In 2010 I read 327 books, just 38 short of my yearly goal (365). It was a good year in terms of memorable books. I continued my reading expansion, finding new authors and new stories to be enthused about. I started the year off with a re-read, The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein. I finished the year with a new book, The Wind Singer by William Nicholson, which I enjoyed.
The following are books which I particularly enjoyed. With one exception, they’re books I read for the first time this year, although in several cases I read them several times this year.
Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce: Wilce creates a wonderful, colorful world, full of mad and lovely characters. Despite all of the politics (something I dearly love) and so on, it’s simply a good story. (I talked about it here and again here.)
Flora’s Dare by Ysabeau Wilce: I wasn’t sure how Wilce could deliver something better than Flora Segunda, but she certainly did. The story is exhilarating and sweet and heartbreaking all at the same time, and it leaves me absolutely PANTING to know what happens next. (I talked about it here and again here.)
Foundling by D.M. Cornish: I cannot possibly say too many good things about this book. The worldbuilding is incredible, as it ought to be given that Cornish spent something like ten years developing it. Rossamund is a great main character, full of pluck and determination. It’s a massive and consuming book and I oh so very highly recommend it. As an added bonus, Cornish is the author of probably my favorite quote about writing fantasy as a Christian.
Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish: The second book in the trilogy, which more than lived up to my expectations. The story continued to grow and deepen as questions of Rossamund’s identity and vocation (loaded term, perhaps, but I couldn’t think of a better one) come into play. As is usual for second books, new characters appear and our reaction to old ones changes.
The Mark of Solomon [The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom] by Elizabeth Wein: Of Wein’s Arthurian/Ethiopian series the first, The Winter Prince, remains my clear favorite for its incredible prose and emotional heft. However, the rest of the series has been getting better and better. Telemakos is one of my favorite types of characters. As I said in my review, he managed to remind me at times of both Eugenides and Attolia. These two books are both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and the fact that they manage to be both at once shows how good Wein is. Of course, I am a greedy reader and WANT MOAR NOW!
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: This is the book which I read three times in five months and then banned myself from reading for the rest of the year. It’s an amazingly powerful emotional read: I can only describe it as having your heart broken into a million pieces and then having it put back together again. Also, I have a rather large literary crush on a certain character.
A Conspiracy of Kings [non-spoilery] [somewhat spoilery] [very detailed and spoilery] by Megan Whalen Turner: It took me a few reads to decide that I loved this book, but I have decided and I truly do. Sophos’s story is, in its own way, as heartbreaking as Gen’s in Queen of Attolia. And I love Turner’s writing and will read everything she publishes. And I can’t wait for the next book, but fortunately I have Sounis to wait with me.
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis: The first of Connie Willis’ time travel books that I tried. I’m glad it was the first–Doomsday Book was so relentlessly tragic that I had to stop reading. This one was thoroughly enjoyable, though it had some serious undertones. Replete with literary references, I found myself absolutely enchanted.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente: The first book I ever read online, it was well worth it. In general I love Valente’s prose and here the story seemed like a lovely mix of the good parts of Alice and any number of fairy tales. At the same time, it had a spice of originality which kept it from feeling derivative.
The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm by Nancy Farmer: I know I’ve been seeing Farmer’s books around since middle school, but I never read any of them. When I started this one, I realized my mistake. Set in a futuristic Africa, the story manages to be chilling, beautiful, and a rollicking good adventure story all at the same time.
The Harper’s Quine by Pat McIntosh: This series was definitely my favorite set of mysteries from 2010 (except for Dorothy Sayers, but it’s always except for Dorothy Sayers). Set in medieval Glasgow, they depict Scottish life lovingly and take religion seriously. The characters are both interesting and likable. What’s not to like?
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey: Dark and gory and most certainly not for everyone, I really enjoyed this story. Will, our narrator, has the perfect voice and I found myself completely caught up in the world and the characters. In fact, I haven’t sought out the sequel only because I don’t want to be disappointed. But I should get over that and give it a try.
Silksinger by Laini Taylor: I loved this second book in the Dreamdark series. I’m fine with fairies as long as they’re not sparkly and cute, and these ones most certainly are neither of those things. While Magpie is back, we have a new heroine in Whisper, one who adds a nice new note to the story.
Part 2 tomorrow.