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Sunday, July 4, 2010

2010 at Half

While this year I have done several posts about favorite novels so far, as well as updating my (collated) 2010 Anticipated Book Post with short reports and links to the full reviews when available for 61 of the 90-100 books mentioned there, I decided to do a half-year post too. I read some 97 books published in 2010 so far and I will focus on those.

There are five novels that blew me away and will compete for the top spot in their category and overall at the end of the year. A series debut, three standalones and a series finale. There are several series continuation books that raised the respective series a notch higher or confirmed it as big time favorite. Then there are the series debuts - some also author debuts - that impressed me a lot and whose sequels will get pride of place in the next year anticipated list.

At the end I will mention several books that either disappointed me to an extent or annoyed me badly.


The Top Five in Order of Reading:

The Folding Knife by KJ Parker - fantasy, standalone, my number two anticipated novel of 2010 (full rv)

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell - literary historical fiction with a touch of the fantastic, standalone, my top non-sff anticipated novel of 2010 (full rv)

The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton - sf, series ending and another Top 10 Anticipated 2010 Book (full rv August, short take HERE)

Cold Magic by Kate Eliott - fantasy, series debut, came out of nowhere with no expectations (full rv September, short take HERE)

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer - literary historical fiction, standalone and author's novelistic debut, came out of nowhere (full rv)


Series Continuations That Raised the Series One Notch or Confirmed it as a Big Time Favorite

City of Ruin by Mark Newton - fantasy, #2/4, Top 10 Anticipated (full rv)

Salute the Dark by Adrian Tchaikovsky - fantasy, #4/10 (full rv)

The Emerald Storm by Michael Sullivan - fantasy, #4/6 (full rv)

A Mighty Fortress by David Weber - theoretically sf but close in spirit to traditional epic fantasy, #4/??, my number five anticipated novel of 2010 (full rv)

Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey - fantasy, #2/3, my number four anticipated novel of 2010 (full rv)

Mission of Honor by David Weber - sf, #16/??, my number one anticipated novel of 2010 (full rv)

The Map of All Things by Kevin J. Anderson - fantasy, #2/3 (full rv)

Geosynchron by David L. Edelman - sf, #3/3 and series ending (full rv)

Secrets of the Fire Sea by Stephen Hunt - this can be taken as either sf or fantasy, though it's more sfnal imho, #4/6 (full rv)

Children No More by Mark Van Name -sf, #4/?? (full rv late July, short take HERE)

Stealing Fire by Jo Graham- historical fantasy, #3/?? (full rv)


Notable Standalone:

Black Hills by Dan Simmons - literary historical fiction with both fantasy and sfnal components (full rv)


Awesome or Impressive Series Debuts

The Last Page by Anthony Huso - fantasy, author debut, part of a duology and one of two awesome debuts (full rv August, short take HERE)

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis - historical fantasy, author debut as original work goes, part of a trilogy and the second of the awesome debuts of 2010 (full rv)

Passion Play by Beth Bernobich - fantasy, author's novelistic debut and part of a trilogy, very impressive and with great potential as the story deepens (full rv October, short take HERE)

The Noise Within by Ian Whates - sf, author's second novel by a month, debut of a series of unknown (by me) length, very impressive and with great potential as the story deepens (full rv)

Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk - fantasy, author's debut and part of a trilogy, quite impressive (full rv)

The Secrets of the Sands by Leona Wisoker - fantasy, author's debut and part of a series of unknown length, quite impressive (full rv)

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman - sf in setting, fantasy in spirit, very divisive - love it/hate it novel - but it really impressed me and its sequel stands among my highest anticipated ones ever (full dual rv that reflects this opinion split to an extent)


Disappointments or Annoying Novels

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds - sf, standalone, my number 3 expected novel of 2010 and a moderate disappointment (full rv)

Absorption by John Meaney - sf, trilogy debut, a novel I thought could be my #1 sf of the year and a relatively major disappointment but with chances of improvement as the series goes on (full rv)

Up Jim River by Michael Flynn - sf, #2/3(??) in a series, a novel that tried too hard and a minor disappointment (full rv)

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald - sf, standalone, a novel that was a big fail for me for "tourist postcard" world building while adequate as plot/style (full rv July/August, short take HERE)

The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer - literary sff, standalone and a high expectation author's debut that fell very flat for me (full rv Robert)

Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes - fantasy, series and author's debut and worst novel I've read in a long time (un-review HERE); very annoying too, the potty humor and all caps words are major pet peeves of mine


Bastard said...

Awesome or Impressive Series Debuts:

Interesting list. I was expecting a mention of City of Dream and Nightmares, but I guess Noise Within won out. Where would you place that novel in regard to your other mentions?

I also really liked Left Hand of God, though I certainly thought it might be better and certainly quite different than what I expected. Even so, I really liked it and understandably polarizing.

Shadow's Son I also recently finished and it was just a ton of fun.

I got Bitter Seeds lying around don't know when I'll get to it.

Speaking of debuts, what about The Passage? Where would you place it considering your current list.

And last but not least, last night I finished Secrets of the Sands, and it was simply excellent. Might be the best book I've read so far this year. Just a high quality written book. From what I can tell the series is 4 books long, but there'll be more books set in this world... a prequel with its sequel, and maybe a trilogy taking place after the Children of the Sands series. Really looking forward to this.

Will keep in mind your other mentions, The Last Page and Passion Play.

Liviu said...

City of Dreams was a very good book and would be next on the list but I want to read the sequel - which I think is still planned for this year, even with the reorganization at AR - there is great potential there and with at least 4 planned books there is the space too

The Passage for me was a good novel but one that did not live up to the hype with a very slow second third; the first third is brilliant and the last third regains some of the intensity so i am interested (but not as in I really, really want it) in the sequel, but from that middle third only the toilet cleaning roster in the colony was missing so to speak, so tedious it was

I liked the writing in Secrets of the Sands too - the sample and the cover were the reasons I tried it -
and the thread with the girl is awesome, but the other one is only very good, a bit too conventional

The Last Page is extremely impressive because of its inventiveness; it's a 2 person show like Passion Play though not that romantic and it's like steampunk with high magic - a bit unusual combination - and it works

Passion Play has great potential too - I love the author's writing - and that series may jump to my top, top when the next volumes appear

Joanne said...

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin was hands down the best book I've read all year. Phenomenal writing, memorable characters, great worldbuilding... how could you have left it off your top 5?

Liviu said...

That's a great comment and I even wanted to add it after the previous response but then forgot since I was myself surprised when this one did not make my list.

I liked a lot Hundred Thousand Kingdoms when I read it but somehow it just did not stay with me; I have no idea why but sometimes the passage of time influences a lot how I look at a book and that's another reason I try to review books some weeks if not months after I read them whenever possible and still be timely.

The (sort of) sequel Broken Kindgoms will be out later this year so it will offer me a chance to revisit the book...


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