First off faithful readers, Happy New Year! Things are already looking up for 2012 (except for my book buying ban for part of the year). I hope everyone has a good year and we don’t die on December 21st like the crazies think we are. I will prepare myself and consume mass quantities of rum the day before just in case, you can’t watch the world end sober can you? My resolutions for the year are to make a writing regimen I can stick to. There are some days I just don’t feel it, but the problem is the day becomes plural. So to combat that, I have set some benchmarks for the novel and the novellas for the year. If I can stick to those, this should be a very productive year.
Enough about me…so how about the list of the 10 best books from 2011? To qualify, the book had to be released in 2011. I read about 90 books last year and this is only for 2011 release books. The number means nothing. The number 1 is not the best, but just where it got listed. I know Jeff Strand was happy to be number 4 on a list of mine earlier in the year, but look at it a list of the 10 books you should have on your shelf or books you need to get and throw on the ‘To Be Read” pile. Let us draw back the curtain and here we go…
1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King – This book did not excite me when the synopsis was revealed and I dreaded reading it. I will be the first to admit, I was wrong. This novel is up in my top 5 of King’s books. He weaves the tale of a man out of time and on a mission to kill Lee Harvey Oswald into a sometimes heart wrenching story of love and loss. The end is one of his best and shows that the man once considered a hack writer is indeed the king of modern literature.
2. Sacrifice by Wrath James White – Wrath is known for being extreme with the subject matter in his books. I found this story of two detectives investigating a series of bizarre murders to be rather tame by his standards… and I liked it better that way. The violence is there, the sex is there, and the naughty language is there but it is toned down and I think it allowed the story to flow better. I don’t know if I am just over the extreme stuff or not, but I liked Sacrifice better over his other new release Pure Hate (which is still a good read). The characters from another book that appear blew my mind and left me wanting more (I just have to wait).
3. Entombed by Brian Keene – Set in the Dead Sea world, survivors of the zombie apocalypse hole up in a bunker beneath a hotel. Brian touches greatly on my favorite part of the zombie mythos and that is the breakdown of man as a social animal. When the society we know is gone and the fabric of our world are ripped apart, how do we as animals react? The book is less about the zombies and more about the breakdown of the social order within the bunker. The book also features his story White Fire from the Hell Followed With Them anthology from a few years ago. Both are outstanding reads.
4. The Pumpkin Man by John Everson – A dark and brooding story about a legendary murderer who carved pumpkins and kids alike. This book hands down featured the best use of a Jack ‘O Lantern ever. It is fast paced and was a super book. The hardcover is sold out, but during my interview with John during the Coffin Hop 2011 Tour, he informed me that the trade paperback from Leisure has added material (still need to read that).
5. Fangboy by Jeff Strand – A heartwarming tale of a boy named Nathan who was born with really big and sharp teeth. We are treated to his high points and his low points while he tries to find his place in the world. There are nice places, bad orphanages, and an evil circus that makes us stand up to root and cheer for poor Nathan Pepper. Jeff’s comedic style is on full display and needs to warm your heart this winter.
6. Back From the Dead by J.F. Gonzalez – Nothing ever good comes from messing with spells to raise the dead and this books highlights the main reasons why. A superb novel about the secrets towns can keep and how the evil that permeates the ground can act when provoked. Every book J.F. comes out with gets better and better. A box in the mail with a book from him is a good day indeed.
7. Waiting Out Winter by Kelli Owen – A short novel about the problems arising from messing with the natural order of nature. Flies released to combat a worm infestation has unintended consequences in the bleak winter months. The book is full of tension and it introduces us to a world I hope she returns too in the future.
8. Samson and Denial by Robert Ford- Bob wrote one of the most fun books I read all year. He shows us how the world can go to hell when you buy a mummified skull, cross a cult of hot woman, and try to deal with the city of Philly. The book is well written and is amazing to hear when he reads from it.
9. The Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi – A thick book, but it is so well plotted and executed that it reads at a lightning fast speed. The book is moody, suspenseful, and full of sorrow. A writer who returns to his hometown becomes obsessed with the story of a boy and the up-ended dock in the lake dubbed the ‘floating staircase’. I became really wrapped up in the story and surprised myself by how emotionally invested I became in the story as it unfolded. Stop reading, go to a website with books, and buy it. Now…I’m waiting!
10. This Little Light of Mine by Nate Southard – A chapbook about people caught in a parking garage collapse. They have no cell signal, no idea what is going on, and only limited sources of light. When the darkness falls, something is with them, and their light is running out. I loved the story and I hope Nate will one tell us the extent of what happened in the world outside the garage.
Well, there you have it. Those are the 10 favorites of mine from 2011. There are some books I didn’t get a chance to read yet from last year (notably Ray Garton’s Meds and Trailer Park Noir). So, I might add-on at a later date.
Goodnight and keep reading…