The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome Ladies, Gentlemen and super-intelligent cats who secretly surf the web while their owner is at work, to the 3rd Annual Book Polygamist Awards!

Since 2011 the Awards have been publicly aired on my humble little blog, rather than the bottomless pit of Facebook, or the relative privacy of my book journal, and as long as Book Polygamist sticks around each year I will share my quirky Awards with you, my precious few Bookbaggers 🙂

Like last year and the year before the Awards will be broken up into two categories: the Annual Awards, which are the same each year, and the Special Awards, which change with the calibre of books read and any patterns I notice.

This year, since I read more comics/graphic novels than ever before there will be some Awards specifically for the format i.e. Best Inside Art.

So without further ado I present: The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards!!!

Annual Awards

Shortest Read (Book):

the-amber-amuletThe Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey – approximately 1 hour

Honorable Mentions:

The Tiny Wife by  Andrew Kaufman – approximately 2 hours

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen – 6 days

Longest Read:

Tales of mystery and imaginationTales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe – 1 year, 1 month and 1 day!!!

Honorable Mentions:

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller – 43 weeks, 6 days!!

Kraken by China Miéville – 30 weeks, 3 days!

Most Books/Graphic Novels Read by a Single Author:

Gaiman,_Neil_(2007) Neil Gaiman – 2 books (Anansi Boys and Neverwhere) and 6 Graphic Novels (The Sandman Vol # 1, #2, #3 and # 4; Death: The High Cost of Living; and The Books of Magic)

Honorable Mentions:

Stacia Kane – 5 (Unholy Ghosts; Unholy Magic; City of Ghosts; Sacrificial Magic; Chasing Magic)

Gail Carriger – 5 (Changeless; Blameless; Heartless; Soulless Vol #1; Etiquette and Espionage)

Best “New” Author Award:

Every year I try to discover authors I’ve never read before (in addition to my old favourites and follow-ups to “new” authors from previous years) and then I compile a list of ones I want to read more from, and pick one from the bunch that’s the stand-out. It’s always a tricky process because I find so many great authors that are new to me, but usually I just weigh-up the impact they made on me with the amount of work they have that I can continue on with, plus take into account how new they are to writing, and how unknown they were to me (and sometimes others) before I discovered their work. In the case of the winner for this year I had never heard of them before picking up the first book, and since then their series was one of the highlights of my reading year and has become a bit of an obsession for me and my best friend, Sarah 🙂

stacia kaneStacia Kane (Unholy GhostsUnholy MagicCity of GhostsSacrificial MagicChasing Magic)

Honorable Mentions:

 China Miéville (Kraken)

 Max Brooks (World War Z)

 Jasper Fforde (Shades of Grey)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

house of many waysHouse of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

Honorable Mention:

chasing magicChasing Magic by Stacia Kane

This is a cheeky honorable mention because it’s not actually the end of the series, but at the time of reading it I did think it was the end, and it was a fucking awesome end! Lucky for me and Sarah the next book is due to be published at some point 😀

The Best Start to a Series Award:

shadesofgreyShades of Grey (Shades of Grey Book 1) by Jasper Fforde

Honorable Mentions:

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (writer), Sam Kieth (penciler),Malcolm Jones III (inker), Robbie Busch (colourist), Todd Klein (letterer)

 FreakAngels #1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist)

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:

BookofHumanInsectsThe Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

Honorable Mention:

Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp  (author) and George O’Connor (artist)

The Tick That Off The Bucket List Award:

catch22Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

in 2013 I continued the accidental tradition of reading a book from my Top 10 Classics I Want to Read list – in accidental order and all! – which definitely deserved another award! To continue this tradition I will have to read The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger this year so I better locate it quick smart 😛

The My Brain Hurts But I Love It! Award:

kraken-by-china-mieville-UKKraken by China Miéville

As I said in my Top 10 Books I Read in 2013 list, this book was the literary equivalent of taking a trip and at times the language and sheer craziness of the world hurt my brain, but I loved every second of it! 😛

Honorable Mentions:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Best Cover Art (Book):

the-tiny-wifeThe Tiny Wife by  Andrew Kaufman

Honorable Mentions:

shadesofgreyShades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Neverwhere (1)Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

kraken-by-china-mieville-UKKraken by China Miéville

the-amber-amuletThe Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey

Best Cover Art (Graphic Novel):

willow wonderlandBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow – Wonderland 
by Jeff ParkerChristos N. Gage (writers) Brian Ching (penciler), Jason Gorder (inker),
Michelle Madsen (colourist), David Mack (cover artist), and Joss Whedon (executive producer)

Honorable Mentions:

persepolis coverPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

the unwritten vol 1The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (The Unwritten, Volume # 1) by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist), Chris Chuckry and Jeanne McGee(colourists) and Todd Klein (letterer)

BallPeenHammer_COVER_300rgb(1)Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp  (author) and George O’Connor (artist)

buffy talesBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

Best Inside Art (Graphic Novel):

buffy talesBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

This is a bit of a cop-out as this anthology contains a whole bunch of amazing artists making it the easy choice, but with such diverse art from story to story this was a clear winner. Below is an example of some of my favourite art styles for you to ogle 😛

Buffy tales art

Honorable Mentions:

Zombies Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Jim McCann (writers), David Baldeon (penciller), and Jordi Tarragona (inker)

Star Trek TNG: Hive by Brannon Braga (story) and Joe Corroney (art)

Most Fun Challenge:

comiccompanions-badge

While I set myself some great challenges last year, I had to choose Comic Companions as the best as it led me to read so many amazing comics and graphic novels! This year I’m not continuing this challenge but I’ve decided the graphic novels pile is just as important as the others so I’ve been going through the same process in reading them – when I finish one I pick another from the pile (or rather a random green piece of paper from my book-choosing jar so I don’t have to choose which wonderful graphic novel I want to read next – I’m chance’s bitch instead 🙂 )

Best Book Chosen for Old Books October:

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

guards guardsI haven’t actually finished Guards! Guards! since I’ve been pretty slack with reading this year, and I got distracted with other books and comics at the end of last year, so I’ve been reading this very funny Discworld novel for a while, but every time I do read a bit its highly entertaining! Plus the other book I chose for Old Books October is Brisingr by Christopher Paolini which I have been even more slack with, so this was a no-brainer 😛

Best Graphic Novel Chosen for Old Books October:

The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman (writer), Kelley JonesMalcolm Jones IIIMike DringenbergMatt WagnerP. Craig Russell,George PrattDick Giordano (artists), Daniel VozzoSteve Oliff (colourists), and Todd Klein (letterer)

sandman4

Best Book Chosen for New Books November:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

shadesofgrey

Best Graphic Novel Chosen for New Books November:

 FreakAngels #1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist)

freak angels vol 1

2013 was a really interesting year for me, both in my reading life and personal/professional life, and I certainly have some good memories from it. I hope all my Bookbaggers also had an excellent year with a bevy of brilliant books (gosh I love alliteration :P) and tons of good memories, and that your 2014 is just as fruitful 🙂

Top 10 Graphic Novels I Read in 2013

Hello all and welcome to the first (and hopefully annual) Top 10 Graphic Novels list! I had to do a list of graphic novels as well as my usual one of their pictureless brethren this year as I read so many great ones (thanks in no small part to my Comic Companions challenge). As my re-kindled love affair with comics continues I hope that I can make this list a regular part of my yearly awards to serve as recommendations to any comic-loving Bookbaggers 🙂

So without further ado here is my very first Top 10 Graphic Novels I Read in (insert year here) list:

1.  The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

by Neil Gaiman (writer),
Kelley JonesMalcolm Jones IIIMike DringenbergMatt WagnerP. Craig Russell,George PrattDick Giordano (artists),
Daniel VozzoSteve Oliff (colourists), and Todd Klein (letterer)

sandman4I read Volumes 1-4 of The Sandman in 2013, which were all amazing but Season of Mists was definitely my favourite so far. Firstly the story of Morpheus/Dream/The Sandman trying to make amends for the revengeful punishment of his lover millenia ago leading him to being the reluctant new owner of Hell with beings from all over vying to be its new master was epic. Secondly it was really cool to see almost all of The Endless (Dream and his siblings) together, especially the gloriously coloured pages which described them. Thirdly the various beings which gathered in Dream’s realm to petition him for ownership of hell (including Gods from various religions, demons and agents of order and chaos) were so different in their methods and reasons for wanting Hell, making the final scenes riveting and wonderfully suspenseful.
If you are a fan of fantasy graphic novels you really must read this fantastic series 🙂

2. The Beatles Graphic by Hervé Bourhis

beatles graphicI learnt so much about The Beatles from this comprehensive biographical comic which goes through every significant moment in the band’s development as well as the personal lives of John, Paul, George and Ringo (plus a bit of background on important figures in their lives, such as Yoko Ono). As it’s written by a Frenchman the book also gives a unique perspective on the Beatles influence on Europe which I found really interesting, and as a fan he did short reviews of every album and single released, not only by the Fab Four, but solo and other collaborative projects, and he was very honest with his opinions. Definitely recommended for Beatles fans and people interested in musical bios.

3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

persepolis coverThis was another biographical graphic novel (autobio this time) which taught me a lot about Iran before, during and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, but was also a touching, thoughtful and at times very funny coming-of-age tale. I decided to read Persepolis in honor of Banned Books Week and right away I empathised with the frustrated students who were robbed of this fantastic graphic novel. Yes, it was very confronting which I guess is why people felt it should be banned, but it was well worth it, and I think it would be especially poignant to kids the same age as the author when her story began. If you don’t know much about Iranian history and culture besides what is parroted by the media, or you want a unique perspective on life in a very different world, I would highly recommend Persepolis. 

4. Batman: The Killing Joke: The Deluxe Edition

by Alan Moore (writer), Brian Bolland (artist, colorist, writer), Ellie De Ville and Richard Starkings (letterers)

the-killing-joke-deluxe-front-cover1This one is straying into more traditional comic territory, but this spectacular deluxe edition which I borrowed off my friend Scott, is far more than your run-of-the-mill Batman comic. Firstly, let me just say, I use to read any and every Batman comic that came into my local library, and would reread my favourites (namely anything with Harley Quinn) over and over. When I borrowed The Killing Joke it had probably been 10 or 15 years since I’d last dived into a Batman comic and yet it felt like I had never left, and it was even more engrossing than I remember. This may be thanks to the brilliantly twisted mind of Alan Moore, or to Brian Bolland’s amazing art, or maybe just because it delved deep into the past of the Joker like nothing I’d ever read before, but whatever it was made for a gripping read! I would of course recommend this to Batman fans (if they haven’t already read it of course) but also to people who like Batman but don’t really know where to begin in the huge backlog of comics – this one is not to be missed.

5. Clive Barker Omnibus (collecting The Thief of Always The Great and Secret Show ; and Seduth)

by Clive BarkerKris OpriskoChris Ryall,  Christopher Monfette (writers), Gabriel HernandezGabriel RodriguezRay Zone (artists),  Robbie Robbins (letterer)

CliveBarker_OmnibusAs a Clive Barker fan I was eager to read this omnibus, especially since I had read The Thief of Always earlier in the year, The Great and Secret Show was one of my first trips into the world of Barker and was starting to become a vague memory, and Seduth had never been published elsewhere. None of them disappointed either in the story-telling/adaptation or the artwork – hell, even the lettering was stunning and perfectly fit the mood of each story! I read each story on a different day (in fact I think I read The Great and Secret Show over a couple of days because it made up the bulk of the omnibus) so I was fully immersed in each story at the time, and even though I had read two of the three in novel form, I felt like I was experiencing them for the first time. I would definitely recommend this to Barker fans, but also to people who may have wanted to read his stuff before but prefer a graphic novel format.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales

by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan and others (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

buffy talesThis was without a doubt one of the best presents I got on my last birthday, if not the best hands down and it definitely had to go on this list! My lovely workmate Scott gifted it to me around my birthday in October and I was in love from the moment I looked at it. It contained a treasure-trove of stories I never even knew about before, written by former writers of the show amongst a bevy of other talented writers, with each story beautifully, and uniquely brought to life by a cast of gifted artists. There wasn’t a single story I didn’t like (though some of course stood out more than others) and it made New Books November even more fun in its role of Official Mascot. I have already raved about it to my Buffy-loving friends (though I keep forgetting to loan it to my best friend Sarah, a Buffy fan from way back, as its so big and ironically gets missed whenever I give her a bunch of graphic novels to try) but I would highly recommend it to any Buffy fan out there, especially if you love comic art – there’s so many styles on offer here its a veritable smörgåsbord for comic-art geeks 😀

7. The Books of Magic

by Neil Gaiman (writer), John BoltonScott HamptonCharles Vess and Paul Johnson (artists)

books of magicThis one was read later in the year, just days before Christmas, but I enjoyed it so much I was willing to push earlier titles off the list in order for it to make my Top 10. Being written my Neil Gaiman, with a somewhat Sandman-esque feel to it and each section illustrated by a different artist to fit the mood of each realm, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I loved this graphic novel. It was one of those stories that you just fall into, and for the minutes, hours, or days that you read it you are lost to another world. In the case of The Books of Magic I was gone for about an hour or so as it’s a sort of mini-series kind of graphic novel, with 4 parts. I have since put my brother on to it, and he was just as lost (I watched him read it so I can attest that he was definitely not all there anymore!) and I plan to find and add it to my growing comic/graphic novel collection 🙂 I would recommend this to Neil Gaiman fans, especially if you like the Sandman, and fans of epic, archetypal fantasy.

8. The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

BookofHumanInsectsThis one I have to admit was bought because of its bizarre title (I love me a weird title :P) but I was also intrigued because the author and artist is the mind behind Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, two of my favourite shows from when I was a kid (thanks in part to them being faves of my mum who saw them new, and the habit of Australian TV in the early 90’s playing lots of repeats of classic shows) but I had never read his graphic novels. The Book of Human Insects was worlds away from the cartoons of my youth, but I loved the juxtaposition of Tezuka’s big-eyed, round-faced characters in a world of sex, manipulation, fraud, violence and intrigue. The feel of the story was very film noir, with a classic femme fatale as the main character, and it was a fun blend of absurdity and relatability. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone (I haven’t passed it on to my brother or friends coz I’m not sure if they’d like it) but if you like manga with a lot of depth, and many a dash of odd, or if like me you’re curious about Tezuka’s work beyond adorable kings of the jungle and robot boys with rocket books, give this a try.

9. Nevermore 

by Edgar Allan Poe , Ian EdgintonJamie DelanoJohn Reppion, and Leah Moore (writers) and D’IsraeliJames (Jim) FletcherJohn McCreaShane Oakley and Steve Pugh (artists)nevermoreI read Nevermore at a perfect time, right after my Poe.My.God! Challenge when I still had all the stories fresh in my mind. This anthology took 9 of Poe’s most famous tales (The Raven; The Pit and the Pendulum; The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar; The Murders in the Rue Morgue; The Fall of the House of Usher; The Black Cat; The Oval Portrait; The Tell-Tale Heart; and The Masque of the Red Death) and re-tells them in modern (or sometimes futuristic) settings, each illustrated by a different artist in their style, but sticking to a moody black and grey colour scheme. I thought the adaptations were really clever and the black and grey ink work really put me in a dark, gothic, Poe sort of mood 🙂 Unfortunately because this was a library item I couldn’t hand it straight on to my brother (who is a huge Poe fan since he was a kid) but I hope to add it to my collection in the future, and in the meantime if he’s interested, I can always get it out from my work, since that’s the library it came from (albeit a different campus) and make him swear in blood that it returns unharmed. Very fitting for Poe, don’t ya think? 😛 I would recommend this to Poe fans, people who like classic tales interpreted into new settings, or anyone who likes a dark, broody graphic novel.

10. Fray

by Joss Whedon (writer), Karl Moline (penciler),Andy Owens (inker), Dave Stewart (colourist) and Michelle Madsen (colourist and letterer)frayThis last one was tricky because I had a bunch of great contenders, but once I discounted parts in ongoing series’ (a rule that made compiling this list easier, but one I don’t think I’ll stick to next year) there was one amongst the final choices that stood out. Fray is another graphic novel loaned to me by my friend Scott, and another one set in the Buffy Universe, but far in the future after magic has left the world and Slayers aren’t even a blip on history’s radar. To me this felt almost like a Buffy reboot as it had some of the great elements of early episodes of Buffy when she was training and coming to grips with her destiny. The difference between Fray and early Buffy though is firstly it is set in a very different time and place complete with amazing futuristic scenery and interesting slang, and secondly Melaka Fray can already kick some arse as she is a sort-of cat burglar by trade. I really enjoyed the story, but what made it stick out in my mind was the art. Wow. The way Karl Moline and Andy Owens drew and inked the characters and backgrounds were stunning, and the colours by Dave Stewart and Michelle Madsen were glorious, especially Melaka’s multi-coloured hair. This is a big recommendation for Buffy fans but even if you’re not really familiar with the show (cue gasps and a look of horror from the author) this is a great stand-alone.

Top 10 Books I Read in 2013

1. Catch 22 by Joseph Hellercatch22

This was the first book that came to mind when compiling my top books of the year, firstly because I read it for a decent chunk of the year, from mid-January to mid-November, secondly because it was part of my War & Pages challenge, and thirdly because it really was a memorable and affecting book. If you’ve always wanted to read Catch 22, don’t let my slowpokeishness (yes that’s a word now) deter you – sometimes I just take ages reading a certain book, and it has nothing to do with the quality of writing or my enjoyment of it. I recently lent it to my 17-year-old brother whose been in a bit of a reading rut, and he’s zipped through it in a couple of weeks. Granted, he’s out of high-school now and looking for a job so he has some time on his hands, but if a teenage boy who is somewhat out of practice with regular reading can breeze through it, it is possible 🙂 Recommended to people who like war stories but think they don’t address the absurdity of war enough.

2. Kraken by China Miévillekraken-by-china-mieville-UK

This is another book that I read for ages – from  mid-January again to mid-August, because every time I read a bit it was the literary equivalent of a hallucination and I needed a moment for it to sink in. Not only was it a wonderfully bizarre premise – when a giant, preserved squid inexplicably disappears from the Museum of Natural History the young scientist who preserved it in the first place is thrust into an alternative, hidden facet of London with countless cults, magic-working cops, and terrifying baddies with unfathomable abilities – but Miéville has such a unique writing style with fantastical word combos and evocative metaphors (check out the Notable Quotables from Kraken to see what I mean). This one may not be for everyone, but if like me you enjoy books that are a little different (or a lot different!) and a good brain-twister then give Kraken a go. You cannot resist the Kraken! 😛

3. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaimananansi boys

This was the first Neil Gaiman title I read last year, in March, and as with every Gaiman book I’d read previously (Good Omens; Coraline; Stardust and American Gods) it instantly became my favourite…until the next one 😛 The thing that stood Anansi Boys apart from the others I’d read was it was so funny in a witty, quirky sort of way that I’ve now come to associate with Gaiman, along with his themes of modern mythology, Gods masquerading as everyday people and family relationships. For people who have never read Gaiman, this would be an excellent starting point.

4. World War Z by Max Brooks

world-war-z-book-coverThis was the other book in my War & Pages challenge but that was not the only reason it was a highlight this year. It was, without question the smartest, most realistic, and most chilling zombie book I have ever read, and creepily true to what would likely happen if we were to face a zombie epidemic. On top of that it was a novel that crossed genres in an unexpected way. Yes, it was a zombie book so lumped in with horror and the like, but there were so many moments where it was more like a war-time drama and the zombies just replaced the traditional foes. Also because it was a series of personal accounts that wove together to get the big picture of each stage of the war, it was quite similar to an anthology, but a clever one where all the stories are connected. I would recommend this even to people who aren’t normally fans of the zombie genre, but if the undead interest you this is a must-read!

5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaimanneverwhere

As my comment above with Anansi Boys would suggest, Neverwhere instantly rose to the top of the Neil Gaiman pyramid in my eyes once I started it, and the next one will have to be pretty fantastic to take its place. This book had so many elements that have made Neil Gaiman break into my list of favourite authors in the last few years – humor, heart, glorious descriptions, an immersive world with so many unexpected and interesting details, and a true modern fairytale sort of storyline – but it also reminded me of one of my other top reads of the year, Kraken, in that it was about a hidden London. I would recommend Neverwhere to pretty much anyone with even the slightest interest in urban fantasy, and in fact I have already put my best friend Sarah onto it (she loved it too so huzzah!) and my brother, who read the graphic novel adaptation since I don’t own the book and will likely read the original when he can.

6. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

house of many waysI have talked before about how much I enjoyed the first two books in the Howl/Castle series, and this third and final installment was no different, in fact this would have to be my favourite, which I never expected as Howl’s Moving Castle was so wonderful and the first in the series often outshines the rest. Every moment of this book was a delight, and it quickly became like an old friend that I was happy to see every day after work. While I’m sad that there are no more books in the series I am sure I will find other Diana Wynne Jones books just as magical and I also want to add the Howl/Castle series to my collection so I can revisit them over the years 🙂 I would definitely recommend this for older children, young adults and adults who need a bit of magic and laughter in their life.

7. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

shadesofgreyThis fantastic book I read near the end of the year (over about a week in December, just after the start of my holidays) and in fact, I haven’t even talked about it on here yet, except for  a couple of Notable QuotablesShades of Grey is one of those books that has such a fascinating and odd world (one in which colours are a precious commodity and you are categorised by what area of the colour wheel you can see) that you are instantly drawn in by all the little mysteries and the sheer oddity of things which are perfectly commonplace to the characters. I became so caught up while reading it that it was pretty much all I could talk about, and when I wasn’t reading it (which wasn’t often) my mind was turning things over trying to puzzle them out. It was also one of those books that I wanted to just read, but I was enjoying it so much that I started to ration it so it wouldn’t be over so fast. Luckily, when I got to the end with a multitude of questions, old and new, still buzzing around my head, I saw that it was the first in a trilogy. Unluckily, despite it being published in 2010 the sequel isn’t expected until about 2015 as Jasper Fforde has been writing up a storm in multiple other series. So really that’s a bit of a lucky point too, because even though I have a bit of a wait, there is heaps of his work out there that I can turn to, plus he has a fabulous website with a page dedicated to Shades of Grey. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a sort-of dystopian story which is clever and has a lot of humor.

8. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

the thief of always

Thief of Always was a bit of a backwards step for me, as I have read a fair amount of Barker before, but pretty much all of it was very adult and quite lengthy, while this is a short children’s book complete with illustrations on some pages. Sarah had recommended it to me for years as it was her first trip into the mind of Barker, so when I bought it at an op-shop I put it on my pile, and as fate would have it, it got picked in January of last year. At first it was odd to be reading a Barker book which didn’t instantly disturb me with his unique brand of creepy (mainly gore and violence mixed in with sexual depravity), but despite the PG rating I quickly discovered that this was just as creepy as his other works, just in a different way. This story got to the heart of childhood fear and once I started it was like I was transported back to that time, and imagining myself at the age of the characters if I were in their position. Plus, maybe because it’s a kids book the story was like a twisted fairy tale, which I always love and unlike many Barker novels, it got to have a happy ending. I would recommend this book to kids and young adults as a perfect entrance into the realm of Clive Barker.

9. The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey

the-amber-amulet

It’s probably no surprise that a Craig Silvey book would be on my Top 10 as his two previous novels are at the top of my Top 10 Books of All Time (which may have changed slightly since writing it, but not for the Craig Silvey books :P) but The Amber Amulet was very different. Firstly, it was originally a short story featured in 10 short stories you must read in 2010, a free anthology given out when you bought a book from Get Reading’s “50 Books You Can’t Put Down” campaign. Itthen got turned into a play toured by the Barking Gecko Theatre Company in 2012, then a short film airing at the Sydney Film Festival in 2012 where it won the Crystal Bear for Best Short. It’s 4th incarnation was this lovely little book filled with drawings, clippings and diagrams to make a beautiful hybrid of children’s literature, short adult fiction and graphic novel which pulls at the heart-strings, makes you think and also makes you giggle. I have already passed this on to several people and I would highly recommend it as a starting point to Craig Silvey’s unique storytelling.

10. The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufmanthe-tiny-wife

I read this around the same time as The Amber Amulet (in fact since they’re so short I think I read them both one lazy afternoon) and it made as much of an impact on me, if not more. A fascinating modern fable, The Tiny Wife starts with a bank robbery in which the thief takes one item of sentimental value from each person present rather than a bundle of cash. Following the event all the people he stole from start to experience highly unusual changes to their lives, some positive, some negative and some in a weird place in-between, including a woman who slowly shrinks each day, hence the title. This book left me with an odd mix of emotions as it was partly uplifting, quite horrifying in parts and overall pretty ridiculous but in a surprisingly believable way. I would recommend this to people who loved fairy tales as a kid, but are looking for something a bit more gritty, plus lovers of short but memorable reads.

Well there you have it – the Top 10 Books I Read in 2013 (finally!). The comics/graphic novels list will be up as soon as possible followed by The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards! 😀

I’d love to know the best books you guys read last year too, so share away in the comments, especially if you’ve got a link to your own post, and until next time:

Happy Reading!

Beautiful? Moi? Why, you cad!

The other day I received a lovely surprise upon checking my notifications –  Angelique from Why I Can’t Stop Reading had nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award! beautiful_blogger_award That means I now have three blog awards under my belt – the Versatile Blogger; the Very Inspiring blogger; and now the Beautiful blogger, and the fact that three of my book blogger peers (who I admire and respect) think Book Polygamist is versatile, inspiring AND beautiful is just a huge honor and gives me the drive to continue during times when I’ve thought about quitting. Thanks Angelique! 😀 😀 😀 The rules to receiving the Beautiful Blogger Award are quite similar to the others:

  1. Copy the award logo onto your blog – tick!
  2. Thank the person who nominated you – tick!
  3. Post 7 facts about yourself – see below ↓
  4. Nominate 7 bloggers/blogs for the award – see even further below ↓

I’m running out of facts about myself that immediately come to mind, but here goes:

  1. I don’t know how to ride a bike….or drive a car O.O
    Like any normal child (ha! normal!) I did learn to ride a bike…well I almost did anyway. As a pretty nervous kid the thought of trusting my life (and knees) to a metal frame with wheels was already a little terrifying, but for the sake of appearing a bit normal I gave it a go. I was pretty fine up to the mighty milestone that was removing the training wheels. Then I quickly remembered that I had the balance of a drunken sloth with an inner ear infection (are sloths known for being unbalanced? That may not have been the best example but it makes a good image) and the training wheels had been the only thing keeping me from toppling over. I tried for a while to just walk my bike along by sitting on the seat with my feet tip-toeing either side, but this was actually slower than walking. Eventually I gave up and decided I’d rather read or play with my imaginary zoo anyway (more on that later). I never really mastered any other wheeled contraption throughout my youth, so by the time I was old enough to begin driving lessons I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel of a very large, and flammable-liquid propelled metal frame with wheels. I do plan to learn how to drive at some point (it’s actually a tentative goal of mine for this year) and maybe I’ll even tackle a bike again, but at the moment I feel safer with my life in the hand of bus and train drivers….hmmmm that may not be exactly logical.

    girl-falls-off-bike

    This is pretty much how it went down, except my outfit was in the more tragic late ’80s – early ’90s style

  2. I have a “saying the wrong word” problem which I have dubbed my Rollerdex
    I don’t know if any of you have this problem, but it seems to have plagued me for as long as I can remember. You go to say something wonderfully eloquent that you have rehearsed in you head over and over, and then your brain and mouth conspire to say something completely unrelated and make you look like a tool. I can’t remember If I dubbed this disorder of mine “Rollerdex” or if one of my friends did, but it’s perfectly fitting for what happens. If you’re any younger than me you may not know what a Rollerdex is because they’re virtually extinct now, but basically they were a little wheel that business types kept on their desk that held all their contacts details in alphabetical order. If they wanted to contact Mr Thomson they would simply turn the wheel until the cards for T were front and centre and there was Mr Thomson’s address, telephone and fax numbers ready for your correspondence. The way my Rollerdex works is more stealthy and much less useful. As my brain is constructing a sentence is remains perfectly still and well-behaved, but the moment I speak it spins out-of-control, and totally unwarranted, eager to give me a word which is miles away from what I meant. It has resulted in some great laughs though, so I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on it.

    Ticka-ticka-ticka-tick...tick......tick..... did you mean pigeon?

    Ticka-ticka-ticka-tick…tick……tick….. did you mean pigeon?

  3. I study best with sitcoms playing in the background
    When I was studying for my Diploma in Library and Information Services, the worst thing for my concentration, ironically enough was a silent study room or library. The thing I found really kept me going was having one of my favourite sitcoms (preferably one where I’d seen every episode of multiple times and didn’t normally require much attention anyway) playing at a low volume in the background. I found this also worked really well when I was doing bouts of creative writing too and I use to confuse the guy at Civic Video by borrowing a whole bunch of Charmed, Gilmore Girls or Friends DVDs and then trying to explain that they helped me write. During my studies my fall-back series was Scrubs, mainly because in my last semester I had just bought most of the DVDs from an op-shop for 1 dollar a piece (!!!!!!!) so I finally had all 9 seasons, but earlier on I also used Gilmore Girls, Friends, Charmed, the IT Crowd, and How I Met Your Mother.

    scrubs

    These guys got me through a lot of hours writing long and boring reports!

  4. I can’t sleep in total silence
    This one is similar to the above one – I just can’t relax and get the job done if it’s eerily silent! My main problem with total silence is it’s never totally silent. When there isn’t that lovely white noise I can clearly hear every little tick of the clock, or whistle of the wind outside, or snuffle that my blissfully sleeping dogs make, or that one insane bird that decides to sing at 2 in the morning. While sitcoms work for study, the way I get to sleep is with music, podcasts or audio books at a low-level. For sleeping the level has to be just right – too loud and I’ll just be struck listening to it and won’t sleep, and too quiet and I’ll be straining to hear what was just said and so won’t sleep. In fact I’ve found that over the years listening to audio books or podcasts that I actually want to hear and remember doesn’t work because I’ll either be enthralled and stay awake, or it will lull me to sleep and I won’t remember a damn thing. I’ve found the best sound is chilled out blues, jazz or roots music, or in summer whatever is on the radio (always tuned to Triple j) with the fan on, muffling it slightly 🙂

    AHH! Why won't you stop your incessant ticking! Are you some kind of sadist?!

    AHH! Why won’t you stop your incessant ticking! Are you some kind of sadist?!

  5. Despite being 26 and born/raised in Australia, I often speak like a British Grandmother
    Regular readings may have already noticed that I often use old-fashioned phrasing (I.e. cad) instead of the hip young-person lingo that I should be spouting (saying “hip young-person lingo” doesn’t help matters). When I like something I may say it’s “cool” or “awesome” but more often than not I’ll say it’s “ace”, “neat” or “nifty”. On more than one occasion my friends have teased me for calling soft drinks “pop” (this may not be odd to my American Bookbaggers, but in Australia we don’t say “soda”, “pop” or “soda pop”, it’s always “soft drink” or sometimes “fizzy drink” or just the brand itself). I often catch myself saying someone is “a lovely young man”, or that someone’s “a smart dresser”. So far none of this is particularly British – that part comes from my nana, who is a bona fide British Grandmother (even after 40 odd years living in Australia) and can be pinpointed to two words: Oh dear. I’m pretty sure I’ve been saying “oh dear” in a very composed, British way ever since I was little and heard my nana (one of my favourite people in the universe) say it, and I will be a proud “oh dear” utterer until the day I die!

    I want one!....even though I don't qualify for either of those categories...

    I want one!….even though I don’t qualify for either of those categories…

  6. When I was a child I had an imaginary zoo
    As I said above (and can be easily gleaned if you know me or follow my odd ramblings) i wasn’t a particularly normal child.
    While many normal children had 1 imaginary friend, or even a couple that took shifts I was determined to have and be so much more, so invented a complete menagerie which I would talk to, and pretend to feed and care for, often when I was in public. When I was at school the zoo resided in a little area of grass with a huge peppermint tree next to the toilet block, which no one seemed to utilize for some reason. I would visit during recess and lunch and “feed” all the animals with fallen leaves and the blossoms off the peppermint tree, pretend to water down the elephant and other large animals, and have meetings with the zoo keepers (which were two man-shaped cats – one black and white and one ginger – who despite also being animals, could talk and wore clothing). I also use to speak with the cat zoo keepers (the black and white one was called Mr Mistoffelees  – after the cat from T. S. Elliot‘s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and the musical Cats – or Mister for short, and I’m pretty sure the ginger one was called Archimedes – after the owl in The Sword in the Stone – or Archie for short) when I was on the toilet because they were right there and in my head it was perfectly normal to have a staff meeting in which the boss is doing entirely different business.

    zoo tycoon

    I was way ahead of my time when it came to imaginary zoos!

  7. I constantly have 2 or 3 little stories that I make up and work through in my head
    This probably is an offshoot of my imaginary zoo making. Ever since I was little I’ve always made up little stories in my head – kind of like continuing daydreams I guess – which I play through when I’m in a quiet boring situation (again, when I’m on the toilet or sometimes before I fall asleep). The stories are usually along the same themes – there’s the one where I’m a princess with a secret garden that I get to through a series of hidden doorways and tunnels, and I have lots of unique pets; and the variations of fantasy based one such as a magic school; a magical chosen one or ones etc. Why do I do this? Well it may just be because my brain has been wired that way so it always has to be occupied with something, and I’d rather tell myself stories than go over and over my to-do list (which I do still do a fair bit), or maybe it’s my inner novelist getting a workout, since I’ve lost the time and drive to actually write down my stories; or perhaps I’m a tad cuckoo…or all three! 😀

    daydreaming

    “But who are you? And how did you get into my secret garden?” The mysterious stranger said nothing, and with an elegant swish of their cloak they were gone, leaving behind a single red rose…”

And now for my nominees:

  1. Angelique (AKA angelicreader) from Why I Can’t Stop Reading
    Because just like my previous award posts, I believe a nomination deserves one back 🙂 plus I have only recently discovered  Why I Can’t Stop Reading  and have found it to be a lovely little book blog with nice, clear reviews and a bright future 🙂 
  2. Billie (AKA Vasiliki) from Books, Owls & Tea
    Because I have also just discovered her lovely blog (through Why I Can’t Stop Reading in fact) and have found many beautiful delights in the form of three of my favourite things: books, owls and tea 😀 her review style is also very clear and readable and I love the idea of Tea on Tuesday
  3. Neely from NEELYWANG Photography + Design
    Because the most beautiful posts in my Reader are usually from this gorgeous photography blog. I know I already nominated NEELYWANG Photography + Design for an award in the past (as I have with some of the others on this list) but it is well deserved 🙂
  4. Crafting With Words
    Another former award recipient, but when I think about beautiful blogs, this one with its lovely, inspiring concept came to mind 🙂
  5. Aleksandra from Aleksandra’s Corner
    A book blog I found really recently while looking for pics of The Night Circus‘ cover art, and I have been very impressed with her clear reviews (and the sheer number of reviews she does on a regular basis!) as well as the challenges she participates in and posts she does on upcoming books
  6. Christie from bibliophiliacs
    Because my previous nomination of bibliophiliacs was as a thank you for her nomination of Book Polygamist and I thought she deserved another on its own 🙂 Now your blog/you have been dubbed versatile and beautiful Christie
  7. Shivani from My Owl Barn
    I’ve shown my love of this treasure trove of owl stuff before, but some (ok, most if not all) the artwork she posts about is so stunning, she definitely deserves this award!

I’ll end with a short plug 😀 there’s been a flurry of activity on here lately such as two new features – Adventures in Etymology and Collective Nounitude – as well as a new page to quickly get to any of my regular (or not so regular) features; I’ll also be putting up another new page after this post which lists my awards (*blush*) as well as the awards I’ve given (the Top 10 Reads of this year and last year, as well as the Annual Book Polygamist Awards); and the other big news is Book Polygamist finally has a Facebook page and an email address! So if you’re a face on the Book of Faces you can like Book Polygamist by going to its page, or simply us the like widget, and if you want to email me the address is now on my About page 🙂

For now, and always I wish all my Bookbaggers and future Bookbaggers:

Happy Reading! And I hope you all have a look-see at the excellent blogs I’ve nominated 😀

The 2012 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome one and all; ladies and gentlemen, and those in between; Bookbaggers of all shapes, sizes and reading patterns, to the 2nd Annual Book Polygamist Awards!

Last year the awards graduated from a simple jotting in my book journal, or list on Facebook, to its inaugural seat on Book Polygamist, and here they will stay for the foreseeable future 🙂

As with last years Awards there are the Annual Awards, which are the same each year, and the Special Awards, which reflect the uniqueness of the books that year (with a few which may also be repeated annually depending on what I read)

So without further ado I present The 2012 Book Polygamist Awards!!!

Annual Awards

Shortest Read:curses and blessings

Curses and Blessings for All Occasions by Bradley Trevor Greive – approximately 20 minutes

Honorable Mentions:

The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Stories by Dr Seuss – Approximately 1 hour off and on

Blue by Pat Grant – Approximately 2 hours

Longest Read:

Blood, Guts and Whiskey

Blood, Guts & Whiskey (Anthology) by Various – 40 weeks and 3 days!! O.O

Honorable Mentions:

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – 25 weeks

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe – 41 weeks, 4 days and counting!!! -.-

Most Books Read by a Single Author:

cassandra-claresuzanne collins

Cassandra Clare & Suzanne Collins – 3 books each
(Cassandra Clare: City of BonesCity of Ashes; and City of Glass.
Suzanne Collins: The Hunger GamesCatching Fire; and Mockingjay)

Best “New” Author Award:

Each year I try to discover new authors (that is authors that are new to me) and then at the end of the year I compile a list of ones that I want to read more of, and choose one “winner” from that list. This year was a tricky one because I read quite a few debut authors, authors I had never discovered before, and starts to a series, but in the end I went with the author I was the most excited to discover, and one who had a significant backlog of works for me to feast on in the near future 🙂

tom-robbins

Tom Robbins (Still Life With Woodpecker)

Honorable Mentions:

Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)

Cassandra Clare (the Mortal Instruments series)

Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games series)

Lauren Groff (the Monsters of Templeton)

Gail Carriger (Soulless)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

Unusually this year I only came to the end of one series, but it was such a good one I thought it deserved a reward. Unfortunately it is on its lonesome without any honorable mentions, but hopefully I will finish a series or two this year 🙂

MOCKINGJAY-jacket

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Best Start to a Series Award:Soulless_by_Gail_Carriger

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, Book 1) by Gail Carriger

Honorable Mentions:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:still life with woodpecker

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

Honorable Mention:

The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Stories by Dr Seuss

The You’ve Gained Another Fangirl! Award:

As I said in my Top 10 Reads of 2012 this past year will go down in my own personal history as the year I was initiated into the Hunger Games Fandom, which definitely warrants a Special Award 😀

The-Hunger-Games-Trilogy-Classic-Box-Set

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Tick That Off The Bucket List Award:

2012 will also be memorable because I finally read one of the books from my Top 10 Classics I Want to Read list. Since just recently I started reading Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, which was second on the list, reading all 10 may actually happen! Huzzah!

To Kill a Mockingbird

 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Blue Award:

Another highlight of the year was my Blue Period which was both an amusing coincidental reading pattern, and a shock out of my reading rut, leading me to some of my top reads of the year. Because of this I must acknowledge the book/graphic novel that started it all, as well as the other blue covered darlings that made the pattern possible.

blue_cover_lg

Blue by Pat Grant

Honorable Mentions:

Curses and Blessings for All Occasions by Bradley Trevor Greive

The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Stories by Dr Seuss

The Templeton Twins: Have An Idea by Ellis Weiner

Best Cover Art:The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus front cover. Image used with permission of Aleksandra @ Aleksandra's Corner

The Night Circus front cover. Images used with permission of Aleksandra @ Aleksandra’s Corner

The Night Circus back cover. Seriously go check out Aleksandra's Corner http://my-book-obsession.blogspot.com.au/

The Night Circus back cover. Seriously go check out Aleksandra’s Corner: my-book-obsession.blogspot.com.au

Honorable Mentions:

to-kill-a-mockingbird-by-harper-lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

sense of an ending cover

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

monstersoftempleton

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

2012 has had its ups and downs, and while I may not have read the quantity of books I have come to expect, the quality of most of the books has been excellent. This has also been a year which sparked wonderfully fun new features such as the (now sadly deceased) Save The Words Saturdays; Notable Quotables; and Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination, as well as the subsequent rise in followers, comments and likes these features have caused. For this I am grateful and I say a sincere thank you to all of my delicious, hilarious and loyal Bookbaggers, both new and old who have supported me in 2012 and beyond 🙂

Now almost 2 months into 2013 I already have high hopes for this year and cannot wait to see how it unfolds.

I hope you all read some wonderful, award-worthy books in 2012 and the remainder of your 2013 is fantabulous (or your own made up adjective for wonderfulness 🙂 )!

Top 10 Reads of 2012!

1. The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

I absolutely adored this book (which is clearly apparent in my review ) and even though it was one of my first reads of the year (read from mid-January to mid-February) I knew even a few chapters in (heck, maybe even a few pages in!) that It would be in my Top 10 reads of the year. Since I read The Night Circus I have recommended it to friends and family, and the three that followed my recommendation loved it as well. My mind boggles every time I remember that this is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel and I look forward to more delights from her in the future. According to her website’s not really a FAQ page, she is working on a book which is a “film noir-flavoured Alice in Wonderland” (squee!!) and she is also painting a black-and-white tarot deck inspired by her work (double squee!!) so I’m sure many delights with be had in the near future, and in the meantime I’m glad I own The Night Circus so I can read it again 🙂

2. American Gods by Neil GaimanAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman

Another book I knew would be on the list early on (I started it at the same time as The Night Circus) because even after a few chapters it blew me away. You can see a succinct summary of what I thought of American Gods in my latest Micro Reviews post, but let me just say this – American Gods now one of my favourite books of all time as well as of 2012. Neil Gaiman is slowly becoming one of my favourite authors (I say slowly because I have only read a few of his books and I personally like to read all of an authors works before they are officially one of my favourites), and American Gods was a big part of this. Unlike The Night Circus I borrowed American Gods from the library, so this year I’ll have to find and purchase it so I can read it again and again!

3. The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadderravens heart

Another debut novel (in fact 4 of the books on this list are debut/only books of their authors and all but one – American Gods – are books by authors I hadn’t read before!) and one by an Australian author too, this book was a gem and the only true Historical novel I read in 2012. As I said in my Micro Review post, it is set in Scotland during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, which I found really interesting as I had never read a book exploring that particular period. I will certainly keep a keen eye out for any other novels by Jesse Blackadder!

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

Reading this classic was a big moment for me this year as I have been meaning to read it for many, many years (unlike many schools mine sadly didn’t designate it as required reading). As I said in my Micro Review (wow a lot of these are on the same Micro Review! O_o) because of the language and subject matter it is sometimes hard to stomach, but nevertheless I am glad I did. Now I just need to tackle the other 9 classics on my list !!

5. Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbinsstill life with woodpecker

I have to say a big thank you to the person who gave this book to me and so introduced me to Tom Robbins – thank you Shayne if you happen to read this! 🙂 I am very glad that Still Life With Woodpecker is not a debut or single-child-novel because of all the “new” authors I have discovered this year, Tom Robbins is the one I most want to read again (ooo spoiler for the upcoming Book Polygamist Awards!). I haven’t yet written a review of this wonderfully quirky little book, because every time I try it’s so hard to fully capture and explain the bizarre story, hilarious characters and thought-provoking prose style. I promise I will get around to it at some point (and when I do it will definitely be a full-length one as a book this unique can’t be summed up in a Micro Review) and I hope to read more of Tom Robbins works this year.

6. Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjaliansecrets-of-eden

This one was a surprise highlight of the year for me. The subject matter (domestic violence; murder/suicide) was quite heavy and the plot wasn’t particularly complicated, but it was the way it was arranged and written, and the distinctly different voices of the main protagonists/antagonists that made it memorable. Because the book was broken up into quarters narrated by four different main characters (the town priest who was close to the abused/murdered wife; the detective investigating the crime; a renowned author who had experienced  the  murder/suicide of her parents when she was a teen and took an interest in the couple’s daughter and the priest; and the dead couple’s teenage daughter) a simple and tragic event morphed into a complicated whodunnit, where I doubted the “facts” of the crime and changed my mind over what really happened at every turn.

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hungergames To me 2012 will be the year that I finally read The Hunger Games trilogy, and Suzanne Collins claimed another fan girl for her growing horde! 😀 I had an inkling that I would love this book/trilogy because as I’ve said before I have been meaning to read them for a while following some glowing recommendations from fellow book nerds, and I really enjoyed the film, but I didn’t suspect that I would love it as much as I did, especially considering the fact that I knew the progression of the plot beforehand! In fact I became so engrossed that when it came to key heart-breaking moments (which I won’t spoil here in case any of you are yet to read the book or see the movie) I actually became quite emotional, as if it was a surprise. Bravo Ms Collins, that is a fine feat 🙂

8. Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsCover - Catching Fire

As sometimes happens with a trilogy (at least a good one) I loved this second installment more than the first and devoured it over three days. This may be in part due to the plot being completely unknown to me, as the second film has not been released yet and I managed to avoid the spoiler landmines littered around the Interwebs, or purely because the world and plot were more expanded in this book, and the final setting was amazing! Either way, despite the first and last books being equally amazing, I think this was my favourite of the trilogy, and I am positively bursting to see how they managed to convert it into a film 😀

9. Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsMOCKINGJAY-jacket

As I said above, this final installment was just as brilliant as its predecessors, and a fitting end as it was extremely intense and wrapped up all the loose ends that had developed over the series (whether they were wrapped up positively or negatively I won’t say :P). Of the three this one took the longest to read (in saying that it still was only a little over a week), mainly because of the intensity of most of the scenes, and I will be very interested in seeing how it is adapted for the screen, and more importantly what rating they’ll be able to give it!

10. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groffmonstersoftempleton

This was a last-minute gem as I only started it at the end of the year (November) and finished it a couple of days into January, even though it has been on and off my library To-Read pile for a really long time. Barely a page in I already knew I was going to love it because even the first line was alluring: “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” What followed was a beautifully written and ambitious novel (especially for a debut!) which gave me countless delicious lines, some of which I made into Notable Quotables, and a story which was an interesting blend of contemporary and historical novels, including old photographs, a map (you know I love maps!) and other tidbits to deepen the historical parts of the story.

So, there you have it: my Top 10 Reads of 2012! If you have read my recent update post you will know that these books will play a very important role in the 2nd Anniversary of Book Polygamist celebrations – one of my fantabulous Bookbaggers (that would be you guys!) will win the book off this list of their choice!! The competition will officially begin on the date of the anniversary (March 5th) so you have a couple of weeks to think about which book you would want the most, and why and I’m really excited to see all your choices 🙂 In the meantime I would love to know what your top reads for 2012 were – did we have any in common? Did you have a fantastic batch this year or a sort of crummy one? And what books are you looking forward to as 2013 trundles on? Feel free to sound of in the comments, and as always I wish you all:

Happy Reading!

Quick! Write something inspiring!

At the end of last year I received a lovely surprise when checking how my little blog was chugging along via my handy dandy smartphone – one of my followers/followees cricketmuse nominated me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

I was a little stunned because I don’t really consider my brand of blogging to be particularly inspiring, but when I saw that she had nominated me because of my Save The Words Saturday posts (may they Rest In Peace in the discontinued blog feature afterlife) I was touched. I only started the Save The Words Saturdays because I personally love strange words that have fallen out of use, savethewords.org was such a fun site I wanted to spread the word (pardon the pun) about it, and since it was the National Year of Reading I wanted to do some new features which promoted reading and literacy…..wow, ok now that I read that back it does sound a little inspiring O.O

Anyway, I didn’t initially seek to inspire, but I’m tickled pink that cricketmuse was inspired by my posts (especially because her blog is quite the inspirational itself, which is why she was nominated for the award and paid it forward to me) and I firstly just wanted to say thank you 🙂

Before sitting down to fulfil my nominee duties I did a little search to try to determine the origin of The Very Inspiring Blogger Award (like I did for The Versatile Blogger Award) but I couldn’t find a starting point, and the rules seemed to differ somewhat from blog to blog.

From what I can gather the protocol for a nominee is as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. Thanks again cricketmuse!
  2. List 7 random things about yourself. See below ↓
  3. Nominate other blogs. This is where there’s a bit of a discrepancy – some nominated blogs said 7 and some said 15. Since I nominated 15 for the Versatile Blogger Award and I love repeated numbers (which may or may-not be one of my random facts ;)) I’ll be doing 7. See these below ↓ also
  4. Notify the nominees. Will do! 🙂
  5. Put the award logo on your blog.
very-inspirational-blogger-award

Done and done!

The 7 blogs that I nominate are:

  1. cricketmuse – because one good nomination deserves another and her posts always make me 🙂
  2. Crafting Art with Words – a beautifully simple blog which constantly inspires me with its short poems and accompanying photographs
  3. The Daily Post – for inspiring thousands of bloggers with new ideas for posts
  4. The Better Man Project – pick out any one post off this blog and you will find a simply honest and inspiring post about one man and his quest for self-improvement
  5. witches can be right – a wonderful book blog which is more about stories than books – some of the posts are about fairy tales, fables and spirituality and on the whole I find them very inspiring 🙂
  6. 12 Books in 12 Months – The name of this blog speaks for itself – it follows the journey of a writer completing the first drafts of 12 books in 12 months (and then beyond) and what she has managed to achieve blows me away.
  7. Doctor Grumpy in the House – nominated/awarded because it inspires me to have a hearty chuckle whenever I read a new post, and to feel a bit better about the insanity that is often in my own field (libraries/tertiary education)

And now for the 7 random facts:

  1. I’m crazy for paint samples.
    If I visit a hardware/home improvement store the first place I’ll make a beeline to (unless I’m on an in-out mission) is the wall of little paint sample cards that people can take home to help them decide on what exact shade of beige they want to paint their living room. In my life so far I have never actually needed the samples for their traditional purpose as I’ve never repainted/decorated a room, and yet I have a growing collection of them in a box at the bottom of my wardrobe. Why? Well besides the obvious fact that I’m a tad cuckoo, I just love the ridiculous names given to the paints! Whoever comes up with the names for paint must have an awesome job, but also I suspect they have never seen or experienced the origin of some of the names – why is Self-Destruct beige? Why is Hide And Seek a bright yellow (anyone who had played that game before would know that a yellow-clad participant would be an instant target)? And what kind of Looking Glass is a gross grey? All of these (and many more baffling and giggle-worthy ones) are in my collection.

    paintsample book

    A world of giggling and sniggering possibilities!

  2. Ditto for racehorse names
    I don’t collect these but I do enjoy reading them out of racing forms or when there’s a race on TV – and I’m not even a gambler! I don’t really understand the betting system for races, but I’m fine with it as an activity because the names are so great! The best thing about them is the juxtaposition of noble, inspiring names (such as Aristides, winner of the first Kentucky Derby; Might and Power; and Black Knight) against silly ones bursting with puns which I figure were thought up just to embarrass any race official or bookie who has to shout them out  (i.e. Bodacious Tatas; Nosupeforyou – yes, based on the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld; and, That’s Whatshesaid).

    "An coming from behind is That's Whatshesaid!"

    “And coming from behind is That’s Whatshesaid!”

  3. I’ve never been out of Australia
    While I have been on holiday in New South Wales (I live in Western Australia) I have never travelled overseas. This is pretty unusual for someone my age (26) as a trip to Bali, Thailand or New Zealand is a bit of a rite of passage for most young Aussies, but I’ve never had an interest in cheap, booze-fuelled holidays and would rather save up for a more cultural trip (say to Italy, Greece, France, the UK or Russia) that I can enjoy at an age where its more meaningful…plus so far in my life I’ve been too poor and disorganised to travel :s

    the world

    I’ll get there eventually world

  4. I love repeating numbers
    Like I said above, I have a bit of a thing for repeating numbers. This may be because my birthday is the 22nd of October (alas, not November), and I certainly love multiple twos the most, but really any repeated number makes me happy. You know how some people make a wish if they see 11:11 on a digital clock? I don’t personally do that, but I get a tiny thrill any time I  see any repeated number time. I addition to this (and this is where my fixation takes a slight OCD turn) when I use a microwave and the recommended time allows me to do so, I will cook my food for a length of time with three repeated numbers (i.e. if the box says “cook for 2-3 mins” i’ll cook it for 2 minutes and 22 seconds). I’m not saying that I have to do things in repeated numbers, or that If I didn’t it would upset me (which I think means I don’t actually have OCD) but still…so far this list is making be sound like an insane hermit O.o

    2 22-cover

    Funnily enough I have never seen this movie, despite the name…

  5. I have an ever-increasing collection of earrings and head-bands/bandanas etc.
    Ever since high-school I have expressed myself through headbands, clips and other hair decorations rather than colourful clothing and make-up. When I shaved my head for the Shave for a Cure this extended to earrings because they could be seen so much clearer than when I had long hair. Since then matching my hair accessories and earrings to my (now much brighter) clothing has kind of become my “thing”, which makes it very easy for people close to me when looking for birthday and Xmas presents 😛

    Some of my earring collection - all the non-hanging ones and ones that don't get worn a lot reside in a little drawer of a jewellery box

    Some of my earring collection – all the non-hanging ones and ones that don’t get worn a lot reside in a little drawer of a jewellery box

  6. I’ve recently become obsessed with Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
    This started on my birthday last year when I popped into their store in the city centre of Perth (which I had frequented before to buy a Mother’s Day present and generally to sniff delicious-smelling concoctions) and bought myself some bday goodies. I then went back when I received some birthday moolah and my shower has been invaded by amazing Lush products ever since.

    6026-happy-Happy-Joy-Joy-500x500

    The newest item on my wishlist

  7. I have a big collection of bookmarks and I try to match the bookmark I’m using to the cover art and/or subject matter of the book
    I have loved bookmarks since I was a kid as I loathed the thought of folding down page corners (*shudder*) or
    using any old piece of paper to mark my place. As I got older my collection grew as I usually bought a new bookmark with each bookshop purchase, and as friends and family knew I liked them I often was gifted free bookmarks they collected or when I was given a book. Since I have so many its pretty easy to match the bookmark to the book, and as I said above, I like colour coordinating so that just filters down to my books as well 🙂

    My current collection of bookmarks

    My current collection of bookmarks

I’ll end with a quick nag – the Micro Reviews Poll ends on the 27th of January, so if you want your say on the future of Micro Reviews get voting! Currently all 4 votes are in favour of continuing the Micro Reviews but supplemented with some full-length reviews, so that seems to be the most likely outcome, but there is still time for a different result if you so desire.

Oh! and this post is a bit of a milestone for Book Polygamist – it is my 200th post! 😀

I just want to say a big thank you to all my followers and commenters. We may be a small group, but without you, my Bookbaggers, I would probably have abandoned this endeavour (as a usually do with projects after a while) long ago, and that would be a shame because I really do enjoy writing it and reading your feedback.

Bring on post number 300! Also Book Polygamist’s 2nd birthday is approaching (March 5th) and since I completely forgot about the 1st birthday I will make sure I don’t let this one pass without some kind of special surprise 🙂

In the meantime, keep your collective eyes peeled for my Top 10 Books of 2012 and The 2012 Book Polygamist Awards which will be up before the end of January, as well as the usual Notable Quotables, updates on my current reads, and once the poll has finished, more Micro Reviews (as well as some sorely neglected full-length ones that are waiting in the wings).

Until then I wish all my fabulous Bookbaggers:

Happy Reading!

Perhaps on one of the wonderful blogs I nominated 😉

Versatile is my middle name!…no, wait it’s Louise

On the 14th of June I received a surprise honor – Christie from bibliophiliacs  nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award! 🙂

For those who haven’t heard of the award before you can find out all about it on the blog, Versatile Blogger Award but the basic lowdown is:

  1. If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.
  2. When you’re nominated thank the person who gave you the award and include a link to their blog.
  3. Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So, first things first – thank you once again to Christie from bibliophiliacs. It really was a big surprise as I’m just a fledgling blogger and haven’t been able to post very regularly for a while, so thanks for making me feel special…and versatile 😀

My nominations for The Versatile Blogger Award are:

  1. Christie from bibliophiliacs (WordPress)
    One good nomination deserves another and bibliophiliacs is a well-deserved multiple nominee which consistently offers interesting posts about books, reading, literacy, libraries and the authors workplace – a book store with a cast of quirky clientele
  2. Chelle from Salmon & Avocado (WordPress)
    Chelle is actually one of my fellow Library students at Central Institute of Technology and it’s because of her that I even started Book Polygamist in the first place. Her blog is inspired by two of her favourite culinary ingredients – salmon and avocados – and features tons of quick, tasty recipes, cooking experiments and restaurant reviews
  3. Lauren from The Very Hungry Bookworm (WordPress)
    One of the first blogs I followed, The Very Hungry Bookworm is a clever blog which is a sort of book/food blog hybrid. Book reviews usually include a recipe  adapted from a dish that features in the book (or inspired by the book in general). She also blogs about movies and has one of the best rating systems I’ve ever encountered
  4. Siobhan from The Book and Biscuit (WordPress)
    Another blog I took a shine to early on, mainly because Siobhan likes some of the same novels as me and we both are fans of Alice in Wonderland related goodies 🙂 Besides book reviews she also posts interesting tidbits about book related events or sites, her newest purchases or gifts, and some excellent literary lists
  5. Miss Anderson from The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh (WordPress)
    A school librarian and teacher who blogs about books (especially Young Adult fiction), her career and other fun stuff like photo editing sites and programs
  6. Stephanie from Listful Thinking (WordPress)
    A HILARIOUS blog which embraces the mighty power of the list! As a Library student turned Library Technician (yes I have qualified – wooting ensues!) and a bit of a weirdo order-wise I love lists and Listful Thinking has some great ones. Check it out for a hearty giggle 🙂
  7. The Byronic Man from….The Byronic Man (WordPress)
    Very funny and clever posts. If I could sit and read the entirety of The Byronic Man in one sitting I would, but since he’s been going since November 2010 I may have to remain content with slowly devouring them. He has probably been nominated many a time but why not one more? 🙂
  8. Neely from NEELYWANG Photography + Design  (WordPress)
    A really stunning photography/design blog. I especially love her Macro Monday posts – beautiful stuff
  9. Jessy from Library Shenanigans (WordPress)
    A funny blog about all the weird and wonderful shenanigans that occur at libraries (they really do attract weirdos and not just bookworms people – trust me!) as well as other funny library related news
  10. Shivani from My Owl Barn (Blogger)
    The only blog on this list so far which is via Blogger not WordPress, but for me it was definitely worth joining and subscribing because I am absolutely crazy about owl things and this gives me a regular owl fix! All the posts feature some kind of owl related product or artwork, but often includes other pieces which are not owls and I have found some stunning art on there so its worth a look-see even if you’re not an owl freak like me :p
  11. J. Vance from A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette (Blogger)
    A blog I only discovered extremely recently (i.e. last Friday) when browsing the blogroll on Library Shenanigans. Every post made me twitter to myself (as in I emitted a series of little high-pitched laughs like a twittering bird not I sent myself messages of 140 characters or less on a social networking site) and there is actually some great advice for Library workers behind the humor as well
  12. Allie from Hyperbole and a Half (Blogger)
    Another Blogger blog that I discovered on Friday when browsing. Awesomely funny posts accompanied by equally awesomely funny drawings which tell stories from the authors day-to-day life – kinda like a cross between a diary blog and an autobiographical comic 🙂
  13. Ginger from GReads (Blogger)
    GReads receives this nomination mostly for her fun features: Tune In Tuesdays, where she takes a break from books to showcase music; The Blogger behind the Book, where she interviews other book bloggers; and TGIF at GReads, where she recaps the posts of the week and asks her readers a question for them to answer on their own blog or via the comments page. She also has quite an impressive archive of reviews, nicely arranged in alphabetical order 🙂
  14. The gang at The Broke and the Bookish (Blogger)
    The Broke and the Bookish is another blog which is receiving a nomination based on their wonderful features. The blog hosts a few clever features and/or blog memes, but the most popular is Top Ten Tuesday a meme which won the Best Book Blog Meme award during Book Blogging Appreciation Week  2011. Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten list answered by one of the contributors and their followers are welcomed to post their own list and link back creating a wonderful web of book blog Top Ten lists every Tuesday! I have yet to post a Top Ten Tuesday list but as my regular readers (or Bookbaggers) know I am quite the fond of Top 10 lists and I’m very impressed with the number of themes The Broke and the Bookish has managed to compile over time (over 100 and counting!)
  15. And last but not least:
    lambskinny the administrator at The Versatile Blogger Award (WordPress)
    Because creating and maintaining a place for all nominees to find out more about the award and share the love is worth its own reward 🙂

Nominating 15 bloggers/blogs was surprisingly tricky because I’m still relatively new to the blogosphere and don’t actually follow that many blogs. So, with this list of nominations you are pretty much getting the entirety of my following/subscriptions lists from both WordPress and Blogger BUT they are all well deserved and worth a read 🙂

Lastly here is the 7 facts about me for Christie at bibliophiliacs :

  1. I have two small, furry, old dogs. The oldest one, Charlie, is a Maltese cross Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who looks like a fluffy, curly ball of fur attempting to infiltrate the couch or bed by impersonating a cushion. I’ve had him since I was 14 and he’s approaching 11 now, is going blind, has allergies which causes him to itch like crazy and sleeps 95% of the time but still acts like a crazy puppy when I get home. The second one, Tia, is a salt and pepper Miniature Schnauzer who has only been with us for a little over a year. She was a rescue dog that someone found abandoned in a backyard, with very overgrown and tangled fur, ticks all over her body and teats still producing milk after a recent litter of puppies. It’s been a long road to get her use to people (we suspect she has been abused or mistreated in some way) and she has also had to have quite a bit of medical treatment (an emergency spay due to an infection in her uterus and all of her teeth removed because they were in such bad nick) but she is now such a sweet and funny little dog who is so happy to see me when I get home. The vet estimated her age at around 8 or 9 so she’s not much younger than Charlie which means my fur children are more like furry geriatrics but I love them all the same.

    We are cushions! You do not see us!

  2. As I mentioned above I’m crazy about owls (and I was before everyone jumped on the owl bandwagon!). This makes it pretty easy for my friends and family to get me presents as I collect owl statues and owls of every size, shape, colour and pattern seem to be everyone at the moment. Currently I have around 30 but I haven’t counted in a while and I also have plenty of owl earrings, necklaces and clothing with owls on them. Hoot! 😀

    Some of my growing owl family 🙂

  3. I like dead things. That sounds way creepier than it is and is not a great sentence to lead from but hear me out. Firstly I’m not some crazy goth who likes to fantasize about getting it on with a vampire in a cemetery before finding a goat to slaughter and offer to their satanic master (before any goths get up on their high horses over that statement – chillax. I use to be a goth in highschool and I was just playing around with the stereotypes that get thrown about. I’m not being serious. Please don’t eat me). I also don’t condone killing animals for no reason and even though I am a meat eater I could probably never kill my own cow if I felt like a juicy steak. When I say I like dead things I simply mean that I’m fascinated by dead animals (namely birds and insects) and animal bones. If I come across a dead pigeon on the side of the road I stop and take a photo of it. If a bird has died and the bones have been completely cleaned by insects I may even take one home for my collection. I have a box where I keep dead insects that I find and It has gotten to the point when friends and family will give me insects that they find or even take pictures of dead birds and forward them to me. I won’t go into WHY I love dead things because you may already think I’m a freak but rest assured the reasons are fully wholesome and nothing to do with evil science and creating my own army of zombie animals, I swear…. although that would be pretty sweet…

    MWAHAHAHAHA!…..*cough*….sorry

  4. I use to be a Florist’s Assistant so I have an interest in flowers and especially the meanings behind them. The Victorian language of flowers is a particular interest of mine, especially because one species of flower can often have many different and conflicting meanings. I wish I could grow a whole garden of flowering plants but alas, my mother’s green thumb did not pass on to me and If I don’t kill my plants it’s usually from sheer blind luck.

    Lavender, one of my favourite flowers can mean mistrust or on the other hand love, devotion, purity, cleanliness, luck or compassion. How bizarre is that?

  5. I’m a lesbian, but not a very good one. I say this because at the age of 25 I have only had one serious girlfriend and two disastrous ones and even the serious relationship didn’t last very long. Also I’m usually too busy/lazy/disinterested to go to gay bars or other events where I could meet other lesbians, I’m not particularly fussed about getting married (although I do support same-sex marriage), and I’m usually surprised when a celebrity comes out so my gaydar is shot (only with the ladies though – when it comes to gay men I can generally spot it a mile away).

    Maybe one day I’ll meet an equally rubbish lesbian and we can be rubbish and lazy together 😛

  6. I’m a Librarian who has tattoos. Well, that isn’t 100% true – I’m a Library Assistant with a Library Technician qualification but that’s a mouthful so when I explain my job I usually just say Librarian if I’m talking to people outside the library industry. The tattoos part however is 100% correct. I have two eye tattoos, one which is a tiger’s eye and one which is an owl’s eye on either side of my chest/front of my shoulder (you can see them a little bit in my Gravatar picture). Because of their placement and the dress code at my place of work (smart casual) they remain hidden the majority of the time, so much so that one of my lecturers (who I only had on a day when I worked afterwards) thought they were brand new when seeing them at our end of semester afternoon tea, even though I’ve had them for the entirety of my course.

    This isn’t me obviously – I wish!

  7. I unconsciously sing/hum little songs to myself. To my friends and family this has become endearing I guess because they hardly ever mention it/giggle at me anymore, but I found myself doing it on one of my first days at a different campus library and didn’t even realise until my co-worker started laughing. It usually happened when I’m working on something and the tunes don’t sound like anything really – just a string of notes like the made up song of a child – but if I’m really into a task it may evolve into an actual song but with what I’m doing replacing the real lyrics – i.e. a song about washing the dishes to the tune of Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin (to my knowledge I’ve never done that specifically before by now I’ve thought of it next time I’m washing dishes it will probably become reality)

    “Washing dishes in the sink, when I’m done I’ll have a drink! Don’t worry, be happy…”

    So there we go, all the required duties of becoming a Versatile Blogger Award winner have been fulfilled and only…. almost a month after my nomination O.o oops.

    Thanks once again to Christie – I was almost on the verge of shutting down Book Polygamist because I’ve been too busy to post so your nomination gave me the kick in the behind I sorely needed 🙂

    I hope to get onto more posting now I’ve finished my course but since I’ve been working so much it’s been a little tricky so hopefully you, my few but loyal Bookbaggers will stick with me and I can bring you more Book Polygamy in the near future.

    For now Happy Reading! and I hope you find some new wonderful blogs to follow in my nominations list.

The 2011 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to the 1st Annual Book Polygamist Awards! (insert applause and cheering here)

Every year I look back at the books I have read and assign awards to those that have stood out in some way. Before now that acknowledgement has been for my eyes only in my treasured reading journals so I am happy to make them public for the first time!

The awards will be in two parts: the Annual Awards which are ones that I have given to books every year and will likely continue to do so; and the Special Awards which are awards that I have created especially for this years contenders.

I hope you enjoy 🙂

Annual Awards

Shortest Read:

The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn, at around an hour

Honorable Mentions:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman, at 1 day

Eddie Dickens Trilogy (Awful End; Dreadful Acts and Terrible Times) at 2 days for all three.

Longest Read:

Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two: Lamplighter by D M Cornish, at 27 weeks and 3 days! O.o

Honorable Mentions:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker, at 25 weeks, 3 days!

The Books of Blood: vol 1-3 by Clive Barker at 30 weeks and counting!!

Most Books Read by a Single Author:

 

4 by Kerry Greenwood (Urn Burial; Heavenly Pleasures; Devil’s Food; Trick or Treat)

Honorable Mentions:

3 by Charlaine Harris (Definitely Dead; All Together Dead; From Dead to Worse)

3 by Philip Ardagh (Awful End; Dreadful Acts;Terrible Times)

Best “New” Author Award:

Every year I make a list of authors I have discovered and who I want to read more of, so this year I thought I’d give an award to the author that I was the most impressed with and have since researched several other books of theirs that I’m interested in as well as a few other authors that get honorable mentions.

William Gay (Twilight)

Honorable Mentions:

Marianne de Pierres (Nylon Angel – Book 1 Parrish Plessis series)

Andrew Nicoll (The Good Mayor)

Kathryn Lasky (Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture)

Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)

Catherine Webb (The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

Destiny (Trinity trilogy) by Fiona McIntosh

Honorable Mention:

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman

The Best Start to a Series Award:

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (Horatio Lyle series) by Catherine Webb

Honorable Mention:

The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole series) by Kathryn Lasky

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:

The Travelling Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore

Honorable Mention:

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

The “Graphic Novels are a Legitimate Genre” Award:

This is the first year I have read Graphic Novels and actually treated them like real books (i.e. included them in my book journal; wrote reviews etc.) so I thought the two fabulous Graphic Novels deserve their very own award 🙂

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons AND V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

The Short but Sweet Award:

This year has included a few short-story anthologies, a format I don’t generally read a lot so I have chosen the best short-story collection as well as the best individual stories.

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

Best stories: Family Business by Jonathan Maberry; The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky by M. B. Homler; The Storm Door by Tad Williams; Second Wind by Mike Carey; Weaponized by David Wellington.

The BRAAIINNS! Award:

This year stood out as the year I started to love zombie stories! It wasn’t the first time I read anything with zombies (in 2010 I read Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner which is about a zombie detective; the first Anita Blake book by Laurell K Hamilton, Guilty Pleasures, which involves zombie raising, and right before the dawn of 2011 I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan which is set in a zombie-apocalyptic world) but after Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead  I was hooked so the BRAAIINNS Award goes to:

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

with an honorable mention to Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carrol and Nickolas Cook 😛

The Revisited Award:

This is a new award I came up with, given to a book I re-read and still loved in 2011:

Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn

The About Time! Award:

This award goes to a book that I had been meaning to read for a long time:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

Honorable Mention:

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

The Best Cover Art Award:

The Secrets of the Chess Machine by Robert Löhr

Honorable Mentions:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll

The Misleading Cover Award:

Yearn: Tales of Lust and Longing by Tobsha Learner

(to find out why this cover is misleading see my review)

The “They’ve Still Got It!” Award:

This is another new one that I created purely to highlight two of my favourite authors whose newest releases I read this year and loved just as much (if not more) than previous favourites:

Joanne Harris for Blueeyedboy AND Tracy Chevalier for Remarkable Creatures

2011 has been a fabulous year for me, not just for reading but in many aspects of my life, and I hope for even more great reads and wonderful events now that its 2012!

I hope you all also read some novels in 2011 that deserve awards and you have an amazing 2012 🙂

Top 10 Reads of 2011!

I have been making a list of my fave books of the year for a while now, but before now they have only been chronicled in my reading journals or on Facebook last year, so its pretty sweet to have it out in the blogosphere for the first time 🙂

1. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman 

This was the first book I started in 2011 (on the 1st of January and all!) and was also one of a few books I read around that time that were the final instalments in major trilogies I had been reading for a while (the others are Destiny by Fiona McIntosh which is also in this list, and The Reawakened by Jeri Smith-Ready that I finished on January 1st so it missed out being on this list :P). I read the first two of the His Dark Materials series, Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass) and The Subtle Knife in 2009 and late 2010 respectively and each one was more gripping and imaginative as the story went on culminating with The Amber Spyglass which was just amazing. Philip Pullman brought everything to light and wrapped up all the loose ends that had developed throughout the series and although many of these conclusions were heart-breaking, the ending felt right. I was left with a sense of awe at Pullman’s abilities and it certainly opened up my year of reading with a bang.

2. Destiny by Fiona McIntosh 

Destiny was another wonderful conclusion to a gripping series, but one that I had been invested in for much longer. As I have said before there was a big gap between starting the Trinity trilogy and finishing it as I read the first book, Betrayal way back in 2008, then the second book, Revenge a couple of months later but was unable to acquire Destiny until early 2011! It was lucky that I re-read the first two books before finding it but even still it was at least a year between the end of Revenge (which was quite a cliffhanger) and the beginning of Destiny so it took me a while to understand what was going on. However once I was caught up this final instalment certainly didn’t disappoint with more twists and turns then  the most intense rollercoaster and countless moments that made me gasp in shock or burst into tears. There were so many satisfying conclusions to conflicts that had carried through the whole trilogy and the final ending was very emotional and riveting, showing Fiona McIntosh’s ability to weave a great ending that doesn’t shy away from harsh realities and fall into the “happily ever after” trap.

3. The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll 

This was a beautiful, quirky, charming little novel which was a surprise highlight of my year. Andrew Nicoll described the fictional Baltic town of Dot as well as all the unique characters inhabiting it with loving detail that made me eager to read for hours on end. The story was quite simple – a forbidden love story between the Mayor of the town and his married assistant – but it was the execution of it that was so addictive to me, the dancing around the two did, never admitting their feelings for each other and by the end I was quite frustrated with them both (which made me want to read even more just to see if they’d ever get their act together!). Even ‘tho it took a really strange turn at its climax this only made me like the book more as it was so unexpected. A great read for someone who loves a good RomCom but one that’s a tad odd 🙂

4. Blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris

This one was a big surprise because as I am a huge fan of Joanne Harris and am use to her usual fare of magic, food and small town politics (or other tight-knit communities like a college or nunnery), or as in her earlier works gothic styled historical novels with a touch of mystery and Blueeyedboy certainly doesn’t fit into those categories. Well and truly in the modern age, this novel tells its story exclusively through LiveJournal posts which gave it a creepy atmosphere of confession and mind games. It was a frightening, disturbing and unsettling book where the lines between fiction and reality and between online and offline personas was very blurred and I was constantly changing my mind about who was the “monster” and who was the victim. The twists were often very unexpected and sudden, so I found myself reeling through most of it, but by the end I was left impressed by Joanne Harris’ talent (to create a fantastic psychological thriller so different from her usual style) and even that early on in the year (I read it over a week in February) I knew it would be on this list as I stayed with me long after the last word.

5. Twilight by William Gay

I almost didn’t read this fantastically atmospheric book because of its title, but I am so glad a bunch of glittery vampires didn’t put me off as it was a fantastic, if quite confusing read. This is the first of my Top Reads that I have reviewed on this blog, and that review can be found here. Since I went into why this book was so amazing in that review I won’t go into it much here, but will just say that this book showed some of the finest writing of my readings this year as well as being one of the more creepy and vividly described novels I read in 2011. Not for the faint hearted or easily confused, but for lovers of language and spooky imagery this is a real treat.

6. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This is another book I reviewed this year so I won’t go into too much detail, but as soon as I finished it I knew it would be on this list as it certainly made an impact on me. This is one of those novels that grew on me (like my friend Sarah would say, like a fungus :)) and the second half was read in huge devouring sessions as opposed to the snail’s pace of the first half. If any of you decide to give this little french gem a shot I would highly recommend that you watch the movie adaptation afterwards as it cleverly takes the story from page to screen and was a lovely little film in its own right 🙂

7. Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

This one is definitely not for those light of heart (or stomach!) as it is a classic Barker tale filled with gruesome creatures, violent sexuality and lots of gore. I have yet to review it, even ‘tho I reached the end on the 20th of October (naughty naughty!) as it has been hard to find the right words to explain it. It is a blend of absolute horror in the craziest supernatural form that Clive Barker excels at, and a tale of the underbelly of Hollywood from its Golden Age of ageless movie starlets in glorious black and white and blissful silence, to the modern age of plastic idols. Not one I would recommend as an introduction to Clive Barker (it would likely scare many away) but once readers are used to his work (maybe starting with lighter novels like Abarat and then moving on to his crazier stuff like Sacrament?) this is an excellent example of his expansive and very warped imagination. He’s a freak but I love ‘im 🙂

8. The Secrets of the Chess Machine by Robert Löhr

This was a more light-hearted read of 2011. Although there was some murder mystery elements and other dark parts It was always easy and fun to read as opposed to some on this list which I dipped into less often. I love a good Historical Saga, especially one that is based on real events rather than just a certain time or place in history, and this little beauty was exactly what I was looking for. More details can be found in my review but be warned, this one may be a bit difficult to find. I was lucky enough to find it at my local library, but since reading and reviewing it a friend and fellow Library student has been trying to find it in bookstores to no avail. My best bet would be an online bookstore such as Book Depository or second-hand and rare book supplier Abe Books.

9. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This book was a fairly recent read (I finished it on the 8th of December) but I knew from a few chapters in that it would be a highlight of 2011. I first heard about it from my mum who saw it reviewed on Australian morning show The Circle and thought I would like it as before my Library studies I was a floral assistant and I have always been intrigued by the Victorian custom of courting lovers communicating through flowers. She then bought it from me as part of my amazingly generous birthday presents and I was lucky enough to choose it out of my To Read pile at the beginning of November. I have yet to review it (I’ll get there I promise!) but it was a beautifully touching story with an interesting and solid background in the meaning of flowers and the effect the foster child/adoption system has on children even into adulthood.

10. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier 

This last book almost didn’t make it on the list as when I started it on the 9th of December, even ‘tho I loved it from the first chapter I didn’t think I would finish it before the start of the new year. But thanks to some marathon reading, mostly due to the fantastic writing skills of Tracy Chevalier and my ardent wish to include it in my Top Reads I finished it the day before New Years Eve 🙂 This was a very interesting and touching novel that amerses you in a historical time and place perfectly. Tracy Chevalier is wonderful at capturing a time and place and inventing believable details surrounding a pivotal artistic (or in this case scientific) movement. I have loved every book she has ever released from the moment I read The Virgin Blue as they were all sound Historical novels with a backbone of facts and a great deal of heart. This one is based on the true story of Mary Anning, a working class girl in 19th century England who discovers the first aquatic dinosaurs and sets the scientific world alight with talk of extinction and the age of the earth, but it is also about the friendship between two women (Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot) who are from a different class and background and two decades apart in age but share a love of fossil hunting. I promise I’ll do a proper review as soon as I get through the 8 that are still backed up 😛

Stay tuned for my other highlights of the year in the form of my 2011 Book Polygamist Awards! which I will post within the next couple of days, and I hope to see all my usual Bookbaggers as well as lots of new faces throughout 2012 🙂

In case you weren’t aware 2012 is The National Year of Reading in Australia, which libraries around the country are getting involved in with special activities and programs as well as extra storytime sessions, displays and the like, so expect some extra little tidbits this year 🙂

One idea I had was to post a small quote from one of the books I’m reading every day as part of Project 365 but what with my last semester of study being this year as well as continuing casual work at libraries, and hopefully some form of social life, I don’t see myself keeping that up for longer than a few weeks, so maybe I’ll make it something more achievable like a quote once a week?

Let me know what you guys think in the comments and as always, HAPPY READING!!!! (in caps for added New Years emphasis :P)