Willow’s Top Ten Favorite Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Reads in 2011
Even though I am behind Sara on number of books reviewed, I am number one when it comes to most books read this year. As a result, it was really hard to just pick ten books for this list. Still, I think I’ve managed to pick the strong contenders. By the way, these are in no particular order. I was asked to simply give a list of top ten favorites, and so that is what I am giving you. If you want my number one choice, come back and see our “Number One Choices” post which will be up later this week. Now, onto the list.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these books! And if you’ve not yet done so, may I ask what it is you are waiting for?
1. The Shadow Reader by M.J. Scott
There can only be one allegiance.
It’s her time to choose.
Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.
A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.
But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.
2. Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn
We’re the D’Artigo Sisters: Half-human, half-Faerie, we’re savvy–and sexy–operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But our mixed-blood heritage short-circuits our talents at all the wrong times. My sister Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she’s stressed. Menolly’s a vampire who’s still trying to get the hang of being undead. And me? I’m Camille–a wicked-good witch. Except my magic is as unpredictable as the weather, which my enemies are about to find out the hard way…
“At the Wayfarer Inn, a portal to Otherworld and the local hangout for humans and beasties alike, our fellow operative Jocko’s been murdered. Every clue points to Shadow Wing, the soul-munching, bad-ass leader of the Subterranean Realms. He’s made it clear that he aims to raze humankind to the ground, turning both Earth and Otherworld into his private playground. Our assignment: keep Shadow Wing and his minions from creeping into Earth via the Wayfarer. The demons figure they’re in like Flynn. After all, with only my ‘bumbling’ sisters and me standing in the way, how can they miss? But we’ve got a secret for them: faulty wiring or not, nobody kicks ass like the D’Artigo girls.”
3. Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children’s librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that’s sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she’s mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.
Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She’s forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn’t enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What’s a nice undead girl to do?
4. River Marked by Patricia Briggs
Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She’s never known any others of her kind. Until now.
An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River—one that her father’s people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help…
5. Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken
I know what they see when they look at me. The charming, soft-spoken dragoness bred from the most powerful of royal bloodlines. A disguise stronger than any battle shield that allows me to keep all suitors at tail’s length. A technique that’s worked until him. Until Ragnar the Cunning, handsome barbarian warlord and warrior mage from the desolate Northlands. Unlike those who’ve come before him, he does not simply submit to my astounding charm and devastating smile. Instead, he dismisses me as vapid, useless and, to my great annoyance, rather stupid!
Yet I’ll allow no male to dismiss me. Soon he’ll learn my worth, my many skills, and the strength of my will. For this one challenges me enough to make me want to ruthlessly taunt him, tease him and, finally, when the trap is set, bring him to his knees.
6. Soulless by Gail Carriger
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.
7. Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance
Cassandra Palmer recently defeated a god, which you’d think would buy a girl a little time off. But it doesn’t work that way when your job description is Pythia-the world’s chief clairvoyant. Cassie is busier than ever, trying to learn about her power, preparing for her upcoming coronation, and figuring out her relationship with the enigmatic sexy master vampire, Mircea.
But someone doesn’t want Cassie to become Pythia, and is willing to go to any lengths to make sure the coronation ceremony never happens- including attacking her mother before Cassie is even born.
8. American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout
HE’S THE GOOD KIND OF VAMPIRE. SORT OF.
Buried in the Heartland is a town that no one enters or leaves. Graf McDonald somehow becomes its first visitor in more than five years…and he was only looking for a good party. Unfortunately, Penance, Ohio, is not that place. And after having been isolated for so long, they do not like strangers at all.
Jessa’s the only one to even remotely trust him, and she’s desperate for the kind of protection that only a vampire like Graf can provide. Supplies are low, the locals are ornery for a sacrifice and there’s a monster more powerful than Graf lurking in the woods. New men are hard to come by in this lonesome town, and this handsome stranger might be Jessa’s only hope for salvation.
Even if she has to die first…
9. Wolfbreed by S.A. Swann
In this captivating reinvention of the werewolf novel, S. A. Swann propels readers into the darkest days of the Middle Ages, weaving a rare blend of soaring romance, historical intrigue, paranormal thrills, and spiritual questioning to tell a story that forever changes those who hear it.
When a monk inadvertently discovers a lair of werewolf young, he unleashes what will become the Church’s most powerful–and secret–weapon. Clandestinely raised by the Teutonic Order, these lupine creatures serve as instruments of God against pagan unbelievers. Trained to slip into villages cloaked in human form, they are all but unstoppable. Only one, called Lilly, has cunningly fled her brutal master.
Uldolf is too young to remember the massacre eight years earlier that claimed his village, his arm, and his kin. But he knows the pain of loneliness. When he sees what appears to be a beautiful young woman, injured and cowering in the woods, he races to her aid. Uldolf and his adoptive family will do anything to protect the terrified girl, but the danger is greater than they can possibly imagine. For death is the only life Lilly has ever known–and if their humanity can’t pierce the darkness Lilly harbors in her soul, they’ll soon come to know it, too.
10. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
October “Toby” Daye is half-human, half-fae-the only changeling who’s earned knighthood. But when someone begins targeting her nearest and dearest, it becomes clear that Toby is being set up to take the fall for everything that’s happening.