[DWJ] Best books of 2010 list

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Mar 3 20:36:47 EST 2011

I didn't even assemble this list until the end of January, and then didn't
do anything about it, mainly because I was immediately caught up in my 2011
reading project*, but also because I have been writing a novel, so between
reading and writing I sort of forgot about 2010.

*Reviews posted on Facebook.  It's easier than maintaining a blog.

Still, better late than never, I suppose.

Best Books of 2010 (tie):
The Curse of the Wendigo, Rick Yancey
I Am Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells

I think I went through a very dark and bloody phase last year, because I
can't say I'm really that interested in horror fiction.  Except that neither
of these are strictly horror, as I understand the term.

_The Curse of the Wendigo_ follows Rick Yancey's new YA series, which began
with _The Monstrumologist_.  The hero is young Will Henry, 'apprenticed' to
Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, student of the bizarre and monstrous.  I've probably
raved before about how brilliant Yancey is, but _Wendigo_ reaches new
heights of brilliance, combining extraordinary scenes of brutality with the
tenderest moments of love and friendship.  This series is NOT for those who
dislike graphic violence, since Yancey appears to have an evil genius for
just the kinds of violent acts that are most horrifying.  I have had some
trouble explaining why these books are in fact YA when they are so very,
very graphic; they are actually one of the best proofs of my theory that YA
fiction is not *for* young adults, but *about* young adulthood.  Anyway, you
have been warned.

_I Am Not a Serial Killer_ is really not at all what I expected.  The main
character is John Wayne Cleaver (named for the actor, not the serial killer)
who is fascinated by serial killers because he suspects he could become
one--and therefore he has all these little behaviors and rules to keep
himself from that fate.  When a serial killer moves to his small town, John
sets out to find the man and stop him--and that's where the story gets
weird.  I picked the book up because Wells is my co-religionist and I try to
stay on top of the LDS publishing scene, but boy howdy was this book a
wonderful surprise.

Other really great books I read in 2010:
_Changes_ by Jim Butcher:  I appear to be one of the few people who had
unalloyed delight in the ending.  Pissed as hell about the delay for _Ghost
Story_, I know, it's nobody's fault, still mad at having my schedule messed
up. I used to be able to count on a new Harry Dresden book for my husband's

_Beautiful Creatures_ by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl:  I found this at
the library and brought it home for my husband, who is the urban
fantasy/paranormal romance addict in our house, and he made me read it too.
Highly emotionally charged, and while I'm looking forward to reading the
sequel, part of me really wants to know if the authors are going to keep
jerking me around like that.

_Enchanted Glass_ by DWJ: Duh.  I didn't care for the romance, but loved the
rest of the book.

_I Shall Wear Midnight_ by Terry Pratchett: Does anyone else feel like every
Pratchett novel we get after _Unseen University_ is a gift?  This one is
definitely one of my favorites.

_Confessions of a Tax Collector_ by Rick Yancey:  This is the best book
about the IRS you will ever read.  I swear it could become a movie with very
little effort.

Best (and saddest) New Series: the Jaz Parks novels by Jennifer Rardin.
They're really not great or noble fiction, but I enjoyed seeing a vampire
who could occasionally be less than cool, enjoyed a break from the
obligatory sex scenes endemic to today's UF, enjoyed how funny and sometimes
ridiculous the books were.  Unfortunately, Rardin died last year, and the
fact that she'd completed the series before that is cold comfort.

Best first novel: _Bitter Seeds_ by Ian Tregillis.  The man needs to get the
lead out and publish a sequel.  It was...sort of X-Men in the Third Reich.
Sort of.  Impressive writing and a good balance between history and fiction
made it stand out.

Best recommendation: _The Cardturner_ by Louis Sachar.  The source for this
recommendation is the guy who's either spot-on or way off the mark, so far
wide of the mark that it leaves me scratching my head and wondering if he
even knows what good fiction looks like.  _The Cardturner_ is in the first
category.  Who knew bridge could be so entertaining, or so accessible?  If I
read the book another, oh, fifty times, I might actually be able to play.
The only real problem with Sachar's books is that you always start by saying
"well, it's no _Holes_, but...."  I enjoyed the slight paranormal aspect of
the book, but overanalyzed the main character's relationship with the female
protagonist.  Excellent book, and I recommend it to anyone--even those of
you who have no interest in bridge.

And you know you were waiting for it...

Worst Book of 2010: _Soulless_ by Gail Carriger
Call me crazy, but somehow I expect the author of a steampunk book to know
the difference between Regency and Victorian culture.  It's got a cute
premise, but the main character annoyed me and the author annoyed me even
more.  Unfortunately I have a friend who loves the series, so I have to
restrain myself from ranting as much as I'd like.  (This book suddenly looks
a lot better now that I already have a candidate for Worst Book of 2011.)

The 2011 list is going to look a lot different.  As I said on Facebook, when
I discovered that nearly a third of my personal library was books I'd never
read, I decided to do something about it this year.  I read last year about
two women who set themselves a challenge to read ten books in each of ten
categories by 10/10/10.  I figured I could handle something like
that--except of course now it's 11 books in 11 categories by 11/11/11.  I
use a random number generator to pick which book I'll read next, and it's
been...interesting, so far.  Turns out writing uses up more time than I'd

Anyway, here's to 2011, and all the great books coming out this year!

Melissa Proffitt

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