Susan’s 2011 Reading Roundup

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I’ve done these posts in the past, and you guys seem to really like them. I’ve even discovered New York Times best-selling authors checking them out. (There are also more than the three I’ve linked to, but feel free to explore the archives and find those on your own!)

In 2011, I read 84 books. Not a bad amount, but still significantly down from the 144 I was turning in back in ’05 and ’06. You know: before I started putting books out and finding that my reading time was swallowed whole by the need to market myself.

Of those 84, there were only 12 that I didn’t finish, which is a pretty good percentage for me.

So. Let’s talk about some of those 72 that I thought WERE good enough to not only finish, but talk about. (As always, the links will take you either to Powells, where I’m an affiliate, or to Smashwords, where I can also pick up a few pennies in affiliate money. Those pennies add up! Click!)

I started the year off with a bang, with Greg Iles, who is fast becoming a favorite author of mine. I’ve only read a few of his books, but The Devil’s Punchbowl was the latest. I’m loving this man’s fiction and can’t wait to clear off some of the TBR mountains so I can add more of Iles’ work to it.

The always pleasant Aunt Dimity was a return visitor this year. It was great to finally read the series kick-off. I was overdue!

Other series I spent time revisiting: JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (Lover Eternal), Rachel Vincent’s shifter series (Pride), Stephanie Plum (Sizzling Sixteen and Smokin’ Seventeen), Orson Scott Card’s Ender (Ender’s Shadow), and the Rashi’s Daughter trilogy came to an end with Maggie Anton’s Rachel.

David Hiltbrand’s series featuring Jim McNamara came to life with Deader than Disco, and Jack Reacher sucked me in with Running Blind. Of course, it’s not a year anymore without Jennifer Estep and I finally pulled Tangled Threads off my hard drive and put it on my Nook, where I spent a glorious week tap-tapping away as I turned pages.

I started even more series! I didn’t mean to, but my kids had a lot to do with it. The Boy Band and I worked our way through Heather Brewer’s The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd. He is also one of the only two people on the planet who could get me to read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy.

That might be the best read of the year. The entire trilogy. So smart, so well conceived, the world building is strong and the concept is NOTHING like I’d been expecting.

The Girl Band came at me with two series of her own: The Goddess Girl series, written by Joan Holub and Suzanne Collins (the link takes you to a box set of the first three; the series is up to eight now), and Sienna Mercer’s My Sister the Vampire (the link takes you to the first in the series). These are fun reads, and I’d recommend them to anyone with a tween girl.

Diana Pharoah Francis wrote the book that became one of my vacation reads: Path of Fate. Good, solid vacation read. I put it down and picked up the second in CJ Lyons’ Angels of Mercy series, Warning Signs (can’t find a link!). I’ll finish both of those series, but it was Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty and the Midnight Hour that I’m raving about.

Other noteworthy reads include Jennifer Cody Epstein’s breakout hit, The Painter from Shanghai, All Other Nights, Dara Horn’s great work of Jewish lit set during the Civil War. The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, by Merilee Brothers, had nothing to do with music and everything to do with fun.

Joanne Rendell’s third novel was her best yet. Out of the Shadows deserves to remain in the sun, all right. And if we’d like to return to the Jewish themes, Chris Bohjalian’s Skeletons at the Feast plays with themes similar to Jenna Blum’s Those Who Save Us. One more Jewish book was India Edghill’s Delilah. Not her best, but still a good read. It’s nice to see her complete her trilogy of Biblical historicals, and she remains a favorite author.

I actually ventured into best-selling arenas beyond The Hunger Games when my book club read The Help. Liked it, but I can’t say it was love. However, after connecting (again) with Jonathan Maberry at the annual Pennwriters Conference, I picked up Rot and Ruin for The Boy Band. I loved it. The Boy Band still thinks it’s too scary for him.

Anita Diamant wrote a book, Day After Night, that was largely ignored. At first glance, it’s easy to see why. I put it down and thought, “Meh. Her others were better” (particularly the fantastic The Last Days of Dogtown), but you know what? Day After Night is one of those books that sneaks up on you and resonates.

After reading Shreve Stockton’s The Daily Coyote blog for years, it was a delight to read the book of the same name at last.

As for my favorite, my baby, that Rock Fiction for which I’m becoming so well known, I hit that genre hard this year. Fourteen of the 84 reads count as Rock Fiction — and that includes some Did Not Finish books like Jennifer Egan’s Goon Squad. Check out my reviews over at Rocks ‘n Reads for most of my thoughts on those books. With the exception of Meg Cabot’s Size 12 is Not Fat, you can find the reviews over there. I’ll write and post the review for Size 12 as soon as I can. Stay tuned for that.

That pretty much brings us to 2012. Yeah, okay, I didn’t specifically mention 72 books here, but that’s because some reads weren’t really worth talking about. They were good reads, some were immediately forgettable… that’s how it goes. Not every book will hit it out of the park. I’m just grateful that I was able, once again this year, to bring you such a variety of titles.

Here’s to a new year filled with great reads for you. If you find something you think I need to know about, feel free to tell me! If it’s Rock Fiction, feel free to add it to the West of Mars Fans page over at Facebook, so you can share the love.

Keep on rocking and reading, gang. And remember: King Trevor. April 12, 2012. Are you ready?

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3 Comments

  1. shah

    January 4, 2012 8:31 am

    Excellent roundup of some great reads. Glad I’m not the only one who admits to not finishing books – it happens to me quite frequently and always has. I read more than I don’t but if it ain’t ‘rocking’ its out. HNY! X

  2. Robin McCormack

    January 4, 2012 11:05 pm

    Awesome round up of reads. I got into quite a few series myself in 2011. Just read the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book. Did read any of her Fallen Angels books? They are excellent. Just discovered Carrie Vaugn’s Kitty series. Thanks for the links. I’ll be exploring. 🙂

  3. Alice Audrey

    January 5, 2012 11:44 am

    I haven’t read nearly as many as you this year, but I did revisit the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

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