I completely failed at reviewing in 2011, but I didn't fail at reading! So in the spirit of the new year, have a top ten of the books I didn't actually review!
(Fair Warning: I have alphabetised this list by author name because trying to order this as a top ten was giving me a headache.
)My Ten Ten Favourite Books That I Didn't Review in 2011 Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
I really enjoyed this - it has a very British sense of humour, all wryness and sarcasm and self-mockery, and it has a real sense of place.
There is a real love for London, even when it sucks, and for science (I admit: people using scientific methods to try to figure out magic is a thing that pleases me.). The pacing is a little weird and it gets distracted from the actual murder mystery aspect of the plot fairly often, but it's fun. This is available in America with the title Midnight Riot and a godawful generic action cover. Please don't hold that against it - the contents are much better!White Cat by Holly Black
I was sold on the idea of a magical mafia alone - the fact that the book actually lives up
to its premise is just icing on the cake. This a story about cons and deceptions, about trusting your friends when you can't trust your family, about loving your family even when you can't trust them, about being too clever for your own good, about truth and when the truth is both the last thing you want and the thing you need most. I love it to the point where I'm not sure I want to read the sequel.Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Firstly, dear urban fantasy artists: this
is how you depict a woman looking casually badass. Please take notes. Secondly, if you like Tamora Pierce's Tortall quartets you really do owe it to yourself to pick Graceling
up. It has fantasy and feminism in one delicious package, with good plot, actual character growth, and a romance that I rooted for pretty much the whole way through. I find the male character's powers and plot resolution to be a little... Trite? Convenient? But as the story focuses mainly on Katsa and her
story, I am willing to cut it some slack.Wither by Lauren DeStefano
I never meant to read Wither
, but the sequel was stalking me in book shops1
so I picked this up to see if it would stop. This book! I like this book and I have no idea why.
The villain is a complete non-entity, the ending resolved nothing, and you need to be willing to accept the premise of "Every woman will be dead by 20, every man by 25, and the only country left in the world is America" to even get into it - but I really enjoyed this book! I genuinely didn't want to put it down. The men in this story mostly don't aren't
, if that makes any sense - they aren't there, or they aren't as important as they probably should be - but I think that might be the point - the story is about Rhine, and the other girls trapped in Linden's house. The men are an afterthought to them,
and they are what kept me reading. (Also, TRIGGER WARNING: one of the girls is thirteen when she gets "married". There's nothing graphic, but it may still make some of you not want to read this.)The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
Just when I needed some high fantasy in my life, I stumbled across this. High fantasy, bound gods, a heroine with a secret that even she doesn't know, a deadly romance that the participants go into acknowledging that it's the worst plan ever,
politics, magic, doom, a clever narrative technique, and a really awesome atmosphere of horror and creepiness when it's appropriate. I love this book, and I love the protagonist.
Plus: canonical tentacle sex.The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
The narration for this book is hilarious.
It charmed me utterly, and I was reading The Boyfriend List
under the desk at work because I didn't want to put it down. I love the footnotes, I love Roo's voice, I love the fact that while she does come to some
conclusions about herself and her situation, nothing is magically fixed by the end of the end of the book. I think it's clever and lovely and it makes me smile to remember it. On top of this, for something that promises to be about so many boys - the subtitle is "15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver" - it's really just about Ruby. Her life, her friends, how everything goes a little wrong in a dramatic way, and the boys are just a framing device (sometimes dealt with in a few paragraphs) to get to the rest of the story.A Long, Long Sleep by Anne Sheehan
I love this book. That's all I can say about it - that should really be all I need
to say about it. I shouldn't have to tell you about how the quiet, gracefully built story. I shouldn't have to tell about Rose, about how it's not so much about her discovering this strange new world she's woken up in as much as it's about her discovering how much of herself
had been locked away even before she was stassed - I'm not sure how much I can say without spoilers, but oh my heart.
I should have to tell any of you because you should have already read it.
The story is lovely, even as it was breaking my heart into pieces. The cast are all well-handled and make me happy, particularly Rose and Xavier and Otto. If you have a bit of genre savvy you should be able to work out a couple of the major plot twists fairly early on, but - I'm serious, that doesn't matter.The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
This is another one that I love with the fire of a thousand suns. It's one of those books where my brain would keep returning to it if I put it down, where the writing's so clear and vivid that I could see
all that it described, where the romance is slow burning and perfect and so far from being the point of this book but still pleasing to me. I started writing a review of this book, and then I gave up and just wrote a list of all the things about it that made me happy. It's got everything I could want from a book in terms of characters, plot, setting, writing, atmosphere - and it tops it off by having killer horses that rise from the sea.
What's not to love?Little Butterfly Omnibus by Hinako Takanaga
I've read some terrible BL manga in my time (No, really), so this was like a breath of fresh air. The art is cute, the main characters are absolute sweethearts, and while the tragic backstory wasn't anything particularly new, the way it was handled
surprised me, in that I could actually see some logic there, and genuine caring between the characters. On top of that, there was the fact that this was the first BL manga I've read in years
where someone says "No, stop" during sex and is actually listened to.
I have a hard time believing in some of it (Kojima's surprise while masturbating makes me raise my eyebrows), and like I said, some of the tragedy is clichéd, but on the whole this is sweet and entertaining.Library Wars: Love and War by Kiiro Yumi
I genuinely didn't expect to love this series as much as I do - I remember thinking that for a series about libraries, it really needed more books.
And then suddenly something about the combination of my favourite thing (Shojo! Two people who need to make out like burning
but who really shouldn't because it would be terrible!
A blissfully oblivious heroine who punches people in the face for justice and libraries!
Big damn heroes! A character who keeps failing but never gives up!
Team mates looking out for each other!) clicked, and all that was left was this burning desire to keep reading this series and never let it out of my life.
It's not perfect - every time I read a volume of it, I have to sit down and run through it in my brain going "I'm not sure how my feminism feels about some of this - but the sheer enjoyment I get out of it means it's going on the list anyway.
... So yes, that was my
top ten of 2011! What did everyone else pick?1: Does this happen to anyone else? Everywhere you go there is an interesting book that you swear you've never seen before, but then you pick it up and read the blurb and suddenly realise that you've done this before. Maybe the last time you were in the book shop. Maybe at the library. Maybe even at a different display that very day. And it will happen in all of those places too! ... The point is still that you cannot escape this book, it is following you and willing you to read it.