Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Every year, I watch as one magazine or newspaper after another picks the "Best Books of..."  And, I always disagree with their choices.  Some are too boring.  I've never heard of some of the titles.  My patrons would never read some of those books.  Where are the books that were just loved for one reason or another? 

Back in July, I posted a list of my favorite books read in 2010.  Four of those books made this final list of my favorite books published or read in 2010.  They have nothing to do with anyone else's lists, just the books I loved this year.   Even though they're my favorite books, the list might give you a few last minute Christmas ideas.  And, since I'm on vacation beginning tomorrow, for the next ten days I'll be reprinting my reviews of these books, with updates as to their status.  (But, don't worry.  I'll still be reading and answering comments.) I may drop a new review in now and then, if I have time to read and post.

My list is topped by Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.   It's hard to believe the book came out in 2010, since I read it in August, 2009 for a Library Journal review.   But, this wonderful story of CeeCee, the young girl with a troubled past, who was taken into the hearts of a wonderful group of women in Savannah, came out in 2010.  It made the New York Times Bestseller List, and it's now out in paperback.  So, if you haven't read it yet, or know someone who loves books set in the South, you might want to pick this one up.

Robin Brande has only written two YA novels, but I loved both of them.  And, I could identify with Fat Cat.  When I reviewed this story of a girl who suffered in school, many of my readers wrote in to tell of their fears in school.  Cat was a science whiz who changed her lifestyle for a project, and to show up the boy who was her best friend until she heard him call her fat.  It's a book that spoke to my heart.

Do you know Barbara O'Neal's books?  O'Neal used to write as Barbara Samuel, and her books under either name are wonderful women's novels.  I hesitated to put her book, The Secret of Everything, on this list, because she has a new book coming out December 21, How to Bake a Perfect Life.  What if I like it even more than The Secret of Everything?  I guess it doesn't really matter.  In The Secret of Everything, a tour guide who had a tragic accident, ends up in a New Mexico town where she finds the secrets of her childhood.

God Never Blinks by Regina Brett makes this list for so many reasons.  This was a book that hit home after Jim died.  It's written by a newspaper columnist who offer 50 lessons for life's little detours.  The book has lessons for life, no matter where you are.  I used memorial money to buy copies of it for all of our libraries, buying it in memory of Jim, because I thought it was so important.  My mother gave a copy to the hospital library.  It's a book for crisis, grief, changes in life, or, as the author says, "life's little detours."

Deborah Coonts' Wanna Get Lucky? makes the list as my favorite debut crime novel of the year.  Suspense, humor, and a little romance.  Perfect.  Lucky O'Toole, the troubleshooter at a Las Vegas casino, has her hands full handling the body that fell from her casino's helicopter, her boss, her unusual mother, and her boyfriend, Teddie.  All in a day's work.  And, if I get lucky, Deborah Coonts will be able to fit a visit to Authors @ The Teague in her February calendar.

My favorite book in an on-going mystery series is Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny, who somehow manages to get better with every book.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is on leave in Quebec City in a story that describes that winter setting beautifully.  While he agrees to look into a death, he also investigates the secret of Champlain's missing body and ponders a recent tragic mistake.  Penny manages to juggle three storylines in her latest masterpiece. 

My favorite finale to a series was Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay.  It's the last of the Hunger Games books, and the rebellion against the Capitol has finally happened, with a reluctant Katniss as the symbol of rebellion.  There's no short summary that can do adequate justice to this strong series.  But, it was a series that attracted readers of every age and both sexes.  I turned my copy over to my nephews, seventeen and twenty-five, after I finished it. 

My discovery of the year was Lisa Genova.  When I received her novel, Left Neglected, to read for Library Journal, I also went back to read her book, Still Alice.  One book has to deal with a disorder called Left Neglect.  The other tells the story of a Harvard professor who discovers she has early-onset Alzheimer's.  Genova, with a PhD in neuroscience, uses her scientific background to take readers into the minds and hearts of women suffering from disorders.  These two stories were beautiful, as women triumphed even in tragedy.

And, my final favorite of the year was a picture book, one that is not available as an e-book, which gives you a hint.  It's a book that, unfortunately, might represent the past in a few years.  I hope not.  I shared this book with co-workers, family, and loaned it to my sister to take to her workplace.  It's funny, while also being a little scary.  It's Lane Smith's It's a Book

I've read 175 books so far this year, but these are my top ten.  Not necessarily ones that top the "Best of" lists, but my favorite books of 2010.   I'm looking forward to 2011, and more book treasures.



Dizzy C said...

Saving CeeCee was one of my favourites this year too.


kathy d. said...

What a great list of books.

I will note several down in my TBR in 2011 list.

Have an excellent vacation, and we'll still be here reading the blog and commenting.

Will you be reading on your vacation? And then blogging about it "next year"?

bermudaonion said...

Great list! I included Saving CeeCee Honeycutt in my favorites last year since that's when I read it.

Lesa said...


I'm glad you liked Saving CeeCee Honeycutt as much as I did!

Lesa said...

Hi kathy,

I'll still be around. I just don't know how much time I'll have for reading. My mother is coming in, and we're going to enjoy each other's company. She's a reader, too, though, so there may be time. I just didn't want to commit to blogging every day.

Anything I read will be posted.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kathy.

I included CeeCee on this year's since it was published in 2010, and most of my readers would have read it then, if they did. If not, there's that paperback available!

Janet Rudolph said...

What a great list! Eclectic and fun..

Lesa said...

Thanks, Janet. I just can't identify with those lists in most magazines and newspapers. I do identify with the Readers' Law in the book Genreflecting. "Never apologize for your reading taste." This is what I like to read.

Beth Hoffman said...

Oh my goodness! I'm tickled that CeeCee is among your favorites for the entire year. What a wonderful surprise, and what a joyous way for me to enter the Christmas season.

Thank you so very much, Lesa. Oletta and CeeCee are waving hello to you from the kitchen!

Lesa said...

Good morning, Beth! And, this is me waving back to them. I bet Savannah just looks beautiful in the Christmas season. And, CeeCee tops that list, Beth! Merry Christmas!

Bev Stephans said...

Great list Lesa! You have steered me to so many new (to me) authors this year and I want to thank you for it.

Have a great time with your mother.

Mary said...

I read an arc of The Secret of Everything last December and immediately popped it on my 2009 Favorites list. I really liked it.
I read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt in January (I think) and it will be on my 2010 Favs. List.
Oooh, I see God Never Blinks - I listened to that and really liked it. The author did a wonderful reading of the book.
Great list, Lesa :-)

Lesa said...


You don't know how much pleasure you bring me when you tell me I've steered you to new authors. Thank you so much. I hope I can continue to do that in the new year.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Mary! Much more my type of list than the "Best of." This is the "Favorites."

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Fantastic list of books! Several of my favorites are on this list...and you've helped me find them. :)

Kay said...

This is a great list, Lesa! Several of the books on it were on my favorites list this year as well. I'm looking forward to reading the new Lisa Genova book. BURY YOUR DEAD just blew me away. Truly. That Louise. Such a massive talent.

By the way, my afternoon book group was most appreciative of receiving copies of your post about Book Club Suggestions. They were thrilled to have so many books to check out and some to look forward to. I pointed them at your blog as well, but most of them are not mystery readers. :-)

I hope that you and your Mom have a wonderful time together and that your vacation is restful. Hugs to you and my wishes for joy in this holiday season. I know that it will be bittersweet at times, but there's always those "silver linings" - like your Mom! LOL

Kris said...

There are some on here that are already on my wish list. I agree about Saving CeeCee Honeycut too...one of my favorites for this year also. I just read Hunger Games recently, so while I won't read Mocking Jay until next year, I'm highly anticipating it.

Enjoy your time off!

Kaye Barley said...

What a wonderful list!! Not surprising - I see a couple of my faves on your list, Lesa!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Elizabeth! I'm so glad I could help you find some books and authors that you enjoyed. I know you're so connected to the book world, so I'm happy I could introduce you to something new!

Lesa said...

What a wonderful note, Kay. And, I know you understand how the season can feel at times. I'm sure you went through this. But, my mother definitely is a silver lining. And, I talked to her tonight. She made it to my sister's just fine. Was a little worried about roads. So, she's part way here!

I should talk to you about that mystery angle, considering how many of my favorite books were NOT mysteries this year! I'm sure your book club readers might still enjoy some aspects of my blog since I don't always cover mysteries. Thank you for giving them my list, and suggesting the blog!

Lesa said...

Wasn't Hunger Games terrific, Kris? Suzanne Collins' series is just wonderful. You won't be disappointed in the other two books.

Lesa said...

I know there are a couple of your favorites on this list, Kaye! How can we resist? A couple very special authors, too.

Deb Coonts said...

Lesa: Thanks so much for including lucky!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Deb. My pleasure!