Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorites and My Best

Wondering what to read over your holiday break (if you get a break, that is...)?  Here are my favorite reads of 2010.  (No attempt has been made to balance this list!  This is my from-the-heart list of my favorites books I read this year.  Except I did leave out books that were sequels.)

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.  

Read my review here.  Both dealing with grief over different issues, Amy & Roger road trip from California to Connecticut, throwing their carefully planned route out the window and starting the healing process even as they start falling for each other.  Realistic characters bring this one to life and it's a book that makes you laugh and cry.  Plus, they go to Louisville on their road trip!!!!  (Although it is a little sad that two teenage characters in a novel have eaten at the Brown and I have never done that. ;)  This 2010 debut is a perfect summer read and it's the perfect thing to pull you out of the winter doldrums.  

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales.

Read my review here.  This book wins the I-Shouldn't-Have-Judged-It-By-Its-Cover Award.  I put off picking it up for way too long.  When I finally did pick it up, I discovered a realistic, sarcastic, funny, poignant story about Violet's junior year at an elite prep school.  Even as she's making witty observations about her classmates and teachers, Violet's worried about how things are changing between her and her best friend.  I couldn't put it down. This is another stellar 2010 debut.  (How I wish either of these titles had been recognized on the Morris shortlist, but alas...)

Dark Life by Kat Falls. 

Read my review here.  In a future America where global warming has made land a commodity, Ty and his family are underwater pioneers, living far under the sea.  When a Topsider girl appears, Ty gets wrapped up in her mission to find her brother and adventures ensue.  Nonstop action from the first page, and I can tell you that this book is flying off the shelves at my library.  I loved Kat Falls's carefully constructed speculative world and the gripping adventure story.  I'd hand this one to fans of The City of Ember in a heartbeat!  (Another 2010 debut... hmmmm...)

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord. 

Read my review here.  Her Maine island is the only home that eleven-year-old Tess has ever known and the thought that she might have to leave it is too much to bear.  When families on the island welcome foster children in order to increase the population enough to warrant having a school on the island, Tess is determined to make it work.  This book is a gem and it's my top Newbery pick this year. Quirky island characters, details about Maine lobster fishing, and Tess's effervescent personality made this a book that sticks with me.  

Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Read my review here.  When an accident results in the loss of sixth-grade Raina's front teeth, it means several years of painful dental work.  Like middle school isn't painful enough!  I was a big fan of Ms. Telgemeier's adaptations of the Baby-Sitters Club books and I like Smile even more.  The tone of the book is frank, fresh, and genuine with bright, expressive pictures that bring the story to life.  This is definitely a book that many tween girls will relate to, and not just the ones with braces!  Ms. Telgemeier's graphic memoir transcends the basic plot line of her dental work and provides a look into one girl's journey through the treacherous halls of middle school.  This is another title that we can't keep on the shelves.  (And if you like Smile, do check out the Baby-Sitters Club graphic adaptations!  I love them, too!)

Read my review here.  In accessible text and with many photos and other visual aids, this book tells the story of Lt. Gail Halvorsen, an American Air Force pilot who delivered candy to hungry children in West Berlin after World War II.  It's a moving story and one that has a ton of kid appeal and the photos and other visual aids really brings the story to life.  It'll please history buffs, but it has a lot of appeal for the general public as well.  An important story, well-told.  Plus, it's about candy!!  Who doesn't love candy?! 

I'd also like to mention Hate List by Jennifer Brown (read my review here) because I read it this year, even though it was published in 2009.  I definitely kicked myself for waiting so long to pick it up because that story of a tragic school shooting and the girl caught in the middle of it is one that really resonated with me.  

I'd also like to mention a few audiobooks that really stood out (though they were not 2010 books): 

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, read by Anne Hathaway.  The books are already hilarious and Anne Hathaway absolutely brings them to life with her reading.  She multiplies the humor and creates a really excellent audiobook experience.  

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, read by Alan Cumming.  Read my review here.  Mr. Cumming's great talent with voices and accents made this a listening experience that I didn't want to end.  If you liked Leviathan, you also won't want to miss Behemoth on audiobook, also expertly narrated by Alan Cumming.  Read my review here.  

Have you read (or listened to) any of these titles?  What did you think?  

Hey, I'm an Audible affiliate, which means that if you purchase audiobooks after clicking on links here, I may get a commission.