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Stand Out Books of 2010!

Welcome to the first annual Stand Out Books of the Year post!!!

As 2010 comes to a close today (by the way - Happy New Year!), it appears the final tally of how many books I've read for the year is: 95

Which is a total page count of: 28,727

Which leads to a daily page count of: 78

Among these are many, many, MANY books I have loved, liked a whole bunch, and overall enjoyed a ton. Not all of them are going to make this list. You may be surprised by some of the ones that are missing, but I can tell you right now that there are a number of titles that came really close to being on the list. This is not at all the only books I adored in 2010. Just the...

Stand Out Books of the Year!

First off, I need to make it clear that these books did not necessarily come out in 2010 - I just read them for the first time in 2010.

Second, I will not be listing them in any particular order.

Finally, this was a really, really good year for reading, so I decided not to limit my picks to any certain number. Th…

Shiver

Shiver is a YA paranormal novel, the first in a trilogy, that has received a lot of attention - written by Maggie Stiefvater.

When Grace was young she was pulled from the tire swing in her backyard into the cold, snowy woods behind her house by a wolf. She survived the attack, despite the numerous wolves biting and pulling on her small form. In fact, one of the wolves saved her - one with startlingly yellow eyes. To this day she can't remember how exactly he saved her, but every winter she stares out at the wolf - her wolf - and he always stares back. Her obsession is all-consuming.

Sam lives two lives. Every summer he is himself, a regular teenage guy with a part-time job and a love of reading poetry. But when winter comes he is a wolf, losing his human thoughts, but trying desperately to hold onto his humanity. It is in these cold times that he watches her. Grace. For six years he has only ever stood at a distance... but things are about to change.

When Grace and Sam finally speak …

Wish

Wish is a YA contemporary novel with a splash of fantasy, written by Alexandra Bullen.

Olivia Larsen has always been the quieter, more timid version of her vivacious, outgoing twin sister Violet. But Violet died, and now Olivia is a shadow of her already in-the-background former self. So when her parents' move the family to San Francisco, Olivia doesn't miss her friends, really. They were always more Violet's friends anyway. She's aware that she should be upset at the sudden move across the country, but she doesn't feel anything anymore.

However, when her mother invites Olivia to a cocktail party for her work, Olivia decides to go. She takes the beautiful, but torn, dress Violet had bought, but had never gotten a chance to wear, to a seamstress... hoping to feel closer to her twin. But instead of the repaired dress being sent back, a stunning, but different, dress arrives on her doorstep in its place. There's a magic to it. A literal magic, Olivia finds out, when…

Spray

Spray is a new YA suspense novel written by British author Harry Edge.

A target for you to track down. An assassin on your heels wanting to track you down. An entire city to hide in.

This is Spray, a pressurized water gun game that has become hugely popular throughout the world. There's only one winner, and some players get really into it. Maybe too into it.

Among the two hundred players and three weeks of game play there are certainly some people with ulterior motives. Told from multiple viewpoints, you may feel like you yourself are playing Spray.

All right my beloved bibliophile readers, I can only be completely honest with you. This premise did not fit my fancy. It felt like an odd concept, not real appealing to me based off the back cover description or its cover.

The game itself is sort of confusing, and I honestly had a hard time in finding the point in it. What kind of prize would motivate two hundred people to stop their lives, whether school or work, to get this into it? It&#…

The Sentinels

The Sentinels is the third and final book in the YA/middlegrade fantasy trilogy The Stone of Tymora - written by the father/son team, R. A. & Geno Salvatore.

Don't read the review of this book if you haven't read the first two. Instead, read my review of the first book The Stowawayhere. If you've read that, read my review of the second book, The Shadowmask, here. And get thee far away from this post before you find out spoilers!!!

Now, for those of you already fans of this fantasy adventure series - you already know all the trials poor Maimun has had to go through. Among them: dueling with a dragon and a demon, losing his stone, retrieving his stone, finding out that he is connected with the stone, realizing that the stone may cause danger and death to those he surrounds himself with, including his guardian Perrault, whom he loved.

Well, things aren't any better for Maimun now. Except that he has Joen for company this time. He's on the run again, but this time ru…

The Butler Gets a Break

The Butler Gets a Break is the sequel to Leaving the Bellweathers, a humorous middlegrade novel written by Kristin Clark Venuti.

If you have not yet read Leaving the Bellweathers, you may not want to read this review of the sequel. I, however, was unable to get a chance to read the first novel before reading The Butler Gets a Break and found it hilarious nevertheless. So you may be safe to learn more by reading below... Though of course I always recommend reading series in order whenever possible! Ditto to avoiding spoilers!!!

Benway, the well-educated butler of the eccentric, and quite often dangerous, Bellweather family, has only recently decided that he wants to continue to serve with the family when the ten-year-old triplets Brick, Spike, and Sassy inadvertently cause the poor man to break his leg as he descends the stairs. You see, they were experimenting with their new form of art: "negative space". This pretty much consists of cutting two stairs out of the staircase com…

Ruined

Ruined is a YA ghost story written by Paula Morris.

When fifteen-year-old Rebecca's father tells her that he is sending her to live with a faux-relative in New Orleans for part of the school year instead of going with him to China on his business trip, she's confused and hurt. It's just been the two of them since her mother died when she was very young, and they've never been apart nearly as long as he's suggesting. In fact, it appears that this decision pains him as well. Yet, before she knows it, Rebecca is settling in the post-Katrina New Orleans.

Though her tarot card reading "aunt" seems kind, her house is creepy - full of odd dolls and sculptures from different cultures, the sort of thing you don't want to stumble across when you want a glass of water in the middle of the night. Then there's the preppy, superrich crowd at the private school she's enrolled at, where apparently if you aren't somebody from New Orleans, you're nobody. …

Falling BAKward

Falling BAKward is another of YA sci-fi author Henry Melton's novels.

Jerry isn't the most social, athletic guy at his high school. But he has recently begun an interest in archaeology and exploring. That why when he notices an oddly perfect round patch of darker soil in his father's farming fields in a satellite image, he's curious. Soon enough he is digging - but what he finds isn't what he expects. Instead of Indian artifacts, he finds bones. But the bones... they aren't human. And they aren't from any animal he recognizes either.

This discovery is one Jerry quickly becomes obsessed with. But his obsession may put him in danger as he digs deeper and deeper - unearthing, perhaps, even answers to family mysteries that have been lingering for years, such as why his father's right hand is fingerless, why his uncle and dad rarely speak, and why the local Sheriff is always seeming to spy on him and his family.

But Jerry's going to find a whole lot more th…

Rise of the Darklings

Rise of the Darklings is the first book in a new middlegrade fantasy trilogy called The Invisible Order, written by Paul Crilley.

Victorian England is a daunting place when you're only 12-years-old and having to support your 9-year-old brother all by yourself. This is Emily's life after both her parents vanished years earlier. Things are tough for her, but she's determined to get them through it. That's why she's running to work that morning. That's why she took the shortcut through the alley.

That's why she saw the faeries.

It was a sight for delusional eyes, and she couldn't believe it. A war was happening right in front of her between creatures that in no way could be classified as human, or any other being of common-knowledge. And before she could think straight, two mysterious men - one extremely tall and thin, the other rather round and short - pop out at her, asking her odd questions.

She gets away, but her life changes.

Suddenly she is thrust into a…

A Practical Guide to Dragon Magic

A Practical Guide to Dragon Magic is a companion to the New York Times best-selling A Practical Guide to Dragons, written by Sindri Suncatcher, "The Greatest Kender Wizard Who Ever Lived" (a.k.a. Susan J. Morris).

This is guide for young wizards, or aspiring wizards that is! A Dungeons & Dragons book, this practical guide gives you tips on how to harness dragon magic for yourself - including, but not limited to, flying alongside your dragon on wings of your own, breathing fire, and casting spells. It teaches you about the different types of dragons, what makes each one special, therefore guiding you to your choice of dragon you want as your teacher!

After learning all of this fascinating information about dragons and your different options for becoming a dragon magic user - there is a quiz at the end to facilitate in your final decision of an apprentice.

Of course, based off the description alone you realize that this book is targeted for younger audiences. However, it is m…

The House of Dead Maids

The House of Dead Maids (head-turner of a title, huh?!) is a prequel to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, written by Claire B. Dunkle.

Little Tabby Aykroyd is hired and sent to Seldom House to be the nursemaid of a young boy that is none other than Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. He is a not a delightful, sweet child - he is savage and disturbing. Not only is her charge disheartening, but the house itself is eerie and strange and seems full of secrets.

But it is when a previous maid begins appearing, trying to share Tabby's bed that things become more dangerous. Because this maid is no longer among the living - but instead a dead, wet, sickly creature with empty eyesockets and a feeling of evil around her. And she might not be the only one...

I tried reading Wuthering Heights once and do own a copy. However, despite my love of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre I was unable to finish Wuthering Heights since I found the characters to be so despicable and unlikable that I couldn&#…

Courting Morrow Little

Courting Morrow Little is a Christian historical fiction romance written by Laura Frantz.

Morrow Little's family was torn apart when she was only five-years-old. Her mother and baby sister were murdered by raiding Shawnee warriors, and her older brother Jess was taken. Since that day it has just been Morrow and her father, a pastor and strong man of faith. Morrow has found it difficult to come to terms with the past or let go of the horrors of that day, as she and her father continue to wonder if Jess is alive out there somewhere and if he would even remember them.

But now Morrow is eighteen-years-old and her father's health is not doing well. His wish is to see her secured in marriage - but her choices range from those she has no feelings for, to those she dislikes quite a bit. And the one that she almost dares not to believe she is falling for is an impossible choice. What can she do?

First off - I have to say that the cover of Courting Morrow Little is lovely, it entranced me …

Uncle Eben's Christmas

Uncle Eben's Christmas is a modern-day, Christian retelling of the classic Dickens' tale A Christmas Carol - written by Stephen Alan Slater. (ISBN 978-193526538-2, Deep River Books, 2010, $12.99)

A new fiction twist on the story all of us know - Eben Johnson is the owner of a home-improvement store that is very successful, especially during the holiday season. In order to make sure and not offend any customers, he prohibits his employees from saying, "Merry Christmas." He continues to reject the idea of the Christmas story presented by his sister's church - until one evening he finds himself in the same position of Ebenezer Scrooge - taking a look at his past, present and future - and seeing if maybe he's made the wrong choice.

There is a festive flavor to Uncle Eben's Christmas - a short, 106 page tale for Christmas time. I really liked the cool storytelling method of keeping it in a detached third-person voice. The organization of the chapters and clever …

Scarlett Fever

Scarlett Fever is the YA contemporary sequel to Suite Scarlett, both of which are written by Maureen Johnson.

First off, you know what I always say when I review a sequel - avert thine eyes if thee has not yet read Suite Scarlett! Read my review of the first book here, and avoid some spoilers by passing this review up for a later time, eh?!

Okay... I am trusting that those of you book devouring deviants that are still reading this are those who have already read Suite Scarlett... hmm? Last chance to stop reading and avoid spoilers... Gonna start giving a synopsis of the plot of Scarlett Fever in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1!

Scarlett Martin, that witty, wild-haired, much-adored-by-me, fifteen-year-old protagonist of Suite Scarlett, has a fever. A non-literal one, that is. See, Hamlet has been running in the Hopewell (the art deco, small hotel her family runs and lives in) dining room for so long she had gotten used to seeing the cast all the time, one of which was the undeniably hot Eric, whom …

Suite Scarlett

Suite Scarlett is a YA contemporary novel written by Maureen Johnson.

Scarlett Martin lives in the Hopewell, a small but arty hotel in New York City. Her family owns and runs it - which includes the tradition of giving full responsibility of one of the eclectic rooms to each Martin when they turn 15. Scarlett gets the Empire Suite, one of the most expensive and least used suites at the Hopewell. But it very quickly becomes occupied when the highly unusual and wealthy ex-actress Mrs. Amberson moves in for the entire summer. Since the hotel isn't in the best financial times, pleasing Mrs. Amberson becomes the ultimate goal for the family. Unfortunately, this mission tends to fall at Scarlett's feet more often than not, since Mrs. Amberson seems to take a liking to her.

And before Scarlett knows it, what looked to be a boring and eventless summer of helping out at the Hopewell is turning into a crazy succession of events. Especially when she meets the too-good-looking-to-speak-prop…

Time Quadrants

Time Quadrants is an ebook-only anthology by YA sci-fi author Henry Melton.

This is a time travel science fiction sampler that was put out to whet appetites before the publication of Golden Girl. Since I've already read Golden Girl and loved it (read my review here), I was super excited to read this anthology.

It's four short stories, and overall only a little over 100 pages long - and well worth reading!!!

Let's break each story down, one by one, shall we?

Litterbug: This story centers on seventeen-year-old Jerry who helps to clean up near the railroad to make sure his small town is spotless before the President of the United States makes a short stop there. He finds an odd-looking candy bar wrapper that he tries to put through a gadget he has made to sort recyclables - yet for some reason it refuses to work, unlike anything he has ever experienced. What is it? Well, you gotta read it to find out, don't you? I don't want to say too much more since in short stories t…

Girl, Stolen

Girl, Stolen is a new YA thriller by author April Henry.

Cheyenne Wilder is sixteen-years-old and tired. She's waiting, sleepily, in the back seat of her stepmom's car as said-stepmother picks up the prescription that is meant to treat Cheyenne's pneumonia. She begged her stepmom to leave the keys in the car so that she could keep warm during the brief interval.

When Griffin sees the car keys in the expensive car, it is as if the car is beckoning to be stolen. He sees an opportunity to impress his father and create a big payday. He doesn't know that there is a sick girl in the back. He doesn't know that she's blind.

Everything turns from bad to terrifying as Griffin's dad realizes that Cheyenne's father is a rich president of a big company. Soon, Cheyenne faces the reality that she is going to have to somehow fight for her own survival.

Come on, bookworms. Tell me that synopsis doesn't send a chill up your spine. You know it does. At least it did mine. …

Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves is a YA paranormal novel by author Jennnifer Lynn Barnes that came out last June.

Bryn isn't like most fifteen-year-olds. She doesn't have a boyfriend, nor does she care that much that she doesn't. She doesn't obsess over her looks. She doesn't think about college. And, oh yeah, she was raised by wolves.

And not just regular, Discovery Channel wolves. Nope. Werewolves.

See, when she was four-years-old a "Rabid" werewolf attacked and savagely killed her parents. She was going to be next, if not for the last-minute rescue of Callum, the alpha of his pack. He took her in and had her raised as one of the Pack, despite her relentless humanness.

This life is all she has ever known, and despite her resistance to being "obedient" to Pack rule - the Pack is her family. But when her security is upped by Callum, her curiosity is peaked. Her search for answers brings her to a startling discovery: a newly turned werewolf, about her age, locked …

Contagion

Contagion is a YA historical mystery recently released and written by Joanne Dahme.

Eighteen-year-old Rose Dugan is finishing up her first year of marriage to her long-betrothed, powerful husband, Patrick. On the surface everything is going very well for her - wealth enough for everything she'd need or want and a wonderful best friend, Nellie, to bring light to her days. Yet things take a disturbing turn when intimidating letters begin turning up, threatening Patrick and Rose, demanding he stop his petitioning of big changes to the city's Water Works systems - changes that could mean even more money and power for Patrick - and the destruction of the beautiful site.

But as harmless as Patrick finds the letters, Rose finds them worrisome - and when someone quite dear to Rose is murdered while wearing her cloak, her worries are proven. Or are they? Could it have just been a robbery gone bad?

Rose finds herself enlisting the help of the good-looking and kind young man that maintains…

Lockdown

Lockdown is the first book in a new YA horror/thriller series Escape from Furnace, written by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Alex isn't a good kid. It isn't just that he's a moody 14-year-old boy. No, he made a decision a while back that he liked money... and he didn't always get his hands on it legally. He knows it's wrong, but Alex keeps on down this wrong track, until something happens. Something horrific.

Furnace Penitentiary was created as a way to dissuade minors from committing violent crimes, after a wave of atrocious acts were perpetrated by young offenders. People became suspicious and frightened of kids... But Alex knows Furnace is no threat to him. He would never hurt anyone. He just likes money.

But when during the burglarization of an empty home, he is framed for a monstrous murder he did not commit - he finds himself running from the police. Before he knows what is going on, Alex is caught, tried, and found guilty - and sent to the underground Furnace... where…

Blood on My Hands

Blood on My Hands is a YA thriller/murder mystery by author Todd Strasser.

It is with shock that 17-year-old Callie finds Katherine Remington-Day, her high school's most popular girl, dead in the dark woods during a keg party. Mindlessly, she finds the knife and Katherine's blood on her hands. Before she is fully aware of what is happening, her fellow classmates are snapping cell phone pictures of her in this guilty position.

She runs.

Callie knows she's innocent, but she doesn't trust the police to disregard all the evidence and believe her. She believes the only way to clear her name is to figure out who the real killer is. Before the police find her first.

Especially since, with her history with Katherine - she had motive.

But so did many others...

As a longtime fan of Joan Lowery Nixon when I was younger (I'm sure I'd still love all the novels if I were to reread them today), I was enthusiastic about reading Blood on My Hands, since it is a teen murder mystery. …

Mockingjay

Mockinjay is the third and final book in the Hunger Games trilogy.

First off I want to say that I am super sorry for it taking me so long to review Mockingjay. I know it was a big release, as it was for me too - and probably most of the book bloggers out there have already reviewed it. My main reason for the delay is a lack of good writing time and an influx of reading material. I read it many books ago, just haven't gotten the chance to write about it. And since I bought my own copy, other deadlines pushed this one down to a lower priority. So, sorry about that. But here it is! Finally! ;)

You know the drill, reader. If you haven't read The Hunger Games and/or Catching Fire (the first two books in the trilogy) do NOT, I repeat do NOT, read this review. Read the other reviews and read the books, you crazy bookworm! To read my reviews of those books, simply click on the titles.

I was not able to reread The Hunger Games and Catching Fire before Mockingjay, which is my usual custom…