Monday, January 9, 2012

My Top Five Favorite Reads of 2011

In 2011 I attempted to read a lot more Indie Author books than I had previously.  I didn't get to read as much as I wished I could due to a whole lot of deadlines being due for my own writing, but I did get to read some truly amazing novels last year.  For the first time, Indie works are included on the list.  Surprisingly, quite a few YA books made the list.  I haven't read a lot of YA, but this last year they have been some of the best books I've read.

5. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan & The Cloud Prophecy (books: Anathema, Oubliette, Severed)by Megg Jensen (Indie Author)

The Dark and Hollow Places is a really great final entry into the trilogy that stared with The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  As with the two previous books, Carrie Ryan created a whole new lead character to guide us through the fascinating world she created.  I absolutely love her world building and the complexities of existing in a world carved up by fences.  Carrie's zombies are her own creation and she fleshed out the rules of the creatures a bit more in this entry.  Some of my questions were definitely answered in this book.  I have to admit I love the world more than the actual characters, but Carrie's writing and the action sequences are mind-blowingly good.  In the end, I think this is my favorite of the three books of the trilogy.

Indie Author, Megg Jensen, did a great job with her Cloud Prophecy Trilogy.  The first book is the weakest of the three, but overall the entire series is worth reading.  I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels, but I enjoyed the fantasy world Megg created.  The story never went quite in the direction I thought it would, which was really refreshing.  At one point I thought we'd end up with a dreaded love triangle, but that never happened.  I truly enjoyed the journey of the lead character of Reychel.  

4. Aftermath by Ann Aguirre

I'm a huge fan of the Sirantha Jax series by Ann Aguirre and I was on pins and needles for nearly a year waiting for this book to download to my Kindle on the release date.  I absolutely love this entry into the series because we got to spend a lot of time with my favorite character, the alien Vel.  Honestly, this could have been the last book of the series and it would have been perfect.  But there is one more to go and I'm anxiously awaiting its publication.  If you haven't read the Sirantha Jax series, I highly recommend it.

Read my full review at Goodreads.

3.Matched by Condie Ally

Matched is a book I picked up for a friend and ended up devouring in a few short days.  This is a very subtle book and that works perfectly with the Utopian world the heroine lives within.  Her awakening to the true horror of the Society was incredibly well-written.  I enjoyed the use of poetry to open her eyes.  The dreaded love triangle actually works in this story.  It is used effectively to open the eyes of our heroine to the reality of her world.

Read my full review at Goodreads.

2. Jenni Pox by J.L. Bryan (Indie Author)

Jenny Pox is one of those books that just comes along and knocks you on your ass.  Honestly, this one was nearly my number one novel of the year. I flipped-flopped a few times before settling on the number one spot.  J.L. Bryan has created such a great character in Jenny.  I was completely immersed in her trails and tribulations and wanted to hug her more than once.  Her arch-nemesis of Ashleigh is a truly awesome villain that I loved to hate. Jenny Pox hearkens back to old school Stephen King in some regards.  A few people might compare it to Carrie, but I like this novel so much more.  The entire series is just so good.  I will be reading all three books (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare and Alexander Death) again in the future.

Read my full review at Goodreads.

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games was compared to Twilight when it first hit really big, which is probably the main reason it took me so long to pick up the series.  Word of mouth on the series was really positive though and I finally picked up all three books.  I decided to give the first book a try and put my hesitation aside and I am so glad I did.  The writing is not as beautiful as Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, nor are the characters quite as compelling as in J.L. Bryan's Jenny Pox series, but the story in its entirety is too powerful to be ignored.  Katniss's journey from a young girl just trying to feed her family to the icon of a revolution is gut-wrenching and difficult to read at times.  The world-building is extremely well-done as are the characters you encounter throughout the series.  Suzanne Collins carefully lays out the foundation of her story in the first book and builds upon it throughout the series.  By the time I finished the last book, I was an emotional wreck.  I cried multiple times while reading the series, something I rarely do.  The last book is superb and though I know a lot of people wanted a more "Hollywood" ending, the epilogue of Katniss's life is the logical culmination of all that had come before.  Out of all the books I read last year, this series was the one that I feel will have lasting impact on the literary world.  I would not be surprised if it ends up required reading at schools in the future.

Read my full review at Goodreads.

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