2016: Knight Reader’s Year in Review

2016_newyear_picI don’t know about you, but I’m glad 2016 is over. Sure, there were some good moments, but it felt like the universe kept delivering hit after hit. I have no idea if 2017 will be any better (probably not considering the state of American politics), but I’m going to do my part to make sure it’s not worse. For me, that includes practicing self-care, spending time with my friends and family, making a few changes for my own health and peace of mind, and sharing even more books–books that encourage readers to think beyond their own experiences–with my students and everyone who visits this blog.

I read 278 books this year, exceeding my goal of 275 books. I featured 85 books–mostly YA and middle grade novels–on this blog. Many of the books I read were children’s books–some featured on Knight Reader Junior–and others were romance novels, which I used as brain candy. In 2017, I’m planning to read at least 250 books, and I’m going to try to post on at least 100 of them here. We’ll see how that goes.

Before I get to the business of 2017, let’s take a quick look back at Knight Reader in 2016. This little blog, which is almost nine years old, had over 10,000 visitors in 2016. I wrote 86 blog posts, and my most popular post was on I Wish My Teacher Knew.

Several books stand out as my top reads this year. They’re listed below–in order of date read–with author, publication date, and genre:

If I had to pick a favorite from all of these, I’d probably go with The Serpent King. (Those of you expecting me to choose Lady Midnight, I get it. I’m actually shocked myself.)

As I examine all of the posts I wrote here in 2016, one thing really jumps out at me–the lack of diversity in my reading. In the coming year, I plan to change that. If I want my students to expand their thinking, appreciate diversity, and practice empathy and acceptance, I need to do the same.


Let’s now look to 2017. I know lots of books will come to my attention throughout the course of the year, but there are already a few books that I’m looking forward to. Here are a few due out this year (publication dates tentative):

  • Dark Side of the Rainbow (Dorothy Must Die, #0.8) by Danielle Paige – January 31st
  • King’s Cage (Red Queen, #3) by Victoria Aveyard – February 7th
  • The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes, #2) by Brittany Cavallaro – February 14th
  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner – March 7th
  • The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die, #4) by Danielle Paige – March 14th
  • The Queen of Oz (Dorothy Must Die, #0.9) by Danielle Paige – March 14th
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – March 28th
  • Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #3) by Jenny Han – May 2nd
  • The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2) by Rick Riordan – May 2nd
  • Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2) by Cassandra Clare – May 23rd
  • Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga, #2) by Kiersten White – June 27th
  • Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy by multiple authors – July 11th
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – August 29th
  • The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #3) by Rick Riordan – October 3rd

In addition to these new releases, I also plan to put a dent in my towering TBR pile–which includes many books that have been out for years.


Now, it’s time for me to get on with my new year. I have a family dinner in a couple of hours, the premiere of Sherlock season 4 tonight (!!!!!), and I’m back to work tomorrow. (I’m really hoping my pyromaniac neighbors cool it with the fireworks this evening. I’m a tad grumpy if I don’t get enough sleep.)

Anyhoo, thanks for visiting my little blog this year. Here’s hoping that 2017 brings us a great year in reading. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Knight Reader!

In case the title of this post wasn’t clear enough…

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2015 was a decent year with various highs and lows, but I’m ready to start fresh in 2016. Having said that, let’s take a quick look back at my reading in the past year.

My reading goal for 2015 was 250 books. (Yes, I realize that’s low for me.) Well, I surpassed that by just a few books, and my grand total was 257 books. That total includes picture books, romance novels, middle grade and YA novels, and even a few memoirs. Some were in print, and many were ebooks. Some were new releases, and some had been out for years.

I only posted on 93 of the books I read here on Knight Reader. (Some of the others–those suited for elementary age readers–ended up on Knight Reader Junior.) For those of you wondering which books were my favorites, here they are. (I’ve also included genre and publication year for your convenience).

These are not listed in order of preference. For the most part, this is simply the order in which I read them. If I had to pick my absolute favorite book of 2015, the honor would probably go to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. That book is made of awesome.

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Now, let’s look to 2016. This year, I’m hoping to read at least 275 books and write at least 100 posts here on Knight Reader. A tall order, but I think I can do it.

Many of the books I plan to read this year are already out (some of which have been on my TBR list for years), but there are loads more that I’m looking forward to. Let’s take a quick look at some of my most highly anticipated reads of 2016:

  • Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein – January 5
  • The Siren by Kiera Cass – January 26
  • Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan – February 9
  • Ruler of Beasts (Dorothy Must Die, #0.6) by Danielle Paige – February 16
  • Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare – March 8
  • Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die, #3) by Danielle Paige – March 15
  • The Crown (The Selection, #5) by Kiera Cass – May 3
  • The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1) by Rick Riordan – May 3
  • Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins – June 14
  • And I Darken by Kiersten White – June 28
  • United as One (Lorien Legacies, #7) by Pittacus Lore – June 28
  • The Bronze Key (Magisterium, #3) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – September
  • The Fever Code (The Maze Runner, #0.6) by James Dashner – September 27
  • Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige – September 27
  • The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2) by Rick Riordan – October 4
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh – October 25

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a pretty good start! I know I’ll add quite a few more to my TBR list as the year progresses.

With that, I’ll wrap up this way-too-long post. I wish all of you a wonderful New Year, and I hope you read some wonderful books in 2016. Thanks for your support of my little blog!

So long, 2014. Hello, 2015!

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It’s time, boys and girls, to reflect on my year in reading. Sadly, I read much less in 2014 than in previous years. Only 301 books! (You may recall that the magic number in 2013 was 408 books.) I blame Netflix for taking me away from my reading a bit. (Binge-watching Doctor Who, Supernatural, Criminal Minds, Sherlock, Merlin, The Blacklist, and Firefly can be something of a time-suck.) I also spent a lot of time with my adorable nieces, so I can’t be too bummed that my reading suffered…if you consider 301 books bad, that is.

As you may have guessed, not every book I read made it here to Knight Reader. Some of those books were picture books or novels geared toward elementary age readers, so I reviewed those on Knight Reader Junior. I decided not to review some books–mostly picture books and romance novels–at all. (Sometimes I just like to sit back and enjoy a book without worrying what I’m going to say about it.)

Of the 99 posts on Knight Reader in 2014, I read and reviewed mostly fiction (but a couple of nonfiction books may have crept in). Most of the novels I read were middle grade and YA books, but I did make time for a few adult reads. Some of those were mentioned on this blog. (There’s really something here for everyone, isn’t there?!)

Anyhoo, I know you’re just dying to know what my favorite books of 2014 were, so here goes:

  1. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (If you’re suprised, you must be new here.)
  2. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (Again, not exactly a shocker.)
  3. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Totally worth the wait.)
  4. Landline by Rainbow Rowell (Adult novel by a favorite author. I will read anything this woman cares to write.)

I tried to come up with my 5th favorite to round things out, but there were just too many vying for that position, and I couldn’t decide, so here are some of my other top reads, in no particular order. (Some of these were written prior to 2014).

See, too many to choose.

Well, that’s a wrap on my reading in 2014. Now it’s time to move on to 2015 (whether I’m ready or not). I’m actually planning to read less this year than in previous years. I’m only challenging myself to read 250 books. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that this doesn’t sound like me, and I’d have to agree with you. The thing is…I need to focus on some other stuff this year.

Yes, reading–and blogging–will still be a huge part of my life. (250 books is still no small feat, and I’m just three books away from my 600th post here on Knight Reader.) I must, however, devote quite a bit of time to getting healthier. That means actually going outside, cooking something other than chicken strips and tater tots, eating out less, and cutting out diet sodas. All of that will take time and no small amount of effort. I also want to spend even more time with my family…and since my nieces and their parents (also known as my sister and brother-in-law) have moved closer to me, that will be easier than ever.

So, as I look to the year ahead, I promise to keep sharing my love of reading with all of you…and I hope to get healthier so that I can do this for many years to come. Join me, won’t you?!

Happy New Year!

Looking back and moving forward

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2013 has come to an end…finally. As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, the year was less than kind. I dealt with a car accident, the death of a beloved uncle and a great-aunt, job worries, health woes, and just the general stress that comes with everyday life.  There were, however, bright spots. In January, on the day of my niece’s 1st birthday party, I found out that I would soon be welcoming another baby into the family. In September, I got to meet my second niece, Ellie (who is absolutely precious).

I also celebrated some milestones in my life as a reader. In January, I published by 400th post on this blog, and I celebrated by 5th blogoversary in June. (As of this writing, I’m now 2 posts away from my 500th post, so it’s been a busy year.)

I challenged myself to read 400 books this year, and I surpassed that. I finished my 408th book of 2013 last night. (Not all of those were novels I reviewed here. There were also picture books, ebook novellas, one cookbook, and quite a few romance novels.) At times, I didn’t think I would meet this reading goal. It’s not exactly easy to read more than one book a day…even if some of those are 40-page picture books. But I did it, and I’ll be finalizing a display highlighting my year in reading when I get back to school next week.

Normally, I would recap all of the books I reviewed this year and make a list of the books I’m most looking forward to in 2014. I’m not going to do that this year. (That’s a lot of work, and it puts too much pressure on me. I’m trying to alleviate pressure as much as possible this year.) Instead, I’ll give you my top five reads of 2013, a list that was shockingly easy to make:

  1. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (This likely surprises no one.)
  2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  5. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

I’d love to know what your top five reads of the year were!

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As I look forward to 2014, I can only hope that the year treats my family better than 2013 did.  Yes, we welcomed a new life into the family this year, but we also lost a lot. My wish is that we will treasure each other more than ever. After all, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. I want to spend more time this year with my family–especially my nieces and my wonderful parents–and making myself into the person I want to be. (Loathe as I am to put this in print, I really need to work on getting some weight off.)

As far as my reading and blogging go in 2014, I’m not going to put so much pressure on myself to read a certain number of books this year.  Yes, I’d still like to read around 300 books (which is not all that difficult), but I’m not going to kill myself to meet that goal. I’d also like to post to this blog at least twice per week, but I make no promises. Again, I’m all about alleviating pressure this year.

With that, I bid you good day. I hope everyone has a lovely New Year, and may 2014 bring you nothing but happiness!