2010 was kind of a big deal.
I got my first passport and spent two weeks in Romania.
My baby girl started first grade (boo hoo) and my baby boy started preschool (wah hoo).
After eight-and-a-half years of (blissful) marriage, we were finally able to buy our own place, complete with washer and dryer hookups. This is the first place we’ve lived where we can have a washer and dryer, which, let me tell you, two kids (one of whom is a notorious puker) later is sort of a miracle.
Oh yeah, and there was that whole time my book came out which felt like enough of an event in and of itself, but then my publisher went ahead and gave it the most gorgeous cover ever, and then authors I respect and admire offered amazing blurbs, and then it got picked as an Indie Next book, and then it got a starred Publishers Weekly review, and then it sold in a bunch of foreign countries that I now absolutely have to visit, and then people actually bought it and it hit the New York Times bestseller list, all of which pales in comparison to the fact that people—like you, (especially if you are not an adult [although I like you even if you are])—read something that I created, and I got to (and get to) hear what it meant to you, and that, my friends, is beyond amazing.
Oh, also, I wrote the sequel, which nearly killed me. HA HA HA. AND NOW I GET TO WRITE THE THIRD BOOK.
I also read a lot of books in 2010. Here are some that I particularly enjoyed.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
The book is as awesome as the title is long. Which is to say, very, very, very. As clever and entertaining as Lemony Snicket without the mean spirited undertones. Keep an eye out for the sequel, coming out in 2011, which is just as awesome PLUS has a cute playwright named Simon! Any book can be improved by the addition of a cute playwright named Simon. (Also, why on earth is it spelled playwright and not playwrite?)
Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett
I am sensing a pattern here with awesome middle grade novels and very long titles. A hilarious and loving parody of The Hardy Boys, make sure to have someone in the room while you read this book because you will find line after line that you simply HAVE to read out loud. The next book in the series, The Ghostwriter Secret, is out already—it will be my post-Third Para treat. Ideal for boys and for reluctant readers.
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
I loved this book. Plain and simple. It was one of my favorites all year. Gently dark, intelligent, laugh-out-loud hilarious, brilliant storytelling. I am a sucker for traditional fairytales and Gidwitz built an amazing framework to create a novel-length story out of several. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to read this book, and I’m not waiting to tell everyone I know that they should, too.
The Mysterious Benedict Society: The Perilous Journey by Trenton Stewart
This series is very heavy for middle grade (and I mean that quite literally—the books are THICK), but such fun and engaging stories that you fly through them. Although I liked the first book in the series better, this was a very solid follow up and I have the third book waiting to be read. But, considering it’s waiting in one of the seventeen boxes jammed full of books in my new garage, it’s probably going to keep waiting for a bit.
Young Adult Novels
I know I’m going to forget something and feel terrible. I read SO MUCH YA that it’s hard for me to keep track of. So here are just some that come to mind right now as I’m sitting here on the floor since the pretty red couch I ordered could not possibly fit up my twisty stairs in this particular universe. I’m also trying to spotlight things I haven’t talked about yet, which is why you won’t see me talking about Anna and the French Kiss yet again.
Also, disclaimer: My taste is not your taste, nor are my reading standards your standards. Some of these young adult books contain material possibly more adult than young. Some of the following recommendations contain material that probably isn’t appropriate for my youngest readers, but as always that’s not really my call to make. Note all of the “probably” and “possibly” in this paragraph, please. If you have questions about specific content you are welcome to email me, but I hate to make blanket statements about books not knowing the audience.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Dark, even more twisted than my stairs, horrifying, and beautiful. Yovanoff did an amazing job with mood and setting in this book, and I loved loved loved her depiction of the fey.
Fire by Kristin Cashore
This book made me love fantasy again. I read it before Graceling and it’s my favorite of the two—I loved the epic scope of the plot but the very personal nature of the narration.
Paranormalcy by some chick whose name I can never remember
Eh, I hear it’s okay. If you like things that are awesome.
Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron
A compelling and tightly written story of a boy trying to figure out how to make his family, his relationships, and his passion for music somehow balance. An interesting emotional study of how to be an artist in a practical world that I particularly related to, and a fabulous supporting cast including a painfully real family.
Zombies Vs Unicorns
One of the best short story collections I’ve ever read—and I’ve read a lot of them. Multiple author short story collections can be uneven, but every single piece in this book was dead (walking dead?) on. Libba Bray’s was so soul-suckingly sad I cried the whole afternoon (I blamed the rain and hormones, but really, Libba’s fault), and Meg Cabot’s made me laugh out loud. Scott Westerfeld’s had an idea that still hasn’t left me, Maureen Johnson nailed a not-so-subtle sendup of Angelina Jolie as adoptive mother to a horde of zombies, Cassandra Clare told a simple and beautiful fairtytale-esque (zombie) love story—and so many others. So much awesome. As to the question of zombies versus unicorns, well, I’m still Team Tasey Takes Them All Out. Of course, it shouldn’t be any wonder that this group was so good, as one of the editors is the amazing Holly Black, who is a master of the short story.
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Besides pronouncing her name the correct way, Kirsten actually sold me on a meant-to-be relationship, which is no small feat. Intriguing premise, excellent writing, and a heroine with a spine. It’s like this book and I loved each other in a past life or something…
White Cat by Holly Black
Although Holly Black is my arch-nemesis simply by virtue of her name, I have nothing but praise for this fabulous magic-noir story. A world with a simply brilliant and brilliantly simple magic system leads to a story anything but simple. Crime families, deadly touches, a cute boy, and a white cat. What’s not to love?
Okay, but, since I’m a very lucky girl, I also got to read a bunch of books that didn’t come out in 2010 but will be out in 2011. Here are some of my favorites to look forward to.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Out on January 11th, this book was probably my favorite debut I read all year. Which is pretty obvious give the blurb I wrote for it. Sci-fi, murder mystery, dystopian, romance, Revis took it all and created a book so well-crafted and compelling you won’t be able to put it down. I came away without a single complaint, which, if you knew anything about the type of reader I am, is astounding. BUY IT READ IT TELL ME HOW MUCH YOU LOVED IT.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Dystopians are always a hard sell for me because it’s so hard to build a believable broken world, much less one I want to live in for a whole book. Too often dystopians feel like a chore to read, which was why I loved Roth’s debut so much. Sure, things were bad and the world was broken, but it was interesting and exciting and the main character DID things, like jump off buildings and punch people and kiss cute boys! Roth totally sold me on her world and made me fall in love with Tris as Tris discovered herself. And punched people.
I like the punching, what can I say.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
If I Stay is one of my all-time favorite novels. I was nervous to read the sequel, but if anything it made me love If I Stay even more. Forman is a genius (I don’t use that term lightly, except when I do, and here I am definitely not) and one of the best contemporary YA writers alive, and I’m in awe of her ability to tell hard stories in such beautiful, compelling, affecting ways. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant book.
Rival by Sara Bennet Wheeler
A particularly timely tale featuring dual viewpoints of bully and bullied as two girls compete socially and in the choral arena. Well told, insightfully written, interesting contemporary YA.
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Zombies. Football players. Making out under desks while possibly infecting the boy of your dreams. Swords made out of PVC pipes and foam. What more can you possibly ask for from a YA novel?
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I’ve read it. You haven’t. NEENER. NEENER. NEENER. (Oh, come on, you always knew I wasn’t mature.)
Corsets and Clockwork, an anthology edited by Trisha Telep
I’ve only read one story in this one, but it’s fabulous. Also, the author is incredibly modest. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories in this YA steampunk romance collection!
Supernaturally by that same chick whose first name I can never spell right
Maybe even better than the first book, but the person who told me that is biased. Also, he’s married to me. However, this book is quite possibly the only YA paranormal to feature trolls and a fossegrim. Which isn’t hard, considering most of you are probably googling “fossegrim” right now to figure out just what the heck it is.
And finally, those books that I haven’t read yet but will do anything in my power to get early:
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
First I read Laini’s blog and loved her. Then I read her middle grade novel Blackbringer, and loved her even more (third person where the voice switches depending on which character is being focused on? SO BRILLIANT). Then I read Lips Touch and died a little bit inside because it was so incredible and Laini’s writing was so good. So, yes, I will read anything/everything she ever writes, and I especially can’t wait for this. (True story: One of my earliest coherent thoughts upon learning I hit the NYT list was, “I hope this makes me cool enough that they’ll send me an ARC of Laini’s book!”)
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
It sounds dark and twisty and strange. Someone should send it to me immediately. I’m not above begging.
Misfit by Jon Skovron
I like Jon, and I loved his first book, and after this teaser trailer how could you not want to read Misfit?
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
I love Carrie’s writing, and her zombie dystopian world is so haunting I don’t mind being depressed for three or four hundred pages. Plus I always have zombie nightmares when I read her books, which oddly enough I look forward to.
Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
I loved her Wake series and can’t wait to read something new from her.
Plus a million others that I can’t think of right now because I just finished helping my son hit the toilet while puking.
Have I mentioned the washer and dryer? Yay 2010, and here’s hoping for a brilliant and happy and spin-cycle filled 2011!