Thursday, December 16, 2010

Must Reads of 2011

As 2010 winds down to an end, I find myself already looking for the best reads of 2011. With so many books being released each year, you can't safely assume you'll even hear about the next big thing in the book world, never mind actually get a chance to read it before the calendar strikes 2012.

Most of my favorite reads of 2010 I hadn't even heard whisper of in 2009. In some cases, I was either lucky enough to receive a review copy. A few times, I learned about awesome books just weeks before they were released, allowing me to get in early on the super long hold lines at the library before the rest of the local book lovers started salivating over the titles.

It's come to my attention that if I don't hear about a book at least a few weeks before its release date, I'm probably not going to get to read it within a year of publication. While this isn't an end of the world situation, it does leave me out of the loop when a surprise bestseller takes off. Which leads to a lot of "I thought you knew about books" comments when I don't have an opinion on the newest book EVERYONE has read while talking to friends and family. People have a tendency to assume I've read everything. And that I've read it early. So when they read a stellar book that was released 2 days ago, they can't fathom why I haven't read it yet.

While there is no possible way I'll be able to avoid these conversations entirely, I've compiled a list of my must reads of 2011. These are the books I'll beg, borrow and steal (probably not steal) to get as close to release day as possible in the hopes of continuing to at least sound like I know what I'm talking about.

Series Books

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments) 
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Anyone who's read The Mortal Instruments series has been lusting over City of Fallen Angels since it was announced that the trilogy was getting a fourth (and fifth and sixth) book. I started the series late, loved it, and am ready to be one of the first to know what happens next instead of the very last (as per usual).

Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton
Hit List is the 20th book in the Anita Blake series. I came to the series late and it immediately became my favorite. I caught up, fell behind, caught up again and am finally poised to read an Anita Blake book when it's released. It's taken a long time to get to this point and I'm very excited.

Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber
I fell in love with Lucy Valentine immediately and have managed to stay current so far. It's really not that huge of an accomplishment seeing how this is only the third book in the series.

Stolen Nights (Infinite Days) 
Stolen Nights by Rebecca Maizel
I was hugely surprised and impressed by Infinite Days and cannot wait to see what's in store for us.

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
I liked Wings. I loved Spells. I can't even begin to guess the awesomeness that Illusions may bring.

Dead by Midnight: A Death on Demand Mystery 
Dead by Midnight by Carolyn Hart
The Death on Demand series has always been my absolute favorite cozy mystery series. The 20th, Laughed 'Til He Died, was one of the very best, so I'm very eager for number 21.

Crossed by Ally Condie
If you read my recent review for Matched, you'll know that I was desperate to find a way to have that book's babies. Since that's impossible (with it being a book and all), I'll happily settle for reading Crossed.

Stand Alone Books

Beauty Queens 
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Best synopsis ever!: Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan
Sounds intriguing: Finn and Chloe have it all figured out. Their school guidance counselor has told everyone that it's not enough to get good grades or do community service anymore - kids like that are everywhere, and colleges are bored of them. So what do you do? Chloe decides they should get attention another way. She and Finn will stage her own disappearance - and then Finn will be the only who finds and saves her. What college wouldn't want them after that kind of attention? It seems like a good plan -- until things start going very wrong.

Haven by Kristi Cook
Sounds fantastic, but I would need it just for the cover alone!: Violet McKenna isn’t a normal girl with normal teenage issues; she has more to contend with than most people could handle. Violet thought she was just crazy when she had a vivid vision of her dad’s murder. Her life started falling apart when her premonition came true. She’s had flashes of other events too. The problem was nobody believed her until she found a new school: Winterhaven. 

At Winterhaven, Violet finally feels like she belongs. She quickly finds a close group friends and discovers that they too have psychic ‘gifts’—as do all the students at Winterhaven. But as soon as she feels settled she discovers the most intriguing and alluring boy she has ever met, and things quickly go awry. As the attraction between them grows, intense visions of the boy’s death start to haunt her. In her premonitions the secret he is unwilling to share begins to reveal itself. And to Violet's horror, she learns that their destinies are intertwined in a critical--and deadly--way.

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Ohh, who could say no to this?: The world’s gone.
Worse, so is her daughter.

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.

And with her, nearly all of civilization. Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.

In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get her Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety. For the Beaters are out there. And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world...

So, tell me: What books are you most anxious for in 2011?

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