Posts Tagged ‘books read in 2010’

10th January
2011
written by Steph

Playing a bit of catch-up, The Wilding is the last book I need to review from 2010. I read the bulk of it while up in the winter wonderland that is Minnesota, which seemed like the perfect setting for a novel that is largely set in the great outdoors in the very heart of nature. I must admit that were it not for Indiespensible, I never would have heard of this book, never mind have picked it up, but this is why I love that program! It’s constantly exposing me to books that would otherwise fly under my radar or not immediately appeal. This was a ripping read, full of plenty of suspense and tension so I’m definitely glad I read it. (more…)
3rd January
2011
written by Steph
It seems like most bloggers (including myself) have vowed to try to read books they already own for at least the first three months of the year. So clearly the best thing I can do is highlight two new releases to tempt y'all to fall off the wagon post-haste! In the newest issue of BookPage, Tony and I both have reviews up of two pretty great books that it would be a shame for you to miss out on.

First up: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. Tony reviewed this one because he is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan (who isn't, really?), and the premise of two stories - one involving Sherlock's creator Arthur Conan Doyle, and one in modern times involving a society of Sherlock devotees - that interweave was certainly intriguing. At a time of the year when reading time is hard to find, Tony managed to make plenty of time to plow through this book, which offers plenty of twists and is a lovely homage to one of literature's most beloved detectives. To read more of his (far more eloquent and penetrating) thoughts on this read, read his full review here.

Next: The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, which I was super excited to snag for review. If comparisons to Jane Austen are my number one kryptonite, than comparisons to Tana French come in a close second, so I knew I just had to give this thriller a whirl when such parallels began to be drawn. This is one of those "murder in reverse" type tales, one where we know what crime has been committed and by whom (or so we think), and the bulk of the novel is spent detailing the events that lead up to the crime in question. I'm a big fan of books that are able to maintain suspense after laying down a high card so early on, and this one works really well, especially because Kelly flits back and forth between past and present. This is one of those books that keeps raising the stakes and picking up speed as it goes on, so don't be surprised if you gulp it all down in a single sitting. For more of the nitty grity on plot and whatnot, check out my full review here! Both really good reads and I wouldn't blame you if you broke your TBR resolve to pick up either of them! I'm just thankful we already have our copies! 😉
31st December
2010
written by Steph
Now with more charts and graphs! Yeah! 😀 I have been eagerly awaiting writing up this post because I love making charts and graphs and looking at stats. I definitely put the nerd in "Book Nerd"! I was going to start writing this up while we were in Minnesota, I decided I would wait until the very last day of the year so that this post would be as official as it gets. And I'm glad I did because we managed to sneak one more book onto the list, as I read the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, aloud on the way home in the car (verdict: Unsatisfying and infuriating, especially as there were glimmers of the possibility for it to be rather good. So, pretty much on par with the rest of the series, though perhaps slightly less annoying than the other two). So my procrastination paid off, and clearly the lesson here is this is why one should not write up year-end recaps before the year is out! Anyway, enough with the waffling... let's get to the numbers and pictures! (more…)
14th December
2010
written by Steph

Today is a momentous day, gentle readers, for today is the day I can claim to have lost my Sarah Waters virginity. It was a long time coming since there’s hardly a book blogger out there who doesn’t rave about her books, and yet I bided my time to see what all the fuss was about. Whenever I would see her books at McKays I’d always pick one of them up, but then I would pause and wonder if I was ready for Sarah Water’s jelly. I finally decided I need to take the plunge and picked up a copy of her first novel, Tipping the Velvet. The rest, as they say, is history. Tipping the Velvet tells the story of Nancy Astley, a young girl living in Victorian England who comes from Whitstable where she works in her family’s oyster parlor. Nan enjoys attending the local theater that puts on variety shows, and one evening she becomes completely captivated by a young masher (male impersonator) named Kitty Butler. Mesmerized by Kitty, Nancy attends the theater every night until her frequent visits finally capture Kitty’s attention. The two swiftly become thick as thieves, and Nancy is all too willing to throw over everything she has ever known in order to be with Kitty, desperately longing for more than friendship. Together the two head to London so that Kitty can further her career, and Nancy soon has her eyes opened to worlds she never dreamed existed, while also learning that following your heart and being true to yourself can sometimes be the hardest thing. (more…)
8th December
2010
written by Steph

Why oh why don’t more people read Kate Atkinson? That is what I found myself wondering as I put down my most recent Atkinson novel, Emotionally Weird, a novel I can really only describe as a triumph of literary imagination. I know that some people get all in a tizzy over Atkinson’s detective fiction starring Jackson Brodie, but I admit that this always makes me grumpy, mostly because I think Atkinson’s non-mystery fiction is so superior. And I’m not just trampling on her whodunnits for the sake of being crabby; I legitimately think Atkinson writes whip-smart novels that make me giddy and make me marvel but I think she does her best work when she’s writing whatever this kind of novel is and not when she’s writing about smoking guns and missing persons and whathaveyou. She’s one of those authors who uses her books to truly create something that’s just slightly larger than life, which means her writing is always a real treat to escape into. (more…)
1st December
2010
written by Steph

What a beautiful thing it is...

If you're at all like me, you've probably never taken Steve Martin as an author very seriously. I mean, am I really meant to believe that a man who willingly stars in Cheaper By The Dozen is capable of writing quality literature? Actually, as it turns out, the answer is a resounding: Hell yes! I know that many bloggers have been charmed by Martin's previous novella, Shopgirl, but I admit I never felt I needed to read it despite their praise. Now, I'm going to do something I pretty much never do and say that I was wrong. Because while I can't say anything about the merits of Shopgirl as I still haven't read it, I can say that An Object of Beauty, Martin's latest literary offering is a damn good read. More than just a pretty cover, this book is a fascinating (if fictional) trek through the rise and fall of Lacey Yeager and the New York art scene, something I didn't think I cared about, but apparently I do. And you will too if you read this book! Because it is really good! It's definitely got an old-fashioned vibe to it, but doesn't feel dated or stodgy, just like one of those books that's a walloping good read in the great American literary tradition. I liked An Object of Beauty so much that it is actually BookPage's top pick for the month of December! For more gushing, you can read my full review online here. I compare it to The Great Gatsby, and not in a hyperbolic way. This is one 2010 book that you do not want to miss out on!
23rd November
2010
written by Steph

To all you chick lit/rom com lovers out there: Don’t say I never do anything for you! While I admit that the number of reviews here at S&TI! that feature the fluffier and zanier side of an estrogen-filled life as featured in books with pretty little high-heeled shoes on their spines is somewhat lacking, I wouldn't want anyone to think that’s because I have a vendetta against the genre. Far from it. I know that the Bridget Jones series has gotten some flack over the years, but I unabashedly admit to loving the books (it’s one of the few “Jane Austen inspired” spin-offs I can get behind) and the movies. I’ve also read the majority of the Shopaholic books, and no one knows better than Tony how much I dig sitting down to a girly movie like The Devil Wears Prada or The Prince and Me (surely a prime example of the “so bad it’s good!” school of movie making). Heck, When Harry Met Sally is one of my very favorite movies. I have been known to watch it on loop, laughing EVERY time. Some may call that boring, but I find it comforting. The same can be said for chick lit. I don’t read much of it any more, largely because I have found that I tend to prize prose and innovation in my recent reading material over the past few years. I think there are things that chick lit does very well, but one thing I tend not to find it is very surprising. Normally by reading the back cover, one has a pretty good idea of how things are going to shake out by the end, and while I do think there are authors out there who take a rather inventive approach to the genre (Emily Giffin is one such author, in my opinion), most of the time I find most chick lit formulaic. You have a sassy (if not clutzy or down-on her-luck) heroine who for various reasons cannot find Mr. Right (normally because she is currently involved in some capacity with Mr. Wrong). Throughout the course of the novel, said heroine goes on a journey of self-discovery that involves not a few embarrassing situations but it all pays off in the end because she miraculously manages to snag a man (or a job) who loves her “just as she is”. Cue the end credits and bump in one’s ovulation cycle and the novel has delivered all it has set out to do. We’ve laughed, maybe we’ve cried, but mostly we’ve been entertained, perhaps in a predictable and slightly mindless way, but hey, sometimes that’s what one needs. (more…)
18th November
2010
written by Steph

Is Salman Rushdie one of those authors on your bucket list? You know the ones, authors you've always meant to read, but the sight of their name in print causes your timbers to shiver and your blood to run cold. You see the word "Rushdie" and immediately other words race to mind: "Satanic Verses", "fatwa" and even more chilling "Booker Prize winner". If any of these statements apply to you, then we have good news for you: Luka and the Fire of Life is now in stores and waiting for you to read it! This is Rushdie as written for kids (or young adults), but accessible and enjoyable for adults too! Not ready to test the waters on your own? No worries! Tony read and reviewed Luka for the December issue of BookPage, but you can read his thoughts on the book online right now, right here! This book would probably be a great introduction to all you Rushdie scaredy-cats out there, but it's also satisfying storytelling for those who've already braved the man and lived to tell the tale. I personally have been wanting to add a little more Rushdie to my life, so I'll likely be picking this one up soon myself. Head on over to BookPage and check out Tony's review for all the details and be sure to let us know what you think!
16th November
2010
written by Steph

While Sweden seems wintry and cold in so many ways, the one way in which it seems to be blazing hot is on the crime fiction front. With the insane popularity of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, authors with umlauts (how’s that for the name of a federation?) have never been so well-read. Poor Helene Tursten, may not have any fancy diacritics gussying up her name, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out her crime novels. I admit that “Detective Inspector Huss” is not necessarily a title that’s going to immediately pique your interest, but just as we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, we should also probably refrain from judging them based on their titles… If you like novels that involve: drugs, sex, explosions, conspiracies, political agendas, and awkward translations, then this is the book for you!  When financial tycoon, Richard von Knecht plummets from his balcony onto the pavement below, all signs point to suicide. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that von Knecht didn't jump to his death, he was pushed. Enter Sweden's Violent Crimes division and detective inspector Irene Huss, who begin to look into von Knecht's increasingly suspicious - and dangerous - death. With an itinerant bomber on the loose, clues and suspects are being erased at a frightening pace... The clock is ticking for Irene and colleagues to crack the case, but to do so, they may have to take a few risks... (more…)
2nd November
2010
written by Steph

This month, we've got a bounty of books for you to discover over at BookPage! In the November issue, Tony reviews the newest Dennis Lehane novel, Moonlight Mile, which is a must-read for any thriller/mystery buffs out there. I can say from personal experience, that Tony devoured this baby in two sittings, greatly neglecting his wife in the process... but isn't that what great books are all about? Making spouses jealous (because they aren't the ones reading said book... )? 😛 Check out his review in full here!

Also, I have a bunch of web-exclusive content that is now up. For fans of creepy Victorian era fiction (and really, who doesn't like that kind of stuff?), you might be interested in checking out my interview with Kathe Koja, where I ask her about her newest book, Under The Poppy. Koja's book is set in Brussels during the 1870s and involves brothels and puppet shows, amongst various other things... As if that wasn't enough of a reason to check out the interview, Koja is a Sarah Waters fan... Read her thoughts on historical fiction, the appeal of YA novels, and more here!

I also did a brief and extremely fun Q&A with author, Tilar J Mazzeo regarding the iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5, which is the focus of her newest work of non-fiction, The Secret of Chanel No. 5. Definitely something to read if you're hoping to add a little decadence to your life. Find out what goes into researching the most popular and intoxicating perfume across the ages, by reading the interview here.

Last but not least, I also reviewed Rose Tremain's most recent novel, Trespass, which you can read here. I'd never read anything by Tremain prior to this, but I loved the fast-paced narrative, lush French countryside setting, and the dark, disturbing secrets that she wove together here. I'll definitely be checking out more Tremain in the future!
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