Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top Ten Picks: Favorite Books Read So Far This Year



Random Rambling's topic this week is favorite books that we've read this year. For my own purposes, I'm going to focus on MG/YA books published in 2010.

Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors. I think it would make a WONDERFUL read aloud for the entire family. It's got action, adventure, and humor! It stars a boy named Homer Pudding, and the adventure starts when he receives a gift from his late uncle's estate--this gift is a dog, but he's not really an ordinary dog. Lest you are a worrier, have no fear. There's a note to the reader:

Dear Reader:
The following story is a dog story, but it is not, I repeat, NOT a sad dog story. I hate sad dog stories. I bet you do too.

Countdown by Deborah Wiles. Countdown is the kind of book that I had to pass around to all my friends. I knew from the start that I'd love it. It's historical fiction, set in 1962. Franny Chapman, our eleven-year-old heroine, is my kind of girl. A true kindred spirit. I loved how her older sister phrased her sister's problems: "Franny, you're eleven. That's the problem in a nutshell." She pulls an envelope out of her purse. "Everybody feels persecuted when they're eleven. It will pass."

Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Melody wowed me. This novel is so emotional, so intense. But it's one I'd definitely recommend. It's about a girl with cerebral palsy, though she cannot talk--or walk, or feed herself--she has a brilliant mind, she's trapped in a body that doesn't do what she wants it to.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. I loved this one. It was so fun, so clever. I loved Miss Penelope Lumley. And I loved the three children in her care too: Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia. Who is Miss Penelope? She's a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. With steady perseverance, ever-present hope, and a lot of love, she's determined that these kids will succeed. And to her credit, they do seem eager to learn, eager to love. But not everyone at Ashton Place wants the children to succeed.

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. This one is a companion novel to Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. Jeffrey, Steven's younger brother, is starting eighth grade, and the year has many struggles with it. But what Jeffrey learns about life, about friendship, about girls, about perseverance will make it all worth it in the end. This book has heart.

For Keeps by Natasha Friend. I loved this one because of the characterization. I thought it was surprisingly, wonderfully complex. So much more than what I was expecting! I loved how human the characters felt, how natural the relationships felt. This book was satisfying.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I'm choosing Before I Fall not because of the blog buzz--this one has been reviewed in so many places--but because of the simple truth that the author made me care. When I started Before I Fall, I hated the characters. I didn't think the main character was a nice person. But the book was so compelling, and by the end I cared so much.

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson. I enjoyed both Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever. There is something so fun, so right about the Martin family. I love Scarlett. I love her brother, Spencer. (I really, really love Spencer!!!) I love her other siblings. I love her crazy family, her crazy life, her crazy job. The books are just too much fun!

Grace by Elizabeth Scott. I love Elizabeth Scott. I do. I just love her. She continues to amaze me with each book. She's the author that makes me giddy with her teen romances and leaves me haunted by such books as Grace and Living Dead Girl. (It's not that her romances lack substance or full characterization. All her characters feel human. And all her characters seem to be struggling with something.) Grace is on the list because I don't think I'll be forgetting it any time soon.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness. I was actually considering leaving this one off the list. After all, it is the third book in a series. (The first two are Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer.) But. The series as a whole is so strong, and this final book is so amazing. Ness is such a great writer. The characters. The storytelling. The pacing. He doesn't have a weakness. He just doesn't.



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

11 comments:

Amanda 8:02 PM  

Awesome post, Becky! I should do one of these myself!

I'm starting Countdown tomorrow and really have to pick up The Ask and The Answer and Monsters of Men.

Andi 8:08 PM  

Sadly, I haven't read ANY of these! I've been really out of the YA loop in general this year for some reason. My mood decided to swing another way, I suppose. :D

fourth Musketeer 10:08 PM  

A fun list! I've read Smells Like Dog and Incorrigible Children...just got Countdown and Out of My Mind from Amazon Vine--they're on my to read list. I'd also like to read After Ever AFter; I really liked the Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie book so I'll try to get to that one too.

Anonymous,  11:57 AM  

And I'm of course curious as to how a general list for the year so far would look like... L.

fredamans 12:13 PM  

Before I Fall is my favorite read of June!

Serena 12:22 PM  

I haven't read any of these, but you've got me curious!

Shelley (Book Clutter) 7:15 PM  

I may have already said this in a comment here, but I also loved Countdown. I started the series by Ness, but then got distracted by something else and had to take it back to the library.

Jillian 12:14 AM  

Your description for Before I Fall is the very reason why I fell in love with it as well. It's truly something when an author is able to make the reader actually care genuinely. Glad you loved it as much as I did!

I have also heard a lot of Out of my Mind; I'll have to borrow that one from our library.

Sherry 3:57 PM  

So, I've read Countdown, and I want to read the other nine.

Time is the enemy.

La Coccinelle 1:22 PM  

Before I Fall made my list, too. That was an awesome book!

Marce 8:42 PM  

Out of my Mind made my list also.

Here is mine if interested.

http://teawithmarce.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-favourite-books-so-far-this-year.html

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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