Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Top Reads of 2011 - Elen Caldecott

There is a section of this blog devoted to reviews, so it might seem odd to post about my favourites here. But sometimes, rather than review, it's nice to simply celebrate the books you've enjoyed. Reviews seem such a grown-up thing to me, perhaps with a touch of A-Level English about them - character development, plot arcs, language and imagery... It also gets especially difficult when you know the writers, may even be friends with them! Sometimes, it's better to just press a book into someone's hand and say, "read this. You'll love it."

So here I am, pressing books into your hand. "Read these. You'll love them."

A Tangle of Magicks by Stephanie Burgis was a real treat this year. It's a sequel, so do read A Most Improper Magick first. It's a lovely mix of a Georgian comedy of manners and witchcraft - Jane Austen does Hogwarts. I loved the sequel as it's set in Bath and makes good use of the ancient elements of the city.

A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler was a joy. It's a time-slip novel, but rather than finding herself in a Victorian kitchen or Medieval stable or somesuch, the heroine moves forward through her own teenage years. She sees the consequences of one event played out among her family and friends. It's warm, sad and very readable.

One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson may be my new favourite book (sorry, Holes by Louis Sachar, but you had a good run). It is really simple, direct and honest. I wish I'd have written it. Sigh. Still, that's why reading is so good for writers - it should inspire us to try harder ourselves. It's the story of a lonely boy and his quest to keep the dog he loves; this is one I'll come back to again and again.

I do occasionally read books for adults too. So, I have a grown-up choice to add. A Song of Fire and Ice by George R R Martin is quite an old series of books now (the first, A Game of Thrones was published in 1996), but the TV adaptation was first aired in 2011, so I'm counting it for that reason. I started watching the series, but having to wait a week for each installment was killing me, so I stopped watching the show and read the books instead. I say 'read', actually I'm listening to the unabridged audio books. They weigh in at 40 hours per book and with seven books planned for the series I have a lot of epic, sword and sorcery to come. Hurray!

So, those are my highlights of 2011. What would you have chosen?
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Sue Purkiss said...

Thanks, Elen - a couple there I'll be buying!

catdownunder said...

Oh dear - my book pile is in severe danger of falling over already and now I am adding to it!

Clare Havens said...

These look great! Thanks Elen!

Liz Kessler said...

Thank you for the lovely mention on your lovely list! :)))))

Stephanie Burgis said...

Thanks so much for the mention, Elen! I absolutely agree on the Song of Ice and Fire, and I can't wait to read the other two books - they're both on my wishlist. :)