Saturday, 28 January 2017

Year in Books 2016/2017 and Burns.

During 2016 I took part in the Year in Books organised by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees, with the aim of reading at least one book per month. Before I reveal whether I achieved my target, there are 4 books to show you which I didn't get around to reviewing.

The first, read in September, is The bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry which was given to me as a birthday present. It's the story of Della who decides to open a bookshop selling cookery books with the books she inherits from her mother. As the book opens, she is struggling with a purpose in life: her mother has just died, she's bored with her job, her marriage is failing and her daughter is just about to go off to university. It sounded like just my kind of thing - bookshops, cooking, what's not to like? A shame then that I found it all a bit disappointing and cliched.

October was the only month I didn't manage to complete a whole book, though I did read a couple of short stories. I'd deliberately saved The mistletoe bride and other haunting tales by Kate Mosse to read during the spookiest of months. I usually love her books but, to be honest, the two I read, both based on the mistletoe bride folktale, were a bit average. What I did like were the author's notes saying where she got her inspiration or some anecdote around the writing of the story. I'll probably save it and read the other stories this October.

Thankfully, November proved to be much better with The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman. Here's some blurb from the back cover:

'An ancient little girl, and an old woman who saw the moon being made; a beautiful housekeeper with a monstrous smile; and dark forces woken that were best left undisturbed'.

Clearly it's a fantasy novel, though set in the near past, and narrated by a man looking back at events from his childhood. I really enjoyed this one and will be looking out for more by Neil Gaiman (the film Stardust, based on one of his novels, is one of my favourites).

However, the best was yet to come in December with The snow child by Eowyn Ivey. It's the story of Jack and Mabel who are struggling to make a living in Alaska in the 1920s. They moved to this remote area to escape the tragedy of losing a baby and the resulting childlessness. Their lives change when a small girl appears by their cabin the night after they build a snow girl.

I loved this one! I've always been fascinated by the pioneer experience so enjoyed that aspect of the story. The characters were very well drawn and made you care about them. And the descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness were magical. A great end to the year.

So, did I meet my target? Well, I initially set out to read a book a month but was amazed to find I actually managed 21!

Actually, make that 21 and a half. I started out reading this one, month by month, but then forgot about it! I'll have to pick it up again this year.

Am I going to continue with the challenge? Well, I signed up on Goodreads to read at least 10 books. I probably would have been more ambitious if I'd realised what my 2016 total had been! I definitely plan to keep working through my stash which continues to grow rather than reduce! I'm not sure whether I'll stick to the structure of month-by-month posts though but will let you know my progress.

Onto 2017 then. My January pick, which I'm reading at the moment is The box garden by Carol Shields.  I've read quite a few of her books so my expectations are high.


Tonight is my annual Burns Night dinner with my friends Sue and Gordon. I'll be following the usual running order which I've written about here and here and the 'highland games' from here.

New this year is pin-the-tail-on-the haggis (image from here). And I might show this YouTube video.

Whatever happens, I know it'll be great fun. There's still lots to do, so I bid you 'Soraidh' (farewell) and 'Lang may yer lum reek! ('live long and prosper!). xx


  1. Well done exceeding your challenge, some really good books there. I love the Goodreads app, it's given me some really good suggestions xx

  2. OK I am hopeless. Going to send you a friend request at Goodreads since you are on it now. Read A Man Called Ove in Dec and have DVD sitting here to watch today. My Feb read is going to be The Girl Before by JP Delaney. Another book being made into a movie. This one by Ron Howard.

  3. Well done on a great year of reading! I hope that 2017 is another good year for you. I understand the growing rather than reducing pile of books.

  4. You've done very well and some interesting books too! I'd like to read the Neil Gamin one- I've read his book with Terry Pratchett but none of his solo endeavours!