I guess I'm a little late to the party for my Best of 2011 list, but that only fits, since over half my list is books I read in 2011 with earlier copyright dates. I've never been very good about reading books the instant they come out, unless it's an ongoing series whose last book ended on a cliffhanger or one of my handful of A+++ most beloved authors.
It was a good reading year for me. Here's hoping 2012 will bring some awesome new discoveries, since it looks like something of a drought for cliffhanger/best-beloved books. Diana Gabaldon's Written in My Own Heart's Blood probably won't appear till sometime in 2013, likewise for Julia Spencer-Fleming's next Russ/Clare book. No Sharpe or Starbuck in Bernard Cornwell's pipeline that I'm aware of. I haven't heard anything about a release date for the Ivan book Lois McMaster Bujold is supposedly working on, and I'm in serious Barrayar withdrawal! Jacqueline Carey is at least on a break from and possibly done with Terre D'Ange, and I think the same may be the case for Lindsey Davis and Marcus Didius Falco (though Master & God looks interesting). And let's just say I hope George RR Martin gets his next out before the TV series catches up with it. Before my daughter starts high school is probably more realistic (she's in 2nd grade).
Don't get me wrong, none of these authors need to write faster or write what I want instead of what their muse gives them. I just don't have anything preordered months in advance right now, and I kinda miss it.
Anyway, back to 2011.
Favorite Debut Book
No Proper Lady, by Isabel Cooper. Fantasy romance that gets the balance between the two genres just right, IMO.
Favorite 2011 fiction
A Lily Among Thorns, by Rose Lerner. Solomon is one of my favorite romance heroes ever--the genre could use more brainy betas like him.
Unveiled, by Courtney Milan. Beautiful, character-driven romance.
One Was a Soldier, by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Another stunning entry in the series that won me over to contemporary-set mysteries.
Captive Bride, by Bonnie Dee. A gem of a historical romance that makes its unusual setting (1870's San Francisco) and interracial love story work.
Favorite fiction published before 2011 I just now got around to reading
The Mischief of the Mistletoe, by Lauren Willig (2010). Just a delightful, frothy Regency romp.
Linnets and Valerians, by Elizabeth Goudge (1964). Children's fantasy set in early 20th century England. I think it would appeal to readers of anything from Narnia to Harry Potter to A Wrinkle in Time to Anne of Green Gables.
Lady Elizabeth's Comet, by Sheila Simonson (1986). Traditional Regency that feels especially grounded in the voice and values of the time.
Can't Stand the Heat, by Louisa Edwards (2009). Contemporary romance after my foodie city-girl heart.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson (2010). A refreshing, subtle love story with older protagonists.
A Clash of Kings, by George RR Martin (1998). After getting hooked on Game of Thrones on HBO, I glommed the entire series, but I think this second book is the strongest.
Memory (1996), Komarr (1998), and A Civil Campaign (1999), by Lois McMaster Bujold. The brightest jewels in the sparkling crown that is the Vorkosigan Saga. I can't say enough about how much I love this whole series, but these are the ones I'd take with me to the proverbial desert island.