The Books of 2011(Big Year-End Book Recommendation Post)
Well, we’re now into the third week of 2012, and it’s about time I moved my lazy bum and took a look back to 2011, eh? I swear I’m going to be down with 2011 by the Chinese New Year. (Come at me, Year of the Dragon! I’m ready for ya!)
This is going to be a monster of a post, so let’s just dive right into it. I hemmed and hawed and ended up deciding that a straight up ‘top five’ or ‘top ten’ really wasn’t going to do it this year. How could I rate some of these darlings over the others? It’s impossible!
I’m going to start with books by authors I’ve already read, because you have to start somewhere. With absolutely no segway. I read three books by C.E. Murphy last year, and I wanted to give all three a shout out – Demon Hunts for the best, most unexpected, yet it totally fits, cameo, Spirit Dances for being one of those rare books that doesn’t utterly suck at depicting canines, and Truthseeker for having fae that don’t bore me or have me rolling my eyes. It might seem like scant praise, but I’m considering this a highlights reel of sorts – trying to come up with the bulletpoints that would have sold me on the books if I hadn’t already read them. All of C.E. Murphy’s books are fabulous, featuring done-right tough heroines, colorful casts, and fantastic magic building.
Deadline, the sequel to Feed by Mira Grant, came out in 2011. Feed is a hard book to live up to, but I think Deadline more then passed with flying colors. It was fast paced, mindblowing, jenga-tower plot of rage-at-the-book-yet-can’t-put-it-down. There is precious little I can say about it without spoiling it. When I finished it about killed me to wait a whole year for Blackout. In conclusion, teacup bulldogs!
Lady Pain is the final book in a trilogy that I’ve been struggling to finish for awhile. It just took me time to move past the abrupt point of view change. I’m glad I did because it brought the story to a good conclusion. I debated about including it here, but I felt like it took me so long to come around to it that it deserves a shout out.
The Hedgewitch Queen(Lilith Saintcrow) is a more or less a traditional fantasy story with some of my favorite tropes – hidden royal bastards, conspiracies, assassinations galore, and a bodyguard crush which turns quite complicated. It’s set in Not-Europe, which leads to a lot of amusement of the ‘I see what you did there’ variety.
Hat tip to Rage(Jackie Morse Kessler) for going into some dark places and bringing a light.
Now on to the new authors I’ve found. Hm, authors I’ve found, authors I’ve lost – funny how we talk about these things isn’t it? Anyway, first up is Dan Wells! I somehow managed to read all three of the John Cleaver books(I Am Not A Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want To Kill You - just try going into a bookstore and asking for those books with a straight face) in one year. They are like Dexter, except better. There’s no decline in story quality, no super rough writing, and the books aren’t afraid to dive into the darkest parts of its subject matter, and it also doesn’t shy away from its supernatural element.
Keeping with a death theme, I also found Death Most Definite and Managing Death by Trent Jamieson. The first book is about grim reapers in Australia dealing with the worst sort of corporate take over – the kind that leaves everyone dead. The second book deals with the fallout, including the main character being put in charge, and dangles an elderich entity of approaching apocalypse over the story. I really want to buy the third book, but an omnibus? Really?
More death! This time with zombies! I’m officially declaring ‘vampire in a zombie apocalypse’ one of my favorite setups. If you dig zombies, vampires, and/or Chuck Wendig, I can’t recommend Double Dead enough. There might be a few cuss words, but at least nobody sparkles.
God’s War by Kameron Hurley showed up on my radar like a stealth bomber, on moment I run across a contest on a blog and the next it’s in my hands. It’s ‘bugpunk’ if we want to give it a ‘punk’ label – set in the far future on a wartorn planet, where all the technology and magic is based on instincts. Add in a downright brutally tough heroine, her meditative magician partner, and plenty of interrstellar, world-changing conspiracy.
Did I meantion there were a lot of good books in 2011? There were. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells was another surprise. Picked it up from the library, fell in love and bought my own copy. A fantastic and well build alien world, a main character with a dark past and a hidden heritage, who finds a home and possibly love. I’m currently cursing Amazon for their delay of two months on the sequel. *shakes fist*
The Black Prism(Breek Weeks) is a bit of an epic book. It took me a month and a half to read. It features a world built realistically around it’s magic system, which itself is built around the colors spectrum, including the ones we can’t normally see! The characters include the world’s magic/religious leader, that leader’s newly discovered bastard son, the leader’s ’evil’ brother, and an ex-damsel-in-distress. It gets delightfully complicated though, with lots of political maneuvering and looming war.
Spellwright, and it’s sequel Spellbound, by Blake Charlton brought to the table some of the most ingenious wordplay I’ve ever read. The books have their rough patches, but I think the language-based magic system and a few excellent story twists make them more than worth it overlooking the flaws. A dyslexic wizard sets out to save the world, what more can I say?
Wow, I can’t believe how long this post has been so far. I hope it isn’t too boring to read! You know what isn’t boring to read? The adventures of an immortal druid and his smart talkin’ irish wolfhound. How’s THAT for a segway! Hounded and Hexed by Kevin Hearn remind me of the early Dresden Files books, though I feel like they are slightly lighter in tone. The main attraction is a well balanced Kitchen Sink urban fantasy world, and a sharp wit. Heck, they’re worth reading just for the dog!
And now that I’ve finally cover almost all the books I wanted to, it’s time for an extra special mention – my friend and writing buddy Heather has had a ton of short stories come out this year, and they are all fabulous. The special nod here goes to Bordello Secrets, because it’s a longer standalone. Also, fabulous.