Thursday, December 9, 2010

Favorite Books, 2010

Time for my annual roundup of best books read.... Since I have blogged about many of these during the year, I will keep my comments short. Due to my 2010 TLA Lariat List reading duties, all titles are fiction, and quite by chance this year, all the authors are women.

The Postmistress (Putnam) by Sarah Blake. When a doctor leaves his small town on Cape Cod to volunteer in London at the start of World War II, in case of his death he leaves a last letter for his wife with the town's postmistress. Will the letter ever be delivered? Top notch historical fiction.

The Book of Fires (Pamela Dorman Books) by Jane Borodale. In 1752, pregnant and ashamed, 17 year-old Agnes Trussel flees rural Sussex for London, where she becomes an assistant to a fireworks maker. Will she lose her job when her pregnancy becomes known? Explosive, colorful and captivating.

Claude & Camille: a Novel of Claude Monet (Crown) by Stephanie Cowell. The unruly love story of Impressionist painter Claude Monet and his wife/muse, Camille Doncieux. An intense portrait of the Monets and the Parisian artists the surrounded themselves with.

Good to a Fault (Harper) by Marina Endicott. After a lonely woman crashes her car into the car of a homeless family, she invites them to live with her. Indeed, her life will never be the same. Heart-warming/heart wrenching story from Canada.

I Still Dream About You (Random House) by Fannie Flagg. At age 60, a realtor and former Miss Alabama has lost her interest in life. She plans her suicide, but a much coveted real estate listing keeps interfering. Spunky and oddly enough, humorous.

The Irresistable Henry House (Random House) by Lisa Grunwald. Raised as a practice baby in a college home economics program, Henry House has many mothers. How will this affect his life? Darkly comic.

The Brightest Star in the Sky (Viking) by Marian Keyes. When a spirit periodically visits a Dublin townhouse, the tenants are suffused with the expectancy of romantic change. What follows is a plenty of falling in and out of love as forces of fate and magic collide.

The Swan Thieves (Little, Brown) by Elizabeth Kostava. Psychiatrist Andrew Marlow tries to solve the mysteries surrounding his patient Robert Oliver, a prominent painter, who stopped speaking after attacking a painting in the National Gallery of Art. Contacting the women in Oliver's life, Marlow becomes deeply embroiled. A multi-dimensional, sweeping novel about art, love and obsession.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning (Ballantine) by Nancy Pickard. The man who went to prison for killing her father 23 years ago is back on the streets. Should Jody Lincoln believe new rumors of his innocence? Surprise and suspense electrify a small town in Kansas.

Still Missing (St. Martins) by Chevy Stevens. Realtor Annie O'Sullivan is kidnapped, impregnated and held captive in a secluded mountain cabin. Will she survive? A suspenseful first novel with many unpredictable elements.

I really miss having time to read nonfiction, especially memoirs. My Lariat List assignment will end in April of 2011 after we vote on our 25 favorite novels (main citeria: that the novels be a pleasure to read) at the TLA conference. Then I'll be free to read as I please. The Fed-Ex and UPS drivers will not be stopping by my house quite as often, delivering large quantities of Lariat fiction. It has indeed been a privilege to serve on this task force, as well as a real bonanza for books. Any fiction-loving Texas librarians who might be interested in turning themselves into Lariat reading machines, please feel free to contact me. In the meantime, happy holidays!

"Good fiction reveals feeling, refines events, locates importance and, though its methods are as mysterious as they are varied, intensifies the experience of living our own lives." - Vincent Canby

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