It's that time of year when we are inundated with "best of the year" lists. I'm gonna toss yet another one your way. BookPage has published their Readers' Choice Best Books of 2011 list. I like this list because it is the result of votes of "real people." Not from sales numbers or professional book reviewers (although some of 2,500+ voters may be. Who knows?). So, without further ado, here goes.
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
“Hearts are broken,” Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. “Sweet relationships are dead.”For 18 years, Louise worked a journalist and radio host for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, specializing in hard news and current affairs before she began writing her wildly popular crime fiction novels. She lives with her husband in Montreal.
But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow's garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara's solo show at the famed Musée in Montreal. Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, is called to the tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light. Where nothing is as it seems. Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart. And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they've found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light.
In 2009, Penny helped launch a new award for aspiring Canadian mystery writers, The Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Novel.
A Trick of Light is book #7 in Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series. The series is set in the Canadian province of Quebec. She has posted a handy pronunciation guide for the French words that appear in her novels, on her website.
The other books in the series are:
- Still Life (2005)
- Dead Cold (aka A Fatal Grace) (2006)
- The Cruellest Month (2007)
- The Murder Stone (aka A Rule Against Mother) (2008)
- The Brutal Telling (2009)
- Bury Your Dead (2010)
11/22/63 by Stephen King
On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force.It has been a busy year for Mr. King. He was chosen as the recipient of the prestigious Mason Award at the 2011 Fall for the Book Festival. During his acceptance speech he read from Dr. Sleep, the sequel to The Shining that he's working on. The speech is about an hour long, but man, it's worth it. Man is funny!
Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment—a real life moment—when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.
Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.
Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
A tribute to a simpler era and a devastating exercise in escalating suspense, 11/22/63 is Stephen King at his epic best.
Stephen included an excerpt for 11/22/63 in his short story, Mile 81, which was released as an ebook in September.
The Stand has been chosen as one of the give-away books for World Book Night 2012.
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Due to a catastrophic accident in her mid-twenties, Christine, now a forty-seven-year-old writer, is incapable of forming and maintaining new memories for more than a day. Trapped in an existence in which she wakes every day believing herself to be single and with a whole lifetime of choice ahead of her she discovers instead that she lives with her husband, Ben, with most decisions already made. Through her meetings with a doctor who is helping her to recover her memory, Christine's story begins to emerge, setting in motion a series of events that trigger startling consequences for her and all who love her, leading her to question whether the truth is sometimes better left forgotten.S. J. Watson makes his powerful debut with this compelling, fast-paced psychological thriller, reminiscent of Shutter Island and Memento, in which an amnesiac who, following a mysterious accident, cannot remember her past or form new memories, desperately tries to uncover the truth about who she is—and who she can trust.