Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Top 5 Reads

The year is wrapping up quickly! I need to pull myself out of this chocolate-induced haze and get to it. Part of that means establishing a new set of goals for the coming months. I resolved to read 50+ books this year, and I'm happy to say that I managed this. Next year the goal is not only doubling (eek!) but I'm also going to be adding some other rules (like fewer rereads, to ensure that I read more widely). 

I discovered some great books and authors this year, and chose my top 5, from new reads only. The books are in order of amazing-ness. Clicking on a book will bring you to its Amazon page, so you can snag a copy for yourself!

Since I don't do "true" book reviews (because if I'm not enjoying a book, I put it down), I'm instead considering the following:

Blurb: Bits of synopses, from Amazon.
+: A "pro," something about the book that I enjoyed.
-: A "con," something that I didn't enjoy or feel that others might not enjoy.
&: A "bonus," something fun from the book.
I'd give this to a friend who: I think of people who probably haven't read the book already. So, for example, I won't recommend a fantasy book to someone who already likes fantasy. Instead I try to think about who might be interested in trying something new. 

Although I try to keep it spoiler free, one reader's review could be another reader's spoiler. 
Please read at your own risk. 

Without further ado:

Top 5 Reads of 2011

5. Goliath, Leviathan #3, by Scott Westerfeld

Blurb: "The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy."
+: We finally get to see what happens when Deryn's secret is discovered.
-: The fate of some of the side characters left me a bit wanting.
&: Nikola Tesla and the Tesla Cannon.
I'd give this to a friend who: Wants to try steampunk.

4. I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany Aching #4, Discworld #38, by Terry Pratchett

Blurb: "Chilling drama combines with laughout-loud humor and searing insight as beloved and bestselling author Terry Pratchett tells the high-stakes story of a young witch who stands in the gap between good and evil."
+: The Tiffany Aching series is my favorite of Pratchett's work, and this final book ends it beautifully.
-: A time/event gap between the third book and this book left me a bit disjointed.
&: A cameo appearance from a very special witch.
I'd give this to a friend who: Wants to try the Discworld series.

3. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Blurb: "One of the most talked-about books of the new millennium, American Gods is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an American landscape at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. It is, quite simply, a contemporary masterpiece."
+: This book does what we always say books should do - take you out of your comfort zone. 
-: I enjoyed the vignettes, but they might be jarring to those who prefer a more straightforward style of story.
&: Contains what is now one of my favorite book quotes.
I'd give this to a friend who: Usually prefers nonfiction.

2. Mistborn, Mistborn #1, by Brandon Sanderson

Blurb: "Brandon Sanderson, fantasy's newest master tale spinner, author of the acclaimed debut Elantris, dares to turn a genre on its head by asking a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails?"
+: Incredible world-building, from the magic system to the political structure.
-: The romance subplot didn't quite manage to grab my interest.
&: You'll be left in no doubt as to why Sanderson was chosen to complete Jordan's epic "Wheel of Time" series.
I'd give this to a friend who: Thinks fantasy is boring.

1. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Blurb: "The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed."
+: Gripping, nonstop action
-: The stark brutality may turn off those with softer sensibilities.
&: You'll want to wear a mockingjay pin and buy one of those "Fight the Capitol" shirts. 
I'd give this to a friend who: Thinks YA is all romance and sparkling vampires.

[Images via Amazon]

It was tough picking only five books. Next year, since I'm doubling the number, I'll let myself choose ten. Will The Hunger Games stay on top? With all the amazing books debuting next year, it's going to have some tough competition!

Soon to come: Cementing my reading and writing goals for 2012.


  1. I haven't read any of these except The Hunger Games. I feel a little like a failure!

  2. The Hunger Games is the only one of these I've read as well. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well the movie turns out. So far, it looks incredible.

    I Shall Wear Midnight sounds like a great story. Will have to add that to my to-read list!

  3. Oh yeah! Hunger Games is my top pick too! And my New Years Resolution includes reading a Neil Gaiman book this year.

  4. Eeek! I just finished BEHEMOTH yesterday (and it made my list). Yours is the first blurb I've had a chance to read for GOLIATH, and I'm salivating already!! I'm already guessing who the maniac is, and how Deryn's secret might be revealed! THE HUNGER GAMES was a good read, though I've heard mixed reviews about the sequels. I'll find out for myself, I guess.

  5. In a guilty whisper: I haven't read Hunger Games yet.
    But I shall fix that next year, in January hopefully ;)

  6. I've only read THE HUNGER GAMES as well, but man was it good! I love Neil Gaiman, but haven't gotten around to AMERICAN GODS yet. Hopefully I will in 2012! There's never enough reading time in the day, is there?

  7. @Kaitlin: There are just so many great books to read, it's hard to keep up!

    @Lora: Many consider The Tiffany Aching series to be some of Pratchett's best works. I definitely recommend it!

    @Alison: If you want something lighter by Gaiman, you could try "Coraline" or "Stardust," both of which are great and for younger audiences.

    @Colin: Hope you enjoy "Goliath" as much as I did!

    @Juliana: I look forward to hearing what you think about it.

    @Crystal: SO TRUE about not enough reading time in the day. Best of luck on your reading goals in 2012!

  8. I've only read The Hunger Games. All of the rest of these have been added to my list =)

  9. That's a great writing goal! And next year's... HOLY CANOLI THAT'S A LOT OF BOOKS! So very awesome.

    Mistborn is one of my favorite books of all time. :D

  10. @Stephanie: Hope you enjoy them!

    @Peggy: Mistborn is UH-MAYZING, can't wait to get the rest of the series.

  11. Love your goal and I have to admit I did not yet read The Hunger Games...I just bought all 3 books so it will be one of my first 2012 read:-)

  12. Ooh such good choices! I love all of Brandon Sanderson's books. And Neil Gaiman is of course amazing.

    I need to read Goliath already!

  13. I haven't read Goliath yet. I was debating between e-book & print, so I just put it on my Christmas list so it was out of my hands. Didn't get it so decision is mine again.

    (Visitor from RTW)

  14. @commutinggirl: Can't wait to hear what you think of it!

    @Liz: Brandon Sanderson really blew me away. His writing is beyond stellar.

    @veela-valoom: Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


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