Wednesday, January 18

Best of 2011 - Part I

Finally! Nath and I are getting around to posting our top reads of 2011. This is part 1 and part 2 will be coming in a few days. So take a look at some of our favorite reads of 2011 and let us know how our reads compared to yours.  Did you read some of the books we listed? Did you enjoy them as much as we did?  Are we off our rockers and have horrible taste? LOL Let us know!

***

Historical

Ames
1. Defiant by Kris Kennedy
2. Sea Change by Darlene Marshall
3. Follow My Lead by Kate Noble
* Honorable mention to The Other Guy’s Bride by Connie Brockway


Nath
1. Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase
2. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
3. Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke
*Honorable mention goes to Mary Balogh whose books I've devoured in 2011, most noticeably The Ideal Wife and More than a Mistress :)


Nath: LOL, in comparison to you Ames, my Top 3 is not very surprising. Many well-known authors in there... and all Avon releases :) For some reasons, I really like Avon historicals, even if I complain they're a bit bland at times... Going to have to try to read more from other publishers. I I have Follow My Lead in my TBR pile, going to have to get to it soon :)

Ames: I enjoy historicals too - but I was for sure tired of the same old same old Regency so I looked to other time periods.  And with Sea Change, I LOVE cross-dressing heroines.  That book worked for me on so many levels.  And even Follow My Lead, that one was very different from the ballroom setting, and like Defiant, it had a road trip feel to it.


Contemporary


Ames
1. A Lot Like Love by Julie James
2. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
3. And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper


Nath
1. The Comforts of Home by Jodi Thomas
2. Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr
3. Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen
*Honorable mention goes to Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D'Alessandro and A Lot like Love by Julie James.


Nath: And One Last Thing... made it into my Top 3 last year... under fiction LOL. But yeah, definitively a good choice there :) It was a tough choice for the third position and it was a debate between A Lot Like Love and Playing Dirty. I really enjoyed A Lot Like Love and actually graded it better... but I think given the choice, I'm more likely to pick up Playing Dirty to re-read and so that's why I went with it :)

Ames: I didn't read that much contemporary romance in 2011.  Or I did, but it was mostly M/M.  LOL  I struggled with putting Attachments under this category, but at the heart of it, it is a love story.  And a damn good one.


Category romance


Ames
1. The Admiral’s Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly
2. Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly
3. -


Nath
1. The Man She Loves to Hate by Kelly Hunter
2. Juggling Briefcase & Baby by Jessica Hart
3. Stand-In Wife by Karina Bliss/Always a Bridesmaid by Nina Harrington.


Nath: All right, this is really a case of "don't judge by the cover" for The Man She Loves to Hate... It was a great read! Hopefully, I'll be able to review it soon. As for third place,  I couldn't make up my mind between Stand-In Wife and Always a Bridesmaid. I liked Stand-In Wife because of the family relationships - the kids were really cute :) As for Always a Bridesmaid, it was the H/H characters that I enjoyed... but the romance in both was so-so.

Ames: I only had 2 entries because I didn't read a lot of great categories.  The majority fell in the B or C gradient but the two I listed above definitely stuck out for me.


Romantic Suspense/Mystery


Ames
1.  In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
2.  Don’t Look Back by Josh Lanyon
3.  Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn


Nath
1. You Belong to Me by Karen Rose
2. Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
3. Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber


Nath: Second Grave on the Left and Absolutely, Positively were really fun reads and a mix of genres, but at the core, they're both mysteries :) Good for me, because my initial Top 3 - when I didn't include mystery - was really sad ^_^;

Ames: I read four romantic suspenses in 2011 and DNF'd two of them.  All my top picks were mysteries.  Mind you, I didn't read any Karen Rose in 2011...something I need to remedy in 2012.

Nath: Tsk, tsk. Definitively something you'll have to remedy... Especially since if I'm correct, you have quite a few of hers in your TBR pile!


Paranormal


Ames
1. Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
2. Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
3. Change of Heart by Mary Calmes


Nath
1. Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
2. Demon Marked by Meljean Brook
3. Demon Kissed by Patti O'Shea


Nath: I was really burned out on paranormal romance in 2011. I've only read 7 and you can imagine how much they didn't work for me if Demon Kissed is in my Top 3. I love Ms O'Shea, that's no secret... but Demon Kissed is a novella for god's sake! That's just tell you how burned out I am on the genre ^_^;

Ames: I'm burnt out on paranormals as well.  I stayed away except when I was forced (Dragon Bound, and Holly forced me lol).  Kiss of Snow, Monroe made me read when I was visiting her in July.  Change of Heart was my own pick and that was from a handful of paranormal M/Ms I bought.  The majority of which I haven't read really.


UF/Fantasy/Sci-Fi


Ames
1. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin
2. Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
3. Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
*Honorable mention to Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale


Nath
1. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
2. Blackout by Rob Thurman
3. Warcry by Elizabeth Vaughan
4. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
*Actually, everything  I've read from Ms Andrews and related to the Kate Daniels series have been gold to me this year. Magic Dreams, Magic Gifts and the Curran POV volumes. All excellent! Ms Andrews definitively deserves the top position this year :)


Nath: I debated for the Patricia Briggs. River Marked was good, but in the end, it didn't make the cut... although if I added a fifth position...

Ames: I was supposed to buddy review The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms but that didn't quite work out.  Read it though people!  And I haven't read River Marked yet.  As much as I clamor for the latest release in my favorite series, I really take my time reading them.  Because I LOVE the Georgina Kincaid Succubus series by Richelle Mead but I didn't read the last book in that series yet.  I'm contrary that way.

Nath: LOL, you don't really take your time reading them Ames. They languish in your TBR pile for a long time, but once you pick them up, you zip through it! LOL


Young Adult


Ames
1. Pegasus by Robin McKinley
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
*Honorable Mention to Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally and Paradise by Jill S. Alexander


Nath
1. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
2. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
3. Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
*Honorable Mention to Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally, Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt and Forgotten by Cat Patrick.


Nath: LOL, seems like we both enjoyed Catching Jordan :) I guess it's because it's refreshing. I'm determined to read Pegasus this year as it's in my TBR pile... and I've been eyeing Paradise for a long time. I think I'm going to wait till it's released in paperback :)

Ames: I love that Jordan is a real tomboy in Catching Jordan.  Definitely different.  I need to read Rick Riordan in 2012.

Nath: Yes, you do!!


Fiction



Ames
1. The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
2. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
3. The Countess and the King  by Susan Holloway Scott
*Honorable mention to Junction X by Erastes.


Nath
1. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
2. -
3. -


Nath: LOL, see I put Attachments here :) While I agree with you that there's a romance at the core of the story... the book isn't shelved in the romance section, so fiction it is with me :) Plus, I couldn't leave this category empty :) I just don't read enough fiction... Hmmm, could I put Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts?

Ames: My top fiction reads were historicals.  Not bad.  I need to read more of that as well in 2012.  I gotta shake things up a bit!  LOL  I also had Kate Quinn's sophomore effort in my tbr pile, the prequel to Mistress of Rome (which I listed as a top read in 2010) that I was really looking forward to but didn't read it.  I need to work on that weird habit of mine!


M/M


Ames
1. Out of Focus by LA Witt
2. One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
3. Paris A to Z by Marie Sexton
*Honorable mentions to Prove It by Chris Owen


Nath
1. Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell
2. Gobsmacked by L.B. Gregg
3. A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan


Ames: You know I really loved a book if I didn't review it.  LOL  Out of Focus I read close to the end of December and it just squeaked in under the wire.  But yeah, I really get a writing block for those books I just want to gush about.  Just take my word for it, they're listed here, I loved them, so go read them.  :P

Nath: I told you, just tell us why you liked it so much :) Characters, the plot, the hot sex? LOL. You know what? I kept complaining in 2011 that I didn't review a lot and true, my numbers are down... However, putting this post together, I'm really surprised that the books I really enjoyed this year, most of them I have reviewed :) Yay!

***

And there you have it, our top reads for 2011 :) What do think? Ames and I were discussing while making these lists and the consensus was that 2011 was a mediocre year ^_^; I don't mean to take anything away from any of the books listed in this post. They were definitively great reads! However, looking back at 2011 as a whole, Ames and I both read a lot of books - 200 and over. You'd think there'd be a lot more books that would have stood out... but not really. Especially for historical and contemporary romances and romantic suspense. Ah well, to a better 2012! :)

12 comments:

Samantha said...

Awesome picks ladies!!!

I just read Kiss of Snow and loved it. Gotta love Hawke.

I keep hearing a lot of great things about Karen Rose, but have yet to pick up anything by her. I think I need to remedy this.

~ames~ said...

Samantha-I've read just a few of her books but Count to Ten is by far my favorite. It's one of my top favorite reads EVER. I'm planning on catching up with her books this year. :P

Hilcia said...

Oh great choices, ladies!

I agree with lots of your picks by categories. Silk for Seduction made it to the top of my list too, and The Comforts of Home also made it to my top 10. *g* And yay for A Summer at Seaside Cove by D'Alessandro. Nalini Singh in PNR (I'm also not reading a lot in that category), and I loved In the Bleak Midwinter!

Attachments! I still have that book in my list of books to read. :) And I have One Hundred Kingdoms in my TBR.

RE: 2011 as a year. I gave very few A's compared to the amount of books I read and at the end of the year only 7/10 of my 2011 top reads were true A's, the rest were A-. (Only 2 A's to historicals and 1 to a contemporary). And my Honorable Mentions were B+. I gave a lot of B's in 2011, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing either, just not outstanding!

My best reads of the year were really from previous years and in the Gay Fiction category. :)

Sam said...

Great post! Glad to see Vampire Academy made one of your Young Adult lists. :)

Sam @ Realm of Ficton

Mariana said...

Your UF/Fantasy/Sci-Fi and MM have some great books.

I've not read much from the other categories, so will need to add them to the growing list :)

I think I'm PNR'd out, although Nalini Singh can still pull me in :)

Tabitha E said...

Great list, ladies!

Of the historical:

I've only read one of the books listed and that was Beauty Tamed the Beast and I must say I did enjoy it. Thanks, Nath, for that rec. :)

I've read (2) Kate Noble's books and enjoyed them so I'll have to check out Follow my Lead as well.

Sad. I have a number of Loretta Chase's books in the TBR but none of them is Silk for Seduction. Though considering I haven't read any of her books that I have, what are the chances that I'll read SfS hmm? :p

Of the contemps:

I read the James, Carr, D'Alessandro, and Andersen. I enjoyed all four books but I like the D'Alessandro book most. I think ha.

I have both the Rowell and Harper so maybe I will check those out sometime.

Of the category:

I've only read the Hunter book. While I enjoyed it, it's not a top reads for me. What is? Not sure, ha.

Of the RS/Mystery:

Kare Rose rules! hehe. Love her books! I've also read and enjoyed the (first) Jones book and all of Webber's LV series!

Of the PNR:

I've read a lot of PNR this year. Dragon Bound and KoS are def good reads!

Of the UF:

I have to agree, anything by the Andrews team is good!

YA:

Don't recognize anything on the list, wow. For me, Touch of Frost will make the list. I love her YA series.

Lastly, I dont read fiction or M/M so can't comment. :)

Alex (A Girl, Books, OtherThings) said...

Oh, I need to read some of these.
I loved A Lot Like Love, it was one of the few contemporaries I liked last year and I just got Attachments! :D I hope I like it.

I actually also have Silk is For Seduction, but I've tried to read Loretta Chase before and i haven't been lucky.

And I just read Five Flavors of Dumb and it's AWESOME.

Brie said...

I think Attachments was such a romantic story! To me there’s no doubt it belongs to the Romance category, but perhaps they labeled as fiction to avoid prejudice? Oh well, what a shame, I hope now that the book has been mentioned in so many “best of list” more people will get to read it. Her next book sounds amazing, it’s called Eleanor & Park and I can’t wait.

I need to get Absolutely, Positively, it sounds good. Need to check out that series. Another author I have yet to read is Ann Aguirre, keep hearing great things about her.

Great list ladies! Not good for my finances, but my Kindle says thanks!

nath said...

Samantha - Yay you agree Samantha! But seriously, you're the one that had a truly amazing year :) Discovering all those great books in the same year... I'm envious even if I've read them all LOL.

Kiss of Snow was good, I liked Hawke and Sienna... but thought that at times, the romance was a bit redundant.

You definitively have to pick up Karen Rose!! If you like RS, she's the queen of it :) Like Ames says, Count to Ten is awesome... but all of her other books rate high for me :)

Hilcia - Wooohooo Hils! Glad you agree with our choices :)

You'll definitively enjoy Attachments in my opinion. It's different and refreshing and I nice look back :)

Exactly, 2011 wasn't outstanding. I mean, sure there were some good books... but none to really die for LOL. I hope there are a few this year!

Sam - Thanks! I have that book in my TBR pile... and it's been sitting there for years ^_^;

Mariana - LOL, I think my UF/Fantasy/Sci-Fi list is classic of a reader of that genre LOL.

I'm with you. PNR'd out, but always at the ready when it's a Nalini Singh or Meljean Brook. Those are the two authors that I'll pick up without hesitation.

Tabitha - No problem for Beauty Tamed the Beast :) It was different and that was good ;)

Well Silk is for Seduction is her newest release... and chances are high if I nag you LOL. Ms Chase is really well-loved, but for me, not all of her books work... so you might not enjoy the ones in your TBR pile, but give this one a chance if you can :)

Yeah, contemporary for me was a tough call. I mean, I really enjoyed the D'Alessandro... I thought it was really refreshing. but at the same time, I think you need to be in a certain mood to enjoy it... although same goes with the Thomas. Ah well, either way, looking forward to her next release ;)

Love love KR. I've dubbed her the queen of RS :) I'm glad you enjoyed Webber's LV series. It's a fun one :) And Darynda Jones' third book is coming out soon! I can't wait :)

Dragon Bound just didn't work for me, but as I said, it's probably because I'm PNR'd out.

Well I wouldn't say anything by the Andrews team. For me, the Kate Daniels series really work... but the rest? Meh. Fate's Edge was okay, but not the best.

Alex - I think you will enjoy Attachments. It's a nice book and it's different as well ;)

Well you're not a huge fan of historicals, so I don't know how Silk for Seduction will work for you, Alex... but I say give it a try. I'm not a huge fan of Ms Chase either, but this one was interesting ;)

And Five Flavors of Dumb was great right? I really enjoyed it :)

Brie - True, but I guess it's not a conventional romance... And indeed her next book sounds great :) Can't wait to read it :)

The first book in Heather Webber Lucy Valentine series is Truly, Madly. You should start from there, Brie :)

Good luck with Ann Aguirre. People love her, but she just doesn't work for me :(

LOL, sorry for your purse!

Tabitha said...

I agree. I'm not a fan of her Edge series. I have all of the books in that series but I've only read On the Edge.

Christine said...

I haven't posted my "Best Of" list either! Ugh! I gotta do that this week.

I see some similarities between my favorites and both of yours...

I have A Lot Like Love on the TBR. I have to read that one.

I am going to glom Karen Rose one of these days.. just you wait. Maybe when I'm caught up with the In Death series. ; ) Oh! AND I plan to read the Darynda Jones series as well--especially since my library has them! And I haven't read Absolutely, Positively yet!

As for PNR... Kiss of Snow FTW! Unfortunately, it didn't win on the goodreads readers choice poll. I was so sad about that.

Ames, I loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, too! Did you read the next two in the trilogy yet? I need to get to them. ..

Nath, I have to agree with your debate over Briggs' River Marked. I ADORE that series, but it didn't quite make the cut for a favorite for me either.

Great lists and fun post to read. :)

nath said...

Tabitha - I think I prefer the subsequent books in the Edge series than On the Edge, but still, that series just doesn't appeal much to me.

Christine - LOL, read A Lot Like Love Christine!! Great book :)

I hope you do give Karen Rose a try. I loooove her! She's a wonderful author and her romantic suspense are really chilling!

Actually, it sounds like you're going to read a lot of good books in 2012 :)

What read the GR pool? Although I don't put much stock into GR pool. It's so biased... and I mean, wasn't it a J.R. Ward book that won? I mean, seriously?

I think Mercy Thompson series has been better once the love triangle was resolved... the problem is what I liked about that series is the Pack and there wasn't much of that in River Marked.