Top Ten of 2011, a fabulous week of looking back at the best of the best this past year, is hosted by Lisa from A Life Bound By Books, Rachel from Fiktshun & Jaime & Patricia from Two Chicks on Books and Jessica from Confessions of a Bookaholic.
This is almost cruel. Cruel I tell you! I can’t pick just 10!
Soooo I cheated. A little bit. I created a Top Ten… and an Honorable Mentions list, which… also has 10 books on *whistles*.
I’m pretty sure on any given day if you asked me my ten top reads this year it would keep alternating between these 20, depending on my mood. Because I loved them all. Loved loved loved. And those I put under the Honorable Mentions certainly deserve to be read just as much as those on the official top ten.
Top Ten Books Read in 2011
*in no particular order*
Click title to read reviews
1) Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
This is how you write a paranormal YA that’s going to hold my interest. Dark, unique, sharing the awesomeness that is Edgar Allen Poe, and a rather gorgeous goth who made me wonder why the hell I’ve never found lip rings attractive before now.
”Gwen,’ he said in acknowledgement.
‘Your Darkness-ship,’ she returned with a bow.
His eyes remained on Isobel as he began a slow backward walk. He was doing it again, speaking to her with his eyes. She remained trapped in his stare, trying to hear him, to read the underlying message. Finally his gaze broke from hers and he turned away, walking off through the cafeteria doors.
There was a pause before Gwen spoke.
‘Let me guess,’ she said. ‘Right now, you’re trying to decide if that was hot or annoying.’ She paused, as though formulating her own opinion. Finally she said, ‘It was so totally hot.’
~ page 265
2) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins is the Queen of contemporary romance and I simply adore her books. All two of them. They perfectly capture the giddiness of falling in love for the first time. I don’t think I stopped smiling from the moment I picked this book up until I finished it.
‘St. Clair is drunk.
His face is buried between my thighs. Under favorable circumstances, this would be quite exciting.’
~ page 137
3) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Everybody told me. I didn’t quite believe them. But Jellicoe Road is truly one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, let alone this year. It’s utterly heartbreaking and beautiful and wonderful. I’ve become a little bit of a Melina Marchetta fan and have made my way through almost all her books this year. Jellicoe Road was the first, and my favourite (though Saving Francesca is a very close second), because Marchetta writes the kind of raw and honest and beautiful friendships that make you wish these characters were real, so you could spend your life alongside them.
And because of the boy in the tree. I loved you the most.
‘My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.
It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’ve ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-la. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, ‘What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?’ and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,’ and that was the last thing he ever said.
We heard her almost straightaway. In the other car, wedged into ours so deep that you couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. She told us her name was Tate and then she squeezed through the glass and the steel and climbed over her own dead – just to be with Webb and me; to give us her hand so we could clutch it with all our might. And then a kid called Fitz came riding by on a stolen bike and saved our lives.
Somone asked us later, ‘Didn’t you wonder why no one came for you sooner?’
Did I wonder?
When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know?
~ page 1
4) The 10 pm Question by Kate Di Goldi
Frankie, you darling, I love you so. You are hilarious and heartbreaking and I just want to give you a big hug and make sure no one messes with you.
‘Last Saturday when they’d been there he’d had his annual unsavory collision with a plaster. There was nothing more revolting in Frankie’s view than free-styling your way, innocent and blissful, into the path of a used plaster. In Frankie’s hierarchy of squeamish experiences, the casual caress of a stained plaster was right up there with accidently catching sight of writhing maggots in a forgotten rubbish bag. He’d had to get out of the pool immediately last Saturday and lie on his towel in the sun to recover.’
~ page 37
5) Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud
To be honest I could have chosen any of the Bartimaeus books in this wonderfully trilogy (you can see my review for book 1 here), but I eventually went with the third for one simple reason, the ending.
‘In principle there’s nothing shameful about struggling when a building falls upon you. I’ve had such problems before; it’s part of the job description. But it does help if the edifice in question is glamourous and large. And in this case the fearsome construction that had been ripped from its foundations and hurled upon me from a great height was neither big nor sumptuous. It wasn’t a temple wall or a granite obelisk. It wasn’t the marbled roof of an emperor’s palace.
No. The object that was pinning me haplessly to the ground, like a butterfly on a collector’s tray, was of twentieth century origin and of a very specific function.
Oh, all right, it was a public lavatory.’
~ page 12
6) Saving June by Hannah Harrington
This was a sexy, beautiful, heartbreaking tale of love, loss and moving forward. I loved every second of it. It made me heart race in one moment and left me in tears at the next.
”“I still go to bed sad, and wake up sad, and it still hurts like hell, but there are moments during the day when it hurts less. Sometimes I can think of June and not want to burst into tears or put my fist through a wall. Sometimes I’m close to happy and it doesn’t even hurt. Much. I’ll never be the way I was before, but maybe that’s okay. Life goes on, I’m going on, even without her. Not every day hurts. Not every breath hurts.
Maybe that’s all we can really ask for.’
7) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I’m aware I talk about this series and Ness far too much on my blog. I would apologise, but these books are just that good. I now own two copies of the entire series, since the original paperbacks are still making their way around the country passed from friend to friend. Everyone I lend them to loves them and can’t put them down. And really, who wasn’t won over by Todd, Viola and Manchee?! No one. That’s who. All three really belong on this list, but I figured I should give some other amazing authors their due to!
Read it, read it, read it, read it, read it.
‘The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.
‘Need a poo, Todd.’
‘Shut up, Manchee.’
‘Poo. Poo, Todd.’
~ page 1
8 ) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
My first Lauren Oliver book, and the best, in my opinion. It’s rare an author can introduce you to a shallow, unlikable character and make you fall in love and ache for them all within 340 pages. Before I Fall has one of the most poignant, beautiful endings I’ve ever read. I think I sobbed through a lot of it. And also, Kent = yummy.
‘Be honest: are you surprised that I didn’t realize sooner? Are you surprised that it took me so long to even think the word – death? Dying? Dead?
Do you think I was being stupid? Naive?
Try not to judge. Remember that we’re the same, you and me.
I thought I would live forever, too.’
~ page 96
9) Blood Red Road by Moira Young
This was a surprise. I bought Blood Red Road on a whim without knowing anything about it. All I knew when I saw it in the store was that it looked good and the writing style reminded me of Patrick Ness. So I had to have it. Within a few weeks 4 and 5 star reviews were popping up for it everywhere. Moira Young definitely knows how to write a fast paced, fresh, down to earth dystopian, with some fabulous bickering and sexual tension on the side.
‘Jest then, like he feels me watchin him, he stops what he’s doin. He lifts his head. Our eyes meet. He tosses the twig away, saunters up to the fence an hooks his hands into the chainlink.
He don’t say a word. He jest runs his eyes slowly over my body, right down to my feet, then up agin. Th’other men whistle an jeer. I feel heat rushin through me. Feel it stain my chest, my neck, my cheeks. I know I must be bright red. Then he smiles. A lopsided, crook of a smile.
My fist clench. Cocky bastard. Who does he think he is?
So I do the same to him. I cross my arms over my chest an look him up and down. Brown hair to his shoulders. Silver grey eyes in a tanned face. High cheekbones, a shadow of a beard. Crooked nose, like it’s bin broke. Lean but strong lookin. Like he knows how to take care of hisself.
Our eyes meet agin.
Like what you see, Angel? he says.
I step to the fence. Hook my hands into the links, next to his. I lean in close. He’s got tiny white lines around his eyes from squintin. Or maybe smilin. He smells of warm dust an sage.
You ain’t my type, I says.’
~ page 190
10) Plain Kate by Erin Bow
In a word: Taggle.
Could I love any cat character more? I don’t think so. This is a lovely, bittersweet and surprising dark, children’s book. I’d urge everyone to read Plain Kate, young and old alike.
‘Taggle was absorbed in the meat pie. ‘It’s covered in bread,’ he huffed. ‘What fool has covered meat with bread?’ He batted at the crust, then sprang back as it broke and began licking gravy off his paw. “Ooooo,’ he purred. ‘Ooooo, good.’
‘Taggle,’ gulped Kate, again.
The cat looked up from his licking. ‘Oh. Well. I could share.’ He arched his whiskers forward and, like a lord, demonstrated his beneficence by giving away what he didn’t want. ‘There’s bread you might like.’
‘You’re -‘ Kate closed her jaw with deliberation. ‘You can talk.’
‘It was… hrrmmmm… your wish.’ His yellow eyes seemed to look inside himself. ‘So that you would not have to go alone.’
‘Oh.’ I will grant you the secret wish of your heart Linley had said.
Taggle cocked his head at her. ‘There’s meat too. Besides the bread. You may have some of that as well.’
~ page 49
Click on the covers for reviews
Best Illustrated Book Read in 2011
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This book absolutely belongs on the Top Ten List, but I put it in it’s own special category because the illustrations are an important part of what make this such a powerful read, alongside the stunning writing. Beautiful and moving. This is an incredibly special and unique book.