I read 116 books this year—almost all of them fiction. I know I read several non-fiction books, I can think of over a dozen right off the top of my head, but I forget to add them to my reading list. Must be a mental block of some sort.
Anyway, inspired by the gals over at LDS Women’s Book Review, I decided to do a Top 10 list of fiction books that I read in 2010 (in descending order):
10. One Door Away from Heaven by Dean Koontz
Part murder mystery, part suspense, part coming to terms with your life, part alien invasion—all mixed together with Koontz’s wonderful story telling style.
I loved the way the various story lines, which started out all over the place, gradually wove themselves together. I loved the characters—unique, enchanting, captivating.
A little scary, some really bad guys, but not enough to keep me awake at night.
9. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
This is a story of adoption—and all the ways it pulls on the heartstrings of everyone involved. I think it’s a sequel to The Bean Trees, which I haven’t read yet, but it can totally stand on its own (as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t know it was a sequel until I saw it mentioned on Amazon just now.)
Taylor Greer is handed a Cherokee daughter whom she names Turtle. Taylor changes her entire life to raise Turtle and things are going great, until a Cherokee tribal lawyer shows up.
The story winds it way through various lives until coming to an ending that determines Turtle’s future. I loved the depth of characterization and the intricate story. It may have ended a little to sweetly to be practical, but I loved it.
8. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
This is the story of a 13 year old girl who has been born and raised in a polygamist compound. It is the only life she’s ever known and she loves her family. But when the Prophet decides she’s to marry her uncle, she can’t accept it.
This was a difficult book to read—due to some of the punishments meted out to those who don’t obey the Prophet—but it’s eloquently written and Kyra’s character is absolutely captivating.
Some reviews have implied that the harshness of Kyra’s reality has been embellished for effect, but I’ve talked to people who have experienced and/or witnessed events exactly as described in this book.
7. Gravity vs the Girl by Riley Noehren
Rarely does a debut, self-published novel even make it to my “for consideration” reading list—but this one did. It was wonderful! And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. This book won a Whitney Award last year.
Samantha Green has spent a year in her pajamas, battling her ghosts—former versions of herself. Her mental breakdown and road to recovery are very well written. I loved the quirky characters that are part of her life—both real and imaginary.
I felt strengthened and emboldened as Samantha fills the needs of her ghosts and puts them to rest. I found myself unable to put it down, eagerly wanting to see how she solved her next challenge.
6. The Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson
I don’t play favorites (as other members of my group and dear friends will tell you). Our relationship may have gotten me to read the book, but it EARNED its place on my Top 10 list.
Although this YA fantasy is filled with magic and mermaids, Adrianne (age 14) is a very practical girl and this is her story of coming to terms with her life, her family, the bratty girls from town—and falling in love. A great story!
And an awesome cover!!
5. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
But this one had a wonderful story, a unique twist on the werewolf tale, a mysterious past, family issues, an undeniable love attraction, great characters, plenty of action and suspense—but it’s absolutely clean! I could comfortably recommend it to my mother, if she liked this kind of book. (Which she doesn’t.)
If YOU like YA Paranormal, you’ll want to read this book. Book two in the series just came out and I can’t wait to read it!
4. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Seriously. Crawl out into the light and read these books.
Yes, they are dark, harsh, and heart-breaking. But they are also an intense look into character, loyalty, courage, and kindness. They are also well-written, fascinating, intriguing, and make you think.
I would not recommend them to younger teens or sensitive readers, but they are very good books. I think they will become true modern classics, perhaps even required reading in some classes in the future. (Think Lord of the Flies, required reading when I was in high school, but not so gross and the good guys win in this series.)
3. Devil’s Food Cake/Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack
Sadie is a naturally curious and kind-hearted woman. So when she stumbles across a mystery, it’s just her nature to help figure it out!
If you haven’t read any of this series, start with Lemon Tart. You’ll love it! Promise.
2. Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
This is another difficult book. Like Hunger Games, it is dark and disturbing at times. But.
And this is a BIG but.
It is such a great examination of character; of fighting the darkness and the evil within us, as well as the evil that often surrounds us; of making choices to be better and do better, even when part of us wants to do the wrong thing. I think it, too, should be required reading for teens.
I admit, I did not like this one quite as well as the first book, I Am Not a Serial Killer, but it only pales by comparison. Obviously, I like it a lot—it’s #2 on my Top 10 list. Read it.
Oh, and if you click the link, it will take you to the US version of the book, which has a different cover. But I posted this cover, because it’s the one I have, the one I read, and I like it better. (This is the UK version.)
1. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
This books has everything that I love in it: vampires, werewolves, elves, mermaids, other weird things that no one knows what they are.
It’s also got an awesome main character, Evie, age 16, who is fun and funny, lively, spirited, strong, good-hearted—and yet, still a teenager who does stupid things. There is mystery, suspense, an attempted coup, and lots of other things that keep the story moving at just the right pace.
And the only swearing is the word “bleep”—an inside joke that works perfectly! I cannot wait until the next book in the series is out!
Here are some honorable mentions, that definitely would have made the list, if I hadn’t limited it to 10 (in alphabetical order):
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. A steampunk, fantasy. It took awhile to get into it, but by the end, I was enamored.
Dead Pan (Daphne Martin Mystery #2) by Gayle Trent. A culinary mystery. This is fun and light, and everything a cozy mystery should be. Hoping this woman can write fast!
Fablehaven 5: Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull. The final book in the Fablehaven series for Middle Grade fantasy readers. It was wonderful!
The Fourth Nephite by Jeffrey S. Savage (YA fantasy, LDS based. Very good.)
Invisible by Lorena McCourtney This is book 1 in the Ivy Malone cozy mystery series. Ivy is an older main character, and I like that. Very good.
The Limit by Kristen Landon. A Middle Grade dystopian fantasy. Kristen is in my writers group and her book would have made my list if I’d expanded it to 11.
Servant of a Dark God by John Brown. Book 1 of an epic fantasy series. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but it’s well-written. Very good.
So there you go. What books made your Top Ten 2010 list?