End of the Year Book Survey

Courtesy of Rabid Reads.

Last year was one of my best in terms of reading, but not so good in terms of blogging. Ever since school began in the fall I've been reading just as much, but my blogging has gotten so far behind that I need to get back in the swing!

1. Best Book You Read In 2011? 
Wow, this is hard, because I read so many books that were "best" in their own right. For YA fiction, definitly Death Watch by Ari Berk. I read and reviewed this one for Figment, and I'm so glad that I did. There was no talk about it on other book blogs, and I wish that more word had gotten out about it. I loved the imagry, the main character, Silas, the entire plot, the concepts woven in, everything.

The other best book that I read (or rather, listened to) was probably Winters Bone by Daniel Woodrell. It was so raw and powerful, and the ending was a grisly wrap-up for a novel that was just as so. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but I would love to pick up another one of Woodrell's "country noir" books in 2012.
(More under the cut.)

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I didn't even have to think about this one. I also reviewed this for Figment, and I had heard so much about it before that all of my hopes were built up even though I knew that it wasn't my kind of book. Sure, there were some good parts in it, but overall everything fell flat. I'm sorry to say that I won't be picking up the sequel.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter. Sent to me because it was a leftover in the Figment office, I knew that I'd like it because it was set in ancient Egypt, but I didn't expect just how much the characters and plot twists would make me love it. I would recommend it even to those who don't often dabble in historical fiction.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
I basically bullied my friend into starting the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I normally just chat about books that I like, but American fans of the SP series are so few and far between that I'll make my own if I have to!

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Again, the Skulduggery Pleasant series. When I read the description I thought it would at least capture my attention for the eight hours I would be working, but what I didn't expect was for Landy to pull me in and hold on tight. I flew through the other two just as quickly, and by the end of the next month I had ordered the next three online.
I mean, it has wizards and talking skeletons, what else could I want in a book series?

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
I look forward to the future works of Veronica Roth, author of Divergent and the upcoming sequel, Insurgent. Despite being a new author, her pacing of her 500+ book was great, and interesting enough to make me pick up her books to come.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Again with Winters Bone. It was definitely a lot darker than I'm used to, but I liked it anyway. After looking into Woodrell, I'm now more interested in the "country noir" subgenre that he writes in, and I want to go out and find more.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
Probably The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, mostly due to my fascination with polygamous groups. It wasn't the greatest book that I read this year, but the subject matter pulled me in and I finished it in only a couple of days.  

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
Legend by Marie Lu since about April. I can't wait to dig into it!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?
Either Starstruck by Cyn Balog:

Or Bumped by Megan McCafferty:

11. Most memorable character in 2011? 
Probably Stephanie Edgley/ Valkyrie Cain from the Skulduggery Pleasant series. So many YA books today center around girls that go from completely oblivious to any sort of magical/ supernatural/ etc. world what-so-ever to being in complete mastery from the powers of that world in a matter of days. That's unrealistic, even if you are the "chosen one." 
What I like about Stephanie is that all throughout the five books that I've read of the SP series, about about 100 pages of the sixth, is that she's grown since the previous book. Obviously she can do next to nothing magic-wise in the first book because she's just starting out, but she's a little stronger in the second, a little stronger than that in the third, and so on and so forth. She has to work for the powers that she wants, like any of us do. A lot of other YA writers would do well to take note of this technique.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
Ugh, another split decision! Again, either Winters Bone or Death Watch.   

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 
Probably Death Watch. It really made me think about death, and what happens to people after they pass away, and the respect that people have for where they have come from and the customs that also arise from those places. 

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read? 
 It took me too long to finally finish the seventh Artemis Fowl book. It's been out since the summer of 2010, and I'm such a bad fan for me to take me this long. In my defense, I still think that the first four are the best.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011? 
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood was probably the most quotable (serious) book that I read in 2011. My copy is filled with sticky noted quotes, but this passage is my favorite:

The Library is like a temple...To either side of [the staircase], on the wall,  there are angels. Also, there are men fighting, or about to fight, looking clean and noble, not dirty and bloodstained and smelly the way they must have looked. Victory is on one side of the inner doorway, leading them on, and Death is on the other. It's a mural in the honor of some war or other. The men on the side of Death are still alive. They're going to heaven. Death is a beautiful woman, with wings and one breast almost bare; or is that Victory? I can't remember. 
They won't have destroyed that.- page. 166

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012? 
Divergent, before Insurgent comes out. Mockingjay, after The Hunger Games and Catching Fire and before the movie comes out. Bumped, before the sequel comes out.

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! 
The Good: About a billion in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, especially Moral Coil (book 5). The ending conversation especially gave me chills:
"That's the good thing about living. You get to make up for past mistakes."
"Or make brand-new ones."

The Bad: Well, bad in a good way, if that makes sense.
(Note: MAJOR spoilers for the gruesome climax of Winters Bone, the novel, which I believe is the same for the movie. Hi-light below to read:
When Ree is led down to the water to not only be shown her father's body, but is told that the only way she can prove that he's dead (seeing as the women that brought her there won't tell her just where they are) is by cutting off not one, but both of his hands. Ree is then handed a chainsaw, reached under the water to grasp her dead father's body, and then uses the chainsaw to cut his hands off. Very powerful to read (or in this case, listen to) for obvious reasons. 

The Ugly: The scene in Divergent by Veronica Roth where, to be made a part of Dauntless, the group she has joined, Tris has to face her worst fears in a simulation chamber. 
(Note: Spoilers for the final simulation chamber scene, for those who haven't gotten there yet, need to be Hi-lighted.)
If Tris is scared to be intimate with Four, but really likes him, I'm totally understanding. That's her business, and I think it adds to her character. However, the "I'm not going to have sex with you," line comes right before a scene where she has a gun to her head and is being forced to shoot her parents and brother. Wait, what? Being forced at gunpoint to shoot your family ranks up there with being with a person that you love, and that you know will never hurt you or take advantage of you? Abstinence is a popular theme in YA books today, which I don't mind, but this sort of thing pushes the envelope of ridiculousness. 

And, that's it! I can only hope that the books that I read in 2011 are as good as, if not better than, the books that I read in 2012! The top five books, both new and old, that I'm dying to read in 2012 are:
1. The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (8th and last book in the Artemis Fowl series)
2. Legend by Marie Lu
3. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (1st book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series)
4. Death Bringer by Derek Landy (6th Skulduggery Pleasant book)
(4.5. His novella, The End of the World, written for World Book Day)
5. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein (1st book in the Lord of the Rings series)

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