Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Favorite Books of 2011


2011 was another very good year for readers.  Plenty of new titles came out and many new authors staked their claim in my ever-growing list of favorite authors.  I feel that I branched out and read some works I wouldn't have had interest in, say, a year ago.  Since I love lists, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite titles of 2011.

James Madison by Richard Brookhiser- I've always been fascinated by early US history, so this was a natural choice.  Madison's relationship with Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe is fascinating as they agreed on most things, but also set personal differences aside (especially Madison and Monroe) to create the Virginia Dynasty.

Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger- Fragile, the first in Unger's The Hollows series, was one of my favorite novels of 2010.  The sequel did not disappoint!  This is a fantastic suspense novel and Unger does a terrific job of creating characters the reader cares about.  I especially enjoyed the scenes about the town psychic, Eloise, who played a smaller role in Fragile.

The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman- This is a suspense novel that does a wonderful job of upping the tension each chapter.  But, like Unger's writing, Lippman does a great job of creating interesting characters.  The plot centers around five children who wander the woods during summer break and find an old man who lives alone.  The ensuing tragedy, coupled with the now grown-up children not knowing what really happened, makes for a startling tale.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante- It still amazes me that this is a debut novel.  LaPlante has created a story in which Dr. Jennifer White, who suffers from Alzheimer's, is accused of murdering her best friend.  The stunning part of this novel is that it's told from White's perspective.

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens- I placed a hold on this title as soon as it was announced.  Still Missing was my favorite debut novel of 2010 and Stevens follows it up with another compelling thriller.  Sara Gallagher was adopted at an early age and decides to finally learn about her parents.  We quickly find that "never knowing" may be a good option.

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens- Another debut novel!  Stevens does a magnificent job of creating heroine Vanessa Munroe, who travels the world gathering information for various clients.  She is sent to Africa to track down a missing girl in this debut with twists and turns.

Fair Play by Tove Jansson- Ok, I'm cheating here.  This isn't really a 2011 title, but it is the first translation of this work, so we'll keep it here.  I'm new to Jansson and have started looking for her other works.  The writing is nothing less than stunning.  We look into the lives of two artists, Jonna and Mari, through short vignettes.  The way in which these seemingly mundane moments in their lives help create who they are is a testament to Jansson's fantastic ability.

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