As we approach the final two months of 2011, I thought it would be fun to look back on some of my very favorite reads of the year. Like you, my TBR pile is enormous and growing. Between a hectic work schedule and a busy home life, I’m hard pressed to keep my head above water, so curling up with a good book is treasured time. Selecting a few of my very favorites from that pile was tough, but here are four that stand out as my best of the best . . .
This is actually three novels from the Vorkosigan saga combined and worth every one of its 856 pages. Bujold is a master when it comes to bringing the science fiction world of Barrayar and her protagonist Miles Vorkosigan to vivid life. Miles is a tough, skilled, sarcastic, cocky, risk-taking mercenary. He’s also under five feet tall with a lifetime of medical problems and considered a mutant on his home planet. Before opening a Bujold novel, be sure to have laid aside lots of free time because you won’t be putting it down until the end.
Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne
I’ve loved every one of Hester Browne’s novels so I was prepared for a fun, light-hearted, wonderful read. And I wasn’t disappointed. Take the delightfully quirky Evie Nicholson and the broodingly handsome Robert McAndrew. Add a Scottish castle, a candlelight ball, and a few family secrets and you’ve got my favorite can’t-put-it-down romantic read for 2011. My only problem with Browne—she doesn’t write fast enough. I want more and I want them now!
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
This YA fantasy novel is actually the second in this author’s series of four books, but it was the one that hooked me fast and made me dive without stopping into the last two, then go back and read the whole series a second time. Yes, that’s how much I loved it. Gen is a thief who must battle back from a crippling, career-ending injury to face his greatest challenge; stealing the heart of an enemy queen. The fast-paced, intricate plot is riveting, and Gen is the perfect blend of heart-wrenching vulnerability and incredible confidence. There are few heroes I truly fall in love with, but Gen is definitely on that list.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
Lauren Willig is an automatic for me. I’ve read all the books in her Pink Carnation series and look forward to many more before she’s done. This Christmas-themed novel takes up the story of one of her more beloved yet bumbling characters, Turnip Fitzhugh and finally gives him his well-deserved happy ending. The mark of a great storyteller is the ability to cast a hero out of the least likely mold and Ms. Willig does a masterful job in transforming Turnip from the clown of the piece to the hero without altering his character or explaining it away as a Scarlet Pimpernel type of disguise. He is who he is, yet he still catches the villain and gets the girl.
So those are my favorite reads of 2011. What about you? What books have you devoured this year that have made it to your keeper shelf to be pulled down again and again? Write and let me know. I’m always looking for great book recommendations and a few more to add to the TBR pile for 2012!
A writer of historical-paranormal romance, Alix Rickloff creates a compelling world of magic and enchantment set during the British Regency period. Her books have been described as “sexy and intense”, “exciting and spellbinding” and “a universe you won’t ever wish to leave”. Her latest DANGEROUS MAGIC from Carina Press is now available! You can visit her at www.AlixRickloff.com, www.facebook.com/pages/Alix-Rickloff/101434889914147 or www.blameitonthemuse.com.