Monday, December 26, 2011

The 52 Book Resolution: a year's reading, part one

For the past few years, I've made one and only one New Year's resolution: to read (and finish) at least 52 books in the coming year. I made it in 2010 and again this year in 2011. Last year I did a round up of my reads at the end of year and I'd like to repeat that this year. Something I'd like to note is that the numbers next to the titles are not the order in which I "rank" them by any criteria, it's merely the order in which I read them.

1. The first book I read in 2011 was something from Harlequin ... but beyond that I have no clue what it was or who it was by.  Both this and last year, the first thing I read was published by Harlequin. This is quite likely because it's this time of year when Harlequin offers up a dozen or so free ebooks for anybody to download off their website (usually one from each of their lines in hopes of getting you interested in a new type of romance novel). And, hey, I'm a big fan of free.

2. Darkfever, Karen Marie Moning. I really love this series. I started reading it because I'd liked other Karen Marie Moning romances (I read her Highlander time travel series and, particularly in the later novels, found her to be great with all that reflective, internal angst which makes me love the characters without thinking of them as whiny, stupid, or unrelateable). Book one was mildly interesting, but by the end of book two I was pretty much hooked: staying up reading all night, going to my local bookstore the next day for the next book in the series and then falling asleep with the light on trying to eek out another chapter before sleep claimed me. This novel is set in the same world of Fae as her Highlander novels but starts off with a fresher take. The protagonist is a young, spoiled, somewhat ditzy blond from Georgia who rushes to Dublin, Ireland, after news of her sister's grisly murder in the Irish city. The police have given up on the investigation but the protagonist won't in spite of knowing no one in town, having no evidence, and having ... well ... no fricking clue. By virtue of stubbornness (and the fact that the people she's searching for are searching for her) she stumbles upon a world she never knew existed and teams up with assorted sexy-but-annoying males. First book in the five book Fae Fever series. And super cool, the first book's Kindle edition is only $1.99 right now.

3. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin. Quite possibly the best book I read all year and definitely the best second-world fantasy / high fantasy that I've read in many years. Jemisin gives us a world of political intrigue which turns into a war between gods -- gods that have been made almost-human against their wills. Not only is the story interesting and the characters are fabulous, but the novel is written in an intriguing literary style. Parts of the novel are in scene, parts are being narrated to some entity that is (at first) unknown, and some are a conversation between the narrator and the unknown entity.  The net effect is gorgeous. There are two more books in the series but this first book has a completely contained plot and can be read as a satisfying one-off.

4-7. Where Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning was interesting it was Bloodfever that got me addicted and made me start putting off everything else in order to read the next scene, the next chapter, the next book until I'd rapidly consumed them all. In rapid succession I finished Bloodfever (book two), Faefever (book three), and Dreamfever (book four) in rapid succession and then had to wait a whole twenty-four painful hours for the digital release of Shadowfever (book five). I'm insanely glad that I started reading this series as the publisher was wrapping up the releases not as the books were first appearing, because those few hours I had to wait until Shadowfever's mid-January release date were insanely painful.
The worlds of fae and human have always had a "wall" between them preventing humans from knowing about the fae and preventing the fae from becoming too powerful -- but all that changes irrevocably in this series and the protagonist is smack-dab in the middle of it. Just about all of Moning's interesting characters of novels past (the MacKelters) make plot-related cameos in this series.

8-9. Irish Rebel and Sullivan's Woman are part of the Irish Dreams bundle by Nora Roberts. Irish Rebel  features the next generation of race horse trainers from Nora Robert's first every novel Irish Thoroughbred  and another imported-from-Ireland horse trainer. Yay for warm fuzzy books.

10. A Hunger Like No Other, Kelsey Cole. Kelsey Cole novels constantly make the paranormal best seller list, so I thought I should check it out. The harpies of New Orleans met the vampires of Europe. No, that's not a figurative statement: that's the plot. I was not moved to read further in the world/Immortals After Dark series.

11. Angels' Blood, Nalini Singh.  I read this book on a recommendation. And the world is quite fascinating. Then again I've not read another angel-based paranormal book (unless it's fallen angels at the fringes of demon civilization, i.e. not the main characters) so I found this world to be intriguing. It's an open-fantasy, meaning that in the modern here and now, all humans know about the existence of angels -- angels are mega-business tycoons, btw -- and about the existence of vampires. But I think what's most fascinating about this world is that vampires aren't made by other vampires, vampires are made by angels. The protagonist is a young, female human who gets sucked up into the twisted world of millennia old angel grudges, corporate espionage, and hunky winged men. Part of a three or four book series yet, while I enjoyed the novel and was fascinated by the world, I found at the end of book one that I felt that the storyline I was concerned about was complete so I wasn't feeling the need to go out and read further installments.

12. How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf, Molly Harper. An utterly fun and pointless romp. The best part is the interaction with the fun and quirky characters of small town Alaska. I was a little bit upset because the intriguing part of the novel which should be a major turning point in the character's relationships -- when the naked werewolf shows up on her front porch -- isn't revealed to the audience in chronological order, it's the freaking hook. The book starts with the naked werewolf and, if that's the highlight, it can't get better from there.

13.  Seducing the Governess, Margo Maguire. I really can't recall much at all about this novel. It's a historical romance (just in case the terms seducing and governess appearing in the title didn't already alert you to that fact), and as I'm discovering, unless you're Jean Ferris writing Into the Wind, historical romances just aren't my cup of tea.

Part two of my year in reading coming tomorrow morning! If you've read any of these titles leave me a comment -- I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Highly Recommended