ABC’s Favorite Reads of 2011, Part G

And yet another installment of our Favorite Reads of the Year! Here are Part A, Part B, Part C, Part D, Part E, and Part F.

These favorites come from Shirley, PeterL, and Renee.  Shirley left us many years ago, but has happily returned to the fold this year; she now works our administration and helps out around ABC Amsterdam, too.  PeterL is ABC Amsterdam’s Horror, Manga, and Gay & Lesbian buyer (and hopefully over his True Blood obsession by now).  Renee is ABC The Hague’s Poetry and Tattoo books buyer, and has read ALL of the Science Fiction & Fantasy section’s books.  Srsly.

We would love to hear about what YOUR favorite reads of 2011 were, too! They don’t have to be books published in 2011, just read in 2011. Please send your top 5 to, and be sure to include your mailing address so we can send you an ABC gift voucher as a thank you. We’ll be publishing your Top 5s at the beginning of 2012, so you have the rest of the month to hand them in. Thank you to those who have already mailed them in!

And now, without further ado… the lists!


5. Beware of Girls – Tony Blundell
Actually a tip from colleague Hayley and a good tip indeed! Very nice fairy tale about a girl who is too smart for the hungry wolf. The boys’ edition, Beware of Boys, is also very funny. The wolf is thinking about many ways to make the little boy into a ‘boy pie’. Mmmmm 🙂

4. Sensual Home – Ilse Crawford
My old time favourite on interior decorating. With the dark days of Christmas coming, a must-have for the holidays!

3. The Fetish Room: The Education of a Naturalist – Redmond O’Hanlon & Rudi Rotthier
One way or the other I always find myself drawn towards people who are really passionate about something. The way Redmond O’Hanlon writes about the Congo, the jungle in Gabon, explorer DuChailly or about apes is truly inspiring. His enthusiasm about nature is contagious. Rudi Rotthier writes about Redmond’s life in a witty way, without getting too sensitive. Although Redmond had a troubled childhood he did not lose his humour and self-criticism. Remarkable book.

2. Mrs. Fry’s Diary – Mrs. Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry‘s secret wife speaks out at last…! With scandals, tips and advice on childcare… Edna should be an expert as she mothers Stephen’s five, six or possibly seven children.
Very funny book.

1. Complicit – Nicci French
Page-turner of the week! A well-written whodunit book. With not enough time on my hand to read a lot, and then I mean the ‘hard’ stuff, this is the perfect read for those spare moments.


1. Very Bad Men – Harry Dolan
Second in a series, enjoyed his first book (Bad Things Happen) also very much.

2. Anniversary Man – R. J. Ellory
Me like, for my “broodnodige” serial killer fiction, based in NYC, and isn’t our hero a serial killer himself?

3. Apartment 16 – Adam Nevill
Horror, really creepy, about a dead artist, set in London, very atmospheric, a nightporter losing his mind in a creepy building.
Enjoyed this a lot, very well written, nice characters who ALL ARE GONNA DIE GRUESOMELY!

4. Close to Home – Peter Robinson
Psychological thriller about police officer Alan Banks who is investigating a murder ‘close to home’. This is one volume in the Inspector Banks series, and I like this series very much.
It is set in Yorkshire, and surroundings, and besides the crimes which occur in these books – which are very well-plotted – the protagonist also gets married, gets children, divorces…  he develops immensely as a character, is what I mean.
(Blogmistress’s note: This title is published in the UK as The Summer That Never Was.)

5. Aftermath – Peter Robinson
Part 12 of the above Inspector Banks series.
Same series, same characters, only this time a serial killer is killing innocent young girls.
During the day he is a teacher at a school, during the night he slaughtering innocent teenagers.  Or is he?
And what has his battered girlfriend to do with it? Wasn’t she victimised in her youth by her own twisted parents?
Well-written, well-plotted, got me on the edge of my chair.
Peter Robinson doesn’t write “torture crime” but psychological suspense.  Me like!

And right now I am reading Het ijzig hart, the Dutch translation of a book by Spanish author Almudena Grandes.  It’s a brick of a book, about 2 families divided into 5 generations in Spain.  It stars just before World War II and goes all the way up to the present day.  It deals mainly with how the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and Franco affect the families.  It’s a beautiful novel, tense and romantic.  The sentences can be really long, but it’s a great book for these dark days!  Luckily there is an English translation also: The Frozen Heart.  And you can also order the original Spanish language edition through us: El Corazon Helado.


The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
After waiting for soooo long for part two of the Kingkiller Chronicles it finally arrived this year, and boy, was it worth the wait! Just as exciting and mesmerising as the first book in this series (The Name of the Wind), this book sucks you into the world of Kvothe and his friends. Normally I can contain myself and wait for the small paperback to come out, but not this time.
I reread The Name of the Wind and finished The Wise Man’s Fear in just three days, I simply could not put it down. Patrick Rothfuss has got to be my favorite writer of all times!

The Outstretched Shadow – Mercedes Lackey
The Obsidian Trilogy is one of my absolute favorites, and I’ll always recommend it to people looking for something new to read in the Fantasy genre. Unfortunately the cover art is horrible, and I have noticed that many people are put off by the pansy-looking, long-blond-hair-floating-in-the-wind, oh-look-I-have-a-pretty-white-unicorn-next-to-me, I-just-won-mister-romance-2011-award mannish figure on the front. But like they say: don’t judge a book by its cover and this REALLY counts for this one!! If you can bring yourself to look beyond this horrible exterior you’ll be rewarded with a captivating story.

The Harry Hole series – Jo Nesbø
My favorite discovery of this year! As I am a Fantasy-girl through and through, I approached this series with quite a bit of apprehension.  Starting off with The Redbreast Nesbø tells the tale of Inspector Harry Hole and his crime-solving adventures in Oslo. Like most Scandi-thrillers, the story spins out slowly, weaving not only the storyline of a crime that needs to be solved, but also the story of Harry Hole himself. You *could* read the books in random order, but I honestly believe that this would lessen the whole, as in the end it’s Harry’s own story that makes this series so captivating.
Strangely enough this series begins with book 3 in English, as part 1 and 2 haven’t been translated from Norwegian (yet?). So sometimes you get glimpses of the past, but nothing that is really bothering. My favorites are the last three books to date, (The Redeemer, The Snowman, and The Leopard) I finished all three of them in record time with shivers down my spine.
(Blogmistress’s note: Parts 1 and 2 do have English titles, The Bat Man and The Cockroaches, respectively, but no information yet on publications dates.)

Settlers of Catan – 2 player version
I absolutely loved this! I spent most of my summer vacation playing this simplified version of the original Settlers of Catan against my boyfriend and it guarantees hours of fun and backstabbing!

The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillipa Gregory
2011 has been a year been a year of stepping outside my comfort Fantasy safety zone, and this was one of those steps. I’ve always had a fascination for Henry VIII; how one man, solely ruled by passion and lust, could change the course of a country so completely. The nifty thing about this book is that it is told from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, the sister of infamous Anne Boleyn. By telling the story from Mary’s point of view, Gregory brings history much closer, by adding humanity to what can sometimes feel like something from another world.  If you enjoyed watching the hit TV series The Tudors, you will definitely enjoy this!