2011 favorites

These are my favorite reads from 2011 – not all of these titles were published in 2011, and some aren’t “Juv/YA” titles per se, but no matter!

Castle Waiting, Vol. 2, by Linda Medley.  Pub. 2010.

The art and writing are as funny and clever as in Vol. 1 (see my previous review).  I actually laughed out loud at Sir Chess’ face when Rakham calls one of his prized weapons by the wrong name.

This volume gives us more backstory on the characters, especially Jain and Henry, and offers more hints on who/what little Pindar’s father was.  The overall tone is more intense, with some darker moments, but also plenty of comic relief.

Medley has a talent for drawing memorable characters with wonderful expressions.  I feel like I’d like to know these people in real life.

Earth (The Book), written/edited by Jon Stewart et al.  Pub. 2010.

No other book has made me laugh out loud this often – I was getting amused looks from my family every other minute.  If you’re a fan of The Daily Show, I’m sure you’ll love this book.  If you’ve never seen The Daily Show, I’m sure you’ll still love it.  The humor of this postapocalyptic-guide-to-alien-visitors can be goofy, as in this bit:

Places to see: Banff.  One of the most beautiful places known to manff.”*

Or it can be the kind of tongue-in-cheek that makes you laugh even as you tug uncomfortably at your collar:

“North America was Earth’s newest continent, formed c. 1492.  Blessed with abundant freshwater and fertile soil, it was settled remarkably quickly thanks to the extermination of one race, the enslavement of a second and the can-do attitude of a third.”*

In terms of age-appropriateness, just know that a good half of the jokes are sexual, and there is some swearing.

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale.  Pub. 2003.

My review

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  Pub. 2008.  

I’d been meaning to read this for several years, and finally got my butt kicked into gear when I realized there’s a movie coming in March.  Because this is one of those books I definitely want to read first before even thinking of seeing the movie.

Honestly, I believe the hype is well deserved.  The characters are very realistic and relatable, and the story is very intense and fast-paced.  It’s the kind of story that’s disturbing without depressing me into complete cynicism.  I.e. there is a sense of hope, and maybe because of that, I find myself really wanting to know what happens not only to Katniss and the other primary characters, but to the whole Panem society.

One more thing – I like that the main romance was done in a unique way.  It didn’t feel like just a token romance, but actually made sense.  Sure, it did seem a little inevitable, but not to the point of eye-rolling.

The Shape of Water, by Anne Spollen.  Pub. 2008.

My review

Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding.  Oxford World’s Classics ed. 1998.

Yep, I’m including an 18th-century Brit Lit classic here, and not just to sound pretentious 😉  No, I actually, genuinely, enjoyed this – especially as an antidote to the mind-bendingly maddening Pamela, by Samuel Richardson.  The characters are (well, most of them) well-rounded and ambiguous, rather than being pure angels vs. eeevil jerks.  Even a generally virtuous character like Mr. Allworthy has flaws – and not the superficial oh-well-nobody’s-perfect kind, but the kind that have a serious effect on the story.

The concept of virtue itself is challenged.  When is it genuine, and when is it just self-righteousness?  How do you define a good person?

And I love the narrator’s satirical meta-fic interjections, as well as chapter titles like this one:  “The reader’s neck brought into danger by a description, his escape, and the great condescension of Miss Bridget Allworthy,”** or this one: “Containing five pages of paper.”***

Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick.  Pub. 2011.

My review

A very happy 2012 to you all!  Let’s hope it lasts beyond December 21st! 😉

What were some of your favorite books this past year?  What are you looking forward to reading in 2012 – either the not-yet-published or the long-ago-published-but-never-got-around-to-reading-yet titles?

. . . . . .

* Earth (The Book), pg. 6.

** Tom Jones, Book I, Chapter IV.

*** Tom Jones, Book IV, Chapter I.

1/100th of an Altairian dollar for your thoughts?

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