Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Buying books in 2011

So I happened to keep track last year of all the books I bought as well as all the books I read, and I have to say, book sellers should love me. Except I buy mostly from Amazon, of course, because the nearest bricks-and-morter store is eighty miles away and I don’t get there very often, right?

Anyway . . . I buy a lot of books, it turns out. Like, 147 books last year. Wow. That surprised even me.

I bought 50 adult fantasy, that was the biggest single category, and if you add the 12 paranormal / urban fantasy and the 38 YA fantasy, then fantasy becomes BY FAR the biggest category. Though I swear I didn’t plan for it to come out as an even 100. That just happened.

So that’s two-thirds of all the books I bought. Then there were 22 SF books, split about equally between adult and YA, which is 15%. And then the remaining 20% or so is divided among mysteries, nonfiction, contemporary YA, historical, and horror, in that order — just one horror, which is not a genre I really much like. That was THE SILENT LAND by Joyce, which I only read because it was up for the World Fantasy Award. It was okay, the writing was good, but I thought it was pretty obvious what was going on. I liked it, though, partly because it wasn’t too horrific.

So I also counted up how many of the books I bought I also read, and it turns out that was 97, with a nice even 50 that are still on my TBR pile. I actually read about 120 books last year, so that means only 20 or so came off the stacked-up TBR pile from previous years, only actually that’s misleading, because if I took a book of the TBR pile and started it and decided pretty quickly it wasn’t my thing, I didn’t count it. That accounts for another half dozen books or so.

So I posted about my five favorite books (well, or series) from last year over at The Book Smugglers on Dec 1st, as you may recall. And those were, in no particular order:

The 100,000 Kingdoms trilogy (Jemisin) — adult fantasy
The Sky is Everywhere (Nelson) — contemporary YA
The Tomorrow, When the War Began series (Marsden) — um, SF-ish
The Blue Place trilogy (Griffith) — mystery
and
The Breach and Ghost Country (Lee) — SF thrillers

And I stand by those choices, but there were a handful that REALLY fought it out for a top spot, and if you’re interested, here are the top five of THOSE:

Thirteenth Child and Across the Great Barrier (Wrede) is a YA fantasy duology, obviously with a third book on the way, with a wonderful alternate-world-wild-west setting that I just loved. And hey, Patricia Wrede, so you know the writing’s good, right? I came very very close to putting this in my top five, bumping Patrick Lee’s duology.

The Black Prism (Weeks) is an adult fantasy that I just loved. The sequel’s due out in 2012, I think. If you’ve read Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy and it was a little much for you? This one takes the horrific stuff back a notch or a notch and a half, which made it a book I could really enjoy. Loved the characters. The plot twist in the middle took me by surprise, though I bet other readers see it coming, but I missed it even though it was foreshadowed. Anyway, unusual magic system and great writing, it was a real standout for me.

A Fistful of Sky, by Hoffman. I discovered Nina Kiriki Hoffman in 2011 and loved many of her books, with this one my pick for best of the bunch. Loved the cookie scene! The main character is, I dunno, about 24? But the book reads like a YA anyway, which is interesting.

Troubled Waters, by Sharon Shinn. It was exactly the kind of book I was in the mood for, nice and smooth, with excellent writing and not too much tension. I liked it a lot. It may be one of my favorite by Shinn.

The Princess Curse (Haskell) was debut MG fairy tale retelling which pushed a lot of my buttons just right. I really enjoyed this take on the twelve dancing princesses — I think it’s my favorite version. I know lots of people love Wildwood Dancing best but the heroine in that one is so ineffectual (sorry! she is!) that I couldn’t get into it — I like this version MUCH better.

There! And isn’t that interesting? Only one fantasy series made it into my top five for 2011, but all of THESE five choices are fantasy — which actually reflects my reading tastes a lot more closely

My TBR pile currently comprises 67 books, almost all genre but with a couple nonfiction in there too — a book on economics, for example, and a book on sperm whale social behavior. (People forget that my actual degree is in animal behavior — I’m also slowly re-reading the eight volume set I have on East African mammals by Jonathon Kingdon.)

First book read in 2012? MOUSE AND DRAGON by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee. Which was good, but the whole last part felt rushed to me, I think they should have tied this book off differently and put all that part in a sequel.

The second? I just reread HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, preparatory to reading the other DWJ’s stories set in that universe. Kind of a treat! Makes me want to watch the movie again, now that I’ve got the plot of the book back in my head.

So the year’s off to a good start! I guess I should aim for an even 150 books read in 2012?

Next! After I read the other Howl books, should I start another book of my own?

We’ll see! I should! It’d be nice to start of the year with a nice productive fifty or hundred pages, quick before the puppies distract me — only a couple more weeks before I’m seriously into housetraining.

They’re doing great, btw! The little boy’s going to make it to two pounds tomorrow, I can see it coming.

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4 Comments Buying books in 2011

  1. Elaine T

    Yes, you should start a new book of your own.

    Did the puppy make it to 2lbs?

    The Howl books are an unusual series, which is one of the reasons I like them.
    We’ve been buying fewer books in the last few years for reasons combining $$ and dwindling shelf space. I never counted how many we bought in a year, although I’m sure Amazon could tell me how many I’ve bought through them. But we also used to have a Borders less than a mile away, and liked to wander over to browse and buy.

    I read several on you top 20 list (counting those that didn’t quite make it into the top ten). I can understand why everyone raved about the Jemison, but while I was gripped by the first one, I’ve had no desire to either reread it or go on with the series. It was a ‘good once’ book for me. BLACK PRISM I looked for after you recommended it. I found myself skimming parts, but it was good and original, and I can’t tell for sure where Weeks is going with the story. (This is good. ) I will look for the next one.
    Haven’t picked up any Hoffman in a few years. I read a lot of her stuff close together and after a while they all seemed the same. I should probably try again, now that I’ve had time to forget those samenesses.

    So,what did you think of HEXWOOD?

  2. Rachel

    The little boy is now 2 lbs and 4 oz, the little girl is juuust under 2 lbs. In fact, she probably is over 2 lbs as of today. Check out my other website (www.anaracavaliers.com) for a picture I took just this morning! They are now SUPER CUTE; when you step in the puppy room, they sit up and tip their heads waaay back to look at your face. Adorable!

    The shelf-space thing is eventually going to force me to buy a kindle, I expect. In the meantime, I give away a ton of books because I really don’t want more shelves.

    Just finished HEXWOOD this morning . . . still thinking about it. It was definitely different!

    I liked some of Hoffman’s much better than others. One, I think THE RED HEART OF MEMORY, which is a great title btw, but I found parts of it so very implausible that disbelief got in the way.

    You know, one I’m embarrassed not to have mentioned in my “not well-enough known” list is Doris Egan’s IVORY trilogy. Have you read that? First one was GATE OF IVORY.

  3. Elaine T

    Doris Egan, yes! She wrote one book as Jane Emerson, too (we have all four of her books), then vanished. I heard she was writing TV scripts and such like. Probably pays more regularly than novel writing.

    HEXWOOD- different is the word. Impressive, too.

    For me though, the impressiveness is on an intellectual level and the various machinations with time, place, legend overwhelm whatever makes me ‘bond’ with a story. I reread it sometimes – there’s something there, but the machinations overwhelm the numinous. When she pulls off numinous it’s wonderful. She did in SPELLCOATS, DoGSBODY, and HOMEWARD BOUNDERS. I think she was trying for it, but maybe I’m wrong. She didn’t always. HOWL, frex, is simply great fun, but not, IMHO, numinous.

  4. Rachel

    Yes, CITY OF DIAMOND, which I really liked a whole lot despite its flaws. I thought she had way too many POV characters, even though I have to say that I actually really liked nearly all of them, especially Tal Diamond. But it was as though she tried to fit everything cool she’d ever thought of into that one book and it got much too cluttered.

    I thought the IVORY trilogy was put together much more cleanly. I think I do remember hearing she was doing scripts, but it’s too bad she’s not also doing more books: there was definitely room for another couple in the IVORY universe, and obviously CITY OF DIAMOND ended on something of a cliffhanger. Though it might be hard to pull a sequel for that into coherent shape. Still, I wish she’d try.

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