Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year-End Book (and Book Blogging) Survey

December 31! Before I go all dramatic again and stroll down my not-so-eventful offline memory lane, I'll just do some "book business" and answer this year-end literary survey. I've seen this more than thrice in my dash so I guess I'll answer it. Apologies in advance...I may be publishing a lot of entries today. Thanks for understanding! :))

1. The Best Book You Read In 2011?
This question is probably one of the pet peeves I will never ever be able to get rid of. It never fails to render me tongue-tied every time—not in a good way, obviously—there’s so many to choose from! Haha. That said, I have a lot of favorites in different genre. For the record, I have a post in my drafts about my top 11 favorite books of 2011! I’m saving it up for later (later as in a few minutes after I post it on Tumblr). I’ll just pick randomly from that list, okay?

2. The Most Disappointing Book or a Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?
Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it. You can read all my thoughts in my review. Runner-up’s Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. Normally, I always get smitten with Murakami’s oh-so-surreal works, but this one’s an exception. There’s just something…off about it. Anyway, you know the drill—click and find out more. :p

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. I wouldn’t have picked this book if it solely brandished a regular soulmate formula, but the nerd factor involved in its blurb (and its title, duh!) convinced me to try it. It was amazing, and not just in a geeky kind of way. Also in a flabbergasted oh-my-god-it-shattered-my-heart-but-still-made-me-smile-at-the-end kind of way. See the review to find out more!

Runners-up are: the ultimate music-and-romance YA book Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and the lesbian Cinderella story Ash by Malinda Lo.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
The Book Thief and The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Oh, and also Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why! Because they’re awesome, okay? Also, I know I’ve finished Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy in 2010, but I repeatedly shoved them down everyone’s throats recommended them to everyone throughout the year. Just spreading the love, ‘ya know. Same with all of John Green’s books.

By the way, I think it’s important to mention I’m a Gaimaniac Blogging Machine—I recommend Neil Gaiman’s works every chance I get, even if I don’t read them all in 2011. Yeah, I roll like that.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Right, I’m going to cheat again because there’s a lot of good series in different genres I discovered this year. I haven’t finished some of them though, either because the remaining books are not released yet or they’re still far down on my to-read list:
  •  The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black (paranormal young adult).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire aka Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin (fantasy, medieval politics).
  • The Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson (thriller/mystery).
  • Benny Imura aka Rot n’ Ruin series by John Maberry (post-apocalyptic/zombie, young adult)
  • Lucifer graphic novels by Mike Carey (fantasy, crime, biblical fiction) .

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
George R. R. Martin, Markus Zusak, Paolo Giordano, Sherman Alexie, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Diana Peterfreund.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? Actually, I have no problems going out of my comfort zone in terms of reading ever since I can remember. But let’s see…Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division by Deborah Curtis. I don’t read a lot of biographies, but I really enjoyed this one. It’s kind of biased since I’m a Joy Division fan, but whatevs.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
Hmm, in terms of unputdownability (gads, I love the word), I guess the award’s going to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall (yep, I liked Oliver’s debut novel more than her famed dystopian book). They’re just so gripping!

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
Haruki Murakami’s IQ84. Come on—Murakami writing an ode to George Orwell’s renowned dystopian book, 1984? Who can’t NOT get excited by that? I have all three volumes now, but I’m going to get through them next year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011? 
The Book Thief
Unfortunately, this is not the version I own. I have the American edition, the one with the dominoes on the cover. The reason I didn’t read The Book Thief right away in 2010, despite hearing loads and loads of temptingly good things about it, is  that I’m trying to find this Doubleday edition. Took me almost a year before I gave up and settled for the Knopf one. I mean, how can you not love this? There’s just something about it that really appeals to me. Dancing with Death, even in illustrations, look so morbidly beautiful and poetic.

11. Most memorable character in 2011?
Unfair! Just one? If this survey is going to continue having questions like this one, I have no choice but to cheat. Just lemme do it, mkay?
  • Cassel Sharpe from White Cat and Red Glove by Holly Black.
  • Arya Stark from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I didn’t talk about her that much in my book review—just the fact that she may be my fictional alter ego if I were to be chucked in the pages of a medieval fantasy book. She's feisty, tomboyish, and she believes she can forge her own destiny. She reminds me of myself in so many ways.
  • Mattia Balossino from The Solitude of Prime Numbers.
  • Norah Silverberg from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
The Solitude of Prime Numbers (need I say more?), The Book Thief (until I got my hands on this I’ve never enjoyed reading a Death anthropomorph narrating a story that ever exceeded the one in Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels), and The Lover’s Dictionary (I share Levithan’s flair for words!). LOL I should have just referred you to question number 1.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?
You wouldn’t be mad if I say it’s one of the books above, right? Haha.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I should have read this a long time ago!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
from Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall: “Most of the time—99 percent of the time—you just don’t know how and why the threads are looped together, and that’s okay. Do a good thing and something bad happens. Do a bad thing and something good happens. Do nothing and everything explodes. And very, very rarely—by some miracle of chance and coincidence, butterflies beating their wings just so and all the threads hanging together for a minute—you get the chance to do the right thing.”

from Jodi Picoult’s Weights and Measures (All New Tales anthology): “Medical examiners say a person who died lost twenty-one grams of weight—the measure of a human soul. He realized, though, holding his daughter in his arms, that the scale was all wrong. Loss should have been measured in leagues: the linear time line he would not spend with her as she lost her first tooth, lost her heart over a boy, lost the graduation cap she tossed in a silvered sky. Loss should have been measured circularly, like angles: the minutes between the two of them, the degrees of separation.”

from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Endless Nights: “It wasn’t the loving each other or the knowing they could never be together. It wasn’t the wind in the eaves of the empty house, or the bone-dry rattle of the pills in the brown-glass bottle. It wasn’t the bitter taste, with only a stale box of red wine to wash it away. It wasn’t waking, with her dead and you all too alive. It was the way your fingers shook. It was a stammer, and the thickness of your tongue as you tried to speak. It was the sound of the sirens, coming closer. It was knowing that you would never get another chance.”

I could add more, but I’ll just leave it at three.

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
Not counting the ones I repeated more than twice above, I guess I’ll reread The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (or at least the first book) before I watch the movie adaptation. :)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.)
Haha! Honestly? The Book Thief and The Solitude of Prime Numbers. There’s a reason why they’re my favorites this year. :p I’m always gushing about these books—group-messaging my friends, fangirling about it online (even joining a contest where I declared my love for one them). They’re not exactly for everybody, I think you should give them a try.

18. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Numbers by Rachel Ward, Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (last book!), The God of Small Things by Arundathi Roy, 1Q84 + a bunch of other books by Murakami. There.

19. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Black Heart (The Curse Workers trilogy book 3) by Holly Black.

 20. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012
Just read more, learn more, inspire more, and meet more bookworm friends. :)

————Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011 (optional)————

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011?
Read Philippines. Technically it’s a forum, but it’s still literature-related. I get to meet more Pinoy bookworms there. :)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010?
So…awkward. Favorite review that I wrote? *snerks* I don’t know what your standards for favoriting one of your works, but I’ll just choose reviews (that’s right, not just one) that I had so much fun writing
And the trophy goes to the whole Lucifer graphic novel series by Mike Carey: The Devil in the Gateway, Children and Monsters, A Dalliance with the Damned, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, The Mansions of Silence, Exodus, The Wolf Beneath the Tree, Crux, Morningstar, and Evensong. I enjoyed writing them because it’s been a while since I last read and reviewed graphic novels…it’s like reigniting an old love affair. Haha! Reviewing graphic novels and reviewing books are two different things, I tell you.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I seldom have discussions here or on Tumblr, but I definitely loved peeps’ reaction to my post Graphic Novel: An Underestimated Format. <—That links to another Tumblr, for all the owner’s commentary. I can’t reblog everyone’s answers, but you can just scroll down and click at them.

We also tend to have discussions on TumblrAsks. Mostly they’re recommendations and why I recommend them, but occasionally someone asks about American Gods and why criticizes US, what I think about E-Readers, etc.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?
Unfortunately, the most thought-provoking metas I encountered this year are not at all book-related. Anyway, I quite liked this Advice to Authors post by Neil Gaiman’s Tumblr. It’s not exactly a discussion, but it’s thought-provoking nonetheless.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?
Every moment of book blogging this year is good in its own way, but I became particularly giddy when Hank Green reblogged my John Green book doodles and said they’re pretty. Haha!

But honestly, there are a lot of moments that garnered special places in my heart.  Those are the instances when I realize I can inspire more people than I expect just by doing what I love. Sometimes all the personal conversations, all the friendly chitchats that get a little deeper day by day, all the thank-you's I’m not sure I deserve...they all make me cry a little. Honestly. There’s one particular person I’m more than glad to help by just being book-buddies and pseudo-sisters with her. I won’t name her here; I’m just really thankful I met her. If memory serves, I  helped her do her homework for English the first time we met! XD She let me check her essay and short story, and from then on the connection we established strengthened. She’s really like my ultimate little sister on the Internet, and she reminds me of my younger self. We’ve talked lots of times about books, but this certain message about my art and blog(s), particularly A Teacup of Stars, is a little more special. I hope she doesn't become too embarrassed when I put this here, even if anonymously:


7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
LOL, I’m not really sure. I guess there are some posts at my Tumblr that got lots of notes, especially my book-related artworks. But my favorite entries (that also seem to be a lot of other Tumblr peeps’ favorites) are the 6-Word Short Stories post and this Literacy Foundation GIF set. I love how they are nitpicking at the foundation’s tagline. It’s kind of a faux pas for the LF’s part. :p

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps this post about ZONE Magazine. I wish more people will become interested in contributing to our magazine.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
That wee book stall in the underpass near SM Manila. It’s called Afforda-BOOKS. Their products live up to their name…and everything’s in good condition, too! It’s super-bookworm friendly. I just hope the Audrey Hepburn biography is still there when I come back. :’(

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Yep, at Goodreads. I completed it today!



  1. Loved to read this! I completed my reading challenge at Goodreads Wednesday. Close call, haha.

    From your recommendations here I see that I have to read The Solitude of Prime Numbers. I have been eyeing it for a while, because of the lovely title. The Book Thief was one of my favorites as well - it was in my top 3 this year, with The Bell Jar and Howl's Moving Castle. I am so excited about next reading year. Haha. I know I will be reading a lot of Neil Gaiman - I have Sandman to finish, I got Smoke & Mirrors at the local second hand shop for almost nothing and I really want to read Fragile Things.
    I am also excited about The Fault in Our Stars...Once again the title is a big reason. I have a thing for poetic book titles.

    Happy New Year! I hope your year will be filled with glorious books and lots of times to write!

  2. Haha, I kind of thought I'm not going to finish my Goodreads challenge! I didn't even reach 100. Work schedule's preventing me from fulfilling my full-time bookworm responsibilities. Hahaha!

    Yes, you should try The Solitude of Prime Numbers! It's an ordinary soulmate story with extraordinary characters, I think you'll like it. :) The Book Thief YES. I loved that book to bits! I read Howl's Moving Castle last year (I watched the Miyazaki movie first though) and liked it! I heard it has sequels? Have you read them?

    Good luck with all the Gaiman reading! :)) I hope you like his works!

    Happy new year to you too, Johanna! It's been a nice year, meeting new bookworm friends like you and discovering more and more authors. DFTBA! :*

  3. Yeah, I have read the sequels to Hown's Moving Castle, there are two, but I didn't like them as much. They were pretty good. Sopehie and Howl wasn't really in the books but they took place in the same world.

    It's been nice reading your blog as well, and taking up too much space in the comment section! Haha. Happy New Year! It must be 2012 in your area now!

  4. Aw that's a shame. How and Sophie are amazing characters. :| I'll still try the sequels though, it's kind of a pet peeve of mine to leave trilogies unfinished. xD

    Oh, it's fun conversing with you here! Hey, you're from tumblr right? What's your url? I was trying to find you there, but I think I followed a different Johanna. Haha! :)

    Yep, it's actually 3AM right now. Happy New Year to you! *cyberhug*

  5. I know, I feel the same! But they were still good and pretty fun, and I really liked House of Many Ways (the third).

    Of course. The ultimate fangirling place. My url is I think I follow two of your tumblrs.

  6. I've already ordered those books now! I'm looking forward to reading them. :)

    Oh, all right! I'll follow you when I log in later when I post some reviews! I thought you have a "johanna" in your url because I'm following a bookworm johanna too. Haha. XD