The Half-Year Mark: Best Books of 2011 (so far)

Hey folks! As it’s officially summer and we’re halfway through the year, we decided that it was high time to start keeping score – of our favorite books of the year, that is.

Without further ado, we present you with our Best of 2011 Lists – So Far.

Thea’s Best of 2011:

Compared to 2010, 2011 is about par for the course. I haven’t really read too many books that strike me as OMG BEST EVER I WANT TO HAVE BABIES WITH THIS BOOK…but at the same time, I have noticed that lately almost every book I’ve read is a solid 7. I bet if I ran some analysis of my average ratings for this year, a 7 would be my magic number. And that, dear readers, is AWESOME. I’m totally stoked that almost every book I read is entertaining (even if these books aren’t the one type of material). And, just as with last year, I’m hoping that the second half of 2011 will kick ass. There are so many titles I’m excited to read that have a high probability of making my book-baby-making list, and I cannot wait. As with last year, I’m breaking out my picks in three lists: 1. Best books read, reviewed and published in 2011; 2. Best books read & reviewed in 2011 (regardless of publication year); and 3. Honorable Mentions.

Best Books Read, Reviewed and Published in 2011

1. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, 9 (SF/Horror, Post-Apocalypse, Zombies)
2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, 10 (Fantasy, MG/YA)[1. Ok, we’re cheating with this one but it WAS re-released this year]
3. The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier, 7 (Fantasy, YA)
4. Plague by Michael Grant, 8 (SF/Horror, Apocalypse/Dystopia, YA)

Best Books Read & Reviewed in 2011 (regardless of publication year)

1. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott, 8 (Fantasy)
2. The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier, 9 (Fantasy, YA)
3. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, 9 (Horror)
4. Sisters of the Sword series by Maya Snow, 8 (MG/YA, Historical, Fantasy)
5. The Swan Maiden/Toads & Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson, 8/8 (Fantasy, YA)
6. Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, 8 (Steampunk, Adventure, YA)

Honorable Mentions:

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth, 7 (SF, Dystopian, YA)
2. Eona by Alison Goodman, 8 (Fantasy, YA)
3. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells, 7 (Fantasy)
4. Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowski, 7 (Horror, Fantasy, MG)
5. The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, 7 (Fantasy, MG/YA)
6. Unseen by Rachel Caine, 8 (UF)
7. Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott, 8 (Fantasy)
8. America Pacifica by Anna North, 7 (SF, Apocalypse/Dystopia)
9. Pale Demon by Kim Harrison, 8 (UF)

As you can see, young adult and dystopian/apocalyptic novels continue to be the list toppers, with a generous dose of fantasy. I wish there were some Sci Fi titles that could get up on that list, but the year is still long – I have high hopes for the rest of 2011!

Ana’s Best of 2011:

Before writing this post I was under the impression that 2011 had not been a good reading year so far. But going through all of my reviews showed me different: in the great scheme of things, 2011 has been a good, solid reading year. I’ve read 65 books (which is the exact same amount of books I had read last year when we wrote this half-mark recap!) and I can list right now 28 that were truly GREAT although I only consider 3 as top ten material (a marked difference from last year’s list). The remaining books are a mixed bag of 6s and 7s and I, like Thea, think this is AWESOME. However, 15 of the books I’ve read – that’s over 20% – rated between DNFs and 5s and I think that accounts for the impression I had. Not to mention those ones that I am not even counting because I didn’t get around to review – like for example my most anticipated read of 2011, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss which turned out to be a dud and I couldn’t even read past 100 pages it was so boring. I DO appreciate that not every book is going to be OMG awesome though and that’s ok.

But enough of navel gazing – let’s get to the list proper. I will follow Thea’s example:

Best Books Read, Reviewed and Published in 2011

1. Chime by Franny Billingsley, 9 (YA, SF, Historical)
2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, 10 (YA, SF, Contemporary)
3. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, 10 (YA, Fantasy)

Best Books Read & Reviewed in 2011 (regardless of publication year)

1. The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier, 9 (YA, Fantasy)
2. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, 9 (YA, Fantasy)
3. Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell, 8 (YA, Southern Gothic)
4. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, 9 (MG, Historical)
5. The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley, 9 (MG, Fantasy)
6. Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, 9 (Science Fiction, Historical)
7. Bellwether by Connie Willis, 9 (Science Fiction)
8. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, 10 (Science Fiction)
9. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, 9 (Science Fiction)
10. Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster, 10 (Historical, Feminism)

Honorable Mentions (all published in 2011):

1. The Thirteen Secrets series by Michelle Harrison, 8 (YA, Fantasy)
2. Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger, 8 (YA, Contemporary)
3. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells, 8, Fantasy
4. Never Knew Another by J M Mcdermott (this is a possible contender to move up to top 10) , 8 (Fantasy)
5. Sleight of Hand by Peter S Beagle (possibly a top 10) , 9 (Fantasy)
6. Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow (the more I think about this book, the more I like it. It might even make my top 10 in the end), 8 (Dystopia)
7. The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan, 8 (YA, UF)
8. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire, 8 (UF)
9. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres, 7 (YA, Dystopia)
10. Spinning Out by David Stahler Jr, 8 (YA, Contemporary)

What about you? What are your favorite reads of the year so far?

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  • Allison
    June 18, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Unlike Ana – I read and loved The Wise Man’s Fear. I also, based on your best of 2010 list, devoured and absolutely loved The Moorehawke trilogy by Celine Kiernan. Also, recently I read a historical fiction title, The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, and found it to be really well written and engrossing.

    Great list! So many of these books are on my TBR, I just ordered A Monster Calls a few days ago after seeing so many rave reviews. I plan on getting to both Warm Bodies and Chime soon also. Can’t wait to see what the rest of 2011 brings!

  • Nymeth
    June 18, 2011 at 1:08 am

    CLEARLY I need to read Chime asap.

  • Celine
    June 18, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Thanks for this great list – must read A Monster Calls – and OMG is it really halfway through the year???? *PANIC*

    My fav fiction reads this year have been:
    Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill
    Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Still Alice by Lisa Genova

  • Amy
    June 18, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Great lists of books here! Any that I’ve also read I completely agree with your high rankings of, which makes me realize that I need to read more from the lists!

  • Samantha
    June 18, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I loved Cold Magic by Kate Elliot as well. I’m so looking forward to reading the next book in this trilogy and cannot wait for it to come out. These are some great lists!

  • Deirdre
    June 18, 2011 at 6:34 am

    My favorites so far this year are:

    Huntress by Malinda Lo
    Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
    Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
    Hidden Goddess by MK Hobson (even though I didn’t like it as much as I did Native Star)
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore (I can’t believe I took so long to pick this one up! Didn’t like Fire nearly as much though)
    Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggari (some worldbuilding fail and a somewhat rushed ending, but all in all, a good dystopian YA read)
    Enclave by Anne Aguirre (the second half wasn’t as good as the first though, and why the heck do we need another frickin’ love triangle?)
    Tell Us When We’re Home by Marina Budhos (if you’re looking for more diverse fiction with POC characters, this is an AMAZING book)
    Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma (just finished this one)

  • emy shin
    June 18, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I love this list — so many great books to add to my reading list!

  • janicu
    June 18, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I’m reading CHIME right now. Yep, it be good! It’s got a dash of weird and a dash of romance, and the world building is very unique. I’m savoring actually.

  • Maureen E
    June 18, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I agree with a LOT of yours (Rachel Neumeier, Connie Willis, Sarah Rees Brennan, Chime). Among Others, by Jo Walton has been another favorite read from the first half of the year. Also The Replacement, which I liked a lot.

  • Tina
    June 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Favorites this year:
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Saving Francesca and Jellico Road by Melina Marchetta
    The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
    Deadline by Mira Grant
    Havah by Tosca Lee

    Honorable mention:
    Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

    I just saw Chime earlier in the bookstore, and something tells me maybe I should have gotten it. Cannot wait to read A Monster Calls and Howl’s Moving Castle.

  • Chachic
    June 18, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Yay for the DWJ love! Isn’t Howl hilarious? Hope you guys get to watch the Miyazaki movie as well, it’s different from the book but I still liked it. I have to read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, A Monster Calls and To Say Nothing of the Dog soon. I already have copies of all three.

    Favorites so far: Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell, The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, Unsticky and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning.

  • Timothy
    June 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I love that cover for HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE.

  • Charlotte
    June 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Yay for Daddy Long Legs! I’ve loved this book since I was 12 or so….

  • Kristen
    June 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    So many books that look good here that I’ve been meaning to read – Chime, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Cold Magic, Never Knew Another, Sleight of Hand, Divergent… And thanks to your review I’ve been seriously considering picking up The Cloud Roads when I use some of my birthday book money from a while back. It sounded wonderful!

    My favorites so far this year are Eona by Alison Goodman, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Native Star by M. K. Hobson, and The Sea Thy Mistress by Elizabeth Bear. I also really liked Late Eclipses, Deathless by Catherynne Valente, and Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Howl’s Moving Castle was pretty good too. 🙂

  • Pam
    June 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I agree with all of these. So glad to see Emerald Atlas on this list!

  • orannia
    June 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Fantastic list! I loved Cold Magic and can’t wait to read Cold Fire! And I adore Howl’s Moving Castle 🙂

  • Emm
    June 19, 2011 at 2:27 am

    that is SO SAD that Wise Man’s Fear was a DNF… I was so looking forward to reading it. The first one had such potential! *sigh

  • jdfield
    June 19, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Love the cover of the islands book. Jumping STRAIGHT to the review now.

  • Ebony McKenna
    June 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    OMG that list is made of awesome.
    What a fantastic year for books this is.

  • Dash
    June 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I love that you put Howl’s Moving Castle on your list. That is one of my absolute favorite books and I was so sad when the author passsed away recently.

  • Aislinn
    June 25, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Wise Man’s Fear starts out slow. Really slow. It has “Oh god, why am I reading this?” levels of slowness. It gets better. It took me several days to read the first 100-200 pages, but after that I devoured it in one sitting.

  • capillya
    June 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Sigh. I want to take 2 weeks off from work, turn off my phone and cuddle with all of these books. And be able to say “I snuggled with Warm Bodies” this summer. Ha.

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