top 10: favorite 2010 books read

so, with the top 10 favorite songs post finished, i thought i’d trot out my list of favorite books for 2010. included within are urban fantasy, dystopian fiction, YA, and contemporary fiction (sorry, i just can’t do a lot of non-fic. for a girl who loves history, non-fic can bore me to tears).

in no particular order, excepting the last two:

the demon’s covenant by sarah rees brennan
i can’t say enough good things about the demon’s series by rees brennan. the demon’s covenant, the second in the trilogy, made me bawl my eyes out at the end. at its core, it’s a study of two brothers and what family means. beautiful, precise writing infused with humor and heart, rees brennan is setting the bar high for urban fantasy. i am very much looking forward to the finale next year. (peeps who have already read this, head on over to rees brennan’s blog – she did a special novella as a christmas gift to her fans! HERE is part 1, HERE is part 2)

He limped the few steps toward his brother, then reached out. A shiver ran all the way through Nick, as if he was a spooked animal about to bolt, but he didn’t bolt. Alan’s hand settled on the back of his brother’s neck, and Nick bowed his head a little more and let him do it.

“No, no, no,” Alan said in his beautiful voice, turning it into a lullaby, soothing and sweet. “Nick. I would never leave.”

Mae had no place being there right now, so she closed the kitchen door softly and walked home.

Outside it was still dark, but the tattered storm clouds were curling around one another almost gently, the storm calmed, the sky full of possibility.

guardian of the dead by karen healey
part of why i loved this book so much was that the heroine – ellie – was overweight, knew martial arts, and could take care of herself. she was no helpless cookie-cutter pretty that so many books churn out nowadays. sure, there’s love, an intriguing (yet suspicious) hero, and plenty of intrigue set among new zealand’s maori legends, but ellie is the one who gets things done in the end.

He shot me a grateful look, then stared at the blood on his fingertips as if it were an interesting puzzle.

I looked away. “Why didn’t you fight back?”

“I don’t know how.”

“Not even with magic?”

I’d scored a hit; he ducked his head and sighed. “Maybe I hoped you could beat it out of me. But it seems you can’t. So. We’re done here?”

heart of the matter by emily giffin
told in two perspectives – present tense first person and past tense third person – it’s a story of two women whose lives intersect when one’s husband cheats with the other. thought provoking (initially you want to hate the other woman, but you can’t. you just can’t) and heart wrenching, giffin does what giffin does best: she writes books about women that all women can relate to.

Words that my mother heard, more than once. Words that women debate. Whether you can forgive and whether you should trust. I think of all the judgment from society, friends, and family, the overwhelming consensus seeming to be that you should not grant someone who betrayed you a second chance. That you should do everything you can to keep the knife out of your back, and to protect your heart and pride. Cowards give second chances. Fools give second chances. And I am no coward, no fool.

mockingjay by suzanne collins
the last book in the hunger games trilogy, mockingjay was possibly the most stressful book i’ve read all year. katniss and company do not get any free passes in the resolution to the series. they’re put through the wringer, making the reader stay on the edge of their seat. i cried a lot in the last third of this book. some may resent the “tidy” ending, but not me, because i don’t see it as tidy. i see it as bittersweet.

I use a technique one of the doctors suggested. I start with the simplest things I know to be true and work toward the more complicated. The list begins to roll in my head….

My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me. Peeta was taken prisoner. He is thought to be dead. Most likely he is dead. It is probably best if he is dead….

nevermore by kelly creagh
love at first sight? hell no. isobel and varen totally dislike each other when they’re paired up for a school project. she’s a popular cheerleader, he’s a surly goth. but then they actually get to know each other and slowly, slowly, things change. heavily influenced by edgar allen poe’s writings, this first story of a trilogy had a lot more than met the eye.

He nodded in that way of his, like he had some sort of private understanding about the way the gears in her mind must work. Like he’d expected as much of her. It made her feel small again, and simple, like he was packing her back into that little box of prejudgments.

switched and torn by amanda hocking
these first two books of a trilogy were like crack candy to me. intriguing in that they were about trolls (who are not ugly, squat, or foul) who live amongst the human population, it’s a twist on all of the faerie books flooding the market nowadays. wendy finds out she’s a troll, and a princess to boot, and her sheltered life goes into a tailspin.

“You’re telling me that I’m a troll?” I raised my eyebrow, and finally decided that he must be insane.

Nothing about me resembled a pink-haired doll with a jewel in its stomach or a creepy little monster that lived under a bridge. Admittedly, I was kind of short, but Finn was at least six feet tall.

“You’re thinking of trolls the way they’ve been misrepresented, obviously,” Finn hurried to explain. “That’s why we prefer Trylle. You don’t get any of that silly ‘Billy Goats Gruff’ imagery. But now I have you staring at me like I have totally lost my mind.”

the sky is everywhere by jandy nelson
gorgeous. told in both found bits of scattered poetry and regular narration, this is a story of a girl who has recently lost her sister and her sense of direction in life. lennon is trapped in her grief until she meets someone who helps her discover that life can go on.

The morning of the day Bailey died,
she woke me up
by putting her finger in my ear.
I hated when she did this.
She then started trying on shirts, asking me:
Which do you like better, the green or the blue?
The blue.
You didn’t even look up, Lennie.
Okay, the green. Really, I don’t care what shirt you wear.
Then I rolled over in bed and fell back asleep.
I found out later
she wore the blue
and those were the last words I ever spoke to her.
(Found written on a lollipop wrapper on the trail to the Rain River)

da-ta-ta-da! my favorite 2010 release of the year:
anna and the french kiss by stephanie perkins
in short, i adored this book. loved it. squeed over it. it’s a story about a girl who’s (unwillingly) sent to paris (i know, i know – who would hate that?!) for her senior year of high school and the journey of self-discovery she goes through. on the surface, it’s a romance (in paris! city of love and light!), but what i really dug about it was that anna and étienne are best friends first. so many books have the couple fall in love instantaneously, but perkins gives you an entire book of her characters getting to know each other, rely on each other, and trust one another. am i saying it’ll win a pulitzer or somehow go down in history as better than that book by jonathan franzen that i refuse to read? nope (although i’d probably argue it is better). but i don’t care. books, to me, are all about enjoyment, and i loveloveloved this book. two companion books are up in the next two years. I CAN HARDLY WAIT!

I look down, and I’m surprised to find myself standing in the middle of a small stone circle. In the center, directly between my feet, is a coppery-bronze octagon with a star. Words are engraved in the stone around it: POINT ZÉRO DES ROUTES DE FRANCE.

“Mademoiselle Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France.’ In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in France are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “It’s the beginning of everything.”

I look back up. He’s smiling.

“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I’m glad you’ve come.”

and my favorite non-2010 release find of the year:
looking for alaska by john green
miles “pudge” halter is on the search for the “great perhaps” – and hopes to find it at a boarding school during his senior year of high school. shocking at times and heart-wrenching at others, this is one of those books that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

“So this guy,” I said, standing in the doorway of the living room. “Francois Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeing a Great Perhaps.”

And that quieted them. I was after a Great Perhaps, and they knew as well as I did that I wasn’t going to find it with the likes of Will and Marie. I sat back down on the couch, between my mom and my dad, and my dad put his arm around me, and we stayed there like that, quiet on the couch together, for a long time, until it seemed okay to turn on the TV, and then we ate artichoke dip for dinner and watched the History Channel, and as going-away parties go, it certainly could have been worse.

bonus video connecting my two favorite books this last year! in a weird twist of fate, the above brilliant john green ALSO loves anna and the french kiss! watch him gush like a little fangirl below (props also go to the fact he listens to music on repeat TOO. i knew john green was awesome):

here’s hoping that 2011 will have another excellent batch of books! go to an indie bookstore and BUY YOURSELF SOME BOOKS!

socal peeps, here are the two best around: mrs. nelson’s toy and book shop and vroman’s. AWESOMENESS ABOUND. the rest of you head on over to indie bound and find yourself a non-chain to support.

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