Every year my goal is to read 365 books. I have actually made this goal in the past. This year was annoying because I’m so close! 359 books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite able to make it, mostly because of October and November.
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. A beautiful, elegantly written story. If you have a prejudice against books with pictures in them, ignore it. Read this book. Highly recommended for everyone.
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. I loved Goose Girl by the same author but wasn’t as wild about the other books in that series. Book of a Thousand Days is entirely different and beautiful. Highly recommended.
Rowan Farm by Margot Benary-Isbert. Some years ago I read The Ark, by the same author, and loved it. I knew there was a sequel but I could never manage to get my hands on it. And then when my library system had a copy, I hesitated. What if it wasn’t as good? What if I wasn’t able to enjoy The Ark any more? Life would be tragic. Then I read this and thought how silly I was. Of course Margot Benary-Isbert would write an excellent sequel to an excellent book. Silly me.
I, Claudius by Robert Graves. I enjoy books about history, especially the ones that make it come alive for me. I’d never done much reading about Roman history, but this book more than made up for it. Boy, you couldn’t top some of the crazy things they did if you tried!
Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour, The Mislaid Magician by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. When I originally reviewed these I said they were like Jane Austen with magic, but now I see that I was wrong about this. They’re really like Georgette Heyer with magic. Quite excellent, especially the first two.
Court Duel and Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. These feel a little campy, or something, but I can’t help really enjoying them. Meliara is a great narrator, able to somehow be adventurous without ever feeling like she’s just a guy in disguise.
East by Edith Pattou. I enjoy a good fairy-tale re-telling. One of the ones I’d never seen done was “East o’ the Moon, West o’ the Sun.” Edith Pattou did a marvelous job in this book.
The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff. I love The Eagle of the Ninth, so when I found out that there was a sequel (of sorts) I leapt with joy! Rosemary Sutcliff is wonderful and so is this book.
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. One of my new favorite books. Beautifully written. Somehow it’s never dark, even though it deals with some very heavy subjects. Also, has a gorgeous cover.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Actually, I read most of the others in this series as well, but I think the first book was my favorite. Delightful series. Best described as Patrick O’Brian WITH DRAGONS which, believe me, was two points in its favor from the beginning. I should break down and read the last book or two but I don’t want to because I’ve seen the plot summary and I know it’s going to be painful.
Diana Wynne Jones. I read almost all of her books during 2008. Below are the ones I particularly recommend. If you like fantasy, give her a try. She writes both hilarious (Chrestomanci), heroic (Dalemark Quartet) and something in between (Dark Lord of Derkholm). My favorites follow:
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Howl’s Moving Castle
The Merlin Conspiracy
Fire and Hemlock
Georgette Heyer. An, um, guilty passion of mine. Yes, I admit it. I love her books. I’ve read practically all of them now. The usual sort (the ones I enjoy) are frothy Regency romances. Nonetheless, they are quite clean and great fun. An Infamous Army is a little more than that, since it tells the story of the battle of Waterloo. It had me crying and laughing, in that order, on the same page.
Lady of Quality
The Black Sheep
The Grand Sophy
The Talisman Ring
An Infamous Army
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. One of my favorite books from 2008. Clarke’s ability to create a believable world which includes real historical facts and a system of magic, a history of that system of magic, AND a fascinating and wonderful story amazes me.
The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby. Beautifully written story of a girl named Gurl who can become invisible and a boy named Bug who can fly. I really enjoyed this one and its sequel, The Chaos King.