Wrapping up 2014

[Disclaimer: I have blatantly stolen the idea for this post from Chuck Wendig. You should probably go read his blog. He’s way wittier than I am, anyway.]

  1. Favorite novel of the year: Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things
  2. Favorite non-fiction book of the year: Chuck Wendig’s 30 Days in the Word Mines
  3. Favorite short story of the year: Seanan McGuire’s White as a Raven’s Wing
  4. Favorite movie of the year: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. Favorite TV show of the year: Whose Line Is It Anyway? 
  6. Favorite song of the year: Halestorm Here’s to Us
  7. Favorite album: Halestorm The Strange Case Of…
  8. Favorite video game: Pokemon Omega Ruby on Nintendo 3DS
  9. Favorite app: Trackthisforme
  10. Favorite [something else] of the year? Rat Queens, a comic written by Kurtis J Wiebe, former artist Roc Upchurch, and current artist Stjepan Šejić

Further discussion:

  1. I read much more in 2014 than was focused on here. An awful lot of it was fantastic, but Rothfuss’ surprisingly thin volume focusing on his elusive and mysterious character, Auri, was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. Beautifully and lyrically written, Auri reminds us that we can still have meaningful lives even when we’re feeling broken and that there is wonder in even the darkest, most forgotten places — in the world, and inside ourselves.
  2. Chuck wins by default here, as his National Novel Writing Month-inspired book was the only non-fiction, not related to work volume I read for pleasure this past year. And as fascinating as I find business analytics, I doubt many people here would feel the same.
  3. Seanan releases a lot of shorts on her website, but this recently released story is my favorite of the year. This glimpse into the world of Istas (a minor character from her Incryptid novels) is a quick, efficient killer, just like the waheela herself. This is ultimately the story of a woman striving to become her best self after a lifetime of being told she was nothing but a monster. I am not being sarcastic when I say: who can’t relate to that?
  4. Proof that a movie doesn’t have to pass the Bechdel test to give us strong, capable, fully envisioned female characters. (Though, we wish it still would.) Complete with eye candy enough for everybody and a blu-ray full of Anthony Mackie’s hilarious outtakes, this is my favorite movie of the year. We’re still quoting that car scene outtake at our house.
  5. We’ve been fond of Whose Line since the Drew Carey version here at Casa de Fairies. The upgrade to Aisha Tyler and additional diversity in this newest incarnation is our favorite yet. We really wish they’d go back to using the audience more instead of ‘special’ guests from other TV shows we don’t watch, but I guess you can’t have everything…
  6. I don’t know when exactly this Halestorm album dropped, but my 2014 musical year was all about the girl powered rockers. I hope to carry that trend forward into 2015. (Leave your recommendations in the comments, please!)
  7. If you haven’t heard of this band, look up their cover of Get Lucky. Pure awesome.
  8. Yes, I am a giant nerd. No, I don’t care. Pokemon hits all the completionist/collector buttons in my gamer girl psyche. If you’re not one for beating up on cute animals, though, you can try my second favorite: Fantasy Life. Part RPG, part Glitch the Game, all adorable. **
  9. You may have noticed from other entries that I am both a giant nerd and into analytics. Charts and graphs are my wonder drugs. This app lets you track anything, anywhere, and with a small in-app purchase you can export it anywhere. And it’s pretty, too. I’m currently using it to track books read, words written, and my current moods, among other things.
  10. Despite the issues which led to the original artist being dropped, I still love the all-girl D&D ass-kickery in this series. Looking forward to new issues! I’m happy to be able to say that, with the new artist, I can continue to support Rat Queens with a clear conscience.

** Are you a gamer, too? Want to trade friend codes? Mine is 1435-4938-8444. Leave yours in the comments and I’ll add you back.

Top 10 Books I Read in 2011

Since everyone else was busy doing end-of-year posts, I figured I’d throw my 10 cents out there as well. Here are my top 10 from 2011. These are books that I read in 2011, not necessarily that were published in 2011. 

1. Number one, of course, has to be Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story. Because the 13th book in a series where the main character is dead? Not only is that some epic story-telling timing, but to also write it in a fashion that leaves the reader breathless? After thirteen books?? Oh, yes. I never did a review of this one, because, well. It’d be like flowers professing to love sunlight. Well – duh.

2. Angel Town by Lilith Saintcrow. A perfect end to a perfect series. Hard, fast, and brutal – Saintcrow’s signature. Fabulous.

3. Hounded by Kevin Hearne. You can read my review here. But I’ll repeat this much: “I loved this book, and I can see even just from the following volume that the author’s work is getting even better. I look forward to following this series through a long and prosperous life.”

4. Dead Iron by Devon Monk. I’m a fan of Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series, too. Dead Iron is a new genre for Monk: steampunk.  (Monk is no stranger to exploring genres.) I loved this book. It was like a stew of different paranormal elements that shouldn’t have been so yummy – but totally was.

5. My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland. My review is here. “…mix[ing] the macabre with the sincere… balancing the grotesque with the sarcastic, and the desperate with the ordinary. This is a fun book, with a bit of depth if you care to look for it.” It also wins my pick for Best Cover Art of 2011.

6. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. I liked this book even more because it’s set in London, and I don’t know much about the British constabulary. Peter Grant is notable because he’s actually a pretty average guy before being chosen to work under Detective Inspector Thomas Nightingale. The blurb professes that Peter has the “ability to speak with the dead”, but it seemed to me those ghosts spoke to him out of convenience and not because of an inherent talent.

7. Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman. I reviewed this book back in January. So far it remains my favorite book in the series, even though the characters were more fully fleshed out in the following volume. Gilman handled a delicate situation excellently in this book, and she deserves high marks for that.

8. The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin. It’s not often you find a fantasy novel with a blind protagonist, and this one is woven deftly. The world is rich and unique. You can read my review of the first book in the series The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by clicking here.

9. Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber. A great new YA paranormal that evokes The Portrait of Dorian Gray and Edgar Allen Poe. You can read my review of it here.

10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If you haven’t heard of this book, you’ve been living under a rock. A young adult dystopian with some interesting things to say.

Special Mentions: 

I tried to keep this list limited to either series books that were truly exemplary, or new or almost-new series. That said, there are several more that would have made the list had I not limited it. Those are (in no particular order):

  • Blackout by Rob Thurman
  • Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Neon Graveyard by Vicki Pettersson
  • Heartless by Gail Carriger
  • Eat Slay Love by Jesse Petersen

Other notables: 

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig (novella)

One book I wish I hadn’t spent time on? The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It was billed as an “adult Harry Potter”, but I think it’s more accurately described as “the anti-Harry Potter”. If HP was about the power and strength of friendship, then The Magicians is about a group of the most selfish, spoiled people I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. It *was* fascinating, and for those who don’t mind hating their narrators, it may not be such a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong. It was well-crafted and well-written – but I didn’t like the way it made me feel.