Annie’s 2011 Reads

The year is coming to a close, and while 2010 was definitely the worst year of my existence (for another post, in a galaxy far, far away), 2011 was no walk in the park, either.  Here’s to hoping that the end of mankind (a.k.a. 2012) brings about positivity and happiness, in any form, for the love of god, please and thank you kindly, amen. 😉

To commemorate the end of 2011, we’re showering you with several lists of entertainment-related tidings (no goals or “to-do in ’12” here, folks), discussing the best of what we read and watched this past year.

Cover of "His Dark Materials Trilogy (The...

Cover via Amazon

My goal was to read 12 books in 2011 – I only made it to 9, but here they are, as you have been waiting with bated breath, I’m certain. 😉 (This list is far less impressive than my cohort’s, however, I’m personally impressed with the bizarre variety of books I’ve read)

  • The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman                                                                                        This is the first of the His Dark Materials trilogy, and it is a much-adored, critically acclaimed “young adult” series, that little Miss X has been begging me to read for years.  This is a rich, incredibly well-written, vastly interesting, and absolutely worthwhile read.  Notoriously outspoken about his atheism, Pullman’s story has been demonized for being anti-god and ant-religion, two things I’m actually okay with.  Regardless, you can read those themes into the story of a fiery young orphan who uncovers the secrets of her past and goes on a truly amazing adventure involving parallel universes and things that at this point in the story, I can’t even begin to grasp – or you can accept that this is a fantasy story that takes place in a different world, so get over yourself worrying about any atheistic undertones.  Either way, I recommend this, highly.  Lyra Belaqua is 150,000 times the girl Bella Swan could ever hope to be.
  • Shadowfever– Karen Marie Moning
    Cover of "Shadowfever"

    Cover of Shadowfever

    The fifth and final installment in the Fever series, this is by far the trashiest book on my list.  I feel bad to slap that label on it though, because it’s such a good series.  “Paranormal erotica” (as Nikki calls ’em) is certainly not for everyone, but I’ll admit I get a thrill from otherworldly stories involving the occasional steamy scene, and this one delivers on all accounts.  It’s the story of MacKayla Lane (Mac), who travels to Dublin to unlock the mystery of her murdered sister, and complete insanity ensues.  She encounters one of the greatest, sexiest male characters I’ve ever read, Jericho Barrons, and what follows is an intricately woven tale of the dreaded Fae species (Part aliens?  Part mythical creatures?), as they take hold of our universe and attempt to destroy humanity.  It sounds ridiculous, and it is, but it’s actually a great tale.  The characters are colorful and engaging, the plot is epic in scale and absorbing, and this final installment is fucking awesome, if I do say so myself.  It wraps everything up in a way I did not see coming, and had a very fitting end (even leaving itself open to more stories, if Moning so chooses, which I really hope she does).  If you get a thrill (no matter how ashamed you are to admit it) from anything I’ve mentioned above, you should add this series to your own to-read list.  It’s crack-like in its deliciousness.

  • The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman                                                                                 Nikki wanted me to read this last year, and I trust her opinions implicitly, so I did not hesitate.  This is a very famous, classic short story (it’ll probably take you a half hour or so to get through) about a woman going insane.  It’s told quickly, but with such detail and imagery, it will most certainly haunt you when you are through.  I know in my bones that this would make a fabulous film.  It’s such a short tale, it could be adapted any number of ways, with so much elaborated upon.  If you read it, you will see exactly what I mean.
  • Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution – Michelle Moran                                                       I never knew that historical fiction was such an awesome genre until reading this fantastic tale that I WON IN A GIVEAWAY!!!! on  This is a story of the wax-museum maven’s life, romanticized a bit, but most of what is written happened.  It’s riveting stuff, and has made me eager to read more historical fiction, more from this excellent author (she’s written several very well-reviewed tales of Egyptian royalty – a subject that has always fascinated the shit out of me), and more about the French Revolution.  This tells the story of her family’s wax salon, and how they were intertwined with Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.  Even learning about how early wax models were rendered was enthralling, so if you’ve ever been interested to learn more about any of the above, please read this.
  • The Awakening– Kate Chopin                                                                                                                 This is another of Nikki’s suggestions, and after reading the first few pages, I was captivated by the language and descriptions that Chopin produces.  It’s a tragic, desperately sad tale of a woman coming into her own and finally understanding who she is and what she wants, after getting married and having children, unfortunately, and trying to come to terms with the fact that her current life and responsibilities are just not on par with who she is.  The fact that this was written in the fucking 1800s is mind-blowing.  Chopin was way ahead of her time, and the description of the author’s own life made me as equally depressed as the story she told.  This is not to detract you from reading, on the contrary, I think every woman owes it to herself to pick this up.

  • The Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins                                                                                       Nikki read this first and posted about it here, here, and here, but I’ve never really discussed it on this site yet, inexplicably.  Like most, I loved this set of books.  The story is crazy-original, absorbing, and thrilling.  As it goes on, I have mixed feelings about the heroine, Katniss Everdeen – at times I was frustrated with her actions, or lack thereof, but she’s still a decent role model for gals these days, and in her defense, her life sucked majorly, so who’s to say what one would do in her many dire situations?   The final book was my least favorite, but that’s due to the overall dampness and depression that hangs over every page.  I didn’t need it to be happy, and I felt satisfied with the ending, but there was something anti-climactic about the way the chips finally landed.  Still, this is in no way to keep you from reading this unique tale.  With the film coming out early next year, (which looks seriously FANTASTIC), I will echo the masses who’ve already done so:  READ THIS!!
  • A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin                                                                                                    I gush over this ridiculously awesome book here.
  • Currently reading:  A Clash of Kings – George R.R. Martin                                                                      Book #2 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, is as equally enjoyable as book #1.  At just under 1000 pages though, it’ll take me some time to get through.  Rest assured, you’ll hear about it when I do. 🙂

For 2012, my goal is to read MORE than 9 books.  I think I can do it, but it’s not an easy task.  Reading is one of my favorite hobbies, that I make scant time for in my day-to-day life.  Here’s to making an effort to change that, and good luck to you, if you’re in the same boat as me!



14 thoughts on “Annie’s 2011 Reads

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  4. I love almost this entire list!!! 😀 I absolutely LOVE His Dark Materials! The trilogy is just beyond amazing. I’m so glad you enjoyed the first one. The Hunger Games trilogy was also riveting. And the greatness that is George R.R. Martin’s series…there just aren’t enough words. I love books :)!

  5. This is a good list. Thank you for crediting the greatness of HDM to me. It is much appreciated.
    The term “paranormal erotica” cracks my shit up majorly. And now I want to read the short story about the chick losin it.
    It’s funny that ancient Egypt fascinates you because I feel the same way, too (did I ever tell you that?). Perhaps we were ancient Egyptians in a past life? Or Dad’s King Tut poster in the living room had some kind of subconscious influence on us throughout our lives.
    The Awakening is also piquing my interest. Screw you, for adding shit to mey”you want to read this but you’re lazy and ADD so you wont” list.

    • X,
      I own both The Awakening and the short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. I HIGHLY recommend them. In all seriousness, I think every woman on the planet should read The Awakening. I couldn’t believe how much I identified (as a woman, in particular) with a character written in 1899! And The Yellow Wallpaper is a quick but intense read. I think you’d really like it.
      I’ll give them to Annie to pass along to you. They’re both short so they won’t take up too much of your time. 🙂

  6. Great list, chicka! I’ve only ever read 2 historical fiction novels, one of which I loved – “Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow – the other, I seriously disliked – “Alice I Have Been” by Melanie Benjamin. I guess it just depends on which piece of history it describes.
    I so want to read the “Song of Ice and Fire” series but I’m intimidated by its length. I don’t know if I can commit to something that will take up so much of my time!

    • you won’t regret it 🙂 🙂 and you don’t have to read ’em all in order.
      Also: I looked up your two historical fics and they both sounded good!!! TO-READ, check!
      Question: Do you think I’ll EVER READ everything on the to-read list????!!!!

  7. Moning’s Shadow series got so much better as it went on, though there were quite a few times when I was reading Shadowfever that I just couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the main characters. What is it with people getting panicky over admitting their feelings? It seems to be a constant trope in romance and paranormal romance books, and I just don’t get it. Then, I suppose we’d have to end the book early if the protagonist put on her big girl panties and said, “I love you, and even if you don’t, that’s just the way it is. I’ll get over it eventually, don’t worry.”

    Aside: I lurve Barrons.

    Lyra from the Golden Compass really is one of the strongest YA female protagonists I can think of. Tangentially, if you’ve liked that book, and like paranormal/urban fantasy, I think you’ll love Sabriel by Garth Nix.

    • Canary: Thanks for your comment!!! I totally agree about the fever series causing me to roll my eyes, but it was so entertaining I forgave it. And Barrons’ studliness is unrivaled.
      As for Golden Comp: I can’t wait to find out what else happens to Lyra and co.
      Sabriel sounds interesting, I added it to the to-read list!

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