Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favourite Reads of 2010

With the New Year quickly approaching, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect upon my favourite reads of 2010.   I read some great books this year, across a wide range of genres, but here are my particular favourites:

(1) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.   This was, hands down, my favourite read of 2010.  In fact, it's become one of my all-time favourites.   Mantel brings Thomas Cromwell to life in this novel, and I can't wait for the promised sequel!

(2) When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman.   For me, Penman can do no wrong.  This novel focused on the 12th century struggle between Stephen of Blois and the Empress Matilda for the throne of England, a struggle that lead to years of bitter civil war.    Well drawn characters, great history and a strong sense of time and place made this one a winner for me.

(3) The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham.   This novel focused on the life of Eleanor de Clare, a niece of Edward II and wife of Hugh le Despenser.   Like Penman, Higginbotham has wonderfully developed characters and gives the reader a real feel for noble life during Edward II's reign.  This was the first novel I've read of Higginbotham's, but it definitely won't be the last.

(4) The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer.  This fantastic work of non-fiction gives a wonderful account of everyday life in medieval England.   I can't recommend this book enough, and think fans of historical fiction would find this non-fiction book well worth a read. 

(5) The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley.   I love Susanna Kearsley's novels, and am surprised her works aren't better known.   This novel, which is set in Scotland at the site of archeological dig of an ancient Roman campsite, is part love-story, part ghost-story.   I couldn't put it down!

(6) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.    Rebecca is du Maurier at her best.   A must read for fans of Gothic literature.

(7) The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner.   Surprise, surprise, another work of historical fiction has made my best reads list :-)  Gortner's novel focuses on Queen Juana of Castile - daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, sister of Catherine of Aragon - and leaves the reader questioning whether Juana really was 'mad' as history has painted her.   Great book!

(8) The Distant Hours by Kate Morton.   Like Penman, Kate Morton can do no wrong in my eyes.   The Distant Hours is vintage Morton - atmospheric and beautifully written, with wonderful characters.

(9) I Am Number Four by Pitticus Lore.   Great YA sci-fi, which I don't normally read, that was hard to put down.  

(10) The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie Macdonald.   Set in Southern Ontario at the height of the Cold War, The Way the Crow Flies is another masterpiece by Macdonald.   I hope she writes another book soon!

So those are my favourite reads from 2010.   What were yours?