Happy 2012 ever'body! I'm sure that most bloggers (or in my case, lapsed bloggers) are kicking off the new year by posting their Best/Worst lists from the previous one. So here's my contribution: A Top Ten Best of 2011 list.
I'm not doing a Worst list this year. Not because I've made some whack New Year's resolution to be more positive in my reviews (Cain't nobody hold me back! *cough*YA Authors who can't take criticism*cough*), but rather because the books I didn't enjoy were just not that memorable. And if I didn't like 'em enough to remember 'em in the first place, I say, let 'em stay forgotten and unmentioned...
Anyhoozle! Here's my list for your reading enjoyment. As a side note, if you click on the bookcover images, it will take you to my full Goodreads reviews. (Some of these reviews are on the blog, but that was just easier, and we all know how lazy I am by now, right?)
Oh! And if you did a list of your own, I'd love to see it, so please comment and link! :D
Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier
This book was fantastic. I received a signed copy for review from the author, and it was so much fun to read! I've since encouraged my friend to buy a copy for her nephew (who loves zombies as well), and herself. There are a multitude of ways that this book can be read, so it's the type of book that lingers and continues to excite over and over again. There are some situations that are for a more mature audience, but overall, I think this was a fun, and very well done book. Definitely a keeper! :D
Danse Macabre by Stephen King
If you are a fan of the horror genre, whether it's books or movies, you should read this book. This is such an interesting examination of the genre, and the books and movies that have really been centerpieces in it, that it is a must read for fans. So much insight and knowledge is crammed into this book, it's really fascinating. Plus, it's got a whopper of a recommended reading list. CHA-CHING! I haven't come even remotely close to reading every book mentioned in these pages... life goal? ;)
Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
Another amazing book... well, I should say trio of awesomeness. The book is great all on its own, but it inspired a fantastic movie adaptation (one of the closest adaptations I've ever seen), as well as a damn near perfect audiobook, read by Mia Farrow.
This story is one that is part of pop culture now - mention the name "Rosemary" and someone inevitably mentions the baby. But there's a difference between knowing this story in a pop culture way, and really experiencing it for itself. I highly recommend the latter, preferably the audio if possible. Farrow reads it with such emotion and depth, with just the right amount of tension and fear... I got chills listening to it. Do yourself a favor and give this one a try.
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
This collection of short stories by Stephen King really highlight why he is a master at his craft. All four stories in this book (or 5 if you pick up the edition with the extra story, which I did not, sad to say... *sigh*) are dark and a little disturbing (OK, sometimes a lot disturbing -- but this is Stephen King!), and all examine humanity and choice and life in stark terms that really made me ponder...
It's hard for me to choose a favorite, because I loved all of these, but if you REALLY want to know, I'd have to say '1922'. It's gory and as disturbing as some of King's earlier work - Pet Sematary comes to mind - but as beautifully written and heart wrenching as anything I've seen him write lately.
"Rats in the corn again..."
I don't think that line will ever leave me.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I've only recently discovered that I enjoy Steinbeck. The first book I read of his was 'The Pearl', which was OK. Just OK. Next came 'Travels With Charley', which I enjoyed more than I thought that I would. I discovered then that I like Steinbeck's voice, when he's writing for himself and not writing a parable.
On Thanksgiving of this year, I discovered 'The Grapes of Wrath'. This is an amazingly beautiful, heartbreaking book of struggle and hope and determination in the face of overwhelming opposition. I stood in my kitchen, listening to this on audio, with tears running down my face while I cooked, and it absolutely made me thankful for everything I have in my life. I'm so glad that I was able to experience this book as I did, because I am able to appreciate it properly now, both in terms of Steinbeck's writing, and where I am in life. It was perfect timing, and an exceptional story.
11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
Yeah, another King book on the list. What can I say? He's my favorite author for a reason!
This book was brilliant. I loved how it examines the implications of a major, world-changing event... what led up to it?, what did it mean?, could it be changed?, and what would THAT mean?... all the while telling us another story of love and loss and regret and how the choices we make have far, far wider consequences than we might ever think.
I loved the concept of this book, and how it was handled. I loved the ties to Stephen King's other works and loved the feel of just reading this book. It was amazing.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This was another dark, emotional ride of a book. Another audio that I cannot recommend highly enough, as well. This book deals with some hefty issues - a parent's illness, loss, fear and confusion and powerlessness, among other things (as if those weren't enough) - and does it with grace and honesty.
This was the first full Patrick Ness book I read, and it completely wowed me. It dragged me into the story, under the surface, and then held me there until I couldn't breathe. This book broke my heart and then I fell in love with it. Absolutely recommended.
The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
This includes the entire trilogy ('Mistborn: The Final Empire', 'The Well of Ascension', and 'The Hero of Ages').
I absolutely loved these books. They made me a Brandon Sanderson insta-fan. The characters, the world, the history, the magic... everything about these books was just amazing. If you haven't read them, I can only assume you're waiting on handwritten, personalized, and engraved invitations to do so. I'll get those in the mail ASAP.
Seriously, there was so much in these stories that I didn't want them to end. I am super thrilled that Sanderson has written another book (and more hopefully!) in this world. I don't want to give anything away... but spoiler alert: I bet it's amazing. :D
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Speaking of amazing... This book. ;)
One of my friends on Goodreads didn't care for this book much, and there's quite a bit of contention about it on her review. This is one of those books that people love, or hate, and I can easily say that I absolutely loved it.
It's not for everyone... there are aspects of the story that made me cringe several times, but I couldn't look away. I was so drawn into this story, and these characters, that even after reading the next 4 books in the series, I still cannot look away. I loved this book, this series, and for a while there, it ruined reading epic fantasy for me, because nothing I'd read after it really lived up to the level of investment I felt in these characters and this story...
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
...Until I read this book. I begged Brandon Sanderson to bring awesome back to my reading life, and he delivered spectacularly. I was blown away by this book. It was so great, so vastly brilliant and detailed and... just, well, EPIC, that even now, a little over a week and several books later, it still lingers in my mind.
I am in awe of how incredibly good this book was, and the potential of this series, which is a proposed 10 books long, is just mind-boggling. I can't wait to see what the next book holds in store... :D
My SQUEE-O-METER is through the roof!
So there ya have it. My horror and fantasy heavy Top Ten list. Eh, I can't help it... I likes what I likes! ;)
PS. That's totally not my real handwriting... I just like it. ;)