Thursday, January 19, 2012

My 5 favourite finds of 2011

List by Danielle

I'll take vampires over werewolves anyday...
~ From 'Vampires', by Minuit

2011 = much YA and more short stories and graphic novels than usual, in an attempt to actually finish some reading, what with the demands of work (apparently I have to work there, and not just read) and wonderful young kids. Also, 2011 brought a memorable 31 days in May listening to a new NZ cd each day, for NZ Music Month. Well, new to me. Which brings me to: Note: I'm not an early adopter. I don't so much start trends as fall over them in my near-sighted way a few years down the track, and marvel at their shininess. With that in mind, here are my favourite 'discoveries' of 2011 (oh look, the Wheel! Sliced bread! An Interweb!)...

Zombies vs. unicorns / [comp. by] Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier.
The highest justice / by Garth Nix -- Inoculata / by Scott Westerfeld -- The purity test / by Naomi Novik -- Bougainvillea / by Carrie Ryan -- A thousand flowers / by Margo Lanagan -- The children of the revolution / by Maureen Johnson -- Care and feeding of your baby killer unicorn / by Diana Peterfreund -- Love will tear us apart / by Alaya Dawn Johnson -- Princess prettypants / by Meg Cabot -- Zombietown / by Cassandra Clare -- The third virgin / by Kathleen Duey -- Prom night / by Libba Bray.

The stories are great, but for me, the fun stand-out was the endlessly snipey debate between Black and Larbalestier about Team Zombie vs Team Unicorn. For the record: Team Unicorn for the WIN, though I have to say, it's really really hard to defend that position.

Grilled pizzas & piadinas / Craig W. Priebe, with Dianne Jacob ; photography, Charles Schiller.Through quick and easy instructions for over 75 recipes, full colour photographs, step-by-step techniques and party menus, a beginning cook or seasoned chef will be inspired to fire up the grill.

This book is awesomesauce. There is a recipe in here for a steak and baked potato pizza, and man, I am telling you... it is the most amazing thing to assemble and eat. Definitely a completely different process to throwing together the standard pizza, with an incredible variety of flavours in each mouthful. Try it!

20th century ghosts / Joe Hill ; introduction by Christopher Golden. Best new horror -- 20th century ghost -- Pop art -- You will hear the locust sing -- Abraham's boys -- Better than home -- Black phone -- In the rundown -- Cape -- Last breath -- Dead-wood -- Widow's breakfast -- Bobby Conroy comes back from the dead -- My father's mask -- Voluntary committal.

A short story collection by my favourite find of 2011, horror writer Joe Hill. Loved his Locke and Key graphic novel series, enjoyed his longer fiction (particularly The heart-shaped box), but there was something about the weirder entries in this book that has stayed with me since reading. 'My father's mask' and 'Voluntary committal' send the collection out with a bang - odd, unsettling, deeply creepy without being at all graphic (although many of the other stories are at times fairly violent, so's you know).

The Hunger Games / by Suzanne Collins.
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

While other big name teen-adult franchises have not lived up to the hype for me, I loved this series and powered through it. Great storytelling, great pacing; an interesting story, well-told. Big ups too for making the 'good guy' part of the love triangle intriguing, sympathetic and wry.

Find me before I die a lonely death.com [compact disc] / Minuit. Wayho -- Run run -- 25 Bucks -- Queen of the flies -- I hate you -- Maserati -- Aotearoa -- Yeah yeah -- 10ft tall -- Vampires -- Daddy-o -- I'm still dancing -- Long live zero -- Everyone from everywhere.

Amplifier says their genre is Electronic, the library catalogue says Rock. I say, poppy rocky electronic music with real quirky lyrics that get into my head and stick there. Much fun. I heartily recommend throwing yourself into NZ Music Month and listening to something new, something a bit outside your usual. Totally well worth it, there's such a huge variety that you never know what you'll find!

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