Reading in 2011

2011 was a good reading year for me. According to Goodreads, I read 113 books. In actuality it may have been closer to 120. I’m pretty sure there were a few that fell through the cracks of my laziness in adding them online. In fact, any of you who take a peek at my Shelfari page would be ashamed of me. They think I read 56 books since discovering their site in 2010. However, I am very proud of my reading accomplishments for 2011. I could have done better. I completed the 100 book challenge, but failed miserably at the Stephen King reading challenge. This kind of shocked me not only because I own almost all of his published work, but because I LOVE reading his books. In fact, if I had to choose one book read in 2011 as the one that stuck with me, that I liked the most and that really left an impression, it would be Blaze. You can read my full review here.

I also read a lot of series books last year. There were a few I’ve been reading for a couple of years but also some that I completed. Those were mostly trilogies or four-book series. If I had to choose one as the very best it would be The Rarest Blooms series by Madeline Hunter. If you like regency romance even a little bit, I can’t say enough about this series. It has one of my now all-time favorite characters, Tristan, the Duke of Castleford, in it. The only bad thing was I had to wait until book four (the final book) to get his story. However, each installment was a sensual journey through a fascinating time in history. Even if you aren’t a big fan of the period, I’d recommend this series to any romance lover.

In the new-to-me category, my favorite of 2011 has to go to Joe Hill. I discovered he was Stephen King’s son some time ago but hadn’t picked up any of his books yet. I happened upon Heart-Shaped box and was immediately taken in by the blurb. He is definitely a great voice in the genre and stands on his own as an author regardless of who his father is. If you enjoy horror or any type of thrill-ride while reading, this is a must-read.

Another new to me author that must be mentioned is Dakota Cassidy. Now, I’ve followed Dakota in online social networks for a while, but I’m sorry to day I didn’t pick up any of her books throughout the year. It wasn’t until I attended Readers n’ritas and sat at her table (where she gave us all a free book) that I picked up my copy of You Dropped a Blonde on Me. To say it rocked my socks off is a slight understatement. It totally blew me away. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but from her online personality I knew it would be funny. It was funny, heartbreaking, entertaining and memorable. All around a great read for anyone interested in chick-lit, romance and a good heartfelt story where the underdog comes out fighting.

Most anticipated release that lived up to its name goes to River Marked by Patricia Briggs. For those of you who haven’t yet started the Mercy Thompson series all I can say is, why in the hell not?! This is one that can appeal to almost any reader. It’s urban fantasy with just enough romance to satisfy the most die-hard romantic. There’s action, suspense and paranormal elements. However, its not graphic in any sense of the word. Patricia Briggs has one of the best storytelling voices I’ve ever read and I honestly can’t say enough about her work.

In the much anticipated, over-hyped and pleasantly surprised category, Laurell K. Hamilton wins the trophy. I had pretty much broken-up with Anita Blake after Flirt. That was a waste of my hard-earned money and some damn good trees. However, Anita has this great buddy named Edward that I can’t get enough of and LKH was smart enough to put him in Hit List from page one. You can read my full review here.

So, that was my reading in 2011 in a nutshell. I have high hopes for 2012 as I finish two started last year that I had anticipated reading for quite some time. I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Full Dark, No Stars. These are both great so far and the only reason I’m not done yet is because I’m limiting my reading time to get some writing done. After those two I’ll be catching up on Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau vampire series, finishing Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet series and reading the next installment in Christine Feehan’s Sisters of the Heart series. What will you be reading?

Bucket List: Authors I Need to Meet

By now you’ve all probably heard of the “bucket list”, the top however many things a person feels they should do before they die. Some wish to travel the world, some prefer to accomplish a task, others might already have an impressive list to add to. For me it’s really quite simple. I want to meet all of the authors I admire before I die. I’ve always been an avid reader. Some of my earliest memories are of curling up with a good book. So when I first heard of the bucket list I immediately thought of who I’d like to meet before I die.

I’ve been very lucky in that I live near the fourth largest city in the nation. Houston is a hub for the entertainment world whether it be Arts, Music, Theater or even Literary. In 2007 the Romantic Times convention came to town and I was able to meet great authors like Nina Bangs, Gena Showalter and Shana Abe’. In 2008 I attended the convention in Pittsburgh and met Christine Feehan and Mary Janice Davidson, among others. Laurell K. Hamilton and Patricia Briggs have also come into town and one of my all-time favorites, Stephen Lawhead, made a stop in Austin earlier this year. With those wonderful authors my list is quickly filling up, but not exactly complete. I still have quite a few to go before I meet my end.

The top of my list at this time is Stephen King. I know he is one I most likely won’t ever get the chance to meet. He lives and plays in Maine. It’s very far away and not a place I’ll travel to in the foreseeable future, but I can dream. His son, Joe Hill (another fabulous author), will be in Austin at the World Horror Con this weekend, but my plans to go were derailed early on. Next would be Clive Barker, another unlikely one. I honestly don’t even know what country he lives in but I’ve never heard of him traveling in Texas. Such a shame. After those two there is Frank Beddor. From everything I’ve read about him online, he is actually a more feasible goal. He’s been to conventions before in support of his Looking Glass Wars trilogy and Hatter M comics. Now I just have to make it to the conventions myself.

On to the romance genres. Lilith Saintcrow tops my list of paranormal/urban fantasy authors. I’ve already met Anne Aguirre (she is awesome!) who would naturally be second. Then there is Lynsay Sands and Emma Holly. I have to admit I would probably squeal like a fangirl if I ever got to meet theses ladies and embarrass the hell out of myself. Maybe stalking them on Twitter is best for now.

That’s certainly not all and the list grows every time I read a new-to-me author. So, who is on your author bucket list? Have you already made plans to meet them soon? Share in the comments below and don’t worry, I won’t be mad if I’m not number one 😉