Want to know what books your favorite bloggers most enjoyed in 2011? Be sure to check out each post in the Best of 2011 series!
This is the first year...I think...that I had no romance DIKs. Several came close: Jennifer Lyon’s Night Magic, Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Blade, J.D. Robb’s New York to Dallas, and the romance/steampunk hybrid Heartless, by Gail Carriger.
But I was most blown away by two novels. Evan Fallenberg’s When We Danced on Water, which featured the most elegant writing. Fallenberg’s spare and evocative prose astonished me with its beauty, descriptive quality, thoughtfulness, and insight. I did not believe I’d read anything to surpass it in 2011, and then I read The Printmaker’s Daughter, by Katherine Govier. Her historical novel, set in early-mid 19th century Japan, fictionalizes the life of the daughter of the painter credited with creating The Wave during a period of repression and turmoil for artistans. I can only speak for myself, but this book was the best I’ve read in a decade...perhaps two. The book packs an emotional punch; my husband came upon me while I was reading the last hundred pages and, so horrified by how much I was crying, implored me to think about bunnies and unicorns. The subject matter is probably foreign to most readers, but hell, I think that’s why many of us read historical novels to begin with.
1. Kristan Higgins’s Until There Was You
I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance because of time limitations, but there’s a reason that Kristan Higgins is one of the few contemporary authors I do read. And although I say this every time she has a new book, I really do believe this one is my favorite. I think I could gush on and on, but let me just say that Liam Murphy is by far the best and hottest bad boy hero around.
2. Meredith Duran’s A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal
The two things I love most about Meredith Duran’s writing shine in this book: the complexity of her characters and the realism of her settings. I felt as if I, too, knew Bethnal Green intimately, and the interactions and observations between the hero and heroine were everything I needed to make my historical romance heart sigh.
3. Julie Anne Long’s What I Did For a Duke
This is the first book I’ve ever read where as soon as I finished I wanted to read it again immediately. Julie Anne Long continues to impress me with her prose, the way she sets romance tropes on their head, and her characters that defy the common stereotypes.
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones: This debut book was refreshing and funny. The main character is a private investigator/grim reaper, which makes for an unusual combination. Darynda Jones blends the elements of real life and crazy fantasy very nicely, even tying in human trafficking into the mix.
Hounded by Kevin Hearne: Another debut author, this high school teacher brings Druidry back in fashion with his main character, Atticus, and his faithful Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. This book was filled with wit, history, and no small amount of talk about fish and chips and Smithwick’s, which is surely to please many a reader.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: Completing my trifecta of debut novels is this YA title about a girl that may or may not being going crazy. Hodkin takes the reader on a crazy roller coaster ride inside this poor girl’s head and what a ride! The end leaves you more bewildered but at the same time, desperate for more. Pure, glorious torture!