Another year has zoomed past and this year has been a real interesting mix bag of books I loved! I also loved the fact that I came across or discovered breakout authors again. Authors such as Thea Harrison, Susan Ee, Sandy Williams, Veronica Roth and Rae Carson are firmly on my autobuy list and their debuts were memorable and highly enjoyable. I love that feeling of discovering a brand new author whose book I immensely enjoyed and this year had some fantastic ones.
So here are the books that really stood out for me this year and in no particular order here is the books I loved and are my top picks for 2011.
Romance and PNR:
Kiss of Snow, was one of the long awaited books for me in 2011 because it was Sienna and Hawke’s book. And the long wait was well worth it. It was one of the best romances I ever read and is one of my all time favourite books.
Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s exhilarating world of shapeshifters and psychics is “paranormal romance at its best” (Publishers Weekly). Now comes the story of an alpha wolf named Hawke used to getting exactly what he wants–and of the only woman who dares tangle with him.
Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.
Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would’ve been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.
Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other’s secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…
A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna’s darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…
The Armorous Education of Celia Seaton, was a memorable, and hilarious fun Historical Romance, I adored this book with a fantastic heroine and hero and one of the best openings I read in a while.
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville
Being kidnapped is teaching Miss Celia Seaton a few things about life:
Lesson one: Never disrobe in front of a gentleman . . . unless his request comes at gunpoint.
Lesson two: If, when lost on the moors, you encounter Tarquin Compton, the leader of London
society who ruined your marriage prospects, deny any previous acquaintance.
Lesson three: If presented with an opportunity to get back at Mr. Compton, the bigger the lie, the better. A faux engagement should do nicely.
Lesson four: Not all knowledge is found between the covers of a book. But an improper book may further your education in ways you never guessed.
And while an erotic novel may be entertaining, the real thing is even better.
Yours to Keep, was another funny and engaging warm romance I read in a long while and I highly recommend reading the other books in this series.
Yours To Keep by Shannon Stacey
Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.
Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his “pretend” kisses are…
Thea Harrison was one of the first debut authors who became fan fave for me. I loved the world-building and characters which was colourful and lively.
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.
As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they’ve ignited in each other. Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.
I think this year, I have read more Young Adult books, and had the one of the books that totally blew me away was Angelfall by Susan Ee. I bought it on a whim and for a quick read and it totally surpassed my expections and blew me away. I REALLY recommend this book, because this is what a dystopian YA should be, it doesn’t shy away from dark issues but it also has humour and a fantastic determined heroine.
Angelfall by Susan Ee
It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
This was a well drawn out and multi-layered YA, which went into unexpected directions, I loved the epic scope and feel of the book and I eagerly await the next book in the series.
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.
I loved this YA from Ann Aguirre who is one of my favourite authors and has written some of my all time favourite books! Enclave is one of the grittiest, and darkest books I read this year with a great cast of characters who are flawed and multi-faceted. Their tale of survival in a dark and crazy world is engrossing and exciting and I can’t wait for the next book Outpost.
WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE
In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.
Divergent had a lot of great pre-release buzz and for me it definitely lived up to it – I loved the world-building of opposing factions, and really fantastic heroine who determined and stubborn to break out of her pre-expectations. The romance was also another highlight and had a great build-up.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.
Urban Fantasy and Sci Fi:
Another entry for Ann Aguirre in my list (yes I am an unashamedly fangirl) - This is the penuiltimate entry to the Grimspace series and Aftermath is much more quiter and introspective in tone but packs an emotional whammy with its focus of the time after a war. This series is multi-faceted with strong characterization and heartfelt emotion.
Aftermath by Ann Aguirre
Sirantha Jax has the right genes—ones that enable her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. But it’s also in her genetic makeup to go it alone. It’s a character trait that has gotten her into—and out of—hot water time and time again, but now she’s caused one of the most horrific events in military history…
During the war against murderous, flesh-eating aliens, Sirantha went AWOL and shifted grimspace beacons to keep the enemy from invading humanity’s homeworld. The cost of her actions: the destruction of modern interstellar travel—and the lives of six hundred Conglomerate soldiers.
Accused of dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder, and high treason, Sirantha is on trial for her life. And only time will tell if she’s one of the Conglomerate’s greatest heroes—or most infamous criminals…
This series just gets better and better, this instalment had magic, mayhem and great characters, a woman who knows how to use a sword and Curran (Mmmm Curran)
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.
So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . .
I really enjoyed this debut book by Sandy Williams, the world-building of political intrigue and fantastical lands and with a heroine who wasn’t powerful but uses her wits was great. And although I am not a huge fan of love triangles, the one featured in this book, did not hold any forced angst and evolved in a good way.
Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.
A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.
But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.
Other notable mentions is Skin Heat by Ava Gray, River Marked by Patricia Briggs, Pale Demon by Kim Harrison, Silver Shark and Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews, Wilder’s Mate by Moria Rogers, Ashes by Ilsa J Bick and Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James.
These books I have listed all made an impact on me and I would like to thank the authors who wrote sucj fantastic books! These are the ones which I have recommended to friends and other bloggers and I hope next year I will discover new to me authors and books that will blow me away!
Happy New Year to all our readers!