Thursday, July 01, 2010

More Top Ten Picks: Best Books I've Read So Far

Random Rambling's topic this week is favorite books that we've read this year. So yesterday I shared a list of my favorite books published in 2010. Today I thought I'd share my top ten of 'everything else.'

The first I'd like to share is Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck. I loved this one. I absolutely loved it. I read it and it became my new favorite Steinbeck. I loved it more than Cannery Row, more than Tortilla Flat, more than Travels With Charley. I marked so many passages that I just loved, that just stood out to me. And I shared some of those in my review. Like "Some days are born ugly. From the very first light they are no damn good whatever the weather, and everybody knows it" and "It's always hard to start to concentrate. The mind darts like a chicken, trying to escape thinking even though thinking is the most rewarding function of man."

Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. I loved this one. I just loved, loved, loved it. It was emotional. It was intense. It was compelling. It was impossible to put down. There were so many things done right in Blue Plate Special. It's a coming-of-age novel that authentically represents some of the harder issues of living life in an unfair world. A world where parents make mistakes too. It's a heartbreaking novel. One that could be a bit too much for some readers perhaps. But while tragic definitely comes to mind when describing this one, so does the word unforgettable.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I loved Margaret Hale and John Thornton. I loved the substance and depth of this one. I loved the romance. I really loved the romance. But I loved how it was more than just a romance. I loved the strength and integrity of the characters. If you haven't seen the movie, you should!

Doctor Thorne. Anthony Trollope. This is the third in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope. The first two are The Warden and Barchester Towers. Though it is part of a series, it can truly stand on its own. What did I love about this one? So, so much! I love Trollope for starters! I love his characters. I love the community he creates. I love his descriptions. I love his dialogue. This one had me smiling in places--Trollope can definitely be witty--yet there was something so sweet, so right about the romance in this one.

Armadale by Wilkie Collins. This one is a long book--over 800 pages--yet it was so compelling. The second half especially. Once you're introduced to Lydia Gwilt, it's hard to put this one down. It becomes even more thrilling. There was something so wonderful about this one--be it the mystery or the drama--that kept me hooked. This is only my second Collins, yet I know I want to read more.

The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit. Loved this one. It's a sequel to Five Children and It. It was such a delightful read. It is very funny in places. I love the adventures, the troubles. It's just a feel-good read. I don't know that I love it any more than I do Five Children and It. I just know that I love E. Nesbit. I love her narrative style. I love her descriptions. And I am so very thankful I've discovered her! And I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

Airhead by Meg Cabot. The first in a series. The sequels are Being Nikki and Runaway. This series surprised me. Especially the first one. I was expecting something so very different. What makes this one special, well, you should really discover that for yourself. Don't judge this book by its cover because it's so much more than what it looks like.

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. This one should be a must-read. It is one of those books where I learned how much I just don't know. The story of these women--of Jerrie Cobb especially--was an amazing one. A book that left me a little shocked, disappointed, and more than a little sad. Not all nonfiction has the same quality as fiction. That can't-put-it-down factor that makes a book really good.

Sixteen Brides. Stephanie Grace Whitson. I loved this historical romance. Loved the characters. Loved their spirit and gumption and strength. Loved how they worked together. Loved the story. Loved the cover too!

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer. I have read many great Heyer novels in the past six months. So why Sylvester? I'm not sure what makes this one stand out as my favorite. But I think the great chemistry between Sylvester and Phoebe certainly helps. I love Heyer. I love her style. I love her wit. I love her characters. And there are so many characters to love in Sylvester. If you haven't read her before, you might consider starting with Sylvester.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Avid Reader 2:46 PM  

I read Cannery Row earlier this year and loved it. Now I can't wait to read Sweet Thursday!

Anonymous,  10:48 PM  

Oh, yay! thanks, Becky! - what a wonderful list, and love what you have to say about each book. :) L.

Serena 8:00 AM  

You've read some great classics.

Julie P 12:39 PM  

Very nice list, Becky!

alexandra george 11:19 AM  

I love sweet Thursday too! I was so glad to see it on this list, like an old friend. Liked your other choices, too.

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Review Policy

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.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

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.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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