As I’ve documented fairly well recently, 2010 was the year of teh suck in my reading habits (and erm, my blogging habits also). I read less than ever, and a lot of what I did read was forgettable. In compiling this list, I realized that quite a few of the novels featured women acting against societal norms and dictates, so I guess this was the year of Women Behaving Badly. But there were some high points and low points, and this post is the down and dirty on all of them.
The High Points
- The Hunger Games and Catching Fire: I was late to the party on the Hunger Games trilogy, and I didn’t even touch the series until after Mockingjay was released. That being said, I sat and read The Hunger Games in one Sunday morning, and Catching Fire over the course of the next few weeknights. I’m not in love with dystopian fiction, and I don’t think I am going to rush to pick up more of it, but I am so glad I stepped out of my normal box and read these books, because they were awesome.
- Something Borrowed and Something Blue: I don’t remember what made me pick these up. Back when I was a library assistant, I spent a lot of time looking at Emily Giffin’s books and thinking that they’d be a waste of time. And then I read these books. And I have to hand it to Ms. Giffin: it takes skill to make a fiance-stealing-hussy sympathetic, and even more skill to turn around and redeem the vapid-but-scorned-woman as well. I liked these books rather a lot, and ended up recommending them to my good friend and sometime partner-in-crime, Meagan, who in her turn loved them and recommended them to her best friend, who likewise loved them (it was a whole love-fest).
- Bad Marie: Speaking of making questionable characters sympathetic, that’s exactly what Marcy Dermansky did with the titular Marie in her novel. Marie was pretty much incapable of acting ethically. Fresh out of jail, she has an affair with her friend (and employer’s) husband and absconds to France with said husband and their two-year-old daughter. What follows is a journey that has Marie acting worse and worse, but the reader can’t help but love and root for her.
- Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: I loved both of these novellas about older working-class spinster women finding themselves making waves in high society. Mrs. Harris is delightfully charming as she takes Paris by storm in her quest to own a Dior dress on a charwoman’s salary, and Miss Pettigrew hams it up as she goes to accept a post as a governess with Miss La Fosse, only to find herself managing the social and emotional entanglements of Miss La Fosse and her friends.
The Low Points
- The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy: Ugh. I think this is far and away the worst novel I read all year. I have a love-hate relationship with Austen sequels and reinterpretations, but given my new career as a paralegal, I was excited about having the characters of Pride and Prejudice relocated to the California courtroom. I should have known better. This book hurt my head on so many levels, and I was severely disappointed by the interpretation of an old favorite story.
- Schooled: I feel a bit like I’m beating a dead horse by listing this as a low point, but of the books I read this year, this was not among my favorites. I’d give this author another chance, but this book was dripping with so many designer names I felt like I was reading an ad for certain couture labels. And for the place I’m at in my life right now, that’s just not what I am looking for in a novel.
The Meh Points
- Mockingjay: My reaction was not nearly as violent as others around the blogosphere. Some people loved it and some people hated it, and I was perfectly indifferent. It wasn’t a bad book, but to me it didn’t live up to the hype.
- The Betrayal of the Blood Lily: I hate having to include this novel on my “meh” list. I’ve been a big fan of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series for a long time, and for me, the series was becoming stronger with each book- The Temptation of the Night Jasmine was my favorite of the series. So I had high hopes for Blood Lily, and the disappointment was strong when it didn’t deliver. It’s the novel that has moved the farthest away from the Pink Carnation storyline, and Penelope was probably the most annoying heroine of the series. She certainly qualifies as a woman behaving badly, but it just didn’t work for me. That being said, I very much enjoyed the Christmas interlude of The Mischief of the Mistletoe. I am a long way from giving up on this series, and I am excited for the publication of The Orchid Affair later in January.
So there you have it for 2010. I’ve read a grand total of 30 books, and I don’t really anticipate finishing any others before the end of the year (well, maybe Dark Moon of Avalon, because I’m close to the end. But not likely anything else).