Happy New Year!

Well, I’m really happy to see 2011 gone. It was a rough year. I had a college friend die on January 1st, then another in the Japanese tsunami. My grandfather died, my cat nearly died, which resulted in several thousand dollars in vet bills. My boyfriend lost his job at the end of April, so money has been really tight ever since.

There were good parts to the year, though. I still have my awesome librarian job, and I’ve made some awesome friends. I started blogging! I’ve come to know others in the blogging community, and I got to go to BEA in New York! I also went to librarian conferences in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and was selected to be part of the 2012 ALA Emerging Leaders program. PLUS, 2011 was a fantastic year for books. So yeah, 2012, here I come!

I read a grand total of 136 books this year, which was nine less than last year. I hope to crank that up in 2012. Now, for my favorite books of 2011, in no particular order:

Red Glove by Holly Black. This is the second in what I think is the most innovative, original YA supernatural series out there. It’s a world where some people can curse you or charm you with their hands, and a mafia has grown up around this illegal activity. Crime noir with paranormal, and not to be missed.

Divergent by Veronia Roth. This got voted the best book of 2011 by Goodreads users, and it’s easy to see why. The writing just goes, and carries you along for the ride. The story has its issues, sure, but the two main characters, Tris and Four, are incredibly compelling, and you never want it to end. I can’t wait for the next in the series. If you’re sad The Hunger Games is over, get this.

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves. Okay, this was my absolute favorite of the year. I love how Reeves can write a story about sisterly love, but make it so incredibly twisted that you feel guilty for enjoying it. Fans of Dexter may appreciate the way that these two girls dispatch the folks around them that surely deserve it. They struggle with the fact that their father was a serial killer, and they’ve inherited his violent tendencies. I thought this was the most overlooked book of the year.

The Postmortal by Drew Magary. What happens when we cure death, is the question that Magary poses in this utopian turned dystopian vision. Science has come up with a way to keep you from aging, illegal at first, then used by nearly everybody. New cults arise, violence ensues, the overpopulation of the world stretches all of our resources to the limit, until people hire professionals to kill them rather than go on living. Did I mention it’s a comedy? Because it is.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This was one of the most hyped books of the year, and it is gorgeous. A female and a male magician are pitted against each other in a contest that spans decades, but it is made much more complicated when they fall in love. Their battleground is a beautiful circus that only is open at night, a land of black and white where the acts and shows are just a little too incredible to not have magic involved. The book is a little light on plot, but it make up for it in opulent and elegant atmosphere.

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This is another fantastic YA paranormal book, with overtones of Romeo and Juliet, and plenty of demons and angels. Taylor’s writing is poetic in its descriptions, yet never feels forced. I couldn’t tell where the story was going, which was definitely a positive for this book. It’s one that you’ll want to sink into for a while.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. This was a book where I literally laughed out loud while reading, then looked around and wondered why nobody else was laughing. Oh yeah, they weren’t reading the book with me. This latest book by Gantos reminded me of Louis Sachar’s masterpiece Holes in the way that seemingly disparate and strange elements of the plot come together beautifully at the end. It’s wacky and hilarious, and a great way to wrap up the year.

Did you read any of these and agree, or disagree? What did I leave off the list that I should have read (or valued more highly)? How did 2011 treat you?

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