Tour’s Books Blog

January 22, 2012

Tour’s Books – Best of 2011 (and some of the Worst) – Part 1

Filed under: Editorial,Favorite book,Musing on life — toursbooks @ 11:29 pm

Looking back on 2011, it was a year that had some great new writers, quality work for well established one, some real lemons, and a downgrade in overall quality of books.  So here are some personal opinions on books I read – and I’ve read a lot, but a far cry from all the new books in 2011, so feel free to chime in with your Best and Worst of 2011.

Best New Author

Kevin Hearne!  What a pleasant surprise.  In a sea of ‘me too’ UF/paranormal books, along comes an author with a lead character that’s a 2,000+ year old Druid that looks like a 20-something hippie and runs a bookstore herb shop in Tempe, AZ.  And even better, his very amusing sidekick is an Irish wolfhound that he’s taught to speak mentally with him.   Hounded, Hexed, and Hammered make it as the best first 3 books I’ve read in a long time.  Engaging, amusing, exciting well told tales.  YEAH!!!!!!!   The fourth book is on order!

Worst Mystery in a Series

Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich.  Stick a fork in it, this series was toast awhile back, but this entry was a complete disgrace.  Whole paragraphs came from previous books and there wasn’t an original thought in 300 slight pages.  The whole Morelli/Steph/Ranger thing is took a twist that was insulting to the characters and fans alike.  Poor plot, worse concept, and a total waste of money and time.

Best Action/Thriller Series Division

Kage: The Shadow (A Connor Burke Novel) by – John Donohue is an unexpected choice in a year when Barry Eisler brought back his brilliant John Rain character.  Sentiment aside, Donohue just wrote a better book.

Runner Up: Buried Secrets (Nick Heller, Bk 2) by Joseph Finder – A relentless thriller that combined multiple plot twists and it’s fair share of not quite credible moments, but held up well overall.

Biggest Disappointment – tie:  Soft Target by Stephan Hunter – Wow, what a letdown!  This lame story had nowhere to go from the outset and generated no real tension or surprises.   It’s only positive was it was short.

Bad Blood (Virgil Flowers) by John Sanford – What a predictable bit of tripe this was.  Sanford relied on the shock value of incest to cover an otherwise nearly plotless book.  Waste of time and money.

Best Entry in Ongoing Series – Paranormal/UF

The Hour of Dust and Ashes (Charlie Madigan, Bk 3) by Kelly Gay  Some authors manage to keep things interesting and write complete stories yet keep an ongoing plot moving without looping endlessly.  Kudos to Ms Gay for her quality work

Runners-up:  One Salt Sea (An October Daye Novel) by Seanan McGuire – This is a series that seems to get better with each book.  McGuire is another author that has produced consistent, quality work.  Brava!

Kill the Dead (A Sandman Slim Novel) by Richard Kadrey – Sandman Slim might have been over hyped in 2010, but Kill the Dead, book 2 in the series, was excellent.

Biggest Disappointment:  The Fallen Blade by Jon Courtney Grimwood – This was one of those books that was just plain annoying.  Despicable people, dumb plot, badly paced and simply incoherent in places.  What a waste, yet hyped by it’s fans.

Best Cozy Mystery

Wow is this a crowded field these days with all kinds of cozies out there.  About the only genre that releases more books per month is romance.  I have to admit I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the bulk of this genre, but there are some exceptions.  I actually find myself with multiple winners in a range of sub-genres.

Traditional Cozy

Ink Flamingos (A Tattoo Shop Mystery) by Karen E Olsen – I love this series.  It’s off beat, well written, interesting and amusing.  Ms Olsen created a terrific character with tattoo artist Dee Carmichael.  Read them all and enjoyed every one of them!

Runner Up:  Death by the Dozen by Jenn McKinlay – Everything a cozy should be, and an amusing behind the scenes look a cooking contest with a group of thinly veiled Food Network characters.  An unexpected pleasure.

Best New Series – tie

Die Buying by Laura DiSilvero – An interesting heroine, ex military police woman with partial disability, and a good story.  An all around out of the ordinary read.

Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure by Diane Kelly  Another really good read with an ensemble cast and good lead character who works for IRS!!!!!!  Is there a less likely heroine?  It works on every level.

Runners Up: Quickstep to Murder by Ella Barrick – This unlikely candidate was a surprise for me.  Entertaining, with a good mystery and a look into the world of competitive dancing.  Don’t know if the series can hold up, but book one was a good start.

Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick – Set to a lightning tour of ancient Egypt, where nothing is quite what it seems, the book works.  the characters are not as fresh or original as the others, but it’s an Edgar nominee and was a good read.

Paranormal Mystery

Baited Blood by Sue Ann Jaffarian – Vamps that are not warm and cuddly, a couple of humans, and a LOT of dead bodies.  It all added up to a good, if darker than usual, read.

Special Mention:  Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian – this book was written in 2009, but I read it last year.  It blew away the usual paranormal claptrap that’s swamping the market.  A cozy and a paranormal that’s still an intelligent read.

Best Traditional Mystery

Rogue Island by Bruce de Silva – A first novel by a newsman, this story about corruption and death in Rhode Island was a really good read.

Runner up:  The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton – A brilliant piece of literature and an Edgar winner, but so stylized it’s a challenge at times.

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