Hello, 2017 + Recap of All the Epic 2016 Reads

by - 11:57 PM

Another year has passed, leaving behind mere wisps of memories. Although the rest of the world continues to hail 2016 as an atrocity of a year, I can't help but think of all the myriad ways God has blessed me.

2015 was an extremely tough year for our family. It started off with a scare that sent one of us to the ER. There were three car crashes. I went to the hospital and endured one of the scariest days of my life. There were other family problems as well. In short, it wasn't our brightest year.

Yet somehow, God gave us another year. A fresh canvas, just waiting for the Painter's touch. Yes, there were splotches and splatters along the way as paint dripped outside the lines. But every moment was planned by the Master. Every stroke calculated so that in the end, a brilliant painting would be unveiled. Each year, month, day, and second adding to the masterpiece. Those seemingly glaring "mistakes" were just shadows in the painting, adding depth and dimension.

All those hard times in 2015 were not without purpose. As difficult as the year was, I know God has a way of using even the most trying times for our good and His glory. And he certainly blessed me greatly in the following year.

2016 may best be described as a year of discovering my identity. Of course, it's easy enough to say that my identity is found in Christ; but 2016 pushed some deep, haunting thoughts out of the shadows and brought them to the forefront of my mind. I had so many doubts that year. Times when I wondered why God even bothered creating a mess like me. I was looking for my identity in anywhere but God. I looked to the world and its expectations, retreating from my Savior and saying I was "too busy" for Him.

So you may be thinking, "Why did you say you were so blessed in 2016? It doesn't sound like such a great year."

Well, if I'm simply looking at the surface of all these things, then yes, it was not the greatest year. But God has been trying to reach out and draw me closer to Him for so long, and I feel like 2016 was the breaking point. Yes, it was a difficult year emotionally as I struggled to find my identity; but it pushed me back to my Savior and for that, I am ever grateful.

And besides pointing me back to my Creator, 2016 was full of so many other good things.

// I started Sunshine and Scribblings and met countless amazing people whom I loved dearly.

// I wrote my first real book.

// I did NaNoWriMo for the first time...and wrote 90k. o.o

// I read 52 books, an accomplishment for this busy student.

// I grew even closer to my bestie. <3

// I saw Rend Collective in concert. (#yes)

// I garnered so many books that I have piles of them sitting on the floor of my room. (That may be a problem? But it's a good problem to have.)

// I spent over a week with my wonderful grandparents during the summer.

// I had the best birthday in I-don't-know-how-long.

// I survived my speech class and discovered that public speaking isn't as bad as I originally thought.

// I met an old friend of mine for the first time in almost 2 years.

All in all, I will say that 2016 was a good year. It was stressful and emotional, but there were so many good memories as well. God has indeed blessed me beyond measure, and He's given me a fresh start in 2017, the year I hope will be defined by a stronger relationship with Him.

Now for the second part of this post. I was tagged by my friend Kaitlyn for the 2016 Bookish Recap Tag. (Thank you so much, girl! ^_^) AND LOOK. I'm actually doing it right after I was tagged! #soproud (Actually, I was already planning on stealing the tag so that's why I'm doing it right now. *cough, cough*)

How many books did you read in 2016? (Exact if you know, or approximate if not.)

I read 52 books! And I'm quite proud of that fact. (One for every week, dontcha know?)

Did you set a reading challenge for yourself and, if so, did you meet it?

Now that I've joined Goodreads, I've discovered the beauty that is the yearly reading challenges. It keeps me on track and helps chronicle all the books that I read each year. IT'S EPIC. My challenge in 2016 was to read 50 books, and guess whaaaaat? I DID IT. YES. In fact, I read 2 extra. :)

What was your most read genre this year? Least read?

I don't have any fancy graphs to show this, unfortunately, but I do know just by glancing at my list of books I read in 2016 that fantasy was the overwhelming winner. As far as least-read...I guess steampunk? I only read one from that genre (Illusionarium, which was mindblowingly good). But there were other genres I didn't read at all so. *shrugs*

What's five of your favorite books from 2016?

OH MY STARS, WHAT A QUESTION. *bangs head against the wall* *groans in pain*

Okay, okay. Lemme think a minute, you cruel question-maker. 

What's five of your least favorite books from 2016?

2016 was such a good reading year. Seriously, there were only 4 books that I rated 3 stars--the rest were either 4 or 5-star reads. O_O IT WAS A GOOD YEAR, FOLKS, I'M TELLING YOU.

Soooo...I can only give you the four books that I rated 3 stars. #sorrynotsorry

What new favorite author did you discover? (Not necessarily that the author is 'new', but that they became new to you this year.)

Pssh, what is this singular case you speak in? There were many favorites I discovered, not just one. If I had to narrow it down to three (I told you I'm a rebel), I would pick Sharon Cameron, Heather Dixon, and Diana Wynne Jones. Their books are masterpieces.

What's five of your favorite book covers from the year?

YESYESYEYESYES. I looooove book covers. *hugs them gently so as not to bend them* 

How many books did you purchase for yourself in 2016? (Exact if you know, approximate if not.)


One does not simply count the books one has collected in a year. 

SERIOUSLY, I BOUGHT SO MANY BOOKS IN 2016, AND I'M NOT EVEN SORRY. Like...like I probably bought at least 50. o.o I'M NOT KIDDING. Thankfully, most of them were bought really cheap so I didn't completely murder my bankbook. *looks at exploding bookshelves* *chuckles nervously* 

What's the longest book you read in 2016?

Emma by Jane Austen was 474 pages, so it cashed in as the winner.

What's the shortest book you read in 2016?

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry was only 32 pages...according to Goodreads. (It was actually waaaay shorter. Yeah, it was a very short story. XP)

What's your reading goal for 2017?

I'm going to try to up my reading challenge by a few books every year so this year's challenge is to read 60 books. *grins and raises book sword in the air* *which is totally a thing, don't doubt me, peasants*


I know the rules say I have to tag people...but I feel like a lot of people have been doing yearly recaps and book recaps and such so I'm not going to tag anyone specific. But if you want to do it, by all means, follow in my pirating footsteps and steal it. (I'm such a good example--I learned everything I need to know from Jack Sparrow.)

Oh right...sorry. XP

Well, there you have my very much belated New Year's post. (I'm a wizard, though, so I'm never late, remember?) It's been such a wonderful year in terms of friendships, and I'm infinitely grateful to know you people. <3

Tell me: how was your 2016? Did you find any amazing new authors? (I always appreciate recommendations, even though I'm currently drowning in books...as usual. ;P) What was your favorite cover I showed in this post?

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  1. *feels guilty bc I still haven't posted mine yet* I really need to finish my 2016 recap post. *facepalm* You have been an inspiration!! *marches of to blog*

    *remembers I have yet to finish comment and comes back*

    Lovely post Mary. ;) Looking forward to another year of getting to know you better. :) To answer your questions:
    2016 was fabulous. More on that in MY blog post. (WHICH I WILL GET UP. DO NOT DOUBT ME. I FEEL YOUR DOUBT. DO NOT DOUBT.)
    So many new authors. *hugs them* Looking forward to a very awesome 2017 reading year. ;) I will refrain from recommending any right now though. You'll see why if you stalk my blog. B-)
    ONLY ONE?? Um, that's asking the impossible, my friend...I'm gonna go with the cover to "Veiled Rose". But I also REALLY liked "Illusionarium" and "Entwined". Such gorgeousness. O.O
    All that said, I enjoyed your post! ;) *draws cloak around face and sinks into shadows*

    1. Good gracious that was a long comment. O.o

    2. Glad to hear I was inspirational. XD (But don't worry if it takes you a little while...I think it's good that you waited till after the eruption of 2016 recaps died down. ;P)

      Aw, thank you, Rebekah! The feeling is mutual. ^_^

      So glad you had a good year, and I can't wait to read your blog post...if it ever comes out. *smirks and raises eyebrow sort of doubtfully* *actually very doubtfully* *because I'm very doubtful apparently*

      Yus, so many new authors. I'm so excited for what I'm going to find in 2017. ^_^

      Mwahahahaha! Yes, it was a rather evil question. *grins* Nice choice! I love that one, but Illusionarium and Entwined are also beautiful. <3

      THANK YOU, GIRL!!! <3

  2. Wow. Great wrap up. (And i love the way you described life as a painting with the shadows. I love stuff like that)
    Glad I'm not the only one who thought 2016 was good XD
    And those are some great books! I've had to slow down a lot lately just because I've needed a break. (Unfortuantely)
    December/January was when I found like 6 new authors, but i dont remember them all (though i know what authors i read this year XP)

    1. Thank you so much, Soleil! (Aw, glad you liked it. I wasn't planning on writing anything like that, but when I sat down to start, the words just flowed. :D)

      *fistbump because we had a good year*

      YES, THEY ARE! Aw, yeah, I can understand that. I have hardly read anything the past week myself.

      OH WOW. That is impressive! Yep, it's hard to remember them all unless you're like me and obsessively stalk your own bookshelves on Goodreads. XD

  3. PAPER CROWNS AND HOWL'S MOVING CASTLEEEE!!! <3 And Heather Dixon books. Yesh. Loved your recap (because BOOOOKS!) and I hope 2017 will be an amazing year for you! ^_^ *huggles*

    1. YESSSSSS. <33333 Thank you, dear! Books make the best recap material. ;)

      Same to you, Deb! You're such a sweet friend. *huggles you back*

  4. "Yet somehow, God gave us another year. A fresh canvas, just waiting for the Painter's touch. Yes, there were splotches and splatters along the way as paint dripped outside the lines. But every moment was planned by the Master. Every stroke calculated so that in the end, a brilliant painting would be unveiled. Each year, month, day, and second adding to the masterpiece. Those seemingly glaring "mistakes" were just shadows in the painting, adding depth and dimension."
    *strokes entire paragraph* It's just so preeetty.

    The Maybe A Fox cover is adorable!! I want to read the book just for the cover! XD

    1. Omw, THANK YOU!!! It just makes me so happy that you enjoyed it! *twirls*

      Isn't it, though?! Hehe, to be perfectly honest, that's the main reason I read it. *coughs* (And I really enjoyed it soooo. *shrugs* Being a shallow bookdragon pays off sometimes. ;D)

  5. It's not so much breaking the rules it's more bending them... (not sure if that's from Sparrow or another pirate film :P)
    Ohmygoodness I've already bought so many books this year *counts* around 20... *sheepish grin* My uni ones are in there too #Englishlitmajor
    You're back!

    1. Haha, I'm not sure either, but it's the perfect quote to justify my tag pirating. ;)

      Oh my...that is a lot! XD I've already bought several myself. ;P

      For the moment! I will be taking an official hiatus in a few weeks, hopefully. It will be nice to have an uninterrupted break, though I will miss you lovely people. <3

  6. Looks like you had an awesome year
    WAIT WHY DID YOU NOT LIKE A TIME TO DIE?!?!?!?! I won't judge lol just curious.

    1. Yes, it was a good year overall! :)

      Ahem...I knew someone would comment on that. XD I actually liked the book okay, but I wrote a whole blog post that explains my thoughts if you're interested.


    2. Oooooo. I'll go check that out. AND YOU ARE OUR GLITTER NANO QUEEN. Still can't believe your wrote 90k WOWOWOWOW.

    3. OMW, GIRL, THANK YOUUUUU. <3 It's been over a month since NaNo ended, and I still can't believe it either. XD #indenial


    Actually, you words at the beginning helped me SO much. Honestly, Mary, I'm taking these to heart and they're helping heal me. Some...pretty awful things happened for me in 2016, and it's really, really hard to push on and heal from them.

    "Those seemingly glaring "mistakes" were just shadows in the painting, adding depth and dimension."
    THAT. That is what I need to focus on! The hard times shape and deepen the future. And maybe because of the awfulness of 2016, I can be a better person here in 2017 and onward. I really needed this reminder. You are such a blessing, Mary! Thank you for your beautiful words and being such a light in this world. *huggles*

    It's so wonderful how you found the beauty in a not-so-great year. I'm happy you did have good days. And look what all you accomplished! All that writing and reading and growing. You did AWESOME in 2016!

    AND ALL DA BOOKS. It absolutely looks like it was a good reading year! :D YOUR 5 FAVORITE BOOKS FROM THIS YEAR. That's like 5 of my favorite books PERIOD. I love all those so muuuuuch!!! *huggles books*

    And also the covers you shared. *drools* Illusionarium has one of my favorite covers of all time, so I'd definitely have to say that's my favorite of those you shared. But they're ALL simply gorgeous.

    "One does not simply count the books one has collected in a year."
    Seriously now! XD This year breaks records for me with how many books I bought. My count ended up being well over 100 new books due to library sales and thrift shopping like a fiend. Erm, yeah. It's bad. *cough, cough* But but but BOOOOOOKS. Buy ALL the books!

    I hope you find many, many more wonderful books to read this year, and simply have the BEST 2017. Happy New Year!!! <3333

    1. Oh my stars, girl, you get sweeter every day. <3

      They did?! Wow. I'm so grateful they touched you! I wrote this post on a whim late at night so I didn't think it would be very intelligible. XD AWWW, GIRL, JUST LET ME HUG YOU. *hugs* I'm SO sorry you had a rough year! That's totally what it was like for my family last year. But I'm also honored that God used my words to be a comfort to you. <3

      Awwwwwww, Lauri. Literally tearing up right now. *huggles again* It can be so hard to focus on the way God uses horrible things when all we see is the hurt and pain...but somehow He always manages to create a beautiful picture in the end. So glad God has been teaching me this, and that He is using those bad events even now to help you.

      Awwww, thank you! I am incredibly grateful for the blessings God has rained down on me over the past year, despite the difficulties.

      YES, IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE READING YEAR! Probably the best ever! o.o AHHHHH, YESSSS, WE ARE BOOKTWINS! Those books = my lifeblood. <3333

      YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES. Illusionarium's cover is perfection.

      Ha, sameeee. I don't remember ever buying this many books in one year. XD BUT I HAVE NO REGRETS. (Because books! ;D)

      D'AWWWW, THANK YOU AGAIN, YOU BEAUTIFUL GIRL! I love you and hope your 2017 is full of incredible blessings. <3333

  8. Hey! I just found your blog recently, and I already love it. :)

    I love that you are seeing/looking for God's blessings in your life. It's so easy to think that the hardships we go through is God punishing us, when they really aren't. I, myself, try to keep in mind that God let's things happen to us because He knows that we are capable of overcoming it (with His help, of course). And sometimes, He let's it happen to get our attention, to draw us back to Him. And that's one of the many things I love about God. :)

    1. D'awwww, your comment made my day! So glad you like my blog. :D

      Oh, that's an interesting way to look at it! I've actually never thought about it in that light, but you're right. ^_^

      Thanks so much for commenting! I loved hearing your insight!

  9. Thank you for sharing your year with us, even the hard parts. I'm so glad God blessed you this year, and you're able to see it. So many people are talking about how many bad things happened in 2016, and I know there were definitely some, but I can see a lot of good things happened as well!

    You got to see Rend Collective in concert? I'm totally jealous. ;-)

    And having too many books is just about the best problem you can have, in my opinion. I'm starting to lay books on top of the ones lined on my shelves. . . Pretty soon, I'm going to have to find a better solution.

    1. I totally agree! Every year is a package of high and low points. Sometimes there may be more low ones than we would like, but God always manages to work even in the valleys.

      Yessss, I did! They were ah-may-zing! :D

      IT IS. Haha, I'm doing the same thing right now! I actually really need a new bookshelf before my dangerously tall stacks of books on the floor topple and crush me. XD

  10. I'm glad 2016 was a good year for you! Those are some big accomplishments. ^ ^


    1. Aw, thank you so much, Victoria! You're always so sweet. ^_^


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