megwrites: A vertical stack of books, spines facing out leaning against a horizontal stack of books. (many books)
[personal profile] megwrites
I know I haven't been around much in the last part of 2011. That's due to a lot of things, including some mental health issues that I'll talk about some time, but not now.

For now, it's time for the annual "how many and what kind of books did Meg read?" total. I didn't get as many read as I wanted to this year (I aim for 50 every year, haven't gotten there yet). But here it is:



Reading Stats
Books Attempted: 28
Books Completed: 24
Average Time to Read A Book: 10 days
Most Read Author: Alison Weir
Longest Book Read: The Broken Crown - Michelle West
Shortest Book Read: Sex With Kings - Eleanor Herman
PoC Authors Read: 14
Female Authors Read: 21
GLBT Authors Read: 1 for sure, but probably more


Genres:
History/Biography: 6
Science Fiction: 5
Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance: 9
Fantasy: 2
Mainstream/General Fiction: 1
Non-Fiction: 1


5 Favorite Books I Read In 2011:

5. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir - A really wonderful and impeccably researched (as always) biography done by Alison Weir who has a talent for well balanced and carefully considered histories. Not only is Eleanor herself a fascinating subject for study, but the ways in which Weir makes sure to frame the history to show that even if she wasn't given credit for the things she accomplished or help accomplished, she certainly deserved it. I want to give this book to anyone who thinks women somehow become useless after 40. This woman rocked Europe well into her seventies.

4. The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin - I love Jemisin's writing, I love how she's taken the fantasy genre into a new direction and I love that she gets characters so right. She understands how to build drama and delicious chemistry between her characters, both in love and conflict. A compelling and sympathetic narrator and impressive worldbuilding made this a book that set the bar high for books I read in 2011.

3. Four Queens by Nancy Goldstone - I simply devoured this history, partly because it's something I never got taught even in classes focusing on European history in that period and partly because Goldstone knows how to infuse her histories with a sense of humor and a human warmth in the writing. The book very much reads like a very smart, witty friend teaching you history. The topic of the four sisters from one family who all eventually gained the title of "queen" (of England, France, the Romans [which is actually Germany] and Sicily respectively) is complex and fascinating, but even though there are a lot of intersecting lines and things to keep straight, the author painted riveting portraits of the women who shaped Europe and both the high and low points of their royal lives.

2. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - This is one of those books that when a writer reads it, they go into a spiral of "why bother, I could never be better than this!". The God of Small Things is as close to a perfect novel as I think it's possible for a human being to write. Lyrical, wrenching, multilayered, heartbreaking, searing and whimsical by turns, it lays out a story that is both microscopic and epic in scope. Each time I left this book, I found myself surprised to be back home instead of there with Estha and Rahel and all the others.

1. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson - It's no secret I love Hopkinson as an author. So when I scored this book in a bookstore by total accident, I was over the moon. And deservedly so. This book is sheer magic and everything that science fiction can be and should be, as far as I'm concerned. A story about all stories and their power, an exploration of a world where human and person aren't the same thing, a tale of just one young woman and of an entire world at the same time, it sings and whispers and bellows out beautiful things while being a damn good read and a very solid science-fiction novel that explores a lot of what the mainstream tech-obsessed canon in this genre neglects as being unimportant.



5 Least Favorite Books I Read in 2011:

5. Kingmaker by Maurice Broaddus - I wanted to like this novel badly and it isn't necessarily a horrible book or terribly written. There are a lot of deeply impressive elements. The worldbuilding, the marriage of mythology to a thoroughly believable modern setting and the interpretation of the King Arthur story in a way that sets aside the Disneyfied versions and gets to a truth. However, the plot, structure and pacing of the story were a hot mess. The real plot doesn't begin until halfway through, lots of threads are left hanging in ways that I'm not sure were deliberate, and while many of the scenes and characters were fascinating, their importance to the plot seemed flimsy at best.

4. Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh - I liked this much less than Singh's Guild Hunter novels. By an order of magnitude, really. The writing felt like it came straight off the Paranormal Fantasy Template and while the worldbuilding was uniquely Singh's, the writing could've come from any paranormal romance with a half naked guy on the cover. The romance isn't even romance, the entire society is problematic as hell and there are so many misogynistic alpha male shenanigans here that I debated not finishing. The sex honestly bored me. The best I can say about it is that it was at least paced logically and I didn't need to read any of the other books in the series.

3. Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian - The misogyny and creepiness just drip off of this book. An entire species that has no women in it, because The Breed can only be men. Women are "Breedmates" only and though they have powers of their own. Those names alone had me ready to check out and forget this book. I wish I had. While Breedmates have powers of their own, they don't get to do much. they tend to just sit around needing saving and being mystically bonded to guys. The Breed even has their misogyny enshrined in law. Breed men are permitted by law to order around Breedmates they're related to! Even the relative uniqueness of the vampires-as-alien hybrids couldn't save this book. At ever chance, the book takes the most predictable and boring path when so many interesting ones are available. The characters might as well be cut and pasted from other books, minus any trace of real personality or presence.

2. Gideon by Jacquelyn Frank - I rooted for the villains and wanted to set the heroes on fire. The book appropriates Jewish names/theology for Celtic-based demons for no reason I could discern. I've never read such weak and terrible writing. The dialogue was so stiff you could've ironed your shirt and the book meandered between couples, not even focusing fully on the main characters (not that there was anything to miss out on). The romances here are bland and sometimes worrying. The relationship between Jacob and Bella (yes, I laughed hard) goes down the checklist of things abusers do to control their partners. Throw in the constant misogyny and "women should leave politics and fighting to the men" nonsense and you have a recipe for disaster.

1. Seduced by Shadows by Jessa Slade - Where do I start? Problematic and appropriative as all hell, it not only abuses the Jewish religion, but doesn't even do it well. The entire world is based on a writer using the concept of teshuva wrongly and for no reason. As a side dish, there's Islamobigotry because the villains are all djinn while the angels are all Christian. The characters drip with self-pity and whine about their souls and salvation a lot. There wasn't even really a romance here. The hero's past owning of enslaved people on a plantation is handled atrociously and the heroine starting the book with a disability isn't done much better. For those reasons, the book landed dead last on this list.
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