f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: 2011 Year-End Book Survey
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Year-End Book Survey

{ ++ } Hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner (and also one of the great minds behind The Broke and the Bookish), this is a fun and cute way of summing up your year of reading.  This was a unique year for me, considering I originally set a goal of 50 books this year intending to make my way through my physical TBR stack.  Instead, I hit a reading slump, started a book blog, and bought way too many books, which ended up in INCREASING my TBR.  Oy.  BUT.  It's also been kind of a magical nine months in that I've discovered amazing new books, made new friends, and found the book blogging community.  

1. Best Book You Read In 2011? 

This is a difficult question, because there were so many books that I read this year that I adored, for different reasons: characters, relationships, plot, romances.  A good book is one that makes me FEEL something, for the characters, for what they’re going through, and I experienced that with so many books, most of which I’m sure I’ll talk about throughout this survey.  

I have to mention Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I read it in the middle of January of this year.  It almost could be the best book I've read in 2011 but I think of the three Hunger Games books as one long story, and I can't fully separate them. The Hunger Games series means so much to me, and is so close to my heart, but I'll be talking about the trilogy and the characters a little closer to time for the movie.  

And then there was The Wise Man's Fear.    I paced back and forth practically waiting for the sequel to the Name of the Wind.  I've rarely fallen for a character the way I did for Kvothe.

But the BEST book I read this year is Tempest by Julie Cross (read my review).  I can’t explain it.  But this book somehow got ahold of my heart.  It hasn’t let go since.  I’m a HUGE Doctor Who fan, so that’s probably why the time-travel aspect appealed to me.  The story itself was great, with room for improvement like any book.  But it was the emotion to the story that really stuck with me.  I’m STILL thinking about the book and the characters, especially Jackson’s relationship with one particular character.  There were several scenes in the book that had me actually sobbing.  I just…I NEED the sequel.  

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane.  I go into every book I read hoping to love it, but this book was just a mess, in so many ways, which definitely sucks because it seemed so unique.  I’d probably read more from the author though, to give her another try.  

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

Probably The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (read my review).  I haven’t read that many “period” books so I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this one.  But oh, holy wow.  The writing style was so gorgeous, and absolutely blew my mind.  The main character, Amelia took my breath away a bit, as did her romance, which was absolutely my kind of be-all-end-all courtship.  I wanted to hug Saundra for writing this amazing novel, and  I think I’ve probably told her so, at some point.  Plus she is absolutely totally friendly and fun to chat with on Twitter.  

Runner-up: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (read my review).  I've never really read many ghost stories and this one was  really unique and different - part spooky story, part YA, part folklore. 

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Either Hourglass by Myra McEntire or Tempest by Julie Cross.  I’ve talked various friend’s ears off about both book.  Both were amazing debuts, and incredibly promising starts to their respective series.  Tempest especially struck my so hard, emotionally, in a good way.  If you haven’t read them, oh please do.  Hourglass is already out and Tempest will be published in January, 2012.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Hmmmm, another tough question.  I think I’m going to go with the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer.  I was broke when Wolfsbane (read my review) first came out, and waiting a week for it was TORTURE.  It was absolutely worth it, though once I did get the book, all I wanted to do was savor it.  Andrea is a fantastic author who knows how to create characters you’ll just care so much about, and a story that keeps you turning page after page.  I'm absolutely, totally on edge waiting for Bloodrose (the final book in the trilogy) to be released.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

I’ve read more YA novels this year than ever before, thanks to friends and largely, to the blogging community for recommending such awesome, amazing novels.  I’ve also read some self-published novels, something I’d never really considered before blogging.  So to list ALL my new favorite authors would take forever, but I’ll put a few out there who really reached out to me with review requests and whose books were stunning, or who I’ve interacted with through email/Twitter and adored their novels: Christine Nolfi, Saundra Mitchell, Ashley Willis, Amy Lichtenhan, Andrea Cremer, Tahereh Mafi, Myra McEntire, Jennifer L Armentrout, Victoria Schwab, etc.  (If I listed them, their books are worth reading, definitely.)

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  It's part historical fiction, part women's fiction, with a bit of a Gothic tinge.  I'm not really sure how to classify it, but it was kind of like when I first read Jodi Picoult, how I knew I'd found something different, an author I was definitely going to love.  The Forgotten Garden is so unique, full of mystery, just a dash of romance, and family secrets.  I absolutely adored it.  It was kind of like a grown-up V.C. Andrews without all the taboo-ness of VCA's novels.  I highly recommend it!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead.  Just knowing it was the final book in her Vampire Academy series - everything was on the line - made it so breath-taking to read.  Plus, it was really kind of awesome. 

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.   I've fangirled over this man and his books since I picked up The Name of the Wind on a whim and fell utterly, head-over-heels-over-head-over-heels in love with the world he has created.  If you haven't read Rothfuss, we need to talk. 

Runner up: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  Which I…still haven’t read.  *hides*  I plan to get to it hopefully in February!  

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

Oh definitely the cover of Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  Look at that funky, beautiful cover!  Isn't it just absolutley swoon-worthy?  :)  And that book is SO awesome!!!

11. Most memorable character in 2011? 

Emerson Cole from Hourglass.  Emerson is full of strength and courage.  She’s so genuine, and relatable.  She’s a very sympathetic character, whom I immediately bonded with.  I was head-over-heels for Em shortly after starting the story.  She just stands out in my mind as a true heroine, inspirational, and yet so human.  

Runner up: Elena from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series.  Elena is a female werewolf, and she is so strong, stubborn, and fierce.  I’ve only read the first two books of the series, but Elena is amazing, and I admire her so much.  Her personality just kinda leaps off the pages at you, and you can’t help but love her.  

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.  I knew the basic premise of it, but I did not expect the haunting, ethereal writing style, the “voice” of Juliette, the protagonist.  There were some passages in Shatter Me that made me cry, and the book as a whole has stuck with me.  I HAVE to know what happens next.  I just, I adore the book, and Juliette, so much.  

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 

That would have to be Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall.  It is one of the VERY few books that, months later, I am STILL thinking about.  The character growth alone was so stunning and impressive.  And Lauren's writing is golden, and so emotionally-wringing.  I just, I adored the book.  The characters all felt real, and Sam's journey...oh man.  I tear up still thinking about the book.  I've been wanting to re-read it for months but I'm waiting awhile, so that I when I DO re-read it, it will feel like the first time all over again.   I savored every gorgeous word the first time, and I want to be able to do that again. 

Runner-up: Saving June by Hannah Harrington (read my review.) This one made me cry quite a few times.  Also: Take This Regret by Amy Lichtenhan (read my review).  I laughed and cried, I cheered, I despaired, I raged.  I ran the gamut of emotions...this novel was AMAZING. 

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read? 

Probably Hush, Hush (read my review).  I remember wondering what all the hype was about when a few of my friends read the book when it first came out, then thinking, “okay, can it really be THAT good?” and for the most part, it WAS.  I’ve been slowly reading a bit here and there when I can on the sequel, but I’m so anxious to continue the series.  

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011? 

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. 

But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”  - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012? 

Definitely The Vespertine, and probably Hourglass, in order to be ready for the sequel, Timepiece.  I think I’ve already mentioned loving/flailing over both books, but they were THAT good.  I would definitely also reread Shatter Me, and probably will when it’s closer to time for the sequel.  

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Mmmm, Shatter Me for some of the steamy scenes between Adam and Juliette, A Need so Beautiful (THAT ENDING OMG), Wolfsbane for some of the amazing twists, Hourglass for a few scenes near the ending!

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011? 

Well considering this was my first year of blogging, I’ve really loved ALL the blogs I’ve discovered.  But I like to think I’ve kinda built relationships with a few bloggers in particular, like Marie at Ramblings of aDaydreamer, Laurie at Bona Fide Reflections, Anna at Literary Exploration, Lisa at Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me, Rebecca at Kindle Fever, Liza at BookCrook Liza, Mimi (who is awesome!) at Mimi Valentine.  And I have to mention Suz at A Soul Unsung.  Suz is one my IRL BFF’s and the reason I started my own book blog.  

2.  Favorite review that you wrote in 2011? 

Probably my review of Shatter Me.  I thought it was way too fangirly, but then Tahereh Mafi herself read it and called it “eloquent.”  I about had heart palpitations.  HEEHEE. I could kick myself for not favorite'ing that Tweet!

3.  Best discussion you had on your blog? 

Unfortunately I didn’t do a lot of discussion posts this year, though with 2012 approaching, that is definitely something I want to start doing more often!  I want to get my followers involved, too!

4.  Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?

Specifically, I’m blanking on any particular one, but I ALWAYS love reading Rachel (Parajunkee’s) Book Blogging 101 posts and her 101 parties on Twitter.  Rie at Mission to Read’s Blogger Helper posts are also kinda awesome, and I’ve learned SO much from her!  (She was the first blog to feature me!)

5.  Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I always always have loads of fun participating in the Book Blogging 101 Twitter chats.  And doing IMM has been so much fun this year, getting to show off my pretty new books, doing videos, and seeing what other bloggers have received.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?

Being featured on Parajunkee’s Follow Friday (at Alison Can Read).  I felt so honored to be able to participiate and be featured.  It gave my blog a nice boost, for which I’m still grateful for daily.  I was also jazzed to hit 300 followers this year.  I don’t get to spend as much time as I wish I was able to promoting my blog, so I’m so happy being at 300+.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Definitely my giveaways, which is awesome, because it brings new traffic to my blog.  In 2012, I hope to continue that trend and to also drum up interest in the new features I’m starting: Guest Who (a monthly guest post from a fellow blogger) and Once Upon a Blogger (a monthly interview with a fellow blogger in order to get to know my followers better.) If you'd like to be a part of either of those features, simply send me an email at courageousgrace (at) gmail (dot) com because I'd LOVE to have you!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

My review of Cinder!  I was SO psyched to read the book, then to share my love for it with the blogging world, and it could use a few comments.  This is a GREAT book, y’all, I promise.  

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The Book Depository!  They’ve been great so far with my orders.  I use them for giveaways for the free shipping.  I also discovered some new features at Goodreads and started posting reviews at my Amazon.com account.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I set a goal to read 50 books this year in order to make more time to read and less TV watching/etc.  Unless something changes in the next day or two, I should make that goal, just barely.  I hit two or three massive reading slumps, or I think I definitely would have read more.  My tentative goal for 2012 is to read 75 books.  

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.  I’ve heard amazing things about both (yes, I cheated a little on the question) and need and want to read them both soon to find out for myself what’s going on with them each. 
2.  Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?

Timepiece by Myra McEntire.  Hands down, my most-anticipated.  Emerson is one of the strongest protagonists I’ve ever read about, and Myra just let us in on a Timepiece secret the other day that has me SO SO anxious/excited for the book.  

       3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

I’d love to see my blog continue growing, both in number of followers, but most importantly, in building relationships with those followers.  It means more to me to have a smaller number of people that I KNOW are reading my posts and commenting than 1,000 who click the “follow” button, then never come back. So in 2012 I want to continue reading amazing books, posting quality content, and building my readership. 

{ ++ } If y'all participated in this survey, please leave me a link in case I miss your post so I can come and check yours out!  This was SO much fun!