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Yearly Wrap-Up: 2010

I feel like this would be a good time to wrap up the year*, and talk about the best books of 2010, and why I think they were the best, except that I’m honestly a little lazy, and I’m not sure what more I can say about some of these books that wasn’t already said in the review, so instead I’m going to compose a list of 10 great books from 2010.

In no particular order, my favorites from 2010:

1. Hot by Julia Harper

I found it on an approved list of books for an extra credit assignment, and I ended up tracking it down. I’m glad I did, because it was hilarious, and I found myself enjoying it, laughing out loud and anxiously waiting to find out what was going to happen– besides the predictable romance plot. One doesn’t read romances expecting un-romantic endings; it wouldn’t sell.

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

2. The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

Sometimes impulsively-selected books are terrible, and sometimes they’re amazing. Luckily, The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet featured a fun narrator with a great voice and a sense of humor. She felt true to her age, and carried the entire story off because of her well-managed perspective. (And it had a few Shakespeare jokes which I enjoyed, as well.)

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

3. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. I knew I would like it; there were too many good reviews for me to not like it, but I didn’t realize quite how amazing it was until I was absorbed in it. I am definitely glad I took the time to read it; Bianca was a fascinating character with a brilliant narrative voice, even if she wasn’t the wisest character ever.

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

4. A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

I really loved the fact that this was Rumpelstiltskin, but re-imagined in such a way that it was a totally unique story. I loved the world building, the characters, and the plot. I enjoyed the way the mystery unraveled, and all the things that happened along the way. It was a strong debut novel (and deserving of the award it won.)

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

5. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

I wasn’t expecting to love this book. I saw the cover and thought “huh, lime green?” but decided to check it out anyway. It’s not my usual fare; it’s sarcastic, and a little dark. Vera’s life isn’t sunshine and daisies, and her life doesn’t magically get better by the end. But her voice is brilliant, her story enthralling, and the flowcharts entertaining. I’m glad I took the time to read it; it’s one of the better books I’ve read recently.

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

6. The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked up Moon Called; I thought I might like paranormal romance, but I wasn’t sure. Soon after, I was reading all sorts of paranormal series; Cassandra Palmer, The Hollows, Kate Daniels, and Women of the Otherworld. I blame Patricia Briggs for being my gateway author, yet I love her for it. Mercy is amazing, and I can hardly wait for the next book in the set (due March 2011).

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

7. The Hero & The Crown by Robin McKinley

This is a perpetual favorite which I re-read for what felt like the millionth time, and I loved it just as much as I did the first time. Aerin is amazing, Damar fascinating, Luthe mysterious, Maur terrifying, and the story brilliant. I always read The Hero and the Crown and then The Blue Sword back-to-back, so in many ways they feel like a single book. There are, of course, people who don’t appreciate the brilliance of the Damar books, but they are silly.

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

8. Kiss Me Deadly edited by Trisha Telep

At the time it made sense to review this set in three parts; short fiction isn’t meant to be read in one gulp, but I’ll admit right now that with as much as I talk about it, it would be much more convenient for it to be in one post. Regardless, it was an entertaining, lightly romantic, and fun supernatural anthology, and I’d suggest it to anyone who’s looking for some easy-to-read paranormal stories.

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

9. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Another perennial favorite is Howl’s Moving Castle, which has the honor of being one of the first DWJ novels I ever read. (Shortly behind it is the first omnibus of Chrestomanci.) Sophie is a great narrator, the land of Ingary is entertaining– your classic fantasy-land– and the story is mysterious and adventurous enough to keep you hanging on for more. The other two Sophie-related books, Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways are also very entertaining.

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

10. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Immediately after reading Kiss Me Deadly, I decided that I wanted to read more about killer unicorns, so I sought out Rampant, and then I found myself reading Ascendant (the sequel). It’s not often that you come across a book which manages to be unique without being terrible. (Admittedly, the idea of evil man-eating unicorns is either hit-or-miss, I do know people who didn’t enjoy it as much as I did.)

Check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

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Books which might have made the list if I were not so attached to a “top ten” list: Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson, Beastly by Alex Flinn, Unexpected Magic by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview.

Reviews t0 look forward to (from me, at least) in 2011:

Tortall & Other Lands by Tamora Pierce, River Marked by Patricia Briggs, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, The Eternal Kiss ed. by Trisha Telep, Corsets & Clockwork ed. by Trisha Telep, Matched by Allie Condie, and Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, to name a few.

So tell me, what books did you love in 2010? Which books are you excited for in 2011?

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* I’ve been trying to write this post for the last week, so I’m glad it’s finally done! (Now to write the monthly wrap-up for tomorrow…)

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Bad Covers & Silly Titles III

There’s a bit more of an emphasis on silly, this month, which works for me because… silly is fun.

Silly Cover & Blurb He’s the new man from “O.R.G.Y.” which I somehow don’t think is an accidental acronym. Ted Mark actually wrote a whole series of books about “O.R.G.Y.”, the first of which is apparently titled The Man From O.R.G.Y., which features the tag-line “I’m a Sex Expert– among other things. If you’re squeamish, I’d better not tell you what O.R.G.Y. stands for…” There’s not a lot I can find out about this particular series, as it’s very far out of print. What I can find out about it is all from Fantastic Fiction. It’s clearly one of those old books which is long out of print, but which has such a silly name that it keeps popping up on the internet anyway. From Pop Sensation*?

Our next book is here because it is a picture of a hand on a butt. Or rather, it is a picture of a hand on the butt of a woman in white pants who is holding what I can only assume is a riding crop because this book is somehow about equestrians:

Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the playgrounds of the world, Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire chronicles, Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man who made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata and Score!, offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery, swooning romance, sexual adventure and hilarious high jinks.

Riders, the first and steamiest in the series, takes the lid off international show jumping, a sport where the brave horses are almost human, but the humans behave like animals.

The brooding hero, gypsy Jake Lovell, under whose magic hands the most difficult horse or woman becomes biddable, is driven to the top by his loathing of the beautiful bounder and darling of the show ring, Rupert Campbell-Black. Having filched each other’s horses, and fought and fornicated their way around the capitals of Europe, the feud between the two men finally erupts with devastating consequences at the Los Angeles Olympics.

From Fantastic Fiction.

Of course, there’s more.

Nine Kinds of Naked has a lawn gnome, a fly? and a very silly sounding title. It is an even crazier sounding book, actually:

Twenty-year-old drifter Diablo spies on Bridget Snapdragon, the pagan wife of a Normal, Ill., actuary, skinny dipping in her backyard creek. He is soon arrested, and while in jail, flips a playing card onto the back of a bee, setting in motion an atmospheric disturbance that begets the storm of the century. Meanwhile, a select group of misfits are unknowingly thrown into the storm’s path. There’s J.J. Speed, a priest turned special agent after becoming insane from celibacy; Elizabeth Wildhack, Bridget’s stripper daughter; Billy Pronto, a man who speaks in terms of the here and now only; and Clovis, a ninth-century serf, who, with the aid of gnomes, time-travels to Normal.

From amazon.com

Next up, because this is simply not enough silliness for one post, we  have… a dude with lobster hands. I have to admit that I’m not really sure what exactly is supposed to be going on here, but regardless, it’s a dude in a business suit with lobster claws for hands. Apparently, it has something to do with a reality TV show and a small town, and a battle relating to the three-channels of the small town, but I can’t say I really get it. It’s definitely got a silly cover though. (And it might actually be passable, though it’s not my sort of book.)

Next: Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere which strikes me as shock-fiction. It’s a collection of three Novellas: Monster Cocks, Journey to the Center of Agnes Cuddlebottom, and Crazy Shitting Planet. Yes, it is freaking weird. Yes, it was written *just* for the shock value. No, I’m not really sure what to make of it except to suggest that you never bother to read it. Unless you’re into stories about giant penis monsters and adventuring in the butt of a prostitute. (Which I definitely am not). Another book by the same author (which seems just as awful in another way) is HELP! A Bear is Eating Me!.

Back to the less-shock-value-and-more-just-silly sort of books… It’s a crazy cover from a classic book, and it features a girl in a torn bathing suit being eaten by an octopus. Apparently, the “Spicy” part is the half naked girl on the cover, because when I looked for Spicy-Adventure Stories, I found several half-naked-girl-on-the-cover style books.

I think this might be a decent note to end on. Classic covers are pretty crazy, and can be really, really funny at times. I’ll try to come up with a few more novels which aren’t surreal “comedies” next time around, and come up with books that are a bit more commonly funny.

Have you come across any books with silly covers or titles recently?

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* Apparently, it’s from a pretty cool paperback cover collection. I came across it while trying to find a cover image for Katie Mac’s Hard Day’s Knight.

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Bad Covers & Silly Titles II

I did not expect this little bit of mine to be quite as popular as it was. I mean, I realize that on some level, we all enjoy laughing at things, and there are a lot of silly books to laugh at, but the response I got was a lot stronger than I ever thought I’d receive. So now, with that bit of “oh my goodness how did I discover something popular” out of the way, let’s proceed with our second installment of Bad Covers & Silly Titles, a series I hope to post an addition to monthly. Continue reading

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Bad Covers and Silly Titles

Once in a while, while perusing your local library, or bookstore, you may come across something which earns a loud snort and a big “wtf?” or an “OMG-Ican’tbelievetheypublishedthis.” This is my collection, and this is where I will be posting them. I will admit right now that there is a slim to nil chance that I will read and/or review most of these. It may change at some point, but for now, let’s just stick with slim-to-nil.

Click the “read more” to see the covers and have some laughs.

Continue reading

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