I don’t really recommend books as such. I review some on my blog and say which I’ve liked, but I can’t remember a single real-life conversation where I’ve actually recommended a book!

Best series you discovered in 2016:

I didn’t really discover any series in 2016, just read books from series I already love. Noughts and Crosses is the first in a series though, so I’ll say that even though I have no idea whether anything beyond book 1 is any good…

Favourite new author you discovered in 2016:

I’m going with new to me rather than author who released their debut. To avoid repeating previous answers I’ll say Nicola Yoon.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love But Didn’t

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. I had heard the TV series was really good and the idea of a serial killer who only kills “bad” people was intriguing. Well, the TV series may or may not be amazing, but this book is most definitely not amazing. It wasn’t particularly thrilling and half the time it almost felt like it was written for children. Except with more violence and prostitutes than is generally allowed in children’s fiction.

Best Book That Was Out Of Your Comfort Zone Or Was A New Genre To You

I’m not even sure what genre Shogun by James Clavell is. Nautical fiction? Japanese historical fiction (told by a westerner)? A war story? Not a clue! But I am very sure I would never have picked it up if it hadn’t been on the BBC Big Read list. I would never read it again, but I did mostly enjoy it.

Book You Read In 2016 That You’re Most Likely To Read Again In 2017:

I highly doubt I will read anything again as soon as that, but I will probably read As Chimney Keepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley again at some point (along with the rest of the Flavia de Luce series, but I only read that one in 2016).

Favourite Book You Read in 2016 by an Author You’ve Read Previously:

Ohhh, that’s difficult! Again, I think I will go with avoiding repetition rather than necessarily choosing the absolute best and say Gavin Extence.

Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

I read Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen because another blogger suggested it as a book featuring a character with my name. Sadly it wasn’t that great, but I can’t think of any other book I read solely based on recommendation and weren’t already on my list.

Favourite Cover of a Book in 2016:

Again, assuming books I read in 2016 rather than ones published in 2016. I loved the cover of The Girl Who Couldn’t Read by John Harding (and I enjoyed this sequel much more than the first book!). Here it is:

book-cover

Book That Had The Greatest Impact On You In 2016:

I keep repeating myself, but probably Different Seasons by Stephen King. Specifically the novella Apt Pupil. It really brought it home that you can’t spot “evil” just by looking at people, and that literally anyone can be responsible for bad things.

Book You Can’t BELIEVE You Waited Until 2016 To Read

The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I put off starting it so many times, then once I picked it up I had no idea why I didn’t read it sooner!

Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Is it weird that I can’t think of any? Possibly the final scene in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. All I could think was “Uhh, what just happened?!”.

Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2016 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)

Carolina’s relationship with her grandfather in Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager. From not even knowing him at the start of the book to the events of the ending… it was just so perfect.

Most Memorable Character In A Book You Read In 2016:

In the interests of fairness, I will pick a new to me character (because obviously I find the characters in the series I already love memorable!). Will from If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie is my choice. For someone who had never been outside he took to it like a duck to water.

Genre You Read The Most From in 2016:

To be sure I would have to go through all my books, and I’m not going to do that, but I would guess crime/thrillers.

Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2016:

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde. Less fun than his Thursday Next series, but still very quirky and funny. Maybe I should have picked the Quarkbeast as my most memorable character? 😉

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016:

Okay, confession: lots of books make me cry. So much so that I can’t remember any specific ones from 2016. I’m pretty sure Among Others made me cry a couple of times though. Oh, and I definitely cried at the end of Hour of the Bees.

Book You Read in 2016 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out:

The Mirror World of Melody Black came out in 2015, but I had never heard of it until it came up on Goodreads. It deserves more attention if only to raise awareness of mental illness.

Total number of books read in 2016:

Goodreads says 83, so unless I forgot to enter any there I’ll stick with that number. I know some people read 100 and more books, but considering one of mine was 1,210 pages long I think I can live with 83 😉 My goal was only 75 so I’m happy.

How was your 2016 reading year? If you decide to answer these prompts let me know so I can come and by nosy!

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I am lucky

light
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

I am lucky that I am white.

I am lucky that, as a Brit, I have been perceived as the “right” kind of foreigner in the countries I have lived in (even after Brexit).

I am lucky that nobody has ever tried to blame me for the actions of others who I just happen to share a nationality with (again: Brexit).

I am lucky that I have never suffered abuse – whether physical or verbal – due to my nationality, race, or religion (other than the harmless but not very funny “jokes” about how I should be used to rain).

I am lucky that I was able to live in two EU countries before Britain left the EU, which will presumably make it much harder for Brits to do the same thing in the future.

I am lucky that I had the opportunity to move to Switzerland based partly on the the fact that I was a European Union citizen.

I am lucky that I was able to search for and find a job in Germany without worrying about how to get a work permit.

I am lucky that I could marry my boyfriend next week if I wanted to with very little fuss (other than a bit of bureaucracy).

I am lucky that I will never have to correct anyone who automatically refers to my partner as “he”.

I am lucky that, through their father, my future children will be EU citizens and will be in a position to enjoy the same privileges I did if they want to live, work, or study in another EU country at any point.

I am lucky that the only discrimination I am likely to face is because I am a woman (for example, maternity laws in Switzerland are abysmal. And by the way Britain, the reason they’re currently half decent in the UK is due to an EU law!). I will never be told to “go back to where I came from” despite the fact that I am currently not actually living in the country of my birth. I would never have been assumed to be a foreigner in my country of birth based on where my grandparents came from (despite the fact that my grandfather was Ukrainian). I will never be refused permission to marry the person I love because they happen to have the same gender I do. I will never be beaten up for wearing the “wrong” kind of clothes or for kissing my partner in public. I will never be accused of being a terrorist because of my religion and country of origin.

It would be so easy for me to turn a blind eye to everything that’s going on and assume that the world will go on, somehow, and things will eventually get better.

However, other people are not so lucky, and those are the people we need to be there for in these awful, awful times. We need to reach out to those who may need help. We need to not ignore it if we see discrimination in action. Above all, we need to be kind to each other.

The world may seem like a dark place at the moment, but every single one of us is capable of doing something to spread a little light in our own small part of it.

This post was partially inspired by this post on  Ami im Schwabenland, this post on Rhyme and Ribbons and many, many posts by the ever wonderful Katy.

Celebrate good times… with cross stitch

Many people will not look back fondly on 2016… they will remember it as the year of Brexit, numerous celebrity deaths and Trump making a mockery of everything. But for some people 2016 brought happy events. Pregnancies were announced and babies born (12 to people I know so far this year – and I’m not even exaggerating!). A friend got married and my sister got engaged. Here are a few of the things I’ve stitched for those occasions. Names have been cropped out to protect people’s privacy.

So far for next year all I have is my sister’s wedding to attend, but I’m sure many more things will come up by the end of 2017 that require me to get my needle out. For now though it’s all about the Christmas cards at Confuzzledom Towers!

First Friday letters of 2016!

I’ve been totally slacking on the Friday letters front so far this year (and the blogging front in general, to be honest). I have some letters in mind now, though, so let’s do this!

Mailbox

Dear British celebrities. Apparently the Grim Reaper has it in for you lately. Please look after yourselves! (Especially if you happen to be approaching 69).

Dear Alan Rickman. Everyone else has said it all, way more eloquently than me. You were one of my favourite actors and I can’t believe you’re gone. Terry Pratchett levels of devastation here, my friends! (And at least with him I could kind of see it coming.)

Dear 2016. I’m hoping for great things from you. Don’t let me down!

Dear snow. You are on your way, apparently.Please could you hold off just until I get back to Basel tonight? I don’t fancy being stranded on a train, thanks.

Dear January. You’re half over already! This scares me.

Dear Dylan Moran. I’m hoping you still have tickets left for your show in Basel at the end of the month, because I really want to purchase some!

Dear fellow bloggers. I promise to come and catch up with your soooon!

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy your weekends 🙂