Monday, December 27, 2010

Top Ten Library Reads of 2010

I love my library. I just LOVE reading library books. And since I do keep track of 'where my books come from,' I thought I would highlight ten of my favorite books that I borrowed from the library this year. These are books that I wouldn't have had access to if I hadn't had such a great library.

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford. My review. What I said, "Read this book. Now. Why? Because this book is so very, very good. It's one of those books where the moment you finish it, you want to start it all over again. You don't want it to be over. You want to keep experiencing it. What did I love about this book? The characters, the story, the storytelling, the setting, the atmosphere, the descriptions. It was such an amazing blend of history, mystery, and fantasy."

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. My review. What I said, "One of the reasons I loved The Daughter of Time was I thought it was unique. The book is about a man becoming fascinated with history, with a mystery within history. And how he goes about "solving" the case since he can't very well go about interviewing the witnesses and investigating the crime scene. Most of his research is done by reading. But he doesn't accept everything he reads. No, he questions everything. He thinks, really thinks, about everything closely. And I loved that. I loved how Inspector Grant pulls others in on this investigation. I loved how enthusiastic everyone becomes while 'working' on this case."

The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag. Alan Bradley. My review. What I said, "I liked Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I did. But as much as I liked it, as charming as I found it, it wasn't quite love. I LOVED the second novel in the series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. I just LOVED it. Flavia is still Flavia. She's still eleven. She's still hating her sisters--but to be fair, they hated her first. She's still to be found in her chemistry lab doing experiments and uncovering the mysteries of poisons--that is when she's not out uncovering the town's secrets on Gladys, her bicycle, and breaking into the library's storage shed where old newspapers are kept. Alan Bradley is great at developing characters within a community. There are some eccentric people in this one! But it's got heart and soul too! I loved Flavia! I loved her spirit. I loved her intelligence, her curiosity. I would definitely recommend it!"

 Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker. My review. What I said, "What did I like about this one? I loved so many things about it! The characters. The relationships. The premise. The story. It just worked really well for me! I found it very compelling! I found it difficult to put down. It's wonderfully quirky and deliciously sinister. Miss Hargreaves and Norman would definitely feel right at home in The Twilight Zone."

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. My review. What I said, "I loved Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog. I just LOVED it. But I think I loved Doomsday Book a little bit more. It was incredibly compelling. It was intense, emotional, and impossible to put down. Willis does a wonderful job with her characters. They feel very real--very human. The setting--the world building--is also amazing. She does a great job building the past--the fourteenth century--and the "present" which is a time-traveling future. (The story alternates between past and present.) She blends mystery, science fiction, and historical fiction--and blends them well! Readers meet dozens of characters in both centuries as this mystery unfolds. And while it is serious--dramatic--and emotional--people will die--it's not without its lighter moments of wit. I loved the narrative. I loved the way this story was told. This one I'll definitely be recommending!"

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. My review. What I said, "I think I knew it was love from the very first page. I just fell in love with the first few chapters of The Wee Free Men. I loved Miss Tick. I loved our young heroine, Tiffany Aching. Even before the introduction of Nac Mac Feegle. Before we meet Rob Anybody. Before we meet No'-as-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock. Before the journey to fairy land. Though of course, my love just grew as the novel progressed. I loved the writing. I mean I LOVED the writing. It was so much fun to read this one!"

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin. My review. What I said, "When Anne Greves, our heroine, was sixteen she met the love of her life, Serey, a Cambodian student and musician. The relationship is intense from the start. The Disappeared is her story of how powerful and enduring love is. Of how heartbreaking it is. How the loss of it can overwhelm you, shape you. It's an emotional story--beautifully written. I found The Disappeared to be compelling. I didn't want to put it down. It was beautiful. It was powerful. It was haunting. I thought the writing was incredible. It gets ugly in some places--because war, terror, death, and hate are ugly."

 Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin. My review. What I said, "Jane Slayre is a paranormal retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I don't always love like paranormal fiction. Vampires, zombies, and werewolves don't typically thrill me. But. I really enjoyed Jane Slayre. I thought it was clever. I thought it worked well. It's not that I think the original needed improving. But the changes seem more natural than I ever would have thought possible. I liked Sherri Browning Erwin's Jane. She was strong and fearless. (She saw her slaying as a gift.) Yet she was tender too. She fell in love with a man with a past. And she had a few tough decisions to make. I definitely recommend this one!"

Armadale by Wilkie Collins. My review. What I said, "Is it possible to summarize Armadale in a sentence or two? In a paragraph or two? Probably not. Wilkie Collins is all about layers. Who else besides Collins would premise a novel with fifty-eight pages of prologue? A prologue that establishes the background of three of his main characters. A foreshadowing prologue that shapes and reshapes the novel. Two men. One name. One dark secret. Armadale is about the struggle of the human soul between good and evil. A novel that asks the question--should children suffer for the sins of their fathers? A novel that explores the idea of Fate and free will."

Frankenstein's Monster. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. My review.What I said, "I'm not sure I can say I loved this one. At least not love, love, love. But. I really liked this one. There were places that I just LOVED it--and other places where I began to have doubts. Frankenstein's Monster is a sequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. For the most part, it is set ten years after the original novel. Frankenstein's Monster is about the monster coming to terms with who he is. He's learning to accept the fact that he can make his own decisions, his own choices, that he doesn't have to be the 'monster' Frankenstein created him to be. He can choose to be better than that. He can choose to live with hope. It is definitely my favorite sequel/retelling of this classic."

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Demitria said...

Good choices. I'm a library girl myself...I'll have to pick up Boneshaker for sure. Thanks!

Marce said...

Flavia was my favourite character of the year I definitely will read The Weed that strings the Hangman's Bag, lol, what a title.

I love new books so I don't use my library. I do donate to the hospitals library though.

Vasilly said...

After reading your post, I know it's a good thing for me that I have Boneshaker and Wee Free Men checked out from the library. I can't wait to read them. Thanks for sharing with us your top ten.