Tuesday, August 30, 2011

3 Surprise Favorites of 2011

These three books weren't started with the expectation that I was going to love them, or even like them.  The fact that they are most likely on my Top Ten Favorites of 2011 came as a surprise to me. 

First off is:

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn't share his brother's appetite for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. But their prey isn't an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm's gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.

I listened to the audiobook for this one.  It was very well done.  I would highly recommend it.  The story behind this one was great.  At first I was kinda hesitant.  I didn't really get it, but I stuck with it and I'm so glad. 

Eli was an awesome character.  I loved his newfound delight in brushing his teeth. That was so endearing.  The book takes place in the 1850s so not too many people were do that at the time. 

This book is a classic western, which I didn't think was really my cup of tea, but don't let that deter you, because the story is a lot more than that.  I will say however, there are parts that are violent, and there were parts that had me going "ewww" and "ick" and "oh my god". 

Read this book and see if it doesn't stir up some gold lust in you!  And isn't the cover art fantastic??

Second, completely switching gears:

A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

Again, I listened to the audiobook for this one.  Again, it was very well done.  Even though there were shifts in the what time period the story was taking place, I had no trouble following along. 

I found this book to be reminiscent of The Island by Elin Hildebrand.  I think her fans would also enjoy this one.  There is an element of romance, but the mystery of the writer of the diary, is really what makes this book so compelling to read. 

My only criticism of this book is that I didn't really find Jack and Emily's love to be believable.  It just seemed like they met and liked each other and then next thing they were in love with each other without any reason.  Considering their pasts, it seemed like they would need a lot more to push them together.  I did believe the relationship between Esther and Elliot though, so the writer does have the ability to write a genuine love.  I was just skeptical I guess.

Check it out, maybe you'll think I'm way off base.

Speaking of being off base.  My third choice, was completely ON base.  I heard a lot of buzz about this book following BEA.  I got a copy at ALA.  I finally picked it up last week.  Now I know what the big deal is.  I think this one is easily top one or two favorite of the year.

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.

I don't know what to say about this book that would properly express how much I liked it.  I lingered over this book because I hated for it to end.  I left it at home and I looked forward to getting home just to be able to read a few more pages and find out what was going to go on in the life of Henry Skrimshander.

I have a feeling that this book might be huge.  It has universal appeal.  It has the sports aspect and male camaraderie that would appeal to the traditional male reader, but it has the drama and love that the chick-lit crowd looks for.  Sorry if I'm pigeon-holing, but y'all know what I'm getting at here.  I think it can also cross YA and Adult lines.  It's an Adult Literature book, but the youth of the characters and the college campus setting might help it trend in the YA direction.

I've been telling everyone about this one.  I definitely recommend it.  I was so sad when I finished it, it was like 5 friends moved away.  It comes out early September...perfect read for a crisp Fall day.


Jessica said...

I love surprise good reads. Normally its the other way around though and I expect to love a book but it turns out to be crap lol

Sisters Brothers is on my TBR list

Danielle Zappavigna said...

I'm so keen to read the Sisters Brothers - I love a bit of weird in book :-)