My year in books – favourites of 2011

31 Dec

This year I read 76 books  – that’s two more than last year! To end the year, I’ve chosen my ten favourite books that were published in 2011 and have provided links to my reviews where possible. I found it really hard to narrow my choice down to just ten books this year and even more impossible to pick an absolute favourite as I enjoyed different novels at different times for very different reasons. This year I’ve expanded on the top ten with some ‘favourites’ categories and a ‘readers’ choice’ section for the most popular (most visited) reviews this year. So without further ado, my books of the year, in release date order are:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (published in January by Headline)

Vampires, witches and daemons; a magical manuscript, rich historical detail and fascinating characters. This was a brilliant paranormal romance to start the year with and  I can’t wait for the follow up Shadow of the Night to be released in July 2012.

The Taker by Alma Katsu (published by Century in April)

A dark and gripping paranormal romance with no vampires! The Taker is a very original take on the immortal love story with the driving force behind most of the action being unrequited love. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel The Reckoning in June.

The Beauty Chorus by Kate Lord-Brown (published by Corvus in April)

I love the title for this book which was the nickname given by fighter pilots to the women who volunteered to fly planes like Spitfires from factories to British airfields during World War Two. In The Beauty Chorus Kate Lord Brown skillfully combines the true historical facts (166 women joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) risking their lives to ferry planes across the country) with the fictional story of three very different women to create a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking novel.

From London With Love by Jemma Forte (published by Penguin in July)

A fun summer chick lit read that had me gripped and one of my favourite covers of the year too. The Bond theme adds a touch of A-list glamour to the story and as Jessica ties herself in knots trying to keep her identity a secret, From London with Love has a great message about not judging a book by its over and being who you really are.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield (published by Harper in July)

Jenny Wingfield’s debut is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve read it and 11 year old Swan Lake is one of my favourite characters of the year. Set in 1950’s Arkansas, the story is heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measures and beautifully written following the trials and tribulations of the wonderful Moses clan. My full review will be coming in January.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline ( published in August by Century)

A suprise hit for me! Ernest Cline has created a brilliantly thought out and detailed future dystopian world; combined it with a fantastic virtual reality treasure hunt based on music, film and gaming nostalgia from the 1980′s and underlined it all with (the biggest surprise for me as I read) a really sweet coming of age love story.

Netherwood by Jane Sanderson (published in September by Sphere)

Netherwood is a thoroughly enjoyable historical saga and a fantastic debut from Jane Sanderson. I was completely drawn in to the world that Jane has created, loving both the historical detail and the variety and depth of characters that populate this book.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (published by Harvill Secker in September)

A gorgeous book and an amazing debut from Erin Morgenstern. I loved the story of the mysterious black and white Circus which only opens at night. The book is packed with magic and intrigue. I’ve only just finished reading this one but it shot straight into my top ten!

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris (published in October by Simon and Schuster)

Another of my favourite covers of the year. A classy story filled with vintage glamour. Miracle on Regent Street is Ali Harris’s debut novel and what a debut. Heartfelt, warm, romantic and a lovely Christmassy story too.

It Started with a Kiss by Miranda Dickinson (published by Avon in November)

Last but by no means least, Miranda Dickinson’s third novel is Chick lit perfection from the sparkly pink cover to the brilliantly romantic ending and I thoroughly enjoyed every page in between as Romily Parker goes on a year long search for the handsome hero who kissed her and vanished!

2011 Favourites …

The whole package: The Night Circus

Although I love my Kindle, it will never replace physical books for me and books like this are the reason why. I splashed out on the gorgeous hard back when it was published and I love the book design as much as the story!

Cover love: Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

The cover for this book is really striking and picks up the tone of the book perfectly.

Heroine: Gracie Flowers from (Un)like a Virgin by Lucy-Anne Holmes

Gracie had me smiling from the first page with her wry observations on her job, her boyfriend, friends and family and she’s one of my favourite leading chick it ladies of all time!

Hero: Prince Richard from To Marry a Prince by Sophie Page

I thought this book was a real gem of a romantic comedy and I loved Prince Richard who comes across as a fab leading man – by no means perfect, he has some brilliantly funny and romantic scenes but never seems over the top.

Support: Uncle Dudley and Auntie Mags from It Started With a Kiss by Miranda Dickinson

Dispensers of love, wisdom and support from their narrow-boat home to Romily as she undertakes her quest. They are instrumental in keeping Romily going but are also responsible for much of the book’s warm humour and I loved Aunty Mags’ ‘Cake Therapy’!

The perfect ending: Breakfast At Darcy’s by Ali McNamara

Ali McNamara retains her crown for queen of the romantic ending with a beautiful finale to her latest novel that left me with a big smile on my face.

Readers’ choice: Top five most read reviews of 2011

1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

2. To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

3. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

4. The Taker by Alma Katsu

5. Beautiful Creatures by Lulu Taylor

So that’s my year in books; are your favourites on the list? I’m looking forward to sharing many more reviews with you during 2012 and wish you all a very happy and bookish New Year! x

4 Responses to “My year in books – favourites of 2011”

  1. Alma Katsu 1st January 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Amanda, thank you so much for this honor! Such good company! I’ve so appreciated your support this year. Best wishes for a wonderful New Year, Alma

  2. Alexa 1st January 2012 at 7:25 am #

    All these books sound amazing! I can’t wait to check them out :)

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