For the Love of Books, Year in Review

A Decade of Reading| 2010-2019

The 2010s have been a formative year for me as a reader.  I’ve always loved books but I haven’t always been a reader.  It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and was able to choose the books I wanted to read that I truly became a voracious reader.  Then in 2011, I got a part-time job at my local library.  Through that job, I discovered new authors, new series, and even genres I’d never really considered before.  I also met many book lovers like myself.  One of those booklovers, a fellow librarian, introduced me to Goodreads.com and even though I had to leave the job when life intervened, I continued to make discoveries.  In 2015 I started this blog for a couple of reasons but mainly because I missed sharing my passion for good books with the patrons and librarians at work.  It has been a joy share the ups and downs of the reader’s life.  As the decade comes to a close, I thought I’d take the time to review some of the best and most important books I’ve read over the past 10 years.  I’ve tried to narrow it down, but I’ve read a lot of great books during the decade so bear with me.

Romance:   Sometimes you just need the comfort and escape of the modern fairytale quality of a good Rom/Com.  I discovered, however, that not all books that can be categorized as Romance fit into the mold of that stereotype.

Historical Fiction:  I love learning about history and while I understand that Historical Fiction takes liberties with the facts, it is a gateway to learning the true stories behind the fictionalized versions.  And who doesn’t love being transported to another place and time?

Fantasy:  Of all of the genres I read, this is the one about which my feelings have changed the most.  As a child, while I loved a good fairytale story, I tended to gravitate toward the wit and realism of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby series and then the young adult fiction of Judy Blume where the characters and their situations were recognizable.  Then came Harry Potter.  Ever since reading that seminal series, I’ve been searching for more Fantasy fiction that captivates me as Harry’s world did.

Children’s Literature:  It’s okay to look back when it comes to reading.  Whether it’s revisiting an old favorite or discovering a classic I’d missed when I was younger, there is nothing to warm the soul like reading a good children’s story.

  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum
  • The Star Seed by Mary Alice Fontenot *
    • This one, in particular, transports me back to my childhood.  The author was a local woman who made yearly visits to my elementary school where she would usually read from one of her Clovis Crawfish books.  I loved this sweet telling of the Christmas story as a child but it is difficult to find so a few years ago my friend surprised me with a copy for my birthday ♥.
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Western:  Since reading Lonesome Dove in college, I’ve been on the lookout for another as transporting as that classic.  Plus, when I find a good one, I get to share it with my father and sharing a good book is always fun.

Wide Open
Well-written western about a real-life incident

Mystery/Thriller:  Mystery is another genre I don’t read too much of though I do enjoy the occasional cozy mystery, particularly one set in Britain.  There are a few exceptions though.  I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.

Chick-Lit:  This is another genre that gets a bad rap but it is my favorite genre so it hurts when people put it down based a few crappy wannabe Chick-Lit novels.  I know about those; I’ve read more than my fair share of them.

Women’s Fiction:  Women’s Fiction, to me, is basically the Judy Blume books I loved as a teen all grown up, dealing with issues that all women face from the mundane to the extraordinary.

Fiction:  Some books just don’t fit into the mold of any one genre but I had to mention them.

Classic Literature:  These are the books that have endured in our hearts and minds for generations and make their way onto every must-read list ever compiled.

Miscellaneous: 

 

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Reviews

Review: Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3)

4 Stars

BlamelessI’ve written a lot about Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and its main character, Alexia Tarabotti so it should come as no surprise to readers that I love this series. I love the strong, unique main character, and I love the author’s wicked, witty voice.  As much as I love this series, though, I’m able to admit that the third installment, Blameless, was weaker than the first two books. Alexia Tarabotti is as wonderful as she ever was and that wicked wit which I love so much is there in spades as well as myriad moments of adventure and danger. With all of this, the weakest book in the Parasol Protectorate series is still better than some authors’ best books. It may also cause an intense craving for pesto sauce, which has some surprising benefits.  However, the absence throughout the bulk of the story of Lord Akeldama was keenly felt as was the lack of saucy interplay between Lord and Lady Maccon. I am looking forward to reading the next book, Heartless, as it promises to contain much more of both and I cannot wait to find out more about the infant inconvenience.

If you enjoy Blameless, you should definitely read the rest of the series, beginning with Soulless.  If, however, you’re looking for something with a similarly strong female protagonist but without the paranormal aspect, I recommend Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series.

Fantasy, Reviews

Review: Changeless

Changeless
Changeless by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

AAAARRGGH!! The second book of Gail Carriger’s delightful Parasol Protectorate series had all the qualities that made the first book, Soulless so wonderful – memorable characters, wicked dialogue, danger, mystery, and steamy romance. It might not have been quite as good as that first book. Particularly concerning the pacing of the story and the steaminess of the romance but it was a fun, frolicking read. But the ending ripped my heart out!

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Reviews

Goodreads | Shelly’s Year in Books

After a disappointing 2014 in which I read more than a book a week but didn’t really enjoy any of them, 2015 was a pretty good reading year for me.  I revisited an old favorite, finished a wonderful series, started a couple of new ones, and discovered some new authors that I plan on reading more of.  You can see the complete list of books I read this past year by clicking the source link at the bottom of the post but I’ll cover a few of the highlights here.

Early in the year, I read the beautiful first book of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series.

Daughter of the Forest

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1)

 

I will definitely be reading the rest of that series in the near future and anything else Ms. Marillier has written.  I read a couple of books written by favorite authors that were disappointing but no one can be brilliant all the time.  Right?  Then I slogged through Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

Robinson

Robinson Crusoe

 

I don’t recommend it.  At the recommendation of my mother and one of my librarian friends, I read Ruth Reichl’s first novel, Delicious.  That one I would recommend.  It has lovable characters, history, romance, self-discovery and lots of food.

This summer I finished Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy with the final book, The Book of Life.  

Book of Life

Book of Life (All Souls #3)

 

The All Souls trilogy is a magical series filled with romance, history, and magic.  My favorite installment of the series was the second, Shadow of Night because of all the historical characters Diana and Matthew encounter.  This summer, because I am a massive St. Louis Cardinals fan,  I deviated from my usual focus on fiction to read Mike Matheny’s wonderful The Matheny Manifesto.

matheny

The Matheny Manifesto is a must read for anyone with any responisbility of children

 

I continued Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next series with the second book, Lost in a Good Book, which I enjoyed much more than I had the first book of the series.  I also really enjoyed Katherine Reay’s second novel, Lizzy & Jane, which is a touching and humorous story of sisterly love.

Lizzy and jane

Lizzy & Jane

 

And I discovered Gail Carriger and her delightful Parasol Protectorate series; another new series I plan on reading more of this year.

With so many great reads from 2015, it should be difficult to choose my favorite but only one can be my favorite read of the year.  As it turns out, the choice wasn’t that difficult.  A couple of years after it was such a big hit with a slightly younger audience, I finally read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.  

Fangirl
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is my favorite book of the year!

I don’t remember the last time I identified so thoroughly with a character.  I recognized myself in Cath so I appreciated her journey of self-discovery and growth immensely.

Source: Goodreads | Shelly’s Year in Books

Reviews

Review: Soulless

Soulless
Soulless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been a long time since I’ve read a book this fun! I wasn’t sure I would like Steampunk but really this a good paranormal romance. The dialogue is witty, the characters are wonderful, and the story is suspenseful. It can get a little cheesy at times but that’s fun too. I was surprised by how steamy it got given the Victorian setting. Alexia Tarabotti quickly became one of my favorite characters. She is strong yet insecure – like all women, right? And she is intelligent and brave. I look forward to reading the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series to see what’s next for Alexia and Conall and all their friends.

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