Monday, December 12, 2011

Best 20 Novels of 2011

BEST OF 2011
It’s that time of year again and every Tom Dick and Debbie gives you their “Best Of” lists and this Debbie is no different so without further ado here’s mine.
Click the links to read the full review.
This year was especially hard for me to choose the top pick and as a result there are two fabulous novels that share that honor.


The First is My One and Only by Kristan Higgins. As most of you know my love of fiction goes beyond just one or two or even three genres, I love them all and this novel was probably the best romance I’ve read in a long time. Kristan has the ability to take us with her wherever her story leads and really endear us to her characters human and in this case a sassy little dog as well. Thank you Kristan for a trip that I will long remember. Kristan’s Website

Also this year I was fortunate enough to read and review for RT Reviews a fantasy that made me love a protagonist who was most unlovable by a debut author who knows how to spin a web of fantasy better than or just as good as any author of the genre out there. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is an epic fantasy that will blow your socks off, the first of a trilogy and is absolutely brilliant who’s first step into this genre only whets our appetite for the next not only in this trilogy but whatever his fertile imagination comes up with in the future. Mark I can only say that this debut will not only stay on my shelf for ever to be re-read often but will stay in my mind as well. Mark’s website
The rest of the list is in no particular order

Darkfire Kiss by Deborah Cooke is by one of my all time favorite and always have to have the next one out author. She’s long been a favorite and I’ve followed her through multiple genres and more than a decade of being a fan. Darkfire Kiss is the 6th novel in her Dragon Fire series and stars one of my favorite of her dragon shape-shifters Rafferty. He’s wise and he’s old and he’s patient and it looks like his patience is about to pay off. If you, like me love this genre of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance give not only this novel but the whole series a try. Deborah was our guest at General Fiction forum in September when we featured the first in this series Kiss of Fire Deborah’s website

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness was another debut that remains close to my heart. It’s also a trilogy with Shadow of Night coming out in July of 2012. If you’re a fan of myth and legend and vampire tales but want to see one in a whole new light you might want to see what this one has to say. Deborah’s website

A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant is a journey of a lifetime to all the best sights Europe has to offer, brought to you by a narrative that will make you fluent in the language where you happen to be. Not only that but you will love these characters especially Gwen who’s having a coming of age at the age of 30. Big News Marilyn has graciously agreed to be my guest in May of 2012 when the General Fiction forum will feature her novel, what a better way to celebrate Spring in full force than by spending it discovering Europe in a whole new way. Marilyn’s website

Mind Games is by the writing team known as Taylor Keating and is the second in their Guardian series. This series I found totally by accident and have drooled over and impatiently anticipated each new release. Game Over is the first in the series. This is a multi genre novel that mixes Paranormal/Urban Fantasy with Science Fiction and romance and takes place on multiple planets as well. The series begins with a very Tron like feeling but quickly expands to much more in this second novel so if this is a genre that appeals to the adventurer in you, this is a series you should consider. Taylor’s website

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister is for the those of us who shudder at challenges, who revel in friendship and who love a novel that gives you not only hope but laughter as well. I am also happy to report that at the General Fiction book club forum at B& her novel will be the featured read in January and Erica will be with us for the month, to talk to us, answer questions and just hang out with the members who will be enjoying this wonderful, inspirational and so much more than just women’s fiction read. Erica’s website

Outlaw by Angus Donald was a legend come true in more ways than one. It’s a tale of the legendary Robin Hood told in the most realistic light I’ve ever read. The battles are bloody and the brutality is vivid on the pages and beyond that it’s what the real late 12th Century England really was like. It was my pleasure to host Angus in October on the B& General Fiction forum and feature this his first in the series The Outlaw Chronicles where only the first two have been published in the US. Let’s make sure this whole series comes across the pond. Angus’ website

Love You More by Lisa Gardner is the 5th in the DD Warren series by this prolific author of thrillers and in my opinion the best out there, maybe because of her sweet smile that makes it hard to imagine lurks the mind that can create some of the most heinous of literary villains oh and don’t forget she always throws in a little romance to soothe those of us who need more than blood and guts. If you’ve never read her but love the big boys like John Sandford, Nelson Demille or Michael Connelly, Lisa gives them a run for their money. Lisa’s website

The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins was my first best read of 2011 and will be my feature read in March of 2012 on the General Fiction forum at B& This women’s fiction selection is capable of drawing out emotions, teaching us what true friendship is all about and the sacrifice we’ll make for the sake of a friend. It’s also about loss and pain and light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a love story about what if really means to be a friend. It’s really worth the read and join us in March for the feature too. Lisa’s website

Emily & Einstein by Linda Francis Lee was an unexpected surprise sent to me by my friends at St. Martin’s Press. This impressive novel is a mix of fantasy and realism, it’s about responsibilities and regrets, most of all it’s about absolution and redemption. The irrepressible Einstein played by a feisty mutt with nine lives will enter not only your hearts but by the end of the novel you’ll all want to run out to the nearest shelter and relieve them of some of their inhabitants, added to the cast is the lovely Emily who’s girl next door charm will win you over and Sandy her husband with a few others thrown in to make it all come together. Linda’s website

Inside by Brenda Novak is the first in her latest Bulleproof trilogy the first two being closer related than the third but all must reads about being on the inside of a prison by choice to expose a prison gang that has threatened him and more importantly his family. This thrilling chilling read had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire novel, not being able to put it down. You can read my reviews of In Seconds and In Close in RT Reviews. Brenda does more than just write she’s a tireless advocate for Juvenile Diabetes. Brenda’s website

Where All The Dead Lie by JT Ellison, JT is another one of my favorite authors and Taylor Jackson the star of her series is one of my favorite characters, but she may have bit off more than even she could chew in this novel which mostly takes place in a Scottish Castle in the dead of winter where we will experience along with Taylor ghosts both real and imagined. JT I’m happy to announce is launching a new series staring Dr. Sam Taylors best friend and I’m also happy to announce that JT will be my guest at the General Fiction forum in June 2012 with her yet to be released debut of her new series so far titled A Deeper Darkness as our featured read for that month. JT’s website

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter You’ll need to brush up on your mythology for this fantasy with a mix of romance. It’s categorized as a YA but that puts it in a box that’s way too small for it. Both men and women, teens and adults will enjoy this whimsical tale about Henry/Hades and his quest for a Queen. In this paranormal/fantasy frenzy in publishing give this unique one a read. Then stay tuned for March 2012 when the second in the series Goddess Interrupted comes out.
Aimée’s website

A Pub Across the Pond by Mary Carter Carlene Rivers just won the lottery, not cash, not bonds, no she just won a Pub in Ireland. She has a lot to overcome when she gets there and especially the reason the Pub needed to be lotteried off in the first place Ronan McBride. This novel was a breath of fresh Irish Blarney, filled to capacity with all the iconic Irish things and people, plus a great love story and a woman’s journey to accept who she is and like herself. I’m pleased to announce that Mary will be joining The General Fiction forum in July of 2012 where we’ll feature this novel for our monthly read. Mary’s website

The Collectibles by James J Kaufman Just a scant few days after the start of 2011 an incredible debut is released by an ex Judge, attorney, and a great new voice in the industry who’s one heck of a storyteller. It’s an inspiring lesson in life and it’s a wonderful look at doing the right thing in this all too corrupt world of ours. Now almost one year after it’s release date the novel has won many awards and I know will be still talked about many years from now. It was my pleasure to host Jim’s wonderful novel himself for the April 2011 feature at General Fiction forum at B& Jim’s website

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning is the long awaited finale of Karen’s Fever series and guess what the fanfare and all the hoopla surrounding it was well worth it and true. It’s not often that I wish a 600 page book would keep going but I did with this one as Karen finalizes Mac Lane’s tale in Ireland. The long asked questions will also be answered, who will she end up with, does she find the Sinsar Dubh, does she in fact survive at all. Oh I’m not going to spoil the surprise you have to find out for yourselves. Karen’s website

Snapped by Laura Griffin This is book four of Laura’s Tracers series and this has a very special meaning for her as well. In 1966 Laura’s mom was in Austin the day that Charles Whitman indiscriminately took so many lives on the campus of U of T. And as a tribute to her mom, Laura dedicates this book to her as she spins for her readers a wallop of a thriller and the romance of Sophie and Jonah, fans like me will remember these characters from her previous books in the series and if you’re anything like me you’ve been waiting just as impatiently as I have for their story. Laura’s website

Finding Jack by Gareth Crocker is the warm hearted and sometimes hard to read story about what one man sacrificed for the love of his dog during the end of the Vietnam war. It’s a novel of loss, hope and love. It was first published in the UK and brought over to the US in 2011. It also brought to light what happened to many of these brave “soldiers” when the war ended. Gareth and his novel were featured in May of 2011 on the General Fiction Book Club at B&
Gareth’s Website
And Last but never least is

Bring me Home for Christmas by Robyn Carr In every long standing series there’s one character who readers wait and wait for their story, in the Virgin River series that character has to be Denny Cutler, he’s been on the sidelines in many of the previous novels and now it’s his turn to shine, and shine he does. It mixes the second chance romance that’s my favorite with the favorite seasonal Christmas tale. Robyn’s website


  1. Yeah! I'm proud to be featured on this list. Thanks a million, Debbie!

  2. Wow, thanks Debbie. It's an honour to appear on your list for the year.

    What wonderful company! :-)


  3. Great List Debbie - There's quite a few that I've already read, have in my TBR pile or have added to my "must have" list - my wallet thanks you !!!!


  4. The screaming you just heard? That's me! Thanks so much, Debbie, for including PROPER CARE in your top 20 list! Such fabulous company, too!

  5. So honored and delighted to be included on such a wonderful list... Thank you, Deb!!!

  6. Your cheque is in the mail, Debbie...

    Seriously though, I'm absolutely thrilled! You're the best.

    Love and kisses,

  7. You are all welcome, it's all well deserved
    Anne I hope you love everything you choose that you haven't read
    and Gareth it's Deborah for the pay to line :)


  8. What an honor to be with some of my favorite authors! Thank you so much!

  9. What an honor, Debbie! Thank you for including "The Collectibles" in your 2011 Best Novels. Jim

  10. What a thrill to be included on your list! Thank you, Debbie!

  11. Wow! How awesome! thank you, Deb! xoxo