Historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman has a blog post up where she talks about her favorite novels from 2011, and asks her readers to talk about books they've read recently and why they enjoyed them. Penman's readers understandably tend to prefer historical novels, so I was reluctant to intrude with my usual science fiction. However, some of Penman's other readers also talked about other genres, so I decided it would be all right. Here's the comment I posted:
Probably the best books I've read in the last year (apart from yours, Sharon!) were a science fiction trilogy by Walter Jon Williams called Dread Empire's Fall, about a civil war in a multispecies interstellar empire. It's like A Song of Ice and Fire in the sense that Williams takes as many genre tropes as possible and turns them on their heads -- the genre in this case being space opera rather than fantasy.
The books are well-written and entertaining, but the main reason I like them was because they helped to keep my spirits up and take my mind off my troubles when I was forced to move from Rhode Island to Pittsburgh in the fall.