Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011".

Not all of the books on my list were published in 2011 and two are not even available here yet. I couldn't just limit myself to 10 books so I split them up and wrote one list for YA books and one for adults.

Top Ten YA Books:

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent is my favorite YA book of 2011 which is kind of surprising since I was only somewhat interested in reading it when I first heard of it. Some reviewers said it was pretty violent and I wasn't sure if I would like it. I am so glad I decided to give it a try!

2. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

This book wasn't even on my radar until I saw it offered on NetGalley. Good thing I decided to take a chance on it! I love the uniqueness of the story and that the protagonist is flawed and easy to relate to. I also like it when a book takes me by surprise! After Divergent, I think this is the best YA debut of 2011.

3. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

While this book won't be published till 2012, I was lucky enough to read a review copy. Last year I became a big fan of Lauren Oliver's writing with Before I Fall and I was blown away by Delirium. Pandemonium is a good sequel though I wish I didn't have to wait so long for Requiem

4. Across the Universe by Beth Revis

While I was a little reluctant to read Across the Universe when I first heard of it (I don't usually read science fiction) I kept seeing all these positive early reviews so I changed my mind. It was more of a dystopian suspense novel with a serial killer and some truly creepy villains and I found it to be a page turner. I can't wait to read A Million Suns when it is published next month.

5. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This is the best historical fiction novel I read this past year. The main character and her family are captured by the Soviets and sent to labor camps in Siberia during WWII. I found Between Shades of Gray to be a powerful and unforgettable story.

6. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

To be honest, it was the cover that drew me to this book more than the synopsis. The idea of a romance between a zombie and a human didn't appeal to me at all. Then I started reading Dearly, Departed and I found myself surprised by how much I loved it. It is a well written story with fantastic characters, an interesting plot and good world building. 

7. Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Shadows on the Moon is not yet available in the States but I bought a British version from The Book Depository because I just couldn't wait to read it. I am a fan of Zoe Marriott's novels and this one is a retelling of Cinderella set in a fantasy world inspired by Feudal Japan. It reminded me of Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon and Memoirs of a Geisha.

8. Raised By Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

While I'd heard of Raised By Wolves in 2010, I didn't think it would be a book I'd like because of a review I'd read. Thankfully I saw it at the library one day and decided to check it out. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is now one of my favorite YA paranormal authors. So far I've read three of her books and I've been impressed with them. Raised By Wolves is unlike any other werewolf book I've read. I loved the main character Bryn and even the secondary characters are well developed. I loved the sequel, Trial By Fire and can't wait to read the next book. The Kindle version is currently on sale for $3.19 (through 12/31).  

9. Crossed by Ally Condie

I thought Crossed was an excellent sequel to Matched. We get to see the story from both Cassia and Ky's points of view and I liked Cassia more this time around. Finding out more about the resistance and Ky's past certainly added to the story. I also enjoyed how Ally Condie used another poem (Crossing the Bar) as a symbolic motif throughout the book.

10. Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

This was on my TBR list for awhile before I finally had the chance to read it this past year. I was really impressed with this book and its exploration of racial identity, beliefs, and racism. It could have been a heavy handed message novel but it wasn't. Neesha Meminger achieves a good balance between the serious themes and the lighter moments. I enjoyed learning more about Sikhism and it made me think about my own teen years and how I wanted to ignore my cultural heritage back then. 

Top Ten Books for Adults:

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I finally got to read The Help this past spring after years of waiting (I ended up buying my own copy instead of trying to get it from the library). It was definitely worth the wait and I can see what all the hype was about.  I loved the characters-especially Minnie-and the story was memorable. I think The Help will be considered a classic someday.

2. The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

A library patron came in and told us how wonderful this book was so I decided to check it out for myself. The writing is beautiful, especially if you love food descriptions and recipes like I do. I also liked the unique perspective that Ginny brought to the novel as a protagonist with Asperger's Syndrome. I can't wait to see what Jael McHenry does next.

3. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

I loved this romantic story set in Scotland because it is part contemporary and part historical. Susanna Kearsley is a new author to me and I enjoyed reading three of her books this year. Her books have a slower pace to them but I always find myself pulled into the story at some point and then it just flies by. The Winter Sea is my favorite of her books so far and it kind of reminded me of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books.

4. The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the Garden was inspired by The Secret Garden but it is not a retelling of that story. It is one of my favorites because I loved the writing style and the setting (India).  

5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

After watching the film version (British movie not to be confused with the Patrick Swayze Civil War miniseries from the 80s) and having read Cranford last year, I decided I had to try reading North and South. It is a wonderful book although at times the writing does meander off topic a little. I was surprised to find that I liked the Mr. Thornton of the book even more than his film incarnation (for one thing he doesn't have that nasty temper) and I loved being able to read his thoughts about heroine Margaret Hale. If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice you should give this romantic classic a try!

6. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

This book was recommended to me by a relative and I am so glad she suggested that I try it! I found Ernest Pettigrew to be a delightful character reminiscent of Alan Rickman or Hugh Laurie (if they ever make it into a movie I hope Alan Rickman plays Major Pettigrew-he'd be perfect for it). He has a dry wit and it was so fun to see him interact with others in the village of Edgecomb St. Mary or with his thankless son. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand also has a sweet romance, delicious humor, and a well written story about change and tradition. 

7. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

After years of seeing this series on the shelf, I decided to try the first book and now I'm hooked. This historical mystery series always surprises me and I love the characters even if they are a little modern for the time period. I also loved the relationship between Julia and Brisbane and how he appreciates her intellect. 

8. Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

While I didn't like this as much as Cleopatra's Daughter, I still enjoyed this historical fiction novel with all its fascinating details about wax work and the politics of the French Revolution.

9. The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

I really enjoyed this debut novel that was full of secrets, history, and romance. My favorite parts of the book were the diary entries. I think this would appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks and I can't wait to read Sarah's new novel, The Bungalow.

10. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Even though I already knew things about Poison Study because I read the spin-off series first, I still thought this was a fantastic book. I enjoyed reading about Yelena and Valek and the reintroduction to Janco and Ari. Yelena is a wonderful character and I loved seeing her grow. I still need to read Magic Study and Fire Study which I plan to get to in 2012 though I've heard they aren't as good as this one. 

What do you think of my list? What are your top reads for 2011?


  1. I love that you have 2 lists! My blog is YA, but I also contribute to another book blog, so I got to make 2 lists too. Divergent seems to be the big hit of the year, and deservedly so. I just finished listening to Between Shades of Grey-amazing! I am looking forward to Dearly, Departed and Crossed. Here is my list http://wp.me/pzUn5-H4

  2. Well hello fellow Ohio Librarian! I am so glad you said you had no desire to read Lola! I took it home, read the first 20 pages and was so annoyed and dissappointed. I gave up and probably won't try again.

  3. I love that you gave 2 lists, one for YA and one for Adult lit! I feel like I read so much YA that I forget about grown up books! I loved your lists; even though I literally threw Delirium across the room when I read it (I was NOT a fan of the ending!) I'm looking forward to Pandemonium.

  4. I still need to read Divergent! I'm hoping to get to it soon! The Help was SOOOOOO good! Great list!

  5. I've read most of your YA picks although I still need to get to Shadows on the Moon (maybe with my Christmas gift cards?)-it just sounds so good!

    I've only read a few of the adult picks but I love North and South too. For me though Richard Armitage wins!

  6. I have seen Dearly Departed on a few lists! I usually stay away from zombie books, but this one really sounds good! OH, I have Pandemonium here waiting for me to pick it up...can't wait!


Reading Extensively is now an award free blog. Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment. I enjoy receiving feedback! Due to increase in spam, I've enabled comment moderation. Sorry for any inconvenience!