Peace Out, 2011! It’s Been Real: 2011 Book Survey

30 Dec

So, this survey might as well be a skipping record, I’m realizing. I feel like I kept repeating the same books! But you know what? I think that speaks to a couple of things: One, when I read a book I LOVED this year, I loved it HARD and for INFINITY TIMES FOREVER AND EVER. Two, not as many books blew my socks off this year as in years past, maybe. Or…it could just be that the books I loved the most blew me away SO MUCH that they put all other books to shame and make those books pale in comparison to their loveliness and beauty and awesomeness and OHMYGOD WHY ARE THERE NOT ENOUGH ADJECTIVES?!

Ahem. So. Basically, you’re going to see lots of the same books over and over again here because there were a few that just touched my heart and I can’t ever get them out. Also, there are a number of books on here that didn’t come out in 2011, but I read them this year.

Let’s jump right in!

1. Best Book You Read In 2011? 

So this question! Psh. ONE BOOK. Sooooo funny! *guffaws and slaps knees at OBVIOUS JOKE* I’m just kidding. I know this is perfectly wonderful question. I’m just going to tweak it a little bit because, as you will see, I have an actual problem with narrowing things down to ONE. Can’t do it.

YA contemporary: ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, Dairy Queen (I’m counting the whole series, btw)

Dystopian: LEGEND, DIVERGENT

YA paranormal/supernatural: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. THE NAME OF THE STAR.

Fantasy: THE SCORPIO RACES, EAST, EON/EONA

Adult Fiction: A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. So, this one was EASY PEASY. I also discovered the panty-melting AWESOME of Sarah MacLean and Julia Quinn. Looking for some historical fiction sexytimes that are quick and fun? BOOM. Start right here.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

*cowers in a corner* BEAUTY QUEENS, by Libba Bray. Eek! I tried so hard to get into this! SO HARD. But I couldn’t finish it. I’ll probably try and read it again because I know that there are really amazing, empowering messages in it for young girls (or not-so-young girls) and I’m a HUGE fan of that. But something about it, I just couldn’t make myself keep on keepin’ on, you know? I kept putting it down. I think I was distracted by the ads and other text scattered around. I had heard incredible things about it, as I do about ALL of Libba Bray’s stuff, and the cover was BAMFy, but I just don’t think that her books and I are going to be besties. (I’ve tried to read several other books of hers, but have only managed to finish the first Gemma Doyle.) *sad face* Please don’t hurl virtual things at me!

Also, THE FUTURE OF US. Le sigh. This book had such a great premise and I had such high hopes! How could I not love a book about being able to see the future via Facebook from WAAAAAY back in the yesteryear of 1996, i.e., my sophomore year in high school?! Alas, this book fell short for me. There were things about it that I LIKED a lot, but I thought it would be better. If BEAUTY QUEENS was a disappointment because I wish I had liked it enough to finish it, THE FUTURE OF US is a disappointment because it let me down. Not sure which is worse.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD. Friends, I thought this book would be cute. And it was. But it was MORE than cute. It had depth and humor and this deeper, sadder little undertone that was so true and heartbreaking and reminded me of REAL HUMAN people. I finished it and said OUT LOUD TO NO ONE, something to the effect of “Wow! Where did THAT come from?” Don’t get me wrong, though: it’s not a serious book. It IS fun and cute, and the main character, Payton, was funny and sincere and just a DOLL. But she spends almost the whole book DEALING with a serious thing that was handled SO WELL that it really made me stop and give Lindsay Leavitt little golf claps, right in the middle of reading. RESPECT.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. THE SCORPIO RACES. I also recommended Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series to a few people who usually don’t do the fairies.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s Dairy Queen series. Jenny Han’s Summer series. The Iron Fey series. Seriously, the answer to this question could be a bazillion books long. I read SO MANY series books this year.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Loraine Zago Rosenthal. Jandy Nelson. Laini Taylor. Stephanie Perkins.

Loraine was a debut author, and her book, OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE, was really wonderful. I’m looking forward to more things from her. Jandy and Laini…ladies? You’re magic. And Steph (I have no idea if she even LETS people call her this) writes the best contemporaries. I will always read her books.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Hmmm…I’m pretty bad at reading outside my comfort zone, which usually means zombies, verse, and perhaps a little steampunk. But I was WAAAAY late to angel books, and I read my first this year (DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE). It blew my socks right off my feet.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

I read LEGEND in pretty much one sitting. Twice. Also, I managed to snag a copy of HUNTING LILA from Fishpondworld and, WOW. I FLEW through it. FLEW. The pacing was RIDICULOUS. It was one of those, “I swear there were things about this book that bothered me, but I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER WHAT THEY ARE BECAUSE I’M TOO BUSY STUFFING THIS BOOK IN MY FACE” kind of books. Just pure fun.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Hmmm…This is kind of hard actually! I don’t know if I can remember! I know I was excited about DELIRIUM because I LOVED Lauren Oliver’s BEFORE I FALL. And A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, definitely.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

The flower is GLOWING and SMOKING. Very pretty. And cool.

11. Most memorable character in 2011? 

Well, it should be no secret by now that THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is now one of my all-timer books. A huge reason for that is Lennie and Joe. Getting caught up in their relationship, Lennie’s grief, and Joe’s passion was one of the most gratifying and satisfying things I read all year. For serious. I think about them ALL OF THE TIME, like they’re my real friends who I just haven’t seen in a while.

I also think a lot about Etienne and Anna from ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. (Apparently, I only think in couples.)

OH! HOLY CRAP! I can’t believe I forgot my girl, DJ! Deej! I’m so sorry! DJ Schwenk, you guys, from the Dairy Queen series? LOVE HER TO DEATH. I think about her all the time, too. She single-handedly makes that whole series tremendous.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

This one is no contest, and also might be the only question that ACTUALLY only has ONE answer! THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. To me, there wasn’t anything else even close. Although I will give an honorable mention to Edith Pattou’s EAST and DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. So, so pretty.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 

Umm…THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read? 

EON. I feel like I have been talking up this book a TON lately, but you know what? WORTHY! I will give this series all the air in my lungs telling people about it. Alison Goodman’s EON/EONA duo are SO. AMAZINGLY. GOOD. I read a crazy amount of fantasy, but before I picked up EON on the recommendation of a friend, I had never managed to get into any Asian-inspired fantasies. BIG MISTAKE, AMY. The culture and mythology are so so rich and different from what I know personally and what I know from the books I read.

Also, DAIRY QUEEN and WILDWOOD DANCING (sure to be only the first of many Marilliers).

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?

This one is a little hard for me because I’m not a reader who flags or highlights or anything. So when I truly love a passage or a quote from a book, I REMEMBER it, and that’s how I know I loved it.

From THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE (I’m sorry to keep bringing this one up, but I truly can’t help it. I could quote you half of the book here, it was so lovely.)

“Remember
how it was
when
we
kissed?
Armfuls
and
armfuls
of light
thrown
right
at
us.
A
rope
dropping
down
from
the
sky.
How
can
the
word
love
and
the
word
life
even
fit
in
the
mouth?”

And this little gem, from EAST:

“That’s the trouble with loving a wild thing: You’re always left watching the door.”

Finally, the scene in THE SCORPIO RACES where Thisby is having the festival and the riders have to make the blood oath. That whole entire thing was the business. Plus, it contains a mention of those November cakes that Maggie Stiefvater made up, and those babies sound DELISH.

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012? 

Oh, man, this question is like me falling down a bottomless pit. Erm…more like the ANSWER is like falling down a bottomless pit. I reread books all the time. In fact, I’ve already reread FOUR books from this year along (this isn’t counting books I reread this year that I originally read awhile ago): LEGEND, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, THE SCORPIO RACES, and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS (yes, it IS just as swoony EVERY. TIME.) It’s safe to say that I’ll be reading those books again. Also, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, too.

17. 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. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Oh, you guys. YOU GUYS. I don’t think this one is going to be YA, so forgive me. So, I mentioned earlier that my favorite Adult book was A DANCE WITH DRAGONS–or, as the cool kids say, ADwD (or…well, as the cool kids TYPE). So, there’s this one character in this series who is MY FAVORITE (also the actor who plays him on the show is kind of scruffy hot/heartbreaking/AWESOME). His name is Jon Snow. There’s lots of THINGS about him that are MAJOR but are still flapping out there in the breeze, no resolution in sight. I love this and hate this about him. (AHH! The conflicting emotions!)

BUT. But, but, but. There is a SOMETHING that happens in to him ADwD….*HEAVY SIGH* I feel like I need to join a group where I can gesture wildly, prognosticate nonsensically, whimper pathetically, and mutter incoherently about it. IT’S EPICALLY MAJOR. … I just had to pause typing for a minute and pace around my room to calm down.

(CONFIDENTIAL to George R.R. Martin [cause he reads my blog]: WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?! George? GEORGE! Answer me, George!! Thankfully I don’t have to wait too long to find out cause the next book is almost done, right? Right?)

Honorable mention here to the end of DELIRIUM, which turned me into a snotty-faced, slobbering disaster. I know lots of people who’ve gotten their hands on PANDEMONIUM, the sequel, have sung its praises far and wide, and I can’t wait to read it to see what happens next.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011? 

Umm… *looks bashful*… mine? I’m so excited about it and can’t believe it took me so long to start it. So this is more me being glad that I did something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile than shameless self-promotion (I promise) :-)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2011? 

Jeez. Hmm. I think my review of DIVERGENT, over on Goodreads. I had a REACTION to something that really pulled me in two completely different directions, and it made writing my review really hard.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog? 

Haven’t had many yet.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
I feel like I’m always intrigued by the posts and conversations that are posted over at The Book Lantern because they actually devote a lot of time to dissecting issues in YA, from the writing of it to the marketing of it to everything. They review also, but I find their discussion posts–while I don’t always agree–really thoughtful and well-done because they bring up good, often valid points that at the very least get people talking.

I also recall a really interesting conversation on The Book Smuggler’s after they reviewed Jackson Pearce’s SISTERS RED. It got heated and nasty and mean, but underneath all the CAPSLOCKING and #$!& were some great points on the touchy issue of the depiction of sexual predators–even fantasy ones–and the effect that depiction might have on people’s views of rape and victims of sexual assault.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I’m so, SO lucky that I live in New Jersey (no, no, I’m not kidding) because that means that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend BEA for the past two years. Each year, I’ve had such a great time and had fun with my book-nerd librarian friends and gotten lots of great ARCs. YAY!

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?

This would probably have to be October 29, 2011, when I STARTED my blog. Yes, I’m a baby blogger. Like, majorly infant. But just starting my blog was exciting and nerve-wracking. 

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Top Ten Tuesday. This one has the most views.

Also, my review of Crossed. This one gets lots of people who find my site after Googling “Xander’s secret” (Ooooooooooh!)

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

YA Saves. Cheeseball Alert! I wrote this before I even had my blog, when the #yasaves hashtag was newly raging. I don’t know. I felt it, so I wrote it. It’s pretty much…well, it’s cheesy and terrible. And long. But I meant all of it.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

THESE. (I actually discovered these a while ago, but I love them so much and want them so badly that I’m including them here anyway.) I’m in the process of collecting them so that I can display them only and never actually read them while appearing to be classically well-read. YAY!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I read more books than I pledged to in the Goodreads 2011 challenge. WORD! 2012 is the year for the challenges.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?

MASTIFF, by Tamora Pierce. As a lover of fantasy, I really can’t think of good books in that genre, or a more important figure in my own reading OF that genre, than Tamora Pierce. Tortall is WHERE IT’S AT. And Beka Cooper is such a strong, independent character. I love her so much. I wish that MASTIFF wasn’t the last we’re going to see of her!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?

Hahaha…again with the ONE BOOK. You silly question, you! BITTERBLUE. ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. GRAVE MERCY. The sequel to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. THE FALSE PRINCE. SECOND CHANCE SUMMER. This list could be 100 books long. These are the first that came to my mind. Ask me again in 10 minutes and I’ll give you a bigger list of completely different books.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

I’m going to make more of an effort to read things that I normally don’t read, namely zombies, books written in verse, and steampunk. I once described zombie books to a friend as giving me the same feeling I get when I hear the flute come in in a Jethro Tull song (sorry for the old-lady metaphor. I’m NOT THAT OLD, but it still applies): it just ruins the whole thing for me. I feel literally zero interest in them. Also, I’m not the hugest fan of books in verse. I’ve read some Ellen Hopkins, and they were dark but great, so we’ll see. I have a couple of verse titles that I’m going to try. And the steampunk. Something about reading steampunk seems too technical for my right-brained-ness. I’m truthfully not that turned on by gears and dirigibles and stuff. But I know that’s generalizing and I’m missing out on so many good things.

*IF YOU READ THIS WHOLE THING, I AM PATTING YOU ON THE BACK RIGHT NOW. Holy crap, this is insanely long.*

5 Responses to “Peace Out, 2011! It’s Been Real: 2011 Book Survey”

  1. Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books December 30, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    I loved so many of the same books you did! Eon/Eona, for instance, I only finished reading this month – and I fell completely, head over heels, in love with it. The same thing happened with The Scorpio Races and Divergent this year.

    And congratulations on the book blog! I love what you’re doing with it so far, and I’m certain that things will only get even better from here :)

  2. Candice December 30, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    From one baby blogger to the other, good job so far on your blog! I’ve totally gotten into mine, even though I’ve only been working on it for a couple months. Yours is really great and I really love it so far! Here’s to 2012 being more book-ful for you! :)

  3. Lisa the Nerd December 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    I also had the worst time with Beauty Queens. No shame in that.

    I am reading Legend right now and am thrilled with all of the lurve you’re giving it!

    I didn’t read any of your ADwD stuff because I am terrified of spoilers. I’m halfway through ASoS and I just want to read it ALL OF THE TIME FOREVER.

  4. Lisa the Nerd December 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    AND ALSO I’m so glad April hooked us up. YOU ARE THE COOLEST.

    So glad I’ve added you to the ole blogroll.

  5. April Books&Wine December 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I totally knew you and Lisa would hit it off.

    My sister is a big Libba Bray fan and she did not love Beauty Queens either. I think she DNFed it as well. I enjoyed it though.

    I’m so glad you started your blog, because you are awesome and your blogging voice rocks. :-D

    Here’s to a wonderful 2012!

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