Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books From the Year I Started Reviewing
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. They created the meme because they love lists. Who doesn’t love lists? They wanted to share these list with fellow book lovers and ask that we share in return to connect with our fellow book lovers. To learn more about participating in the challenge, stop by their page dedicated to it and dive in!
This week’s topic: Top Ten Favorite Books From the Year I Started Reviewing
I’m always fascinated by how my tastes change over time, so with today’s theme being a Throwback Freebie, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my favorite books in the first year I started reviewing. It’s important to note this is actually before this blog existed. I’ve always been a voracious reader, but it wasn’t until 2010 or 2011 that I started getting into the habit of taking notes while reading, which was also around the time I started my Goodreads account and became more active in that community. It began with random notes here and there, and soon these little snippets gradually evolved into longer paragraphs until it led to me writing these full-blown reviews. And because all this is still on GR, I was able to take a look back at the kind of books I was reading at this time and see which 2010-2011 releases had me raving with excitement. What I find interesting is how some of these are still among my favorites even now, while others have lost a bit of their appeal over time. I’ve read approximately 1150 more books since then, and it’s amazing to see how those years and experiences have altered my opinions.
What I thought then: “I … loved how Ernest Cline described the relationships between the characters in the book. A lot of us online gamers can probably relate to the experience of making long-lasting friendships over the internet, the excitement and nervousness of meeting your online friends for the first time in real life but ending up connecting like you’ve known each other for years even though you’ve never met face-to-face until that moment, etc. I think [Cline] nailed that part perfectly.”
What I think now: Yep, still love this book. I remember first hearing about Ready Player One in the early weeks of its release because it was making big waves among my friends in the MMO gaming community, so that was how I came to pick it up. Awesome to see how its popularity has exploded since publication, and with the movie coming out soon.
What I thought then: “[Sanderson]’s a good storyteller, and his writing, while not too terribly elegant, is straightforward and undisguised without being too simplistic. I mean all that as a compliment; sometimes you just want to get to the meat of the story without poring over a page multiple times to contemplate all its artsy-ness or symbolic meanings. That stuff is for another time, another book. But when all I want to do is sit back and relax to enjoy an epic fantasy with a good story, The Way of Kings delivers.”
What I think now: Another book I still love to pieces. In fact, even now it sits at the top of my favorites-of-all-time list. The Way of Kings was only my second venture into Brandon Sanderson’s work after Mistborn, I had no idea then that he would become one of my favorite authors.
What I thought then: “This was simply a beautiful novel. While not exactly a heart-thumping page turner, it nonetheless had me enraptured with its story and characters every step of the way. At the heart of it, Lily of the Nile is a coming-of-age story, and it’s a unique one at that. It’s labeled as historical fiction, but I was surprised to find a thread of fantasy laced through the novel in the form of old magic, which sets it apart from other books I’ve read in the past.”
What I think now: I have fond memories of this book, and every time I see that gorgeous cover it still gives me the feels. This is still one of the best stories I’ve ever read about Cleopatra Selene and Ancient Rome, and I wish I had more time to read historical fiction these days.
What I thought then: “Themes in this book will be familiar to fans of fantasy. A boy on his journey to manhood. A lost prince fighting for his birthright. A tale of revenge. And so on. All wrapped up in this nice little package which probably won’t take you more than a few days to read. And yet, all these themes are laced with a twist. Prince of Thorns will probably be unlike any fantasy novel you’ve ever read. Like other reviewers have warned, this book is dark, and it is violent. You’ll likely be disgusted and repulsed by the main character, Jorg … The story, however, I found riveting. I love the style of the narration, and the author’s refreshing take on dark fantasy. If the book had been a little longer, I wonder if more of the world and the characters could have been explored.”
What I think now: This was Lawrence’s debut, and he certainly has become a force to be reckoned with ever since. I’ve read all his subsequent novels, and he’s just getting better and better.
What I thought then: “If you read the second book, the third one is a must. It. Is. Good. Again, perhaps not as strong as the first novel, but definitely in my opinion better than the second while providing it with a satisfying conclusion which answers all the questions and ties everything up beautifully as well. For the ending of this book alone, I feel both are worth reading. What a shame it is that the late Stieg Larsson will no longer bring us more adventures of Blomkvist and Salander. After finishing this book, I was actually overcome with a little sadness.”
What I think now: I guess this book made less of an impression than I thought, because I don’t actually remember all that much from it now. In truth, I don’t have much desire to check out the continuation novels by David Lagercrantz either, despite my past comments about more Blomkvist and Salander adventures.
What I thought then: “A historical fantasy set in far-away Kitai, a land inspired by Tang Dynasty China. One of my favorite books of all time is The Lions of Al-Rassan by Kay, so this fact along with my interest in imperial Chinese history made this book a must-read … As always, I appreciate the immense detail Kay puts into his books, which makes the world of Kitai come to life. The characters are believable — not perfect but definitely “human”. Anyway, I don’t want to spoil too much of it, just know I highly recommend this.”
What I think now: I still have a lot of love for this book, but I thought River of Stars (its companion novel set in the same world) that came out a couple years later was even better. In that sense, Under Heaven has become overshadowed somewhat.
What I thought then: “This was a total impulse buy that caught my eye as I was browsing through the bestsellers in the Kindle store. Told in the first-person point of view of a dog looking for his purpose, and has to be reborn several times to find it, one moment this book was making me laugh, and the next I was bawling my eyes out. It’s cute, funny, touching, and perfect if you’re looking for a casual and easy read. Dog lovers will enjoy it, and while I’m not big on the anthropomorphizing of animals, I still have to admit Cameron does a pretty good job of delving into a dog’s mind … You don’t have to own a dog to love A Dog’s Purpose, but for someone who does, it definitely makes you consider your role in your dog’s life and vice versa.”
What I think now: Not a lot has stayed with me from this book, but I do remember all the best scenes, especially those that made me cry tears of joy or sadness. Yes, it’s a fluffy read, but I still think it’s very cute.
What I thought then: “…I finished this 850 page monster in a little more than 4 days. Sure, the book had its ups and downs and there were some slow sections that really could have been cut out or filed down, but I plowed on through anyway. Perhaps the biggest surprise — and the biggest treat — for me was the love story in 11/22/63. You wouldn’t think romance was Stephen King’s forte, but wow, the depth of emotion and feeling he achieved here was very impressive. The last pages had me in tears. YES, A STEPHEN KING BOOK MADE ME CRY!”
What I think now: Probably one of my favorite Stephen King novels EVER, and I still rave about it to anyone who would listen. So good.
What I thought then: “Let me just say how much more I appreciated Kvothe as a character when he’s out in the world doing much more interesting things and not constantly worrying about making money. Here, I finally got a taste of the adventure I was looking for. And Kvothe, who was the arrogant, juvenile, slightly annoying character that I barely tolerated in [The Name of the Wind] finally began his change into the admirable protagonist I knew he would become. His actions and motivations became a lot more “real” to me in this book, making me like him more than I ever did in the previous one.”
What I think now: Sadly, the longer this series goes without news of the third novel, the more it’s fading from my mind and memory. I’d still be happy to read the next one, but I’m probably not as enthusiastic about it as I was back then.
What I thought then: “I had a lot of fun reading this book. I would say it is better than the average debut novel, but it is not without its problems. At times, Atticus can be a bit too smug for my taste, and some of the dialogue and references feel forced. It’s almost like the author is overcompensating in trying to make the readers buy that the protagonist is 2,100 years old successfully disguising himself by sounding like a 21-year-old college frat boy … I’m interested in seeing how things will turn out though. Like I said, it was a fun read, and it’s always refreshing to read a new urban fantasy novel that doesn’t suck. I will definitely be picking up the second book as well as the third.”
What I think now: I ended up fulfilling the last part of that statement, finishing up books two and three, but after that I took a break. Kevin Hearne is another author who has come a long way since this debut, and his Iron Druid Chronicles has become much beloved among UF fans, but like I said, the humor in the series can be too much sometimes and I found that I could only take Atticus in small doses.