A few could be labeled "New-to-Me." It seems I can be behind with the times, and several of my reads fell into that category. I decided to include them, even if it's delayed (it's not the writers' faults I'm late to read).
(Click on the book title to see my review when applicable.)
My Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2011
10. Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett
From the review: "Fast paced and intriguing from the first lines, the novel delivers on the high expectations set from the beginning. The well-crafted and captivating story is about mother's dedication to save her inexplicably ill son and his journey to find proof of life after death. The mother's troubled brother and the boy's dedicated doctor join the duo on their quest for answers."
9. Destined to Fail by Samantha March
From the review: "The novel unabashedly covers sensitive topics ranging from domestic abuse, abortion versus adoption, safe sex practices, and so on. The book handles the issues with sensitivity and precision, which makes it approachable. Through JJ's narrative, March raises awareness for important women's issues without being preachy or judgmental. By doing this, the book becomes a solid read for young adults, the audience who probably most needs this message."
8. Recession Proof by Kimberly S. Lin
From the review: "Recession Proof is a fast-paced story and quick read that shows the importance of taking ownership of one's own life and being surrounded by positive people who will help you be the the person you want to be — not hinder it."
7. The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed
From the review: "Cloyed hit the mark in create both an entertaining and emotional story. "The Summer We Came to Life," shows the importance of the bonds of family — even if that connection is not by blood."
6. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
I know, I know, 2003 called and it wants its book back. My mom let me borrow this book, and I sat down to read the first few pages before calling it a night — thinking I'd finish it throughout the week. I stayed up to finish the book that night. I cried. I thought. I felt. Most of all, the feelings lingered, and I didn't regret the lost sleep. That says it.
5. Mini-Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
From the review: "A solid addition to the Shopaholic series, Becky's antics are funny. She has a knack for finding difficult situations, but coming out on top in the end. Her quirky and positive outlook are always enjoyable to read. Though she and Luke are more upperclass than middle, the issues they face are similar to the ones other couples must deal with. Where will they live? How can they handle their headstrong daughter? Should they have another baby? How over-the-top should Luke's surprise party be and how many thousands of dollars should she shell out? OK, maybe not all of the problems are completely relatable, but Kinsella has a knack for making them feel like it."
4. The Next Always by Nora Roberts
It might not be on my list of all-time favorite Nora books, but a reader can always count on one of her reads being well-written and enjoyable. Though the characters, plot and themes of book one in the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy are reminiscent of those we've seen before I didn't care. I considered Beckett, Clare and their story the 2011 retelling — and I'm fine with that. The story was interesting, the characters were appealing and I enjoyed the read. If you're expecting to be blown away by innovation, you might be disappointed. If not, it's worth the few hours it will take to read.
3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
After finishing National Novel Writing Month 2010 a winner — and learning that author Sara Gruen penned her novel during a previous NaNoWriMo — I wanted to read the book before it became a movie. And it's good. Really good. The movie was OK, but this is another one of those stories that once I started I couldn't stop. I read the first few chapters during lunch after picking it up and I stayed up until early the next morning to finish it. The book was well-researched, well-written and wonderful.
2. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
From the review: "While carrying Kinsella's signature wit and humor, the book also touches on tough issues, such as lost friends, backstabbers, adultery and family problems. But Lexi has a good heart, perseverance and a true desire to love that she tackles each problem as it comes. As usual, Kinsella delivers a well-crafted and entertaining story about a woman overcoming the obstacles and challenges thrown at her."
1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
Talk about being a little late to the party, but after being a Jane Austen fan since high school (and almost 200 years after she wrote it), I read Persuasion. It's fantastic. Not only did the book inspire my latest Work-in-Progress, but it also contains one of the most romantic lines I have read: "You pierce my soul." SWOON. My heart flutters every time I even think about the line. (I just got goosebumps writing it.) If you like Jane Austen's other stories, you will love this one. Of all her stories, I find it the funniest and most emotional.
Your turn: What were your favorite reads of 2011?