If you’re in this with me, settle in. It’s going to be a long one. (Oddly enough, this post’s length owes nothing to me reading my way through a library full of books over the course of the year, because I didn’t. Heavens, no. But I’ve added a new category: best of fan fiction. And 2012 has promised me things. Many, many things I could go on about – at length – if given the opportunity. Suffice it to say, I’m jumping on this post. Hard.)
In the immortal words of Disney’s Peter Pan, “Here we gooooo.”
THE BEST OF THE BOOKS:
Thus ends the year of The Reading Slump That Would Not End. Good riddance! (Please don’t carry over to 2012, okay?) I’m a born and bred New England girl; I know what it’s like to trudge through thigh-high, hard-packed snow. Believe me when I say, that’s exactly how it felt while reading too many books this year. And the blame lies with me, not the books. My mind, craving more visual and immediate distractions, just wouldn’t allow me to be when it came to reading. And I’m subjecting you to this ridiculously long explanation because the list below feels woefully inadequate, like I’m doing a disservice, somehow, to books I might have LOVED any other year, but had the misfortune of finding me in my ‘everything is meh’ state this year. That out of the way, here are a handful of titles that managed to climb over – or forcibly bust through – the wall.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente
This is one of a handful of books that really stuck with me this past year. My review accurately portrayed how I felt: I loved every. single. thing about the story that unfolded in these pages. This book is, I’m convinced, made of pure and tangible magic.
The October Daye series (So far: Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, Late Eclipses, One Salt Sea) – Seanan McGuire
It was the year of Toby Daye; long may she reign! After reading Rosemary and Rue, this urban fantasy series shot to the top of my what-would-I-do-without-these-books? list. Each book in this series is better than the one that came before it; I kid you not. If you’re wanting amazing characterization, excellent, top-notch world-building, and Tybalt! (take my word for it), your search is over, my friend. (Thanks again, Janice!)
You can read my reviews here, here, here, here, and here.
The Winter Sea – Susanna Kearsley
I loved this book so, so much, I couldn’t write a coherent review about it. Oh, I tried, but I was entirely unsuccessful in conveying how the story, the characters, squeezed my heart. It became an instant comfort read, an it’s-a-cold-and-dreary-day read, an I-need-to-sigh read. I read a trio of Kearsley’s books this year, including this one, and though I didn’t love Mariana or The Rose Garden quite as much, they also easily slipped into the aforementioned categories. That type of writing and atmosphere is just what Kearsley excels at.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
You may have heard me sing Laini Taylor’s praises many times before, but there’s no stopping me from belting out a full-on opera now. I’m so glad Daughter of Smoke and Bone came along, exposing the world at large to the wonder and beauty of Taylor’s writing, which will, I hope, prompt readers to go back and discover her other work. (My review)
Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma
This one makes the list simply because it was a gut-puncher of a novel. I can’t recall ever finding myself so stricken by a story’s ending as I was here, with this book. I’m not sure, actually, that I’ll ever fully get over that ending, which is in direct opposition to how completely positive I am that I’ll never forget Lochan and Maya and the tempest that whirled within me while reading about them. (My review)
There were others I enjoyed, which I discussed here and here. You could go there and there if you’re not cross-eyed by the time you finish this post.
THE BEST OF FAN FICTION:
Let me be as upfront about this as I can be: The majority of the fan fiction I’ve read and loved this year was/is slash. In fact, the only exceptions you’ll find in the list below come courtesy of my Sookie/Eric shipping heart. Also? The distraction sensor in my brain seemed to like things that came with a, well, a decidedly adult rating. Just so you know.
Sherlock Holmes (all BBC Sherlock inspired)
True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse series
- “All In” – kjwrit
Basically? This fic is crack. (Not that I know what it’s like – taking crack, being on crack, whatever – which is obvious, because I just spent a full five minutes wondering if I needed to capitalize the word. [I'm still not sure.] But maybe that’s arguing against my point?) “All In” and I got off on the wrong foot; I almost didn’t read beyond the first few chapters. Eric’s a right jerk at the start, and that wasn’t what I was looking for, but when he comes around…that man, as written by kjwrit, is funny. And a movie star (who may or may not play a vampire on TV).
- “Pretty Kitty” – ficlit78
More crack! (I must have a nose for it when it comes to the True Blood fandom – pun intended. [...You do snort crack, right?] [I know what you did just then. You shook your head, didn't you? Well, so did I. Good grief, I'll just...stop now.])
The Avengers (or Steve Rogers/Tony Stark)
- “Mr. July” – jibrailis
I have never in my life wanted to shout OMG, but OMG THOR! (I may have just cringed, actually, seeing it in print, but I’m not taking it back.) Yes, “Mr. July” is a Steve Rogers/Tony Stark fic. Yes, Thor completely stole the shield out from under Captain America, the repulsor thingies from Iron Man, making me burst out with laughter so loud, so raucous, I would have made that big, blond Asgardian proud had he heard it. (And if he were real. There’s that.)
- “Indecent Proposal” – gyzym, Siria
Well, because there’s this:
“Tony, undeterred, presses on, ticking things off on his fingers. “First there was Paris, because you know—Paris! It’s Paris, that’s totally how you convey the, the romance! And the things, and then the Eiffel Tower tried to blow us up, which is entirely unfair, I should still lodge a complaint with the French embassy. And then! Picnic, because they’re simple and like, I don’t know, honest, Pepper said it was good, I do not know because my track record argues against me knowing what the hell I’m doing, and the universe couldn’t even throw me a bone, it threw me Mrs Rosso and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with her. And then third, third, you hated Vegas, of course you hated Vegas, I don’t even know what the hell I was thinking, it’s not like you even know who Elvis is.”
- “What Lies Inside” – Penumbren
Because Steve is Tony’s mate. (Tony, here, is a werewolf. As if the armor and the genius and the whole playboy philanthropist thing weren’t enough to cement his badassness.)
THE BOOKS OF 2012:
Pile together all of the 2012 books that I’m looking forward to or am curious about and you’d have quite the mountain. Going over this list, I’m positive I’ve forgotten some, which limits the results to what immediately sprang to mind.
Ashes of Honor – Seanan McGuire (and Discount Armageddon)
This book! I need this book! One Salt Sea was…it…the ending. What’s going to happen next? Tybaaaalllt!
Sacrificial Magic – Stacia Kane
Chess. Terrible. Chess and Terrible. These two look at each other and – boom! – scorch marks, everywhere. This gritty urban fantasy series was a revelation: I never thought I’d fall so hard, so fast, for a brutal gang enforcer, just as I never thought I’d feel such sympathy for a drug addicted witch.
Endgame – Ann Aguirre
I’ve gone and worked myself into a state of complete willful denial over this being the last book in the Sirantha Jax series. That’s right: My fingers are in my ears; I am humming some unnamed but defiant song, loudly. Just because I understand that all good things must come to an end, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I refuse to say goodbye to you, Vel. *sniff*
Bitterblue – Kristin Cashore
I liked Graceling. I loved Fire. Wanting Bitterblue is a given.
Shadowfell – Juliet Marillier
New Juliet Marillier. That is all.
Under the Light – Laura Whitcomb
I owe Angie for nudging me in the direction of the wondrous A Certain Slant of Light, so it’s only fitting that I also owe her for bringing this sequel to my attention. I’m expecting big, beautiful things from this one.
Once Burned (Night Prince series) – Jeaniene Frost
I can’t be sure, of course, but my sense that I just might lead the Vlad fangirl pack can’t be too far off base. And that may be why trepidation is battling it out with excitement whenever I think of this book, the first in a spin-off series featuring that glorious pyrolicious vampire.
Range of Ghosts – Elizabeth Bear
Look, look over there to the right. Squint if you must. That cover’s pretty nifty, no? Plus, it’s Elizabeth Bear, the writer who brought Sebastien de Ulloa into my life. I’m looking forward to meeting you, Temur, once I get my hands on a copy of this.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne M. Valente
With a title like that, of course this is the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Which leaves me with but one thing to say: Gimme. Please?
Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins
When it comes to Stephanie Perkins’ books, my reviewing skills (oh, that’s a good one!) make themselves scarce. I’ve read and loved and hugged both Anna and Lola, and found myself tongue-tied (finger-tied?) to the point of pain after opening a new post template and typing in each title. What to say? How to say it? How to avoid paragraphs with nothing but Etienne and Cricket typed over and over and over again? Perhaps I’ll manage the impossible with Isla.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 2 - Laini Taylor
Could this have been a more obvious choice? I thought not.
House of Shadows – Rachel Neumeier
Rachel Neumeier’s books have never once let me down. She creates compelling characters and worlds, and I’ve no doubt that House of Shadows will follow admirably in the footsteps of The City in the Lake, The Griffin Mage trilogy, and The Floating Islands.
And then there’s Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews, and All Spells Break Loose by Lisa Shearin, and Alien Diplomacy by Gini Koch. In other words, a whole bunch of series books that must be mine.
THE MOVIES OF 2012:
The Hunger Games (March)
Is there anyone out there who is not waiting on tenterhooks for this movie? Or, whatever; soft cushions? I am, obviously, and that despite my initial – and unfortunately lingering – doubts about the principle casting. The first official trailer won me over some, especially with that closing scene (sprint, Peeta, sprint!), but I’m still going to settle into my theater seat cautiously, keeping my expectations to a reasonable level. (You know what? Who am I kidding? When the time comes, I’m going to be bouncing around, beating the sure to be broken springs underneath me into submission with the sheer force of my excitement. Let the Games begin!)
The Avengers (May)
Mmm? Oh. Oh! Right! Sorry. It’s just, Captain America up there is so…shiny.
I must admit: I’m working backwards when it comes to getting to know these superheroes. The movies – Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor – made me really want to dig in, go back and read the comics, and find everything I could get my hands on that had anything even remotely to do with or related to one or all of them. So that’s what I’m doing. In between re-watching key scenes from each of their individual movies, of course. (And, yes, that includes those scenes. [I have eyes. And a keen appreciation for beauty. I ♥ this Art, remember? *cough*]) Honestly? Anticipation for this one is thrumming through my veins. Just thinking about it makes me bzzz like a frenzied little bee.
The Hobbit (December)
How to explain this one making my list? I know! How about: Richard Armitage. Martin Freeman. Stephen Fry. Lee Pace. Benedict Cumberbatch. Need I say more? Because I could. You know I could.
That’s my top three, but there are others I’m looking forward to: The Dark Knight Rises (no explanation necessary, I’d say); Brave (ditto, I’m thinking, if the collective anticipation for this one is anything to go by); and, you know, I kind of want to see John Carter (if only to gaze upon
Tim Riggins Taylor Kitsch as he attempts to adjust to life on Mars). (Also, because my ‘stop now’ button is broken, these: The Secret World of Arrietty, The Raven, and The Woman in Black.)
So, yeah. There you have it.