Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of 2010 & A Look Forward

I had some great reads in 2010.  For a list of all non-picture-book reviews of the year, click on the tab above or here.  Instead of listing all of the reviews again, I thought I would just point you to a few favorites.  Tomorrow I will also hopefully have some statistics put together for 2010.

In January, I enjoyed The Glass Room by Simon Mawer.  I appreciated the level of detail in the story and the complex characters.  I got a kick out of Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, a novel written back and forth as letters by two authors, Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.  The spunky characters, Victorian setting and magical events were a perfect combination for fun!  And an entirely different read but equally enjoyable was The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa.  It was one of a couple Japanese reads for the year and possibly my favorite.

February was the month of the shocking and compelling Brodeck by Philippe Claudel, translated from French.  I had the Not the TV Book Group to thank for this read.  The other standout in the month was Jasper Fforde's new series starter, Shades of Grey.  The world building in the book was exceptional and the story built to an exciting high.

I started March with a very good YA read -- The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee.  Dealing with issues of race and gender in Victorian society against the backdrop of a mystery, this was one of the standout reads of the year.  I will be starting the sequel soon.  I also enjoyed becoming reacquainted with Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley's second novel featuring this cheeky young poisoner -- The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.  You will see below that I don't have to wait long to spend time with her again.

Through March, April and May I participated in a group read of Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  I loved the first book and the second book but was less satisfied with the third.  It was an amazingly constructed book with some resolution but other plot lines that remained mysteries.

April was also a banner month for me as I finally read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.  "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink" is one of my favorite first lines in literature.  This will definitely be one that I re-read over the years.  Cassandra Mortmain is a great character with a unique voice.

Starting in April, I devoured Linda Buckley-Archer's youth time travel trilogy -- The Time Travelers, The Time Thief and The Time Quake.  Comprising a single large story, this was a fantastic series with so many things that I find enjoyable in children's fantasy.

June was a month for great reads, both new releases and classics.  A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer and The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley were page-turners that also held great historical and cultural insight.  I loved reading Boy: Tales of Childhood, the first volume of Roald Dahl's memoir writing.  And of course I enjoyed the newest release by Diana Wynne Jones -- Enchanted Glass.  It's one of my favorite DWJ books already!  I'm still deciding which version to buy though.

The highlight of August was Jenny's Diana Wynne Jones Week.  Fire and Hemlock was just as amazing as I hoped it would be.  I also loved reading more new-to-me titles and a couple of old favorites.

In September I started my RIP Challenge reads and there were two standouts that month -- The Gates by John Connolly and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.  Though incredibly different, these titles both grabbed my interest from the start and never let go.

October also featured two great reads though only one was for the challenge.  The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes was a little bit sci-fi, a little horror and a little funny.  It came together into one disturbingly funny read.  I also enjoyed The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart, a mix of history lesson, quirky ensemble piece and serious relationship story.

I wrapped the year with two more strong reads, A Razor Wrapped in Silk by R.N. Morris and The Sherlockian by Graham Moore.  Morris' book showed the skill and polish of an established author and Moore's showed the promise of someone on his way to success.

Now for what I'm looking forward to in 2011.

In February, the next Flavia de Luce book will be released.  A Red Herring Without Mustard should be another strong showing for the series.

In March, I'll be buying One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde and The School of Night by Louis Bayard.  I feel fortunate that two of my very favorite authors are putting out books this year!

R.N. Morris' The Cleansing Flames will also be out in the spring and should be another strong novel from him.

And I will continue to make an effort to read more from my TBR shelves in the coming year.  I'm looking forward to A Stranger in Mayfair by Charles Finch, The Agency 2: The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee, War on the Margins by Libby Cone, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and many more of the novels I already own.

Thank you for reading our blog through another year and we hope to bring many more great reads to your attention in 2011!

Looking back, looking forward,


  1. Glad you enjoyed DWJ Week so much! I am very glad I did that. :)

  2. I want to read The Glass Room so badly I even bought it. Hopefully I will get to it soon!

  3. Some great books in this post, Kristen...thanks for sharing!