Top Ten Tuesday 12/27

Top Ten Books of 2011

I didn’t read nearly as much as I had hoped this year, but what I did read was excellent! Unfortunately a good number of these I haven’t reviewed, since this blog didn’t exist when I had read them.

In no particular order:

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade (review → here)

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania’s efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It’s up to them to save their country.

OMGOMGOMGSOGOOD. I loved this book to pieces and I absolutely cannot wait to read the rest of the series. Steampunk, Quasimodo as the main character, shape-shifting, Hyde as the villain! It’s perfect. One of my few 5-star books of the year. ♥

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (review → here)

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Another 5-star book! I adore fairy tale retellings and while this wasn’t exactly a retelling, it did include multiple characters and mythical creatures and an incredible world. And Rumpelstiltskin! ♥

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (review → here)

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

This one was a huge surprise for me! I adore Poe and was highly skeptical about this book at first. ..I wound up loving it to death. I would have loved a bit more explanation regarding certain scenes & more facetime with characters (particularly Varen!!) but it was so good. I can’t wait another eight months for the sequel! UGH.

Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory (review → here)

In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda—and he begins to move.

The family hides the child—whom they name Stony—rather than turn him over to authorities that would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret—until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run and he learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world.

♥ 5-stars! And it definitely deserved each one. I randomly came across this book at work and something drew me to it which was odd, since I really don’t go for zombie books. However, I could tell this wasn’t your typical zombie fodder and I’m so glad I read it. ALSO, my review on goodreads was commented on by the author – the first time an author has actually commented on a review of mine!! I’m still ridiculously excited about it.

Superman: Red Son

Strange visitor from another world who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands … and who, as the champion of the common worker, fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, Socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.

In this Elseworlds tale, a familiar rocketship crash-lands on Earth carrying an infant who will one day become the most powerful being on the planet. But his ship doesn’t land in America. He is not raised in Smallville, Kansas. Instead, he makes his new home on a collective in the Soviet Union!

This one is a bit older, but I read it for the first time this year. Communist!Superman?? How could I pass that up?! I love alternate histories. They’re so, so cool. Also, Batman had a fabulous furry hat.

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas

A magical historical novel about an astonishing eight-year-old girl in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. It is 1877, on the shores of the Black Sea, and the omens for the newborn Eleonora Cohen are hardly promising. Not only does her mother die in childbirth, but her village is being attacked by the Tsar’s Royal Cavalry. However, despite this bad beginning, a sour stepmother and a traumatic journey in the hold of a ship, young Eleonora grows into a remarkably clever but very engaging child. And when a heartbreaking tragedy leaves her marooned in Istanbul, where spies and boarded-up harems and sudden death are as much a part of life as delicious spices, Paris fashions and rosewater, it is Eleonora’s extraordinary courage and character which lead her straight to the Sultan’s court, and to her salvation.

You know a book is good when, nearly a year later, you still think about it. I read this one in April and to this day I still yearn to return to the world created in this book. Everything about it – the writing, the imagery, even that cover! – was gorgeous.

The Caretaker of Lorne Field by Dave Zeltserman

Jack Durkin is the ninth generation of Durkins who have weeded Lorne Field for nearly 300 years. Though he and his wife Lydia are miserable and would like nothing more than to leave, Jack must wait until his son has come of age to tend the field on his own. It’s an important job, though no one else seems to realize it. For, if the field is left untended, a horrific monster called an Aukowie will grow-a monster capable of taking over the entirety of America in just two weeks. Or so it is said…

This book was just fantastic. Even after it was over, I still had no idea whether the monsters were real or if they were just in Jack’s mind.

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie (review → here)

Abby Cooper is a P.I., psychic intuitive. But her insight failed her when she didn’t foresee the death of one of her clients-or that the lead investigator for the case is the gorgeous blind date she just met. Now, with the police suspicious of her abilities and a killer on the loose, Abby’s future looks more uncertain than ever.

This year was big for me in terms of branching out with my reading. I discovered cozy mysteries (now one of my favorite genres!) & Miss Cooper was my introduction. Cozy mysteries are ridiculous and quick and so much fun and I love them.

The Forgotton Garden by Kate Morton

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

This one was brought to my attention by my mom. She loves this book and began pushing for me to read it. I kept putting it off and putting it off – it’s a pretty hefty book. Once I finally began, however, I couldn’t set it down.

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the
appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

A true story about ebola! Sounds boring, right? WRONG! I raced through this book and loved every second! …unfortunately, because of this book, for the rest of the month following my reading, I saw every little cough and sniffle as the onset of ebola.

Honorable Mention
Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede (review → here)

Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he’s supposed to possess amazing talent — and she’s supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild.

I actually didn’t like this book very much. Despite my disappointment however, I felt this book deserved a spot for being the book to get me back into YA. For years and years I swore it off, I wouldn’t read it at all. This year I came back to it.

12 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday 12/27

  1. Welcome back to YA! I too love Modo. Scott Westerfeld wrote an awesome YA steampunk series-Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath. They are even illustrated! The Hot Zone was so creepy! Here is my list (lots of fun YA) http://wp.me/pzUn5-H4

    1. I’ve had my eye on those Westerfeld books for a while! They look fantastic. Definitely a series I’ll be getting into soon.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog, I’m now a new follower of yours through Google Reader. I haven’t read most of your top ten books, although I have wanted to try Kate Morton for a while. I think I’ll start with The Forgotten Garden, it sounds very good.

    1. You’re very welcome & thank you!

      It was such a great book! It had a fairytale quality about it that I loved. I’m really excited to read her other books.

    1. :) Thanks!

      That’s what I tried to do this year. Before, I had a specific genre that I’d read and I would rarely give anything else a second thought. I wanted to branch out and I’m so glad I did!

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