Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WWRW Winner and my Best-of Lists

Thank you to everyone who entered and helped me spread the word about some fabulous non-profit organizations and Women Who Rock For A Cause all last month! I'm ready to announce the winner of the contest who will receive signed copies of both my books and determine which of the charities I listed that I will send a donation to. That winner chosen by random number generator is.... Andrea F from Blogger! I will email you to get your prizes and choice of charity squared away Andrea!

Today, I don't have a Woman Who Rocks lined up, but we'll get back to that soon I promise. Instead this week, I thought we'd talk best-of lists.

I was honored to see my book Ballads of Suburbia gracing some Best-of-2009 lists. Alex from A Flight of Minds named it number one on the top 20 list here, it also hit number on on Harmony Book Review's list and it was number one on Hope's Bookshelf too, as you can see here. Natalie from Mindful Musings also ranked it as her number one pick and she gave it an amazing review here. It landed an honorable mention on Chicago alt-weekly NewCity's list here and as runner-up for Best Contemporary on Kate at Read This Book!'s list. It made the Frenetic Reader's list and Audrey from Holes in My Brain's list too.

So I figured that I ought to name some favorites of both 2009 and of the decade, though I can tell you right now that this is going to be hard. I'm not good at choosing favorites.

Let's start with the things that should be easiest since I don't watch TV or movies nearly as much as I read or listen to music.

My favorite TV show to watch this year was definitely Californication. I adore this series. I started subscribing to Showtime for it and Weeds. Weeds has gotten kind of out there the past couple seasons though it's still awesome, but Californication constantly keeps me entertained... and sometimes depressed. The season finale was extremely depressing and powerful.

Californication is up there for my series of the decade too. A couple years ago, I would have named Grey's Anatomy for that, but I've been less invested in it lately (though this season and the end of last season definitely picked up). Degrassi: The Next Generation is another front runner for fave show of the decade. Maybe it's cheesy at times but I adore that show. However, I think my number one TV show for the 2000s has to be Veronica Mars. I just saw all three seasons this year and was crushed when I reached the last episode. The only shows that I've loved as much were My So-Called Life and Twin Peaks, both also cancelled too soon.

This year my favorite movie was The Hangover. What can I say, it was freakin' funny and I needed laughs.

Movies of the decade for me hands-down go to the Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. I go to the theater a lot less often than I used to but those Harry Potter and Pirates flicks got me out to the theater in the first week, guaranteed. However, when it comes to movies on the non-blockbuster ilk, my favorite of the decade was Amelie. And when it comes to documentaries, it was The Gits Movie, so glad to see the life of one of my favorite musicians on the screen, getting some of the exposure she deserved.

And since we are talking about music, my favorite albums of 2009 was by bands I've loved since I was in high school. Rancid's new album Let The Dominoes Fall is probably my favorite by them since ...And Out Come The Wolves (well, Life Won't Wait is special because it reminds me of my husband though). My all-time favorite band Nirvana got their first album re-issued in 2009 and the live recording of their 1992 Reading Fest performance came out, both of which I enjoyed throughly.

But hands down, I would choose Black Gives Way To Blue by Alice in Chains as my album of the year of 2009. I really didn't expect to like it. I didn't even intend to buy it. I thought you couldn't have Alice in Chains without Layne Staley. However, as much as Layne is missed, this album is sheer brilliance. I still cannot stop listening to it.

We lost a lot of musical greats in the 2000s: Layne Staley, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, a number of Ramones. But there were a lot of great new artists carrying the torch. Picking favorite music might be the hardest task of all, so instead I'll just list the new bands and albums that got me most excited about music again in the 2000s-- a hard feat because at the end of the 90s, I really was starting to think the rock 'n' roll was dead... or at least had become utter crap (I mean, Creed???? Seriously?)

Top New Artists of the Decade (in no particular order besides this first band, which is my number one and the artist I'm most excited to hear more from in the future):

-Civet (my fave album is Hell Hath No Fury because it's the only one I have but I would love to get my hands on their older stuff)

-Rise Against (my fave album is umm... all of them, probably Siren Song of the Counter Culture is my top fave I guess though)

-Against Me! (my fave albums are As The Eternal Cowboy and Searching for a Former Clarity)

-The Gaslight Anthem (love both of their albums, cannot choose!)

-P!nk (my fave albums are Try This! and I'm Not Dead)

Additional Albums of the Decade:

-Sing Sing Death House and Coral Fang by The Distillers (I didn't discover them until the 2000s, so they would be on my personal artists of the decade list but technically their first album came out in 1999. They revived my love of punk rock after years of being a jaded goth girl.)

-White Blood Cells and Elephant by The White Stripes (ditto the above about discovering them in the 2000s. They were the first band of the 2000s I truly loved and they revived my faith in music period after the icky nu metal of the late 90s.)

-Sex, Love, & Rock N Roll by Social Distortion (love love love this album and "Don't Take Me For Granted" really inspired my first book I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE)

-American Idiot by Green Day (this album sums up so much of what I feel about the 2000s)

-Bubblegum by The Mark Lanegan Band which is tied with Saturnalia by The Gutter Twins (oh Mark Lanegan, now that Kurt and Johnny are both gone you are my favorite living male vocalist)

-The Woods by Sleater-Kinney (please come back to us Sleater-Kinney! your last album just proved exactly how awesome you are!)

Last but certainly not least we come to books. Ohhh man this was just as hard as the music...

Well this year I really loved the latest books in some of my favorite series. I can't say enough good thing about Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready, the latest the WVMP series (vampires + rock + feminism = best book ever!) Fragile Eternity, the latest in the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr was phenomenal. And I'm really digging The Immortals series by Alyson Noel, reading both Blue Moon and Shadowland this year. But for the moment, I am going to put fave series aside.

My favorite contemporary fiction book this year was Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I really don't have words for how much this book touched me and inspired me to be a better writer. Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my biggest idols.

My favorite genre fiction book this year was The Forest Of Hands And Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Holy shit. I read this book on my writer's retreat while I was in a cabin in the woods. Not a good idea. Scared the crap out of me. But an amazing zombie book. And also very feminist and thought provoking.

Now books of the decade.... Ugh this is impossible. Of course there was the Harry Potter series. I adore it and it really did make the decade for me. Though right up there in the genre category with HP are Melissa Marr's and Jeri Smith-Ready's series that mentioned above. They are just as amazing. Seriously.

When it comes to contemporary... man I've read so many good books, especially in YA. Wintergirls is up there. Beige by Cecil Castellucci, Almost Home by Jessica Blank, and Leftovers by Laura Wiess. In adult fiction I loved Shout Down the Moon by Lisa Tucker, Whores on the Hill by Colleen Curran, and The Book of Ralph by John McNally. But I guess if I had to choose a book of the decade, I would have to pick the one that influenced me most as writer and it influenced me on a really personal level because I was lucky enough to have the author as a teacher and major mentor. My book of the decade is Hairstyles of The Damned by Joe Meno.

Well, there you have it... though it is incredibly late as I am typing this and I'm sure I'm forgetting things. Perhaps you will remind me of something I forgot to list because I hope you will do me the honor of sharing your top books, movies, music, and TV of 2009 and the decade with me now!


Kay said...

A lot of my favourites, this year and the decade, are recommendations made by you! So thank you so much, for:

Ballads of Suburbia and I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone (obviously) as well as recommendations for Cecil Castelucci's Beige, Jeri Smith Ready's Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone, and Danielle Joseph's Shrinking Violet.
More importantly, though, thanks for Civet! I came across these on your blog and fell in love. If it wasn't for the recommendation, I wouldn't have caught them supporting Street Dogs over here in the UK in November, and so I wouldn't have met them after the show and had one of my moments of the decade and life so far! They're one of my favourite bands, so thank you!
And happy new year :)

melony said...

Hairstyles of the Damned and Joe Meno books are what got me through my last two years of high school. I kept seeing Hairstyles at the B&N and avoiding it because I wasn't too sure about it. Eventually, I broke down and bought it and read it in less than a day, and then three or four more times after that. Against Me!'s album Searching for a Former Clarity is what I listened to every day in my first car, named Gretchen.
You have an amazing list, for certain. I still don't like Alice in Chains, though...

Andrea F. said...

I really wish I followed the Harry Potter franchise. I saw the first three, but then stopped for some reason. But Pirates of the Caribbean franchise - I can't wait for the fourth one! My favorite from the 2000s is Donnie Darko. Total 'wtf?' movie, but once you get passed that it's amazing. I also really enjoyed District 9. It makes you think.

Sing Sing Death House really got me into punk. Before I discovered that album I just listened to a few songs (later I found out were Rancid) I found on mixed CDs. Other albums from the decade I liked were For Blood and Empire by Anti-Flag and Spinnerette's debut.

My absolute favorite book of the decade would be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It made me cry. I read it so fast. Other favorites were yours - they effected me a lot. Coraline by Neil Gaiman was the first book I enjoyed in grade school and got me into reading.

marina said...

i loved wintergirls. she is such an awesome writer and it's such a good book.
also, degrassi is fantastic. i'm currently watching degrassi junior high with my sister. totally awesome.


melony said...

degrassi jr high is amazing stuff, bean. for real.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Kay, I am soooo glad I could help you discover those great books and Civet. They are such awesome ladies, I am glad you got to meet them!!!

Melony, totally with you Joe Meno and Bean, with you on Wintergirls obviously and you both are right about how much Degrassi totally rules! I think Jr High is my favorite!

Andrea, I haven't seen District 9 and I will have to check it out, along with the Book Thief which I have been meaning to read. And you have some excellent taste in punk too :)