Top 10 Fiction Books of 2011

10. Pompeii by T.L. Higley

Pleasure-seeking Romans find the seaside town of Pompeii the perfect getaway. But when the rich patrician Cato escapes Rome, intent on a life of leisure, he is unprepared for the hostility he encounters. In the same place, but at the opposite end of society, Ariella has disguised herself as a young  boy to be sold into a gladiator troupe. Survival is her only ambition.

But evil creeps through the streets of Pompeii, and neither Ariella’s secret nor Cato’s evasion is immune to it. Political corruption, religious persecution, and family peril threaten to destroy them, even before an ominous mountain in the distance spews its fire.

As Vesuvius churns with deadly intent, Cato and Ariella must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love–before fiery ash buries Pompeii, turning the city into a lost world.

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9. The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey

It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds out that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely “courier” Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear weapons. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way?

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8. The Daughter’s Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

In 1896 Norwegian American Helga Estby accepted a wager from the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City within seven months in an effort to earn ten thousand dollars and save the family farm. She brought along her eighteen-year-old daughter, Clara, and the two made their way on the 3,500-mile trek by following railroad tracks. After returning home to the Estby far more than a year later, Clara chose to walk on alone, leaving the family and changing her name. Her decisions initiated a more than twenty-year separation from the only life she had known.

Historical fiction writer Jane Kirkpatrick picks up where the fact of the Estby’s walk leaves off to explore Clara’s continued journey. What motivated Clara to take such a risk in an era when many women struggled with the issues of rights and independence? And what personal revelations brought Clara to the end of her lonely road? The Daughter’s Walk weaves personal history and fiction together to invite readers to consider their own journeys and family separations, to help determine what exile and forgiveness are truly all about.

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7. Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins

Janessa McNeil’s life looks perfect. Her husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, is a renowned researcher and professor at Stanford University’s Department of Medicine. They have a beautiful home and can give their daughter everything she needs. Theirs is a life others envy.

But nothing is as it seems.

Forces are at work that will shatter everything–Janessa’s marriage, her way of life, even her safety. For her husband’s highly respected assertion that chronic Lyme Disease doesn’t exist has doe more than inform medical and insurance professionals. It’s ruined lives. One man’s life in particular.

Now it’s time to make Dr. Brock McNeil face the truth. To make him see the devastation Lyme disease causes–up close and personal. And this bitter man has found the perfect tools to exact his revenge . . .

Janessa and her daughter.

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6. Nothing but Trouble by Susan May Warren

It’s not fair to say that trouble happens every time PJ Sugar is around, but it feels that way when she returns to her home town, looking for a fresh start. Within a week, her former teacher is murdered and her best friend’s husband is arrested as the number-one suspect. Although the police detective investigating the murder–who also happens to be PJ’s former flame–is convinced it’s an open-and-shut case, PJ’s not so sure. She begins digging for clues in an effort to clear her friend’s husband and ends up reigniting old passions, uncovering an international conspiracy, and solving a murder along the way. She also discovers that maybe God can use a woman who never seems to get it right.

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5. Zora and Nicky by Claudia Mair Burney

Nora Nella Hampton Johnson knows exactly where she comes from–and her daddy won’t let her forget. Of course for that privilege he keeps her in Prada and Kate Spade, Coach and YSL. He chooses her boyfriend, her car, her address, and ignores her love of painting, art, and the old ways of her grandaddy’s soulful AME church–where the hymns pleaded, cajoled, and raised the roof. Her daddy may be a preacher, but somewhere among the thousands of church members, the on-site coffee house, and the JumboTron, Zora lost God. And she wants him back.

Nicky Parker, a recent graduate of Berkeley and reformed playboy, also suffers the trials of being a preacher’s kid, and he can’t remember the last time he saw eye-to-eye with his white, racist, Southern Baptist father. What he does remember–and it will be forever burned in his brain despite myriad prayers to Jesus–is the way Zora looked the first time he saw her. Like Nefertiti. Only better. When they meet at a Bible study far from their respective home churches, the first churlish, sarcastic sparks that fly sizzle with defensiveness. But God has a special way of feeding the flames, and though of different flocks, these two lost sheep will find him and much, much more.

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4. Words by Ginny L. Yttrup

Ten-year-old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods–in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, and artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, Sierra’s control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to himself.

Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word–Jesus Christ.

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3. Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand

Detective Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he’s given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he’s transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight–the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist’s teen daughter.

With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he’s still one of Houston’s best detectives.

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2. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his father’s heart in everything, Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.

But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than michael does . . . the One who will never let her go.

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1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before–and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

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  1. says

    I loved your top ten video. I’ve only read two on your list, “The Daughter’s Walk” and “Over the Edge”. I have a couple others you included already on my to-be-read list. I loved the trailer for “The Swiss Courier”, so I think I want it to be the next book I read. I just happened to find it FREE for Kindle today!!! I think I will add “Nothing But Trouble” and “Pompeii”, too.

    I also have to mention that I enjoyed browsing the books on the shelf behind you. You have a few titles I have read and enjoyed.

  2. says

    Love your list!!

    Redeeming Love was life changing when I read it, who says fiction novels cant be powerful? And I loved the Hunger Games!! Im for sure going to check out Words and Zora and Nickey. I think my favorite Inspy this year was Lisa Bergrens River of Time Series..;)

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