Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Eleven Bestselling Books of 2011

This is a list of the eleven books that have been bought the most often through this site in the year of 2011. They're a nice mix of first novels and old classics, and are mostly fantasy and romance novels. There are a few young adult books in the list, a couple that we never even reviewed, and a lot of fairy tale retellings.

Anyway, I figured an overview would be interesting, and they're all good books (some amazing, some just pretty good and some of my favourites aren't even here), so if you're looking for a quick list of titles to spend some money on, this list is a great place to start.

(I did want to take a look at some of the actual bestselling titles on Amazon, but it's impossible to search for lesbian books by popularity or rating - most of the first few pages are either smut/erotica, or not even lesbian. And everything in the 'Gay & Lesbian' category gets pulled up, with a heavy emphasis on the 'Gay'... so our stats will have to do. They're a pretty small sample size, though, so it's not going to be the interesting analysis I was hoping to write.)

1. Ash by Malinda Lo
Published: 2010

The very successful young adult fantasy that took a young Cinderella and added cruel and distant fairies, curses of love, and lesbianism.

While the more recently published prequel Huntress was a better story, Ash is still a fine and worthy addition to any young adult collection. Also a suitably subversive distraction from Twilight for girls in that target group.

2. Sword of the Guardian by Merry Shannon
Published: 2006

One of my favourite books of the year, and one of my newfound favourite authors, Sword of the Guardian is an historical fantasy following a young woman who is dragged into the affairs of royalty and must pass as a man for years, while playing bodyguard to the princess. Eventually the princess finishes growing up, the two fall slowly and deeply in love, and civil war breaks out.

Her other book, Branded Ann, is a fierce and thrilling pirate story, and has ruined all other lesbian pirate books for me forever.

3. The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
Published: 2011

A charming and very well written retelling of the Hades-Persephone story, that brings to life the overwrought humanity of the Greek Gods, where brutal and selfish Zeus sends innocent, stubborn Persephone fleeing to the dark, quiet and haunted Hades in a miserable and unsettled underworld. From there, she starts to unravel plots against her dark beloved and - well, falls in love.

4. Sleeping Beauty, Indeed & Other Lesbian Fairytales edited by JoSelle Vanderhoof
Published: 2009

Sleeping Beauty, Indeed & Other Lesbian Fairytales
An anthology of fairy tales retold with lesbians, full of charming, romantic, erotic, funny and clever stories. My favourite was Undertow by Meredith Schwartz (Cinderella meets the Little Mermaid), which was both breathtaking and incredibly sad, but there are several good ones.

5. Broken Wings by L-J Baker
Published: 2006

Broken Wings is an urban fantasy romance following the love affair between a rich and lovely dryad artist, and a stubborn, struggling refugee fairy woman. One of the first lesbian fantasy books I ever bought and reviewed, from an author that has written several other fun lesbian fantasy books!

My actual favourite book from this author is the somewhat overlooked Adijaan and Her Genie, an Arabian Nights romp following a disreputable layabout's attempt to fix her marriage and help out a pesky trapped genie woman.

6. Curious Wine by Katherine V Forrest
Published: 1983

A classic and most popular lesbian romance ever published, this is a straightforward and sweet story of two women meeting and falling completely in love, and learning what that means. Highly recommended and a must read for anyone interested in lesbian literature and romance.

7. Love Spell by Karen Williams
Published: 1993

One of the only two books we haven't reviewed yet, this one is on our list of books to read. A magical realism story, this is a love story between a lonely vetinarian and the mysterious Allegra, who she meets in the woods...

8. Beguiled by Paisley Smith
Published: 2010

A Civil War erotic romance between a lonely Southern farmer girl and the cross-dressing soldier that gets dumped on her by the enemy Yanks. If you like semi-historical books with plenty of sex between a demure lady and a trouser wearing, tough soldier gal, Beguiled should right up your street. That's mostly all it is, though, so don't pick this up for the deep plot and historical accuracy.

9. Roses & Thorns : Beauty and the Beast Retold by Chris Anne Wolfe
Originally published as Bitter Thorns: 1994
Republished as Roses & Thorns: 2000

Another fairy tale retold, this is a brooding soul mate romance based on the Beauty and the Beast. Angelique is bartered away by her greedy father and flees her miserable home to gamble on a better life with the mysterious My Liege in 'his' enclosed little realm. There ends up being magic and plenty of chemistry, and eventually a happily ever after.

10. The Spanish Pearl by Catherine Friend
Published: 2007

The other book that we haven't read yet, this one's a time travelling historical romance adventure about a woman who gets sent back to 11th century Spain and is swept into the conflicts of the Crusades, harem clothing and a new love to challenge the one she left behind in the 21st century.

11. A Hole in the World by Sophie Robbins
Published: 2011

I'm delighted to see this one make it onto the list - a first novel by a young adult author, it's not as good as a lot of the other stories in this list, but it has a lot of heart and is a great lesbian YA book.

An other-worlds, fairytale prince and princess story, it's about a normal school girl who ends up rescuing a hapless fairytale princess, falls in love with her, shows her how to survive in the real world - and then has to follow her into her kingdom to rescue her again.

It's an interesting list, and I'm already wondering what next year's will look like. Whether the high amount of fantasy reflects a trend in publishing success or simply that we do our best reviews about fantasy books (it's certainly my favourite genre), I don't know!

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