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2011 Recently Read Bests List

Minion Name:
Brendan's Note:

Archen is my newest Minion, only here a few short months so far. She has been reviewing books on her own, and has a five-star rating system that we have not yet fully integrated into EvilSponge's patented 7 Sponge System. So, for your reference, here is her explanation of the 5 Stars:

5 star rating
* = not very good
** = o.k.
*** = enjoyable
**** = great for the genre
***** = best books ever read


Simply Perfect
– Mary Balogh **** (Regency England)
– Jenni Licata **** (Queen Anne England)
Island of the Swans– Ciji Ware***** (Edinburgh, George III. It's excellent and based on real story)
The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy **** (French Revolution w/England)
For Now & Forever (The Macgregors, Daniel)
– Nora Roberts **** (America, Modern)
In from the Cold (The MacGregors, Ian)
– Nora Roberts *** (America, Tea Party time)
Whisper of Scandal
– Nicola Cornick **** (England/Norway 1811)
In the Company of the Courtesan – Sarah Dunant **** (Rome/Venice 1527, Courtesan & Dwarf)
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
– Lauren Willig****(England/France revolution)
The Master of Blacktower
– Barbara Michaels ***(1800’s Highlands & London)
Everlasting – Kathleen E. Woodiwiss **** (1135 London & Scotland)
The Whistling Season
– Ivan Doig ***** (1909 Montana)
– Anya Seton ***** (1840’s Hudson River, Gothic romantic tragedy)

The End of the Alphabet
– C S Richardson **** (Travel and death in true love)
At First Sight
– Nicholas Sparks ***** (North Carolina – tear jerker)
– Belva Plain **** (Rich vs. Poor unpredictable romance)

Bride by Command
– Linda Winstead Jones **** (Basic medieval – Fun)
The Fairy Godmother
– Mercedes Lackey **** (Twist on old fairy tales – Funny!)
Silver Princess, Golden Knight – Sharon Green **** (Shape changing rouge princess romance)
Phoenix and Ashes
– Mercedes Lackey ***** (WWII England, excellent re-work of Cinderella)
The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy
(The Hollow Kingdom, Close Kin, In the Coils of the Snake– Clare B. Dunkle **** (Troll/Elf Brides – somewhat dark)

Come the Night
– Susan Krinard **** (NY/England 1927 – surprisingly good)
Archangel’s Consort, sequel to Archangel’s Kiss – Nalini Singh **** (Modern Vampire/Angel mix)

  Mindswap – Robert Sheckley *** (Mind-travel through worlds)
– John J. Nance ***** (Slight future – private space travel goes wrong. Really excellent.)

Everything Under the Sky
– Matilde Asensi *** (Shanghai during English occupation)
Playing with the Grown-ups – Sophie Dahl **** (America through the sixties)
Good Night, Mr. Holmes
– Carole Nelson Douglas ***** (England, Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler)
Mozart’s Sister
– Rita Charbonnier ***** (18th century Europe)

Sun at Midnight
– Rosie Thomas ***** (Female Antarctic explorer discovers herself)
Hannah’s Dream – Diane Hammond ***** (Based on true story of an elephant & keeper)

Armchair Science:
  Great by Choice – Jim Collins & Morten T. Hansen **** (Study of businesses who thrive in chaos & uncertainty and explanations of why when other similar businesses don’t)  

The Purple Emperor, #3 The Faerie Wars Chronicles
– Herbie Brennan (Real to Fantasy crossover) ****
Shadowsinger, #5 The Spellsong Cycle
– L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (R/F crossover with music powered sorcery – great story line, dry writing) ***
The Twelve Houses Series
(Mystic and Rider, The Thirteenth House, Dark Moon Defender, Reader and Raelynx, Fortune and Fate) - Sharon Shinn ***** (Really excellent writing, characters and plot)
The Telling – Ursula K. Le Guin **** (Other world, technology suppresses ancient ways – Hainish series)
Worlds of Exile & Illusion
– Ursula K. Le Guin **** (Rocannon’s World, Planet of Exile & City of Illusions - Hainish series)
The Dragon & the George
– Gordon R. Dickson **** (Fun take on classic set ups – this world pulled into that)
Gold Unicorn – Tanith Lee *** (Sequel to Black Unicorn)
Return: An Innkeeper’s World Story
– Peter S. Beagle ***
Hawkspar: A novel of Korre – Holly Lisle ***** (Truly excellent characters, world, plot, twists)
Across the Nightingale Floor: #1 Tales of the Otori
– Lian Hearn**** (Medieval Japanesque)
The Western Wizard
– Mickey Zucker Reichert **** (Unwilling wizard/warrior on quest for peace)

In a Time or Treason
– David Keck **** (Vikings, dark gods, romance from a guy’s point of view)

– China Mieville **** (Apocalypse happening – all of them at once. Funny & very imaginative)
The Lost Gate
– Orson Scott Card **** (Old gods on earth – teen feel)

– Sean McMullen **** (Great story, a la War of the Worlds with funny bits)

Clockwork Angel
, book one of The Infernal Devices – Cassandra Clare ***** (Steampunk, Victorian)

Murder Mystery:

Dragon King’s Palace
– Laura Joh Rowland **** (Japan 1690’s – nice twists)

The Flanders Panel
– Arturo Perez-Reverte **** (Painting restorationist finds hidden words, people start dying)
Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham
– M. C. Beaton **** (England hair dresser murder)
Angels Fall
– Nora Roberts **** (Grand Tetons)
Consigned to Death – Jane K. Cleland **** (New Hampshire antiques)
False Impressions – Jeffrey Archer *** (Art consultant saves a van Gogh)
Cover your Assets – Patricia Smiley *** (Los Angeles, dead ex with double life)
The Brass Verdict
– Michael Connelly **** (Los Angeles lawyer inherits troubling case)
Guilty – Karen Robards ***** (Courtroom bloodbath, lawyer with past)

The Sword-Edged Blonde
– Alex Bledsoe **** (Queen accused of murdering her baby for magic)
Tea with the Black Dragon – R.A. MacAvoy **** (Dragon in human form solves computer crime while falling in love and learning “Truth”)


Treasure Forest – Cat Bordhi ***** (Two kids search their grandma’s forest for answers)
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
– Avi **** (Atlantic Crossing of 12 yr. old girl in 1832)

The Safe-Keeper’s Secret
– Sharon Shinn **** (Short but sweet)
Trollbridge: A Rock & Roll Fairy Tale
– Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple **** (Modern retelling of Trolls + Dancing princesses)
Peter and the Secret of Rundoon: conclusion of the Starcatchers Trilogy– Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson ***** (Peter Pan before Hook)
The Lost Hero: The Heroes of Olympus book one
– Rick Riordan ****(Camp Half-Blood for children of gods)

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