It’s that time again. I spent far too much time attempting to whittle down the 100+ books reviewed on VBC this year to the absolute best. So, as those Amazon and B&N gift cards start rolling in, just use this list as your shopping guide. I personally promise the extreme awesomeness of all the novels listed below.
Also, at the very end you’ll see the VBC Readers’ Choice winner (which allowed me to leave it off the main list). That book pick won by a large margin. Given its ties to the Alpha Showdown, I’m not surprised. At all.
BODY OF SIN (OTHERKIN #4)
Author: Eve Silver
Body of Sin a harrowing journey of self-sacrifice, transformation and love set to the backdrop of Egyptian mythology. The plot is gripping, the characters are endearing and the writing offers powerful visuals. Those who have read the earlier Otherkin novels may think they’ve picked a favorite character. You’re wrong. It is impossible not to be drawn to Lokan. Even in his confusion about who and what he is, he always has his priorities straight with Dana and Bryn at the top.
Also, you can read this one as a standalone, though I highly suggest reading the prior three novels.
BLOOD RIGHTS (House of Comarré #1)
Author: Kristen Painter
Kristen Painter has taken the familiar — vampires, crazy nobility, outcast mentality — and has given us something entirely new in her House of Comarré series. The tension between her hero and heroine is palpable and its intensity brings to mind Chicagoland Vampires’ Ethan and Merit.
Polarizing characters, murder, magic and the need for independence bring Blood Rights to another level. Expect this one to grab hold, pull you to the edge of your seat and leave you, jaw agape, begging for more.
PALE DEMON (The Hollows #9)
Author: Kim Harrison
Rachel, Jenks, Ivy and Trent go on a road trip… yes, Pale Demon offers up the supernatural version of the Great American Road Trip. It’s funny and poignant with crazy plot twists and plenty of action.
Pale Demon is impressive in that nine books in Rachel Morgan has grown a crazy amount and we love her all the more. The plot twists were perfectly placed and the darkness always balanced with just the right amount of pixy swearing to lighten the mood. Sometimes longer series lose their relevance and core connection, but Pale Demon does just the opposite. If nothing else, it further invigorates the series and characters. We have no clue where Harrison will take the series next but we’re already dying for more.
THE IRON DRUID CHRONICLES – HOUNDED, HEXED AND HAMMERED (rapid release)
Author: Kevin Hearne
Atticus O’Sullivan is a 2,100 year-old druid. He’s mortal, but by learning magic and making nice with a goddess or two, he’s managed to avoid death. He has fused iron to his aura protecting him from all but the biggest and baddest fae and gods. He can still die, which is why he’s spent centuries staying away from an old Irish love god. He has an ancient item that could help bring about war, and he’d sure like to keep it in his possession. But what happens when the gods start taking up sides and place Atticus, his dog, the local werewolves and his new life in Tempe, Arizona, in the middle? Bloody battles, colluding with potential enemies and working with and against witches to stay alive.
Hounded offers fresh twists on magic and mythology that demand attention and will leave you grinning.
BLOOD OF THE WICKED (Dark Mission #1)
Author: Karina Cooper
A beautiful blend of darkness, love and acceptance, Blood of the Wicked goes to the top of my paranormal romance recommendations list. The writing is bone-deep with honesty and the action scenes crackle with tension and fury. Urban fantasy fans, if you’ve been avoiding paranormal romance, now’s the time to put a toe in. You will love this book.
THE TAKER (Taker #1)
Author: Alma Katsu
Elements of magic, alchemy and immortality are at play in The Taker, but at its core it’s the story of a girl who learned too late that you can’t make someone love you back. Lanny’s tale is entrancing. At times this book reads much more like a historical than a paranormal, but I sank into this book. Prepare to be attached to every character, and have conflicting emotions about them all — especially Lanny, Adair and Jonathan. Love them. Hate them. Pity them.
The Taker was surprisingly dark and twisted, and yet beautiful and hopeful. It’s a journey, and you should take it.
THE RENFIELD SYNDROME (Rhiannon’s Law #2)
Author: J.A. Saare
The Renfield Syndrome’s plot takes one crushing turn after another, each more surprising than the last. I never knew what was coming next, but continued to get my hopes up on Rhiannon’s behalf. The plot was clever and new. I can’t call it refreshing, because it’s very dark, but The Renfield Syndrome took me over. Captured by a heroine I love forced to grow amid terrible circumstances, I found myself increasingly involved with the plot.
ENCLAVE (Razorland #1)
Author: Ann Aguirre
This book deserves to be on the list if only for the elegant way Ann Aguirre handled a girl seeing sunlight for the first time. Beautifully wrought tale of survival, questioning authority and how one choice can change your world.
It’s a harsh world, filled with sadness and shock. But the tale of Deuce and Fade’s survival, their relationship and their fight to stay human is utterly gripping. I read Enclave in a single sitting. Finished, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to read it again or start counting the days until the next one. Love the characters, love the plot, love the sense of hope in desolation.
I should add that this isn’t a zombie book. Zombies may act as a catalyst for plot points, but Enclave is a dystopian novel.
THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE (Night Huntress #5)
Author: Jeaniene Frost
With This Side of the Grave you may expect a curious encounter with a ghoul queen, an exciting reaction to new powers for Cat, lots of the undead, a bit of family drama and requisite time with Cat, Bones, Vlad and Mencheres. In other words, drama, mayhem and vampires. All the things you’ve come to love from Night Huntress novels.
THE IRON QUEEN (Iron Fey #3) and THE IRON KNIGHT (Iron Fey #4)
Author: Julie Kagawa
The Iron Queen was the final book in Meghan Chase’s story, and it isn’t quite what you expect. And, honestly, that’s a great thing. I thought I knew how her story would end. I was wrong, but Julie Kagawa’s surprising moves in The Iron Queen are poignant and fitting for Meghan. She gives us what we need to close out this epic tale.
But Prince Ash’s story wasn’t over, and so Kagawa gave us his story in The Iron Knight. It was rousing and touching. It offered the great honesty we see in truly epic tales. Julie Kagawa made sure we’d see Ash’s soul. We’d understand him. And love him all the more for it. She also made me like Puck much more, which is a feat in and of itself. The quest takes on a heady nature toward the end, and once I hit two-thirds in, I was unable to put the book down.
BLOOD BOUND (Unbound #1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Blood Bound promises love with complications, breaking-and-entering, mystery and some kickass action sequences. Rachel Vincent contemplates the truth of promises and how one might exploit those oaths while simultaneously creating a fantastically unique new world. Fans of Jeaniene Frost and Carolyn Crane novels should pick up Blood Bound.
DIVERGENT (Divergent #1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Divergent isn’t about boy-meets-girl. It’s about a girl meeting herself, finally, accepting herself. And, as a subplot to that, there might be some awesome kissing. With a hot guy. The romance angle of the story helps to drive our understanding of Tris — both her past and who she wants to be.
Divergent gives us shining moments of strong character and will and showcases the link between bravery and selflessness. It will shock you with betrayals no one could see coming, and it will balance it with raw vulnerability and love.
THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE (Nathaniel Cade #2)
Author: Chris Farnsworth
It was easy to get swept up into the fast-paced story of espionage and a decades-long mission coming to a head. If you appreciate a good mystery, a brilliant take on the vampire and stellar writing, The President’s Vampire is a must.
A BRUSH OF DARKNESS (Abby Sinclair #1)
Author: Allison Pang
Allison Pang strikes the perfect balance between a dark, edgy plot and laugh-out-loud moments. Readers will be shocked by a heavy emotional blow one moment and uplifted by snappy one-liners the next. It’s a hard thing to do well, and makes A Brush of Darkness a must for fans of Jeaniene Frost and Kim Harrison.
MY LIFE AS A WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE (White Trash Zombie #1)
Author: Diana Rowland
Diana Rowland manages to make becoming a zombie a soul-searching event. The book is still filled with snarky dialogue and dark humor, but at its core its about a woman reinventing herself – with a big push from the undead.
Equally gross and heartwarming, disgusting and riveting, My Life as a White Trash Zombie is a clever read. If you like to see a flawed heroine pull herself back up, and can handle visceral imagery, it’s a brilliant book.
VBC READERS’ CHOICE SELECTION: SHADOWFEVER (Fever #5)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
We’d all waited so long to find out just what Barrons was, who killed Mac’s sister and if our world could be saved from the crashing of the walls between the worlds. Shadowfever delivered there with stacks of twists to boot.
Shadowfever is intense. It’s not just that the stakes are high in this final book in the Fever series — Mac’s trying to save the world. And it’s not just many of the character’s all-or-nothing outlook. Each chapter of Shadowfever ratchets up the stakes. Just when you think you have an answer and something starts to go our way, it gets worse. There is nary a moment when readers will not be gripping the book thinking either “no way,” “oh my God” or “what?!”
Get more: Read the VBC review of Shadowfever and see Barrons take the Alpha Showdown 2011 title (and don’t miss out on the related reward)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Now, for your reward for reading to the end: a giveaway! Three winners will get their choice of one book featured on our Best Books of 2011 list. Open internationally. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to be entered. Contest ends at Nov. 30.