Bites
January 2, 2012
To carry on my raving tradition from last year, I now present you with the five-bite books from 2011 that made me go squee!!! The banner this year is a little different from last year, mainly because I went to go edit the image and I inadvertently smooshed all the layers together last year, thus rendering the image uneditable. Hooray for me. So, slightly new image and it looks like I was rather generous with my five bite rating in 2011. Or I just had a better grasp of what it was I liked to read and was better able to hone in on my favorite stuff. Either way, all of these books were awesome and were well worth raving about.
DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver
A utopic/dystopic retelling of Romeo and Juliet, DELIRIUM painted a picture of a severely structured society where love is a disease, easily cured by a lobotomy and a life chosen for you. But when Lena discovered she may have the disease, it turns her world upside down, completely destroying her ideals of what the world should be. DELIRIUM captured a teenager torn between what society tells her is right and what she feels in her gut is right and Oliver doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to making sure her characters work for their freedom in a world richly developed.

A SEASON OF EDEN by JM Warwick

Eden is used to getting whatever she wanted, whether it was a person, place or thing. But when a new teacher walks in the door and steals her heart, her every desire, for once, can’t be met. Or can it? Warwick does a fantastic job of portraying a forbidden love with both dripping seduction and class. You can feel every feeling Eden has and it’ll make you question just what is right and what is wrong. It’s a provocative story that deserves to be read and isn’t as lurid as its premise suggests.

STAY by Deb Caletti
Clara is trying to escape a volatile relationship that she just can’t seem to get away from. Told in present/past increments, you get her past story slowly, reliving it little by little, watching her break down and then, in the present, piece her life back together. Sometimes the clam doesn’t stay calm but Caletti really knew how to portray a strong character and Clara persevered. It’s hard to not be both horrified and in awe of what this story has to tell.
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness, adapted from Siobhan Dowd
Conor has a monster to deal with. It looms dark and scary in his yard, threatening to break in and rip him out. But it’s not safe inside either. His mom is sick and he has to decide which monster is worse. In a story that reduced me to a blubbering mess by the end, it walks you through Conor’s life as he comes to terms with his mom’s illness. And it’s not an easy ride. Ness/Dowd did not sugarcoat this story. It is exceptionally gritty and realistic and should be read by every single person alive.
THE SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK: A CENTURY BY THE SEA by The Santa Cruz Seaside Company
One of my own personal loves, this book wasn’t destined to get anything under five bites. It displayed the history of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California in vivid photographs that bring the past to life. It’s like something out of a movie, and it probably is since it’s been featured in a few, including my favorite.

ROT & RUIN and DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry
The zombie apocalypse has happened and this is Benny Imura’s story as he lives his life in the aftermath. And holy crap is it an amazing story. Maberry kept the zombies zombies, making them insanely horrifying. Yet at the same time he humanized the story, making it not just about fear but about life and death and what that really means. Salivating would be a good word to define my love for these two books.
ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick
If it’s not already blatantly obvious, I’ll repeat myself: Ilsa Bick can do no wrong. And she proved that yet again with ASHES, an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic novel that makes the rest of them hang their heads in shame. With a plot focused on survival and the world as opposed to romance, and the science actually making sense, it was love at first sight. Again. ASHES is going to blow the competition away, if it hasn’t done so already. Alex is the heroine that other like novels would hope to have. Because she’d actually survive.

THE LAST VAMPIRE and THE LAST VAMPIRE 2: BLACK BLOOD by Christopher Pike
This series is what other current vampire books so desperately want to be if they had the balls to actually consider the thought of being it. Alisa is filled with pain but knows how to lay the smackdown if need be, and she’s unapologetic for it. Sure, she doesn’t like to kill, but she’s not a fan of being killed either. Quite possibly one of the most level-headed vampires in YA horror yet.

FAT VAMPIRE by Adam Rex

A satire of epic proportions, FAT VAMPIRE has awesome pop culture references while treating the current vampire trend with the sneer and derision it deserves. It made me laugh and it even made me a little sad but it was a story that needed to be told and I’m all the better for it. I would say I wish there were more vampire books like this but not everyone can write in this amazing style and the market shouldn’t be saturated with it. It’ll lessen its awesome effect and that would just be downright bad.
THE GRAY WOLF THRONE by Cinda Williams Chima
The third book in the SEVEN REALMS series, it’s just as phenomenal as the other two. It carries on Raisa and Han’s story as they come to terms with where they need to be in life and what that means for them as a couple. Raisa’s struggling with the throne and Han is being used as a pawn. Neither are too fond of it and the story is just as thick and real as it was at the beginning.
GO THE F**K TO SLEEP by Adam Mansbach and Richard Cortes (illustrator)
An epically epic parody of your typical children’s book, and read by Samuel L. Jackson if you find the video on You Tube, even those of us without kids an appreciate the dire desperation put forth in this short little story. Truly, you will laugh your ass off.

THE FORBIDDEN GAME: THE HUNTER by LJ Smith
It’s highly likely the only reason why I love this book so much is because it reminds me of the movie Labyrinth but I’m okay with that. The world needs more awesome like that. Plus this is just a great, nominally timeless story that has Jenny getting stalked from when she was a kid by an evil darkness in the shape of a handsome boy. But looks can be deceiving and not everyone will make it out of the game alive. He did warn her. I can’t help but love the ruthlessness of it all.
FAIL HARDER by the failblog.org community
Who wouldn’t like pictures of utter fails from all over the world to laugh at? Surely, it must make you smile. And then maybe die a little on the inside as your faith in humanity wavers a little more.

GOOSEBUMPS: GHOST BEACH by RL Stine

While the GOOSEBUMPS books have a tendency of being a little on the cheesy side, every once in a while Stine will let his inner darkness show for the younger crowd, like with GHOST BEACH. The ending brings a crazy twist that leaves it all hanging and the safety of the main characters’ well-being is severely compromised. And we never know how it really turns out. Love it!

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake
The title that brought me hope for the future of YA horror. With a story that’s truly terrifying coupled with a relatable and likable main character, it’s hard not to get sucked into Cas’s world of ghost hunting. Plus it helped that I’m a huge SUPERNATURAL fan and this is right up that alley. But, as of late, far better written than the show.

What I think is probably the best book out of THE IRON FEY series, THE IRON QUEEN, is still fresh in Meghan’s voice and richly displaying the Fey realm around her in such vivid detail that you can almost taste it as you read it. Personally I think the series could have ended here but that was not to be. Still, it’s the end of Meghan’s story and a phenomenal one it was.
THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS AND ZOOT SUITS by Alison Marie Behnke
It probably helps that this is one of my favorite eras in modern history but I just loved this book for the fashion history it provided. And I’m not even big into fashion. But it spawns from a time when curves were once sexy and clothing was made to fit those bodies beautifully. And they were some damn fine clothes too.

AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS by Mike Bender and Doug Chernak

Like the FAIL HARDER title, it’s really hard not to like a book filled with photos of horribly awkward people projecting their awkwardness onto their pets. The added bonus with AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS is that one’s dying faith in humanity gets stalled for just a little while. Because really, we’ve all had some horrible photos taken of us and if we can’t laugh at ourselves, what do we have left?
101 THINGS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT THE TITANIC . . . BUT DIDN’T! by Tim Maltin
An excellent resource for every Titanic nut, 101 THINGS throws together information about in a heap of books under one cover. Just enough information to ease your fix before you move onto deeper and bigger things. Every Titanic enthusiast needs to have this title on their shelves. Really, it’s invaluable.

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