10 for 2010: Favorite Reads

And here is the final 10 for 2010 list for this year, and the hardest one at that. There has just been too many good books in this year that it’s so hard to pick just ten. But I have to choose ten…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have runner ups and honorable mentions. ;) It’s my list, I can do anything I want to. :P

So, the last 10 for 2010, here are 10 of my Favorite Reads in no particular order…and then some. :)

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen – How much do I love this book? I am very glad that I chose this book as my first classic read for this year. I love Anne Elliot, and I want to be her. I don’t have much point of comparison over other Austen books, but this one is really, really good, even better than P&P. :) I cannot recommend this one enough. :)

2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series this year (thanks again to Chachic and Michelle for pushing!), but among the four books out in the series, Magic Strikes is the best one so far. It’s got action, tension and all the yummy hotness of Kate and Curran in all of it. Plus the ending had me all smiling and giggly and that is always very, very good. :)

2. Feed by Mira Grant – This book wasn’t the one that got me started on zombies this year, but it was the zombie book I loved the most. :) This book had me from the cover, and then with the story. I loved how geeky this book is and how emotional it is at the end. I loved the characters, and I loved the theme of the story…and I just really loved every bit of this book! This is one of the books that I got in Kindle, then got in print because I want to have my own copy. I gave a copy away, then I gave one as a gift, and now I’m (sort of) giving this away, too. I love this book that much.

3. Happyface by Stephen Emond – This is one of the impulse buys that I never regretted. I wasn’t a fan of hardcovers, but I am glad I got this one the moment I saw it because there are no copies of this one here. This is one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of the year. Happyface is such a darling character, and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. The plot is simple, but it’s very surprising and heartwarming at the end. I wish there were more copies of Happyface here so more people can read it…but that’s why I’m giving one away, right? ;) Oh, and I still think I look like Gretchen. ;)

4. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley – This was another impulse buy, but I’ve been seeing this one way before I got it. I am glad I got it, too, because it has such a beautiful story. The story may sound a bit cheesy with all the beauty talk, but it doesn’t only just talk about inner beauty and self-esteem, but also complications of a family and dreams that never came true. Terra’s transformation was very inspiring, and the ending left me feeling very good about myself, and very beautiful. :) Truly a gem.

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – I wasn’t planning to read this, and I stopped reading the start for a couple of times, but after I finished the first chapter, I got hooked. Before I Fall is a surprisingly good and powerful novel about life, death, friendship and the choices we make and how they affect people. I finished this book with a wistful smile on my face and tears in my eyes, thankful that I finally gave in and read it.

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – This is one of the book that I know I would love, only because the people whose book tastes I trust loved this one, too. After reeling from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I needed more dystopia to keep the high going, so I finally read this one. And I loved every bit of it. I know it gets better with the next two books, and I am very excited to read them. :D Soon.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – This book wouldn’t have made the list if I didn’t read it on time. If I read it in 2011, this would probably have made it in my 2011 list. :P I love the cover, and the story is just as good as the book. It’s not often you read a YA novel about a band, and it’s even rarer that you read a heroine who was deaf. It’s got diverse characters, a great story and a very rocking ending. :) A book that makes me reconsider my Top 10 is a book that deserves more attention. :D

9. Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – You know you really love a book when you re-read it and it still gives you the same feeling it did on the first read. You know you love a book when you actually re-read it in the first place, and within the same year, to boot! I re-read Fairy Tale Fail after I finished reading The Maze Runner, and I really needed a pick-me-up after. It definitely picked me up, and it made me wish to have my own Lucas all over again. :)

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – And like every Best of 2010 books out there, I must not forget about Anna and the French Kiss! This book was an absolutely fun read. After a series of not-so-stellar books, this one just kind of blew my mind. :) I realized a lot of things in this book, particularly: I still love contemporary YA the best, and you can tell a completely ordinary story in an extraordinary way. This is also one of the books that I got on Kindle first, then the hardcover when I found out it’s already available here. That much love, people. That much love. :)

Runners-Up:

  • Paper Towns by John Green – I finished the John Green trifecta this year, and out of all books, I have decided that I liked Paper Towns best. While An Abundance of Katherines was the funniest and happiest, I thought Paper Towns had the better plot and would fare better for a re-read. :) Plus Radar + Ben and the road trip? Priceless.
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – I wouldn’t have heard of this one if not for Pao and Chachic, and I am glad I got this one. Tall Story is a charming story about siblings, Filipino folklore and magic. This is a very heartwarming story, and I am glad this book is available internationally so more people can read it. If you haven’t read it, do include it in your 2011 reading list. You won’t regret it. :)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t heard good things about it from my Goodreads friends. Perhaps my reaction to this was a bit similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go – I plunged into it ready to love it, and I did. It’s not a very cheerful book being dystopia, but it’s very good and it has a lot of potential for a re-read. :)
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr – I read two of Sara Zarr’s books last year and I loved them, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I had to read it. Once Was Lost was just as beautiful as her other books, but I think I like this one more because it tackled faith. I loved how simple Zarr’s prose was, and how she tackled sensitive issues with grace. If I may quote my review: “Once Was Lost makes you think, makes you ask, and in the end, makes you believe that no matter what the tragedy is, no matter how hard things are, there will always, always be hope.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I read this one fairly recently, and I really liked it. I don’t know if my moods influenced how much I liked it though…but like I said before: any book that has me smiling like an idiot at the last page deserves a recognition. :)

Honorable Mentions:

See, I told you it was too hard. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you with too many books in this list! It’s just very, very hard to choose. Maybe next year I’ll be more critical, but I’m glad I read so many good books this year. Looking forward to what 2011 had to offer. :)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top reads in 2010? :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters
10 Favorite Couples
10 Favorite Authors
10 Most Anticipated for 2011
10 Blogging and Reading Highlights

I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway! Get to know the awesomeness that is Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Number of pages: 230
My copy: hardbound, bought from National Bookstore

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

* * *

I’m not going to lie – I only got this book because of two things: The Book Smugglers review and Neil Gaiman’s praise was the first thing you’ll see at the back of the book. Okay wait, make it three things: the hardcover version was cheaper than the paperback version. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I was hungry for something contemporary over the weekend so I dug this out from the plastic bags that currently house my books.

Junior has had a hard life. The book immediately starts with one of the things that has made Junior’s life hard, that he was born with water in his brain. Junior then narrates how unfortunate he was with his health, and how unlucky he was with the other things that white people take for granted because he is an Indian living on the Spokane Indian Reservation (simply called “rez” throughout the book). Despite all the unfortunate things Junior had to deal with in his life, however, it was very clear that there was something special about him, something that made him different from all other Indians in the rez. This was seen by his geometry teacher, Mr. P, who, after getting hit on the face by a Junior’s geometry book that used to belong to his mother, convinces Junior to leave the reservation and study somewhere else if he wanted to get ahead with his life.

And so Junior leaves, with little resistance from his family and a lot from his fellow Indians. This is where Junior’s adventures start, as he becomes the first and only Indian to study in an all-white school. Junior believes the white people have it better than he does (and they do) and that they would be out to get him for being different (surprisingly, they weren’t). Here we see Junior punch a guy in the face expecting a fight but instead gets respect, “fall in love” with a girl who has her own problems, be a basketball star and do many other things that he never thought he would get to do because he was Indian. We also see Junior deal with racism from unexpected people, lose his best friend and experience deaths (yes, deaths!) and grief, yet he always bounces back somehow.

Resilient is the best word to describe Junior. He has been so used to his life that even if bad things happen to him in succession, he always learns to bounce back. He tells his story in such a matter-of-fact tone that sometimes it hurts to read that someone just accepts a sad fate like that without ever trying to get out of it. But Junior tries to get out of it, despite how the world seemed to want to push him back to where he thought he used to belong. And as you go along, you’d find that you want Junior to succeed. Together with Junior, I realized that the world is not always black and white, or broken into colors or tribes, but by…well, I think the author wrote it very eloquently here:

“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,” I said. “By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not”.

I cannot help but compare this book to Stephen Emond‘s Happyface. They both have the same tone, the same quirky lead character, and artwork (even if Happyface is more artwork than text). However, in terms of problems, Junior definitely carries the bigger weight. Happyface is a victim of his circumstance while Junior is a victim of a fate that people before him had long determined. This is not to say that Happyface is shallow, though — his problems were totally legit. However, if you put them beside Junior’s, they definitely look smaller and more insignificant than what Junior had to deal with all his life.

But maybe that’s also a lesson in perspective too. Some of us may be Happyfaces, some of us may be Juniors, but that doesn’t mean that one problem is lesser than the other. I think what matters more is how we deal with these problems and how we try to rise up from it. Because that’s really the most important thing, right? How we keep on standing up no matter how many times we fall, or no matter how many times others make us fall. Happyface just happened to live in a different kind of rez compared to Junior, IMHO.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian teaches us that there is more to life than what we know of our own reservations, be it figurative or literal ones. Junior said it quite well: “Reservations were meant to be prisons, you know? Indians were supposed to move onto reservations and die. We were supposed to disappear. But somehow or another, Indians have forgotten that reservations were meant to be death camps.” This book teaches us that we must not be satisfied to stay within our own death camps, and hope that we find enough courage, arrogance and craziness to leave them.

This book is real, honest, funny, heartbreaking and inspiring. This is one book that I am pretty sure one of us will relate to in one way or the other. A definite must-read. :)

Rating:

Other Reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Love YA Lit
Angieville
Persnickety Snark

In My Mailbox (5)

Oh hi. This isn’t a review, for a change, because I realized I posted so many reviews this week. Eep! Not that it’s bad, but I’m just not used to it.

This week’s In My Mailbox is supposed to be last week’s post, but our wireless was acting up. I found out last night that our four-year-old wireless router died, so I had to get a new one today. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that we have stable connection again! (Yes, that’s the Internet addict in me speaking)

Anyway, let’s just pretend the things I’ll post this week wasn’t for last week. ;) In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

I went book-crazy last week because it was sale, and it was payday. Last Saturday, Grace, Jana and I went bookstore hopping to take advantage of the book sales. We started at Fully Booked Greenbelt, Powerbooks Greenbelt, then at Powerbooks Shang, National Bookstore Shang, Fully Booked Gateway and finally, National Bookstore Cubao a.k.a. The Mother Ship. :) We went home tired but very, very happy with our purchases. :)

Yay!

Yay!

From top to bottom:

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson
    I figure I’d need a break from YA every now and then, and I’ve heard good reviews of this one. Let’s see if I’d think the same thing.
  2. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
    Finally! I have been looking for the paperback version of this since I saw good reviews of the series, and Chachic loved it so much. I can’t wait to start reading this. :)
  3. Dark Blue by Melody Carlson
    I’ve been looking at this book since I saw them in OMF (or was it the book fair?), but I never had the motivation to get it. Finally grabbed a copy from National after seeing it was less than P200.
  4. King Dork by Frank Portman
    Impulse buy! I saw some good reviews of the book from my friends in Goodreads, but there were also some bad reviews. I didn’t finish The Catcher in the Rye, so I am kind of wary of this impulse buy. Here’s to thinking positively. :P
  5. You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
    I WoW-ed this book a couple of months back, and thanks to Grace for pointing this out to me! :) Don’t you just love that pink cover?
  6. Spilling Ink by Ellen Potter, Anne Mazer and Matt Phelan
    Saw this, and I just had to have to have it. Writing books are always in my list, even if sometimes I don’t finish them. ^^
  7. Happyface by Stephen Emond
    When I saw this curious book with a smiley face in Fully Booked, I was surprised to see that it was filled with drawings inside. Happyface is a journal of a boy nicknamed Happyface, about how he always seems happy but really he’s not. I’m reading this now and I am loving it. :)
  8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    The Book Smugglers have a good review for this, but I wasn’t about to pick it up until I saw the hardcover version in National for less than P350. I just had to get it, even if I’m not fond of hardbound books. The paperback costs P399! This is a bargain, as far as I’m concerned.

Not in picture: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Picked it up as a favor for Ariel, who can’t seem to find a copy of this book. There were piles of this in Powerbooks Greenbelt and Shang.

This is probably the biggest weekend stash I have ever had, and my wallet wasn’t really complaining. Probably because it was payday? I am not so sure. But I’m okay with this stash — I mean it’s probably not as expensive as say, getting Outer banks short sales (which isn’t that expensive, either, I’m pretty sure).

But it’s not over! :) Guess what else arrived last week!

It's in a pink case, definitely.

Tadaaaa!

Paper-like screen

Eeeee ♥

Yes, I have a Kindle! I gave in and ordered, and my mom brought it home last week. Funny thing, though, was I ordered this one two days before Amazon announced they were releasing new Kindles. T_T But so far, I’m pretty satisfied with this one! I don’t really need the Wifi (although it would be more convenient), and 3G signal works pretty well when I’m at work. Reading on it is awesome, though. The screen really doesn’t strain the eye.

I’ll post a review of the Kindle soon, after I’ve read a couple more books on them. But I can say now that it’s a very good investment.

Oh, and her name is Astrid. :)

Now that’s a long In My Mailbox post! How about you, what’s in your mailbox? :)