Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Best of the Year ~ 2011

our best 2011

It’s our best of the year ~ for 2011. Yep, this list is a bit later than planned, but we had the pleasure of reading some intriguing and engaging books this past year.

So here is our list of “sparklers” for 2011. We have included the covers, our “review overviews”, and each book cover links to our full post for the book, so that you can read our extended thoughts - if so desired. Please enjoy, since it is our hope that you may find a few favorites of your own here.

Our Very Top of the List:



John’s choice: The Windup Girl ~ by Paolo Bacigalupi

Wonderful and highly imaginative, it’s a dystopian novel set in a world-gone-wrong that is both crazy and disturbingly believable. All wrapped up into a complex and many-layered story, this book was a delight to read.  



Shellie’s choice: Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 ~ edited by Kevin J. Anderson        

An incredible collection of short stories, novelettes, one novella,  poetry and more -representing the best in the science fiction and fantasy field published in 2009. All chosen by peers from the SFWA –Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.




Shellie’s choice:  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (in audio) ~ by Susanna Clarke;  read by Simon Prebble

There is a reason why some novels win multiple awards; this historical fantasy is one example of a book that deserves all the accolades it has received. An incredible tome which is a grand meandering adventure into the historical, magical, and darkly hilarious. It is a perfect read for fall.


Horror | Thriller | Mystery: the-revisionist_thumb10

John’s choice: The Revisionists ~ by Thomas Mullen 

An excellent and thought-provoking science fiction thriller, featuring an agent from the future who is sent back in time to ensure that cataclysmic world events are allowed to happen. His perfect future depends on near-apocalypse for today’s world.



Shellie’s choice: Willy ~ by Robert Dunbar

A disturbing and poignant coming of age story with elements of suspense and psychological terror which verges on the paranormal.



Non-Fiction | Journalistic:



John’s choice: Life ~ by Keith Richards

A fascinating, entertaining and surprisingly detailed biography of Keith Richards – the heart of the Rolling Stones.




Shellie’s choice: The Psychopath Test ~ by Jon Ronson (arc)

A darkly hilarious, and almost unbelievable journalistic journey into how “madness”  is defined, recognized, and treated within western culture and the mental heath industry.



Historical Fiction:The Killer Angels - Shaara_thumb[10]


John’s choice: The Killer Angels ~ by Michael Shaara

An excellent historical fiction novel about the greatest battle of the American Civil War, told from the perspective of several of the main protagonists.  




Shellie’s choice:  Possession ~ by A.S. Byatt  (in audio, performed by Virginia Leishman)

A multilayered award winning tale of interwoven romances. Set in two different centuries and connected ingeniously through letters and journals. It has elements which include faeries, myth, poetry, science, feminism, lgbt, and Victoriana.


General Fiction:mr-chartwell1_thumb2 


John’s choice: Mr. Chartwell ~ by Rebecca Hunt (ARC edition)

A wonderfully original and entertaining debut novel that pits Winston Churchill and a humble librarian against a most unusual common enemy.



Shellie’s choice: The Inverted Forest ~ by John Dalton

A perfect summer novel for those looking for something with a bit more depth in their reading. This novel has an idyllic summer camp setting in the Ozark Mountains, where an unexpected tragedy is set in motion through a series of complicated events. It is a heart wrenching and insightful story that has a diverse and unusual set of characters.


Classics: time machine_thumb


John’s choice: The Time Machine ~ by H. G. Wells (1895)

An old science fiction classic that still lives up to its reputation; a delightful read and a trend-setter that was published 100 years before anyone ever dreamt up “steampunk”.



Shellie’s choice: Wuthering Heights ~ by Emily Brontë

A classic masterpiece that is an incredible work of horrific and tragic fiction. It is a shocking “page turner” that I could not put  down.


Translations: final-image---the-map-of-time_thumb2


John’s choice: The Map of Time ~ by Felix J. Palma

A complex multi-layered historical fantasy that weaves real characters with fictitious ones in a story about time travel and the effects of changing history – with H. G. Wells as the central character.



Shellie’s choice: The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine ~ by Alina Bronsky  (translator Tim Mohr)  

A dark modern fable translated from German. It is a literary novel that is tragic and blackly humorous, told by a narrator who is definitely misguided and “unreliable”.



Other links of related interest:

We are looking forward to our best reads for 2012. It’s always exciting since you never know which books we will uncover (no pun intended).

Thanks for reading.


ChristasBooks said...

The Windup Girl made my Best of 2011 list as well. Such an amazing read!

John D said...

Hi Christa,

I'm glad to hear that it did - there is so much to like about the book. This guy has a phenomenal imagination and writing skills that make it all so real.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Cheers,


ediFanoB said...

Better late than never.

There are some amazing books on your list.

My wife has been intrigued by The Killer Angels ~ by Michael Shaara
She likes to read about the American Civil War.

This year I will read books about the Crimean War which has been as well documented as the American Civil War.

I ordered a paperback copy of The Map of Time by Felix J Palma

I really like that you read classics. This year I want to read some Sherlock Holmes novels by Arthur Conan Doyle.

and must find time to put my nose into Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 ~ edited by Kevin J. Anderson

Anyway keep up your excellent work. I like to read your blog because you show books which I normally would miss.

Thanks to both of you

John D said...

Hi Edi,

Thanks for commenting - its always good to hear from you.

I'd like to read something about the Crimean war too, though, I've not heard about anything really good that is out there. If you find a literary gem, I'd love to hear about it.

Sherlock Holmes - I am intrigued. I've seen so many films and TV shows over the years that I'm curious to see what the original books are like. It will probably be difficult not to think of specific actors while reading. Please do let us know what you think after you've read one of them. Thanks,


ediFanoB said...

Hi John,

of course I would like to share thoughts with you about Sherlock Holmes.

I work on something special about the Crimean War. May will be the month for revelation :-)

It is always a pleasure to visit your blog.

John D said...

Hi Edi,

Now, if only Sherlock Holmes stories had been set during the time of the Crimean War we might have been able to kill two birds with one stone!

But if my Googling skills serve me well, I think there was a thirty year gap. Oh well.


Mary @SweepingMe said...

Wow, The Time Machine. I read it back in high school and completely loved it! I think I should go about re-reading it.


John D said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

High school reads are funny things - I think I have a tendency to dislike them as a matter of principle! But this one has definitely stayed with me over many years. A great story.


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