"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 The Year of the Paranormal

I'll admit it; I'm a paranormal junkie. I have been since the first ghost story I read when I was probably about six years old. So it only made sense that the year I decided I needed to get back into reading I did so by tearing through series after paranormal series. I talked about it in several posts over the past twelve months, but since this is supposed to be my reading recap for 2011, I'll touch on the highlights one more time.

I decided I needed to read at least 30 books in 2011 and set out to do just that. It quickly became apparent that I would easily surpass that goal, so I increased it. When I hit 30, I raised the goal to 50. When I hit 50, I raised it to 75. Then I threw my hands in the air and began increasing by five books every time I hit the number. When I hit 100, I gave up and coasted for the rest of the year. My final, official total is 117. I have to admit, though, there's a whole lot of trash (and pure smut) I chose not to include, so the real total is over 150.
A few qualifiers in the interest of full disclosure: 
1.  If something I read is on Goodreads and became part of my 2011 reading challenge on their site, it is numbered here (even if it's just a short story). A few books that have numbers haven't been released yet, but they will be "real books" by Goodreads standards eventually. If an item is not listed on Goodreads, it doesn't have a number. By the end of the year I stopped caring so much what Goodreads thought and won't use their challenge as a gauge in 2012.
2.  Somewhere along the line I faltered a bit, so not everything is listed in the order in which I read it. Some things simply slipped through the cracks and I added them at the end because they needed to be included. 
3.  I actually began reading on 12/25/10 and finished on 12/26/11. The reason I included that last book is that I only read a few chapters, about 30 pages, on 12/26.
My Top Picks

I wanted to be able to do a top five or even top ten list, but I found it virtually impossible to choose between some titles and actually place them. Instead, let me give you the favorites as a group. If you click on the book title you'll find my Goodreads review (if I've written one):

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
--You simply can't read one without reading all three. I didn't place the other titles on this list, but this trilogy is my top choice. (BTW, all three reviews are the same.)

Wild Children by Richard Roberts
--This was a huge surprise by an independent author. I met Richard when his story was first accepted into the Kindle All-Stars project and he sent me Wild Children to beta read. My reviews on Goodreads and Amazon say it all.

The Kensei and Parallax by Jon F. Merz
--My two favorites by my favorite living author. Jon's probably tired of hearing that one, but it's the truth. (I hate to admit he's in danger of being dethroned by a young'un; keep reading.)

Guns of Seneca 6 by Bernard J. Schaffer
--I was one of the proofreaders on this book but took on the task because I really wanted to read it. I ended up reading it twice and loved it both times. (The second time around was after the final edits were done.) I mean, how could a browncoat not absolutely love a story about space cowboys?

Infected and Emergence by William Vitka
--The story behind my reading of these two will end up getting a blog post of its own, right before Infected is released. That story is a long one. You won't find my reviews because neither book is available yet. Infected will be out in June of 2012 and Emergence is still going through the editing process. Still, I'm the editor on this project and I can tell you it deserves all five of its stars even before those edits are done. Vitka could be the guy who knocks JFM off the top of the mountain.

  • The Official List (complete with MPAA-style and 1-5 star ratings)
  • 117. The Monster in My Closet (PG)--Wil Wheaton--*****
  • 116. Hunter (PG)--Wil Wheaton--*****
  • 115. Hob Lesatz for Hire (PG)--Joshua Unruh--*****
  • ----Brushstrokes (R)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • ----City of Demons (R)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 114. Running Red (PG-13)--Keri Knutson--****
  • 113. Frosty the Hitman (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 112. Emergence (R)--William Vitka--***** (no release date yet)
  • 111. Way of the Warrior (PG)--Bernard J. Schaffer--*****
  • 110. The Ripper (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--***** (pre-release--due Jan 2012)
  • 109. Infected (R)--William Vitka--***** (pre-release--due June 2012)
  • 108. Resistance Front (R)--Kindle All-Stars--*****
  • 107. Wicked Games (NC-17)--Jill Myles--****
  • 106. The Doll House: Emerald (PG)--Richard Roberts--****
  • 105. The Doll House: Lapis Lazuli (PG-13)--Richard Roberts--****
  • 104. Safe with Me, Part 6 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****
  • 103. Beast (PG-13)--Tony Healey--****
  • 102. The Doll House: Inventory (PG)--Richard Roberts--****
  • 101. Succubus Revealed (R)--Richelle Mead--****
  • 100. Guns of Seneca 6 (PG-13)--Bernard J. Schaffer--*****
  • 99. Wild Children (PG)--Richard Roberts--*****
  • 98. Women and other Monsters (R)--Bernard J. Schaffer--*****
  • 97. Changes (R)--Jim Butcher--*****
  • 96. Turn Coat (R)--JimButcher--*****
  • 95. Noble (PG)--David Hulegaard--****
  • 94. Slow Hands (NC-17)--Leslie Kelly--****
  • 93. Safe with Me, Part 5 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--*****
  • 92. Safe with Me, Part 4 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 91. Safe with Me, Part3 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 90. Safe with Me, Part2 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 89. Safe with Me, Part 1 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 88. Small Favor (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--*****
  • 87. White Night (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 86. Proven Guilty (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 85. Dead Beat (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 84. Blood Rites (R)--Jim Butcher--*****
  • 83. Death Masks (R)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 82. Summer Knight (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 81. Grave Peril (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 80. The Shepherd (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--****
  • 79. Fool Moon (PG)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 78. Beyond the Veil (PG)--Brian Rathbone--***
  • 77. Foreplay (R)--Jill Myles--***
  • 76. Parallax (R)--Jon F.Merz--*****
  • 75. Storm Front (PG)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 74. The Magicians (R)--Lev Grossman--*
  • 73. Samson's Lovely Mortal (NC-17)--Tina Folsom--****
  • 72. Succubus Shadows (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 71. Succubus Heat (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 70. Succubus Dreams (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 69. Succubus on Top (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 68. Succubus Blues (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 67. Real Vampires Have More to Love (NC-17)--Gerry Bartlett--*****
  • 66. Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs (NC-17)--Gerry Bartlett--*****
  • 65. Real Vampires Don't Diet (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 64. Real Vampires Get Lucky (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 63. Real Vampires Live Large (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 62. Real Vampires Have Curves (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 61. Mockingjay (R)--Suzanne Collins--*****
  • 60. Catching Fire (R)--Suzanne Collins--*****
  • 59. The Hunger Games (R)--Suzanne Collins--*****
  • 58. The Surgeon (R)--Tess Gerritsen--****
  • 57. Raising the Dead (PG)--Mara Purnhagen-****
  • 56. Grave Illusions (PG)--Lina Gardiner--****
  • 55. Reaper (PG)--Rachel Vincent--****
  • 54. Crave (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 53. Covet (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 52. All in Time (NC-17)--Ciana Stone--***
  • 51. An Unwanted Hunger (NC-17)--Ciana Stone--****
  • 50. The Enchanter (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 49. Enemy Mine (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 48. The Kensei (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 47. Naked Heat (PG-13)--"Richard Castle"--****
  • 46. Interlude (PG)--Jon F. Merz--****
  • 45. Red Tide (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 44. Rudolf the Red Nosed Rogue (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 43. Kiss Me Deadly (PG-13)--Michele Hauf--***
  • 42. Slave to Love or The Infiltrator (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 41. The Courier (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 40. The Price of a Good Drink (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 39. The Syndicate (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--****
  • 38. The Destructor (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 37. Lover Unleashed (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 36. The Invoker (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 35. The Fixer (R)--Jon F. Merz--****1/2
  • 34. Beasts and BFF's (PG)--Shannon Delaney--**
  • 33. Remedial Magic (PG)--Jenna Black--***
  • 32. Anthem (PG)--Ayn Rand--***** (reread--read it for the first time in 1984)
  • ----Fondly Farenheit (PG-13)--Alfred Bester--***
  • 31. Dead Drop (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 30. Cat Calls (PG)--Cynthia Leitich Smith--****
  • 29. Father Mine (R)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 28. Catching Caroline (R)--Sylvia Day--****
  • 27. Lover Mine (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 26. Lover Avenged (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 25. Lover Enshrined (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 24. Lover Unbound (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 23. Lover Revealed (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 22. Lover Awakened (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 21. Lover Eternal (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 20. Dark Lover (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 19. Beyond the Highland Mist (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--**
  • ----Petticoat Influence (PG)--P. G. Wodehouse--****
  • 18. Shadowfever (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 17. Dreamfever (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 16. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--***
  • 15. Faefever (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 14. Bloodfever (R)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 13. Darkfever (R)--Karen Marie Moning--****
  • 12. The Host (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 11. Kitchen Confidential (R)--Anthony Bourdain--****
  • 10. No Cure for Cancer (R)--Denis Leary--****
  • 9. House of Dark Shadows (PG)--Robert Liparulo--*****
  • 8. The Blood That Bonds (R)--Christopher Buecheler--****
  • 7. Midnight Sun [partial manuscript] (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--*****(read it twice)
  • 6. The Bite of Silence (NC-17)--Mary Hughes--*
  • 5. Heat Wave (PG-13)--"Richard Castle"--****
  • 4. Breaking Dawn (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 3. Eclipse (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 2. New Moon (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 1. Twilight (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • Here's the rating system:
  • *****--Almost Perfect (probably made me cry)
  • ****--Definitely Worth the Read
  • ***--Meh
  • **--Pretty Bad
  • *--Don't Even Bother

Honorable Mentions

J.R. Ward--The Black Dagger Brotherhood series
--This is a hot and steamy series about a group of badass vampires. Right up my alley. Technically it's paranormal romance, but it's definitely not chick lit.

Richelle Mead--The Succubus series (Georgina Kinkaid)
--This one's a heartbreaker the whole way through. It's true paranormal romance. Bring Kleenex.

Stephenie Meyer--The Host
--This is the book that made me wonder whether Stephenie Meyer is a writer to watch out for. The Twilight series is definitely not her best work; this is.

Jim Butcher--The Dresden Files series
--I was a Dresden fan before I spent the summer of 2011 reading this entire series. (Okay, I still haven't finished Ghost Story.) I'm hooked.

A Look Ahead

Since I've become so involved with other writers, I find myself with less time for recreational reading. Therefore, I decided that rather than give myself a number goal for 2012, I would create a reading list with specific authors and titles on it. I love the Russians, so many of the titles are by Russian authors, but others are by authors who've influenced those with whom I've been working.

In no particular order, here's the unofficial list for 2012 (from 12/26/11 to 12/25/12):

Jim Butcher -- finish Ghost Story and Side Jobs
Elmore Leonard -- Pronto and Riding the Rap
Neil Gaiman -- Coraline
Richard Matheson -- I Am Legend
H. P. Lovecraft -- Collected Works (it's only 2400 pages-I can do that, right?)
Edgar Allen Poe -- finish Complete Works
Fyodor Dostoyevsky -- Crime and Punishment
Leo Tolstoy -- War and Peace (I'm determined to finally do it this year, maybe audio version)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe -- re-read Faust
Anton Chekhov -- still undecided
Vladimir Nabokov -- finish Lolita
Mikhail Bulgakov -- The Master and Margarita
David K. Hulegaard -- The Jumper, Noble (revised), and Bloodlines
Jeff Bennington -- Twisted Vengeance
Richard Roberts -- Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teeth
Franz Kafka -- re-read The Castle (maybe)
George R. R. Martin -- A Game of Thrones

Talk to me:  What's on your 2012 reading list?

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