Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Besties - Favorite Books of 2011, That Is

Looking over the books I read this year, I was surprised by how much YA I read and how little paranormal romance. In part, I blame Amazon Vine - I keep choosing YA books as my twice-monthly free items. My TBR pile going into 2012 has several PNR paperbacks, but I'm in no particular hurry to get to them. I do feel that if I give the genre a bit of a rest, I'll only appreciate it more when I do get back to it.

Not all of these were published in 2011, but this is the year I read them. Here they are in alphabetical order.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. The whole thing is a delicious send-up of pop culture and sexism. My favorite character is Adina, Miss New Hampshire, a journalist embedded in the pageant. She's a smart, Jewish feminist - sort of a teenage Emma Goldman. I also like lesbian, comic-book-loving Miss Michigan (Jennifer), the transgendered contestant (I won't give it away) and Indian-Californian Valley Girl DJ-wannabe Miss California (Shanti).

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris. This is the 11th Sookie Stackhouse book. (Only 2 more to go - .) Loved it! Whether or not Eric actually ends up mated to the vampire queen of Oklahoma, Sookie's turning away from him. Bill's vampire "sister" is out of the picture once again...dare I hope Bill and Sookie will get back together in the series' last two volumes? I'm glad Sandra Pelt is finally out of the way, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Alcide scene (though I'm not sure how Sookie was able to resist the temptation!). If I were Sookie, I think I'd use the cluviel dor to wish Bill hadn't been sent by Sophie Anne, or at least that he hadn't lied about it.

The next book is going to be called Deadlocked.

Dream Lover, edited by Kristina Wright. A collection of diverse, elegantly erotic tales of paranormal romance. Given my personal preference for wolf tales, it may come as no surprise my personal favorite in this collection is Alana Noel Voth's "Moongirl Meets the Wolf Man." Full review here.

Family by Michael Ostow. The young protagonist of this unusual novel-in-verse, Mel, is one of those tragic young adult characters, the likes of which inspired Meghan Cox Gurdon to write her controversial Wall Street Journal essay "Darkness Too Visible." Yet it ends on a hopeful note. Full review here.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. A charming and delightful story, a witches' love story appropriate for all ages. I saw the anime version first (yes, with Christian Bale as the voice of Howl). The plots aren't exactly the same, but they both involve a good deal of green slime, and both are utterly charming. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale.

Isis by Douglas Clegg. The most beautiful part of this eerie tale is Clegg's description of what the Cornish call the Isle of Apples (Avalon), the land of the dead. But just as J.K. Rowling warned in "The Deathly Hallows" in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, those brought from the land of the dead do not belong in this world. Iris should have listened to the old legends.

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay. O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou some guy named Dylan? It's because in this immensely imaginative novel, Stacey Jay manages to turn everything we think we know about the world's most famous pair of impulsive teenage lovers on its head. At the risk of sounding like a young adult instead of an adult reviewer reading a YA book, OMG, this novel is SO good! Come to think of it, it's both YA and PNR.

Steamlust: Steampunk Erotic Romance, edited by Kristina Wright. There's a good reason why I keep reviewing Cleis Press titles - the publisher consistently puts out high-quality anthologies. I believe the key to good steampunk is the same as the key to good erotic romance: the beauty is all in the details. Fortunately, Wright's editing instincts do not fail her, and Steamlust is full of glorious details. Full review here.

The Inquisitor's Apprentice by Chris Moriarty. It's sort of like The Prestige mixed with Harry Potter mixed with the Disney musical Newsies, but with more Jewish characters. Its protagonist is 13-year-old Sacha Kessler, who lives in the tenements, circa 1900. Magic is technically illegal in America, but still widely practiced, and one day Sacha learns he can see magic. This rare talent leads to his new job as an inquisitor's apprentice.

The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin. A Hu-Li is a werefox, but she's so much more than that. She's 2,000 years old, one of a sisterhood of werefoxes from ancient China. These foxes are a kind of energy vampires, using prostitution as a cover to feed off the sexual energy of men. Through a kind of hallucinogenic effect they produce with their fox-tails, A Hu-Li and her sisters never actually have to touch these men. A Hu-Li is, in fact, a 2,000-year-old virgin. For the first time in her extremely long life, A Hu-Li is faced with the prospect of falling in love.

What I'm reading going into 2012: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I read a few of these short stories in grade school, but not at all since then. I'm enjoying them.


Sierra said...

Hi Erin, I hope you have an amazing New Year! Juliet Immortal sounds like a great read. I'll have to find it and read it in the coming new year! :)

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Wow...I've read 28 books this year and none are on this list LOL. Hrrmmm...I need to read faster. Thanks for visiting my blog, Erin. You have a Happy New Year.

Sheila Deeth said...

I still have quite a few Charlaine Harris books to catch up on. Thanks for this list--we obviously have many tastes in common. And the complete Sherlock Holmes was my Christmas present from my parents more years ago than I care to remember.


The only book I read on your list was Juliet Immortal and I thought it was amazing. I absolutely did not review it because I didn't know how. Sometimes when I think a book is that good, I don't review it. I should have put that one on my list! I'm glad you included it!!


Kris said...

Great choices, sadly I havent read any of them, but some of them are on my list.
New follower from Beck Valley books blog hop!

A book from Snowy River

Mama Luvs Books said...

Following you back from the hop!! Can't wait to look around your site!