It’s that time of year where I need to find the gold suit at the back of the wardrobe, brush it off and present my best cheesy smile as I look back at 2010 and name my favourite reads.
The focus of my reading in 2010 was on new fantasy authors. I wanted to see who was doing what to get a current snapshot of the industry. It meant I was very good at reading the first book in a series, then leaving the rest whilst I tried out someone else. I think 2011 will be the year of sequels as I have a load of them in my TBR pile.
But here are my three favourite reads of 2010:
Retribution Falls by Chris Woodling – What I love about Retribution Falls is that it’s a fun book. And there’s a lot to be said for a book that makes you just want to read rather than try and pick it apart (as my brain is hard-wired to do). I’ve heard it said by more than one person that YA is where all the interesting stuff is happening in genre fiction these days, and if that’s true then Retribution Falls feels like an adult YA novel (if such a paradox could exist). It’s mix of fast paced action, interesting characters and engaging story just whisk you through the pages. In an age where fiction “has to challenge” it sometimes feels that “fiction that entertains” gets forgotten. Retribution Falls certainly entertains and I look forward to reading more of the series in 2011.
Tome Of The Undergates by Sam Sykes – What I find fascinating about this book is the number of people who don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong, there are those who dislike this book for many justifiable reasons. But I saw a lot of accusations of this book not living up to its marketing promise and thought that a little harsh and unfair. It’s one thing not to like a book (and we all have different tastes) but to criticise it for not being something else just feels like people have missed the point.
It’s not a perfect book and let’s be honest and say there were times where I felt it just needed a bit more polish, but Sykes writes wonderful prose and I loved the character interplay. It’s a fun book, almost like a really great comic book; something which you feel isn’t allowed in fiction any more.
I’m hoping that if Sykes can build on Tome, more people will start to get and enjoy his novels, because boy, has he had a rough ride of it in 2010. He has potential, which makes me hope he can make the jump my first placed novelist did.
City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton – I spent a lot of time this year (because I ‘think’ so much sometimes I should list it as a hobby) wondering if I liked books because I like the authors or whether I liked the authors because I like the books. If I’m honest, I’m still not entirely sure; it’s probably a bit of both. But I’m convinced I would have liked the books on this list as much had I not met the authors.
I liked Mark’s first book, Nights of Villjamur, but had issues with some of the dialogue. Like Tome of the Undergates, it showed promise even if I felt it “wasn’t quite there”. But City of Ruin was something else. We often say that sometimes a book “just isn’t for you” meaning it’s a good book but not one you’d enjoy. However City of Ruin “was for me” and I absolutely loved that book wholeheartedly. It just seemed to tick all my boxes and for someone who is a very fussy reader, I never found myself getting bored. Probably my favourite book since The Lies of Locke Lamorra.
Honourable Mentions – I read a lot of good books in 2010. My choices are entirely personal, not ones that need to be justified by neutral critical appraisal. Wolfsangel by MD Lachlan was a very entertaining read, a sort of literary werewolf novel. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson might be considered by some to be the ‘Da Vinci Code’ of crime fiction, but it pulled me into crime fiction where other books had not. The Painted Man by Peter V Brett proved to be a very enjoyable novel that seemed larger than its pages. I’d recommend these books without hesitation.