Top 10 Books of 2010

It’s time again. Time for a deluge of end of year lists…and why should I be left out of the fun?

We’re going to start with books (for absolutely no reason). As with previous years, these books were not necessarily published in 2010, but that is the calendar year in which I read them. I’ve added an additional rule (hey, it’s my list): I read a lot of series; so, where applicable, I’m including all of the books in a series that I’ve read this year as a single item.

Here we go…

1. Changes and Side Jobs, by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files)

I love Harry Dresden. I’m not going to lie. Butcher’s wizard/private detective is equal parts Peter Parker and Philip Marlowe. Changes is the latest full-length novel featuring Dresden and company and, let me tell you, the title ain’t no lie. Side Jobs is a collection of short stories (some previously unpublished) set in the Dresdenverse. I’m glad these stories were finally all collected in one volume, since my desire to read all things Dresden has been fighting with my general lack of interest regarding anthologies (which is where most of these stories first appeared).

2. The Titan’s Curse and The Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians series)

Cue Internet rage: I actually like Percy Jackson more than I like Harry Potter. This doesn’t mean that Rowling’s series isn’t fantastic. But, while Hogwarts prepares young witches and wizards for a life of government jobs, Camp Half-Blood trains demi-gods to be heroes. Heroes. Monster-battling, innocent-saving heroes. What I like most about this series is how grounded it is in the actual mythology of ancient Greece. It’s also fun trying to guess the modern-day disguise of a particular god or monster.

3. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire series)

I had A Game of Thrones sitting on my bookshelf for about two years, ever since a friend recommended it to me after I was lamenting how all epic fantasy I’ve encountered read like Lord of the Rings after a find-and-replace. I was hooked almost immediately–I’ve already acquired the next three books in the series. Although A Game of Thrones is epic fantasy, it reads a lot more like Bernard Cornwell’s historical fiction. Plus it has a dwarf.

4. Spade & Archer, by Joe Gores

I admit that, as far as hard-boiled detectives go, I’m a bigger fan of Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe than I am of Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. One of the reasons for this is that there are just more Marlowe stories out there; you get one chance to hang out with Spade and, for me, it just wasn’t enough to for any kind of connection. Spade & Archer gave me a chance to spend a little more time with Sam Spade. Here, Spade has just left the Continental Ops and moved to San Francisco to start his solo career. Gores manages to do something that Hammett couldn’t: he got me to connect with Sam Spade.

5. My Soul to Save, My Soul to Keep, and Reaper, by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers series)

Kaylee Cavanaugh–the teenage bean sidhe of Vincent’s Soul Screamers series–continues to be one of my favorite fictional characters. With each book in the series, Vincent adds more layers to her world of banshees, reapers, and demons. And, as a gift for her fans, Vincent recently released a novella starring Tod Hudson, reaper and dead brother of Kaylee’s boyfriend Nash. The next book in the series is scheduled to be released at the end of December or the beginning of January (reports vary) and I can’t wait.

6. City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments series)

City of Glass is the third book in Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. Initially the final installment in a trilogy (which has since been expanded to six books), City of Glass does a nice job of concluding the main conflict of the series, while leaving enough plot threads unresolved to form a believable bridge between the first three books and the next three.

7. The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan (The Kane Chronicles)

Set in the same universe as Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, The Red Pyramid introduces us to Carter and Sadie Kane, estranged siblings and descendants of Egyptian pharaohs. Riordan shows the same attention to detail he did when adapting Greek mythology for Percy Jackson; his portrayal of Egyptian myth and religion is not simply a rehash of Greek stories with different names–instead, the world of The Red Pyramid illustrates just how different Egyptian mythology was from the Greco-Roman myths that we’re most familiar with.

8. Cursor’s Fury, Captain’s Fury, and Princeps’ Fury, by Jim Butcher (Codex Alera series)

In addition to being one of the first fantasy series in a long time to actually hold my interest (I started reading these books before I read A Game of Thrones), Codex Alera provides an interesting counterpoint to Butcher’s Dresden Files series. While Dresden possesses powers in a world of (relatively) powerless individuals, Tavi–the protagonist of the Codex Alera series–is powerless in a society where everyone possesses the ability to control one or more natural elements. I also really enjoy how the world in this series is based on the Roman Empire, rather than the usual medieval Europe model found in a lot of fantasy.

9. The Hunt for Atlantis and The Tomb of Hercules, by Andy McDermott (Wilde and Chase series)

I have a degree in archaeology. This means that I was greatly affected by the Indiana Jones movies as a kid. That also means that I continue to be drawn to treasure hunting, action-adventure stories. McDermott’s series is just that. The first book, The Hunt for Atlantis, introduces us to archaeologist Nina Wilde and her ex-SAS bodyguard Eddie Chase. There are mercenaries and secret societies and betrayals. But, there’s also treasure. And deathtraps. And a spunky ginger archaeologist.

10. The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid’s Madness, and Red Hood’s Revenge, by Jim C. Hines (Princess series)

At some point within the last decade or so, someone decided that we’re going to rewrite classic fairy tales with either modern settings, modern sensibilities, or snarky social commentary. This is not what Hines has done with the Princess novels. Yes, he’s given somewhat twisted spins to the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, and Little Red Riding Hood. But, more than that, he’s turned these characters into action heroes. The three princesses of the series name–Danielle (Cinderella), Talia (Sleeping Beauty), and Snow (White)–are magical Charlie’s Angels, secret agents working for Danielle’s mother-in-law, Queen Beatrice. See, there was a reason why I tore through three of these books in one year. Now, when does the fourth come out…

7 responses to “Top 10 Books of 2010

  1. Thanks! Some of these are gong straight to my Goodreads 🙂

  2. Wow! Great list, I’ve been seeing all YA lists and its nice to see some that aren’t, I love Jim Butcher and need to get caught up on both his series.

  3. Liking Harry Potter less than Percy Jackson? I really don’t know about you sometimes 🙂

  4. Pingback: Year-End Roundup | Faust's Fantastic Forum

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