January 31, 2017

Quick Lit: January 2017

One of my worst blogging habits is my inability to write about what I've read in a timely manner. So, I'm trying something new: recapping what I read at the end of each month and linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy. I feel like "traditional" reviews have declined in popularity, although I'll still be writing some every month, so I'm hoping this will be a fun way to share what I'm reading. The exception will be review books that I can't discuss yet! 

In case you missed it, last week I reviewed my January pick for The Picky Pledge Reading ChallengeThe Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. And keep an eye out in the next week or so for my review of The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell, a February release that I couldn't put down!
To start off 2017, I decided to re-read Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. Inspired by "The Six Swans" fairy tale, this historical fantasy book is one of my all-time favorites. I first read it for the Fall Into Fantasy event that I co-hosted with Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, and I've been wanted to revisit it ever since. I listened to a little more than 60% on audio and accidentally finished it up on my Kindle because I became too engrossed in the story near the end. The narrator, Terry Donnelly, had a lovely speaking voice and brought a lot to the story. However, she did read quite slow so I would definitely recommend speeding up the narration a bit. Everything that I loved about the book previously was just heightened upon re-reading, though I did notice that Marillier can be overly descriptive at times. But honestly, returning to Sevenwaters was the perfect way to kick off the year!

So Quotable
“But you have been strong before, and you will be now. What is burned can be replaced; what is destroyed can be made again. In time you will win back your voice. In time—in time, you will find your path back home.”

Next, I decided to dive into an audiobook that I purchased on a whim last year. In the Country We Love is written by Diane Guerrero, an actress that you might recognize from Netflix's Orange is the New Black. But I know her as Lina on Jane the Virgin (one of the best shows you probably aren't watching). Her memoir was an Audible Daily Deal in 2016, and my fondness for the character she plays on TV made me interested in her book. Diane was just fourteen when her parents, undocumented immigrants, were taken into custody while she was in school. Their subsequent deportation changed her life forever. This book wasn't quite what I expected - it's a look at Diane's whole life rather specifically focusing on the immigration/citizenship aspect. But, of course, that affected almost every aspect of her life. The trauma from that day has far-reaching consequences, and she's incredibly open and honest about her struggles in the years following. 

The writing is very conversational, which felt natural as an audiobook since Diane was the narrator. But I think I would have had issues with the writing if I'd read a physical copy. There was a lot of slang and jokes, and I think I would have read it differently without her voice. I wasn't expecting the light and somewhat sarcastic tone, and I felt that it occasionally detracted from the gravity of the subject matter (which includes mental illness, self harm, and substance abuse.). The last chapter was so interesting and thought provoking - packed with statistics about our immigration system and the need for reform. It whet my appetite for more and left me wishing it wasn't just tacked on to the end. I felt like the book would have been much more impactful if it had been a less "celebrity memoir" and more of a personal discussion on immigration. 

So Quotable
“Emotional wellness is a First World luxury.”

I'm a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I adored One True Loves when I first read it last year. I'd then purchased it on audio after hearing a lot of praise for Julia Whelan's narration and decided I was in the mood to dive into it this month. As soon as I started listening, I was gripped again by Emma's story. She marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse, and has an incredible life with him until he goes missing in a helicopter accident over the Pacific. He's presumed dead, and it's a tragic end to their love story. Emma moves home, picks up the pieces, creates a different life for herself... and finds a new love. Then, she finds out Jessie is alive. Even though I knew what happened, I was still so invested in every aspect of the story. The emotion felt so palpable to me, and I loved reliving so many of my favorite moments and pondering the What if...?  of the situation long after I was done. Whelan's narration was enjoyable, though I wouldn't say it was a favorite for me. My one weird complaint is something that I never would have noticed if I wasn't listening to it read aloud: there are way too many uses of "he/she/I said." They totally interrupted the flow of the dialogue and were used way more than necessary. But overall, I still love this book and these characters!

So Quotable 
“I had predicated my life on the idea that I wanted to see everywhere extraordinary, but I’d come to realize that extraordinary is everywhere.”

For Christmas 2015, Betty from Book Rock Betty gave me a historical romance novel called A Perfect Rake. Honestly, I was a little skeptical because I assumed the genre wasn't something I'd enjoy. But I trusted Betty and heard from both Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and Kelly from Belle of the Literati that I needed to give it a try. So, I dove in last year... and found myself pleasantly surprised! It was sweet, funny and swoony without being too sexy (which is what I personally wanted to avoid). Prudence was such an admirable heroine, especially with her love and care for her younger sisters. And Gideon was a devilish rake who is so charmed by Prue that it was adorable to see them interact! I finished it with a smile on my face and realized that I wanted to continue the series! Unfortunately, I never got around to reviewing it but figured I'd just rope it into this post because...

Kelly swooped in and sent me the second book, The Perfect Waltz, for Christmas this past year. She mentioned that it was her favorite in the series, and I totally know why - there's definitely a Beauty and the Beast vibe going on between this couple. Hope Merridew was the beautiful and charming heroine, and Sebastian Reyne was the handsome and gruff man desperately in need of a wife to help him care for his two younger sisters. I found myself totally caught up in their romance - and in a secondary love story that I didn't see coming at first! My biggest complaint about the book was that the only real obstacle between the characters would have gone away if they'd just had one conversation about a certain aspect of the Merridew history. But, overall, it was a pretty minor issue. Both of these books were so much fun, though I have to give the first one a slight edge because I enjoyed the snark and sass of the main characters.

So Quotable
“All people, but especially young girls, need to belong, need to feel wanted and loved.” - The Perfect Waltz

Where do I even start with this delightful tale? I read one of Deanna Raybourn's standalone novels, City of Jasmine, a few years ago, enjoyed it and have been meaning to read something else by her ever since! I found out she was coming to Atlanta for a book signing and was so excited when I remembered that I had A Curious Beginning, the first book in her new historical mystery series, on audiobook. It was perfect timing! Almost as soon as Veronica Speedwell, the heroine, was introduced, I knew I was in for a treat. She's a smart, sassy and fiercely independent woman who is ready to resume her world travels as a butterfly hunter after the death of her spinster aunt. But there is danger afoot, which Veronica learns when someone attempts to abduct her. With the help of the stern and reclusive Mr. Stoker, she must go on the run and uncover the truth of who is out to get her - and why.

If you're a fan of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, you need to take note of this book. And even if you're not, here's what I'm hoping will convince you to pick up this book: an intrepid heroine who knows her own mind, the slightly serious and exasperated (but thoroughly handsome) man trailing around after her, the perfect amount of banter and sexual tension, a hint of danger around every corner and a completely enjoyable mystery. Here's one of my favorite exchanges:
"That is enough," he growled. "I swear to the devil, Veronica, if you vex me further, I will not be responsible for my actions." 
"Oh, come now, Mr. Stoker. You will have to do better than that if you mean to make me afraid of you. I have been menaced more effectively by poodles."  
"God, you have a vicious tongue," he retorted. "But I am no more afraid of you than you are of me. I have little doubt your bark is worse than your bite."  
"How do you know, Mr. Stoker? I haven't bitten you yet."
This was such a charming read on its own, but I can't speak highly enough of the audiobook experience! Angele Masters narrated it, and she elevated a "so enjoyed it" story into a "so loved it" rating. I loved her pacing and voices for all the characters! And you better believe I'll be joining Veronica on another adventure soon since the sequel, A Perilous Undertaking, was just released.

So Quotable
"A thoroughly unladylike observation," he retorted.
"Yes, well, being a lady is a crashing bore, or hadn't you noticed?"
He shrugged. "You seem to enjoy it."
"As you pointed out, I am not exactly a lady."

What was the best book you read this month?
Have I put any books on your radar?

January 26, 2017

"Just a kind voice in the dark is all we want most times."


I bought The Summer Before the War one day after the cover caught my eye while I was browsing in Costco's book section. I hadn't read Simonson's previous novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, although I was familiar with it and had heard wonderful things. With that in mind, I decided to take a chance on this gorgeous book. 

You probably won't be surprised to learn that the book was placed on my shelves... where I promptly forgot about it. Thankfully, Alexa and I came up with The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge and that was the push I needed to start reading this quiet and quaint novel. The Summer Before the War is the story of Beatrice Nash - a young, single woman who is hired to teach Latin in a small English town. It's supposed to be a fresh start after the death of her beloved father, but the idyllic summer of 1914 is about to end because war is looming. 

Simonson's writing was my favorite part of this book. I marked so many phrases and conversations dialogue, in particular, that made me laugh or pause. There was a calm, quaint feeling to the book that felt so realistic to the setting. I took my time reading this book, but I enjoyed my quiet and dreamy journey through these pages. And I adored the subtle humor in this story, especially since there was a somber tone as the war approached and ultimately intensified. For example:
"I think you'll find most women in pursuit of a husband share an interest in appearing less educated than they really are," said Beatrice. "It is why I have a low opinion of them." 
"Of women, miss?" said Abigail. 
"No, of husbands," said Beatrice.
I loved the setting - a small town in East Sussex - and the locals who inhabited it. I adored Beatrice for her sharp mind, her willingness to risk her reputation for someone in need, her determination to succeed on her own and her desire to follow in her father's footsteps and become a writer. Aunt Agatha was a formidable woman, and I loved her relationship with her two nephews, Hugh and Daniel. Both men added so much to the story! And I cracked up at a few of the local busybodies who stirred up drama and spread gossip. I found the inclusion of the Romani fascinating and appreciated how Simonson depicted the judgement and racism they faced. I have no idea if their were any problems with her portrayal, though she did include notes on her research at the end.

However, I did feel that the story itself could have been tightened up a bit. It was a long book, and there wasn't always a lot happening. The pacing in the book was slow, which I liked and disliked depending on the section I was reading. I was in love with the book for the first half or so, but I began to lose patience as it continued along. With more development of the romance and war, this might have been a new favorite for me. And though it fell a little short of that mark, I quite enjoyed my visit to this small town and my time spent with these characters. 
Release Date: March 2016 | Publisher: Random House
Pages: 496 pages | Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover 

This was my first read for The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge that Alexa and I are doing in 2017! It's the perfect motivation to read books from my TBR and adds an extra dose of accountability, too. In addition to reading and reviewing one challenge book per month, we're answering three questions about each book we read!

1. How long has this book been on your TBR? 
I bought this book on impulse at Costco in March or April 2016. It had briefly crossed my radar before then, but it wasn't until I saw it in person that I realized I wanted to read it. 

2. What did you like about the cover? 
I loved that bright blue and red and the somewhat watercolor-esque illustration. I don't always love covers with people on them, but I adored the way this cover just hinted at the characters. Plus, it suggested historical fiction with the title, the clothing and the hint of a village in the background. That's right up my alley!

3. How many books are on your TBR because of the cover? 
Honestly, I can't say there are really any books on my TBR solely because of the cover! Even with The Summer Before the War, what I loved about the cover was the fact that it + the title seemed to indicate that the book focused on a topic and time period that already fascinated me. But there are definitely a number of books on my TBR that I may not have investigated further if not for a gorgeous cover!

January 6, 2017

December 2016: Recap + On My Shelves

  
Just like that, 2016 has come to a close. It felt like a roller coaster of the year, but I will always be thankful for it because it brought me my sweet baby boy. I look forward to seeing what 2017 has in store!

1. New Earrings + Scarf - Although you can't see them very well in this photo, Cassie gave me a new pair of earrings for Christmas. I'm obsessed - they're actually the ones I included in my 2016 Holiday Gift Guide! And I told my mom that I wanted a new scarf, and she gave me this one. It was exactly what I had in mind!

2. Alexa Adds to My ACOMAF Obsession - I seriously have the best friends in the world! They gave me such thoughtful gifts for Christmas, and I'm so thankful for them. Alexa gave me this A Court of Mist and Fury-themed surprise, and I freaked out when opening it! The print, bookmarks, candle and pouch are beyond perfect.

3. Christmas with Family - While I always love the holidays, this Christmas was even more special because of our baby. He's still too young to really understand it, but he made everything more fun! I hosted a Christmas Eve brunch for my in laws and spent Christmas with my family - and made so many memories!

4. Visit from My Best Friend - My best friend was in town for the holidays, and she came to visit me while she was here. It was one of the best gifts of all! She hasn't seen my boy since this summer, and he's grown so much since then. But the most amazing part was catching up with her over coffee - talking as if I got to see her every day!

Read 11 Books | Favorites:
Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne
Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne
Evergreen Springs by RaeAnne Thayne
My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
“A good book with chase away the dark.”
Miss Moon by Janet Hill

“In my experience, we tend to see our own mistakes and weaknesses
far more vividly than other people do.”
Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne

“You never became ordinary to me, my love.
You were electric shocks and fire.”
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
December was actually a pretty good blogging month for me! I shared my Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2016 and a round-up of mini reviews for five contemporary YA books. My 2016 Holiday Gift Guide highlighted five types of gifts (Beauty, Decor, Books, Entertainment and Fashion) that usually show on my wishlist every year.

December 15 marked my fifth year of blogging, so I decided to celebrate by looking back at the past five years. Five Years of Favorites: The Obsessions chronicled the things I've been so obsessed with during the past five years. Five Years of Favorites: The Books let me highlight my five favorite books from each year that I've been blogging (+ five honorable mentions for each because #struggle). In Five Years of Favorites: The Blog, I picked five favorite posts from the five main categories you'll find on my blog (Reviews, Discussions, Features, Collaborations, and Top Ten Tuesdays). Five Years of Favorites: The Memories was a tribute to the incredible people I've met and amazing things I've been able to do through blogging. And finally, Five Years of Favorites: The Lessons gave me the opportunity to share five things that blogging has taught me over the years.

1. Must Have Apps: Productivity and Travel by Rachel from Hello, Chelly - I don't have a ton of apps on my phone - just a handful that I use almost every day - but I really enjoyed this post from Rachel. I ended up with a few new ones that I'm going to try, like her favorite package tracker and notes app!

2. Book Blog Post Ideas and Discussions by Lauren from Bookmark Lit - Ever find yourself in a blogging rut and just don't know what to post? Lauren's got you covered! I loved her extensive list of discussion post ideas and walked away inspired to write a bunch more for this year. Now, I just have to figure out where to start...

3. Words Have the Power to Change Us: Mhairi McFarlane by Kelly from Belle of the Literati - I always look forward to a post from Kelly in this series on her blog! I'm a little biased with this one (because I recommended the book that inspired it), but I could relate to her realization that people who care will make the effort.

4. Alexa's Best of 2016 by Alexa from Alexa Loves Books - My favorite thing about the end of the year is reading everyone's "Best Of" lists and recaps. From favorite books to cherished memories, I love it all. Alexa had a fun series of posts that were right up my alley - and gave me a few new things to check out!


Favorite Album: Hamilton: An American Musical by The Original Broadway Cast
I finally caved to the hype and listened to Hamilton in full in December.
And you can probably imagine what happened next... #obsessed

The Crown, Season One (2016), starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith - I couldn't wait for this show to come out and binged it with my parents in early December! It wasn't what I was expecting, though I still liked it. It sent me off a number of Google searches to learn more about Elizabeth (and to find out if Philip really is awful).


My Christmas Love (2016) starring Meredith Hagner and Bobby Campo - I watched a bunch of holiday movies, mostly on the Hallmark channel, the week before Christmas. While they're all pretty cheesy and predictable, this one was my favorite of the bunch. Maybe because I'm a sucker for best friends becoming more?


Grantchester, Season Two (2016), starring James Norton and Robson Green - This is one of the few "old-timey" shows that Nick will watch with me without complaint. I love James Norton as the clergyman who helps solve local murders and mysteries. We watched the season on the last day of 2016 - the perfect end to the year!

Book Outlet Black Friday: For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, The Penderwicks and The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall, The Interrupted Tale and The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Wood

Goodwill: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Book Outlet Boxing Day: The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan, The Fixer and The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Sharing the Bread by Pat Zietlow Miller, Bunny Roo, I Love You by Melissa Marr, The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin and Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio


Folio Society from My Parents: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery and Persuasion by Jane Austen

Clothbound Classics from My Parents: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

From My In-Laws: Dinner: A Love Story and How to Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach


From Kelly: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, The Perfect Waltz by Anne Gracie & AWESOME travel mug!

From Cassie: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

From Betty: The Prayers of Jane Austen by Jane Austen




Caved to Kindle Deals: I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi, The Memory Book by Lara Avery, The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


For Review: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman, The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell and No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien

January 5, 2017

The Picky Pledge 2017

On Wednesday, I shared my 2016 reading statistics with you. And yesterday, I reflected on the past year of The Picky Pledge - what I learned, where I improved, and how I still need to make some changes! I'm so thankful thatAlexa from Alexa Loves Books wanted to continue The Picky Pledge again this year. I'm avoiding most blogging commitments again this year, but this was one that I knew I wanted to keep.

The Picky Pledge an idea that was born out of our discussions about our reading choices and book buying habits. Alexa and I wanted to be more intentional with the books we read, but we weren't sure how we wanted to go about it. But what better way than to become accountability partners? It paid off in 2015, hit the sophomore slump in 2016, but I'm looking forward to continuing in 2017. Here are my goals for the new year!

We, Alexa and Hannah, hereby pledge to return to the reading days of old - to browse the backlist, to revisit old favorites and to remember that it’s not ALL about acquiring more books to read. With this pledge, we commit to reading a limited number of review books this year, to being more selective about what books we buy and to holding each other accountable when bright and shiny things tempt us to stray from this course. And now, by the power vested in us, we declare 2017: “The Year of The Picky Pledge.”
My Goal: 24 Review Books  
  1. Any review book published in 2017 counts in the overall total - no matter when or how it was acquired. 
  2. When given the opportunity to read something for review, we must consult with one another before:
    1. accepting a publicist/publisher review request. 
    2. hitting the “Request” button. 
    3. borrowing an ARC with the intention to read for review prior to the book’s publication.* 
  3. Review books procured at an event, such as BEA, will only count if you read the book. 
  4. If you do not finish a review book, you may remove it from your overall total. 
  5. Exceptions can be made for books in a series if we have already reached the review book limit. 
* Exceptions may apply, and borrowed ARCs will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
My Goal: Buy No More Than 80 Books
  1. Any books we personally purchased count towards our monthly book limit. 
  2. When faced with the urge to purchase books, we must consult one another. Alternatively, we may also consider the use of 2015's handy book buying chart
  3. Books procured via gift cards do not count towards the overall total. 
  4. Exceptions can be made for books we've already read if we've already reached the monthly book limit. 
  5. If we exceed the monthly limit, we must cull the same number of books we went over off of our shelves.
And in 2017...

As we discussed 2017, Alexa and I kept coming back to the same goal: we both really wanted to spend more time reading books that were already on our TBR piles. Buying books may be fun, but what good is it if we never take the time to actually read what we've acquired? That led us to the idea of incorporating a reading challenge into The Picky Pledge! So, we'll be reading at least one book per month from our TBR that corresponds to a category in the graphic below. While we hope to read even more books from our TBR, we thought this would give us some direction and add an element of fun to the commitment.


I've definitely learned that specific goals (like read at least 12 books from my TBR) is more motivating than a general intention to spend more time reading things I already own. Plus, it usually makes me want to work harder and surpass my goal. I'm hoping to get back on track in 2017! As with last year, we both have pages on our blog tracking our progress, so you can see how we're doing throughout the year. And if you're feeling the same way about your reading choices, maybe you'll be inspired to make a pledge or find a partner of your own. Sometimes all it takes is writing it down or telling someone else.

Here's to being intentional in 2017!

January 4, 2017

The Picky Pledge: 2016 Review

What is The Picky Pledge? Well, it's a partnership between me and Alexa from Alexa Loves Books where we held each other accountable for the books we acquired in 2016. For more details on The Picky Pledge, be sure to visit the introduction post. We tracked our book acquisition stats throughout the year - focusing specifically on the books we bought and books we read for review. We loved making more intentional reading choices! 

We both created a page to track our progress... or a place to shame ourselves when/if we failed to stick to our goals. We shared our 2016 reading statistics yesterday, but it's time for a more general review of our successes and failures today. We're reflecting on the past year and highlighting our biggest improvement and the ONE thing we need to work on as we move into the new year. We'll share our specific 2017 goals tomorrow.
Setting a specific goal and avoiding NetGalley/Edelweiss 
helped me read less than 20 books for review in 2016.

As I look back at 2016, my biggest improvement was with review books. They used to make up a significant portion of what I read every year, and I wanted that to change. There's nothing wrong with reading books for review, but I often found myself finishing books that I wasn't loving solely because I got them for review. In 2014, review books made up 31% of what I read during the year. In 2015, I was able to get that down to only 22%. And in 2016, review books made up 17% of what I read. Honestly, I'm so pleased with that progress!

I've truly learned to ask myself WHY I was requesting/accepting a book for review and given myself permission to set review books aside if they're not working for me. The ones I read in 2016 were books that I enjoyed and would recommend to other readers. You know what else helped? Having a specific goal that forced me to ask myself - "Do I want this book to be one of the 20 review books that I read this year?" Unsurprisingly, removing NetGalley and Edelweiss from my Bookmarks Bar helped keep them out of sight and out of mind. 

I need to significantly curb my book buying 
and read more of the books I already own.

I'm disappointed with myself because I made progress in this area in 2015, but I undid a lot of it in 2016. And I don't even have a good excuse for why it happened! As I stated last year - buying books wouldn't be bad if I didn't own so many unread books. Honestly, it's embarrassing to look at my TBR. I was hoping to end 2016 with significantly fewer unread books on my shelves than when I started, but the opposite happened. I'm starting 2017 with a larger-than-ever TBR (and less time to read than ever before). 

So, I'm truly challenging myself to spend more time in my personal library this year. I have plenty of books available to me - ones for every season, every mood and in every format. There's no reason for me to continue acquiring books at my current pace. And there's a whole world of books outside of the ones being hyped or newly released. I need a strive for balance - supporting authors and books with my dollars while still being wise and showing restraint. It's more important than ever for me to be intentional about what and when I read.

Check back tomorrow for all the details on The Picky Pledge in 2017!
Were you more intentional with your reading choices in 2016?

January 3, 2017

Statistically Speaking of 2016

Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and I knew that we wanted to continue to be pickier about what we read for review and what we added to our shelves in 2016. Those goals are how we originally came up with The Picky Pledge! First, it's time to look back at my reading stats for the year. Our accountability project continues!

Creating this post for 2014 is what helped me initially realize I needed to make some changes, and doing it again for 2015 enabled me to see where I was improving and where I still needed work. This year is no different! I've learned so much about my reading habits in 2016. Tomorrow we'll talk about what we learned this past year, and on Thursday we'll introduce our goals for 2017. Check out Alexa's stats here.

SOURCE BREAKDOWN

I read 93 books in 2016, which is a decrease for me. As with last year, I wanted to decrease the number of books I read for review - one of the main reasons Alexa and I launched The Picky Pledge. I set a goal to read no more than 20 review books for the year and finished the year having read only 16! I'm so glad I continued to make progress in this area and hope it will continue in 2017. However, I wish I'd spent more time reading books I already owned. As you'll see in a section below, I acquired a lot of books this year - so I just kept acquiring books and barely made a dent in my TBR! I read even fewer owned books than I did the year before. Fail.

FORMAT BREAKDOWN

I'm not surprised that e-books and audiobooks experienced an increase this year. I had a baby in May, and I've found myself grabbing my Kindle a lot more frequently. I still prefer physical books - and read that format most often! - but it's definitely easier to sneak in a little reading time on my Kindle or phone. I wondered in last year's post if this change would take place, and I like that I predicted it correctly!

AGE BREAKDOWN

I was interested to see these stats, and I love that I read more Adult and Non-Fiction this year than I did in 2015. I read a lot less Young Adult (down from 51% in 2015), which pleases me. I love Young Adult, but I prefer having more variety in my reading choices. I continued to explore Middle Grade - and included a few Picture Books that I read over and over again to my son (I figured they counted as a 2016 read if I practically had them memorized). I hope I can continue to have this balance in the books I read this year!

GENRE BREAKDOWN

Rather than break this down into every genre that I read from in 2016, I decided to combine a few (like Humor, Memoir, and Biography into Non-Fiction) so it wasn't too messy. Once again, Contemporary made up the majority of what I read last year. And I'm not shocked that Historical and Fantasy came in second and third! Those three genres are my favorites, and I'm sure they'll dominate my 2017 reads, too.

SERIES VS. STANDALONE

I find it interesting that I read fewer books in a series this year. I need to look back and see if there were more series finishing in 2015 than in 2016. Either way, I loved so many of the series that I did read this year. I had a few complete series binges, devoured the newest installments in a few series that I'll be sad to say goodbye to and started several series that seem very promising. And I know I've got a number of series on my TBR for 2017!

RATING BREAKDOWN

There's an increase in 3-star reads compared to last year, and I think I had more 5-star reads in 2015 because I was re-reading more frequently. I noticed an increase in my 2-star reads, too, so hopefully I'll remember to just quit reading books I'm not crazy about and leave them unfinished. I'd rather spend the time on books I'm enjoying! (Note: Goodreads may not match this breakdown because I sometimes adjust ratings later.)

AVERAGE RATING BY SOURCE

Unsurprisingly, I have the highest average rating for re-reads. That makes sense since I'm typically re-reading my favorite books (or refreshing my memory before continuing a series). My average rating for Review Books and Borrowed Books increased - a sign that being pickier is paying off! And yay for continuing to have high averages for Bought and Owned. I'm pretty good at choosing the right books for me!

AVERAGE RATING BY PUBLISHER

As with last year, I read books from more publishers than the ones listed here but decided to highlight only the ones that were my most read. Bloomsbury was also a winner in 2014 and 2015 (#sarahjmaas) and Scholastic has claimed a new spot at the top this year. But the averages are pretty high from all of the publishers! I generally don't pay attention to the publisher when choosing a book, but I like taking a look at this stat.

REVIEW BOOK OVERVIEW

I received 27 review books in 2016 (a little more than half the number I received last year), and this is what I did with those books! The majority of the books I received were unsolicited or ones I accepted based on a publicist's pitch. I only requested a few books this year, which I'm proud of. I'm trying to be careful about requesting books so I can avoid DNFs. Four of the books on my TBR are 2017, which I've been waiting to read.

REVIEW BOOKS BY SOURCE

Last year, I noticed that I could significantly cut down on the number of books I read for review if I stopped logging on to NetGalley and Edelweiss. And guess what? I did it! I removed both websites from my Bookmarks Bar, which helped me "forget" about them. I will be interested to see how this evolves in 2017!

BOUGHT: PRINT VS. KINDLE VS. AUDIO

I prefer reading physical books, so that continues to make up the majority of what I bought in 2016. However, there was definitely an increase in the number of e-books and audiobooks I bought this year. As I mentioned above, having a baby made me gravitate more towards these formats out of convenience.

BOOKS BOUGHT BREAKDOWN

Last year, I was feeling pretty good about this section of my post. And this year? UGH, I TOTALLY FAILED. First of all, I bought 160 books in 2016 - up from 100 in 2015. Why did I let my book buying get out of hand again?! I made so much progress the year before! And secondly, most of them weren't books that I'd already read (or ended up reading in 2016) so they just made my TBR pile grow exponentially. My two goals for The Picky Pledge have pretty much always been to read fewer review books and buy fewer books, and I've accomplished the former but definitely need to work on the latter!

What does this mean for 2017? I think you can probably tell what my main goals will be. Additionally, I hope I'll still read from a variety of genres and use different formats to find more time to read. I'll share my specific goals on Thursday, but I've copied and pasted the two things below from last year's post because it's still my focus.

There are two changes I want to make this year: 
1) buy fewer books
 2) read more from my TBR
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