Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Book Lists Pt. 7: Top Tens

*Back to Introductory Post; Pt. 1; Pt. 2; Pt 3; Pt. 4; Pt. 5; Pt. 6
*Books are linked to my reviews, if available. They're also linked to Amazon. I have read all of these books and written reviews for most, but haven't posted many of them yet. As I do, I will update this page.

Top Ten Books Read in 2011
-Most but not all were published in 2011

 1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Stunning. A book equally about romance, family, and personal discovery. Even better, it's set in Prague. Karou is a regular girl who was raised by chimaera, half-animal/half-human creatures who live in a different world. Karou runs errands for her foster-father Brimstone who grants wishes. Akiva is an angel who hates chimaera more than words can describe. When Akiva and Karou meet, their souls collide. Karou is a strong, brave, funny, loving character who doesn't take guff from anyone. Heart-stopping romance. Shocking twists. Complex yet understandable. You'll re-read portions of the book after you finish and realize that there are so many important little things throughout the book. (Amazon)

2. The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith
Fabulous, unique vampire story. A mixture of suspenseful action scenes with a slow-building romance will satisfy readers of multiple genres. The vampires are intensely violent creatures more like animals than humans. Lots of political intrigue, steampunk elements, as well as sci fi/fantasy tie-ins. The romance is subtle but so sweet that I repeatedly re-read my favorite "Aww..." inducing moments. (Amazon)

3. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Heartbreaking, depressing, beautiful. Revolution is the tale of modern Andi who is horribly depressed after the death of her brother. Her father drags her to France where she finds the journal of Alexandrine who was an actress and special friend to little Louis XVII in the French Revolution. Stark, clean language. Very readable. Don't read the book if you need to be cheered up, but definitely pick it up on another day. (Amazon)

4. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Another winner from Stephanie. Just as fun and sweet a romance as Anna and the French Kiss. Lola is a vivacious character. She spends her life creating and dressing up in costumes, which make her personality shine while also masking a deep-seeded insecurity. She is also stubborn, self-righteous, and quick to jump to conclusions. Cricket is as nice as can be. Awkward and nerdy. A little insecure. Very patient. Kinda "boyish," in a cool way. A highlight are Lola's dads Andy and Nathan. So nice to see well-developed, caring parents. And the romance! Super sweet. Nice build-up - feels like something that could actually happen. Love the Anna and the French Kiss tie-in too. (Amazon)

5. Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater 
Water horses are beautiful equine creatures that reside in the sea and are wild, vicious killers. Every year, islanders race these horses in the Scorpio Races. Every year, people die. Sean and Puck (aka Kate) enter the races for different races. The characters' emotions and actions are reserved, but this somehow makes the reader's emotions all the stronger. A quiet story that you'll want to re-read over and over to truly sink in. One of the best slow building relationships that feels real. (Amazon)

6. Die for Me by Amy Plum
Fabulous new series. A bit Twilighty but in a good way. Even better, it's set in Paris. Unique paranormal element with great history and world building. Kate and Vincent have some insta-love, but Vincent is such a great guy that I don't mind. Well developed side characters make book a joy to read. (Amazon)

7. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
The idea of getting shipped off to Siberia is something I'd heard about most of my life. It's almost a cliche, a joke. In Between Shades of Gray, we are reminded that the horrors of the Stalin regime were no joke. They were raw, senseless, and beyond cruel. An exceptionally dark and powerful book. You will love all the characters, especially Lina. They are all wonderful yet flawed, realistic people going through unimaginable torture. (Amazon)

8. Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Piper's Son is about the love and pain of a close family and the camaraderie and anger of friends.  A great companion to Saving Francesca. Witty, smart dialogue is the key feature of this story. Melina is a master of creating an enticing story with a relatively barebones plot. The characters and dialogue make this novel. (Amazon)

9. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
One of the rare YA books that is of literary quality, but is also easy and fun to read. On the surface, the book is about a deaf girl taking a crap band from obscurity to something resembling success. But at its heart, this book is a character story. A tale of self-discovery. Of family. Of friends. And even a little romance. (Amazon)

10. Nightspell by Leah Cypess
Complex high fantasy with incredible world building. Nightspell is set in Ghostland, a kingdom where ghosts and the living reside together. Loved how well the ghosts were described. A character driven novel. At various times in the book, I hated, feared, cared for, and pitied the characters, both ghost and living. The pace is slow but steady. If you like character-driven novels, family relationships, fabulous world-building, and nearly romance-less book, you'll love Nightspell. (Amazon)

Top Ten Albums

1. "Bon Iver" by Bon Iver
*Calgary (possibly the most beautiful song ever)

2. "A Creature I Don't Know" by Laura Marling

*All My Rage

3. "Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes

*Helplessness Blues
*Blue Spotted Tail

4. "Kiss Each Other Clean" by Iron & Wine

*Walking Far From Home
*Tree By the River
*Your Fake Name is Good Enough for Me

5. "The King Is Dead" by The Decemberists

*Don't Carry It All
*Rox in the Box
*Down by the Water

6. "The Harrow & The Harvest" by Gillian Welch

*Scarlet Town
*The Way It Goes
*Six White Horses

7. "Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars

*Poison and Wine
*Barton Hollow
*20 Years

8. "Codes and Keys" by Death Cab for Cutie

*You are a Tourist
*Monday Morning
*Some Boys

9. "City of Refuge" by Abigail Washburn

*City of Refuge
*Devine Bell

10. "Ceremonials" by Florence & the Matchine

*Shake It Out
*What the Water Gave Me
*Only If For A Night

Top Ten Songs (Not on Top Ten Albums)

1. "A Girl, A Boy and a Graveyard" by Jeremy Messersmith (The Reluctant Graveyard) - A great Minnesota singer/songwriter

2. "Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire)" by Yacht

3. "Go Outside" by Cults (Go Outside)

4. "Cradle" by The Joy Formidable (Big Roar)

5. "One Day" by Sharon van Etten (Epic)

6. "Sin" by The Carter Brothers (The Road to Roosky)

7. "Cold" by Aqualung and Lucy Schwartz (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn)

8. "Young Blood" by The Naked and the Famous (Passive Me, Aggressive You)

9. "Blow" by Ke$ha (Cannibal) - Gotta have guilty pleasures)

10. "Love You Like a Love Song" by Selena Gomez (When The Sun Goes Down) - This one is embarrassing. I blame my friend for introducing it to me. It's so freaking catchy and cheery. I just can't help myself.


  1. Thanks for sharing your best list. I loved Revolution and Piper's Son also. Scorpio and Lola are on my TBR pile...can't wait.

  2. So many of my favorites are on your top 10 list Alison! I couldn't have loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Scorpio Races any more if I tried, they just blew me away:) I still need to read the Piper's Son though I did finally get to Saving Francesca *pats self on back* Hoping to make time for that one in 2012!

  3. I have some of these on my tbr list. I'm hoping to get to them soon. I loved Between Shades of Grey. Great list!

  4. Great list! I still have to pick up Die For Me soon!!

    Xpresso Reads

  5. So many great books. I'm read some, but not all. I hope to tackle The Scorpio Races, Die For Me, and The Five Flavors of Dumb soon since they all have been sitting on my shelf for a while.

    I know what you mean about guilty pleasures when it comes to songs. I can't help but smile when Justin Bieber comes on.

  6. I can't believe I haven't read Between Shades of Gray or Daughter of Smoke and Bone, yet. I'll have to make it my project for this month.

  7. Yay! I'm about 20 pages into Scorpio Races and not really loving it, but seeing it on your list just got me super excited to keep reading!

  8. Some great top ten books (yay, Daughter of Smoke and Bone), albums (yay Florence + the Machine!) and songs (Love you like a love song--yeah, I can't believe I like it, either).

  9. I have one of Melina Marchetta books that I need to read! Once again you have added to my list! I am so making authors rich this year!

  10. Oh, Iron & Wine. The music of the gods. You have great taste in literature and music. You really are becoming my favorite blogger!

  11. I got Florence + the Machine's new album for Christmas and I LOVE it. Haven't even been all the way through it because I keep putting the first five or six songs on repeat!

  12. I've only read Die for Me and Between Shades of Gray. I plan to read some of the others.

  13. Fun list! Definitely with you on Scorpio Races and and Lola, and I've been wanting to read Dumb and Nightspell for a while now. As for music, I admit I'm a major Gleek, so I've downloaded all the songs from the show released last year, and also the Born This Way album by Lady Gaga has been stuck on repeat for a while.


  14. Fab list! I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone so much and it was a really special read, because I didn't even plan to read or like it and was so glad that it was sent to me by a publisher after reading:)

  15. I can't help but love that Selena Gomez song too.


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