It’s that time of year – the time to look back at my reading for the last year and decide which books were the most outstanding. As always, it’s a tough call, more so than usual, as I really found some great reads in 2007. I decided to allow for fifteen top favorites instead of my usual ten – ten is just too limiting.
1. “Wildwood Dancing” by Juliet Marillier was my favorite read over all. This delightful and enchanting fairy tale took the stories of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Frog Prince” and blended them together in a masterful story of love, adventure, and magic. Throw in a little vampire action, too, and you really can’t go wrong.
2. “Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld challenges society’s concept of beauty and makes us think about the true value of a human being, the importance of being able to choose for ourselves, and how very beautiful and unique a person is just by being themselves.
3. “Austenland” by Shannon Hale is the story of a young woman who goes to live in a make-believe world where all the men are dashing, all the women are refined, and romance blooms like roses in the English garden. She discovers, however, that she doesn’t want to live in make believe but can create magic in her own life.
4. “Mira, Mirror” by Mette Ivie Harrison is a twist on the “Snow White” story we all know so well. We see how the magic mirror comes to be and the heartbreak that comes with surrendering your freedom for the price of beauty.
5. “Fairest” by Gail Carson Levine is somewhat similar in theme, having been taken from a fairy tale. Aza is considered ugly by all who know her, but her lovely singing voice makes her different from all those around her.
6. “Princess Academy” by Shannon Hale is the story of a group of mountain girls who are being trained to become princesses, as one of them will eventually marry the prince.
7. The “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer. I never thought I’d find myself taken with a vampire story, but I was. I guess we’re all susceptible to some extent or another.
8. “Ella Minnow Pea” by Mark Dunn is a great book about the importance of language and literacy, and thinking for ourselves. I really enjoyed this intelligent and insightful book.
9. “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver is the story of a minister and his family who go to the Belgian Congo to preach the gospel in the 1960s. The Congolese rise up and assert their independence while the family is there, creating a state of danger for them, and they are forced to flee. More than this, though, the book is about the thoughts and feelings of the wife and daughters of the minister and the internal struggles they endure.
10. “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See takes us into a different world and immerses us in the Chinese culture. We see contract friendships, marriages, and ancient foot binding ceremonies from an intimate perspective.
11. “A Perfect Day” by Richard Paul Evans shows us what can happen when we are suddenly presented with more fame, wealth, and success than we ever dreamed possible.
12. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry is a science fiction novel about a society that is run by the government, rather than by the people, and is controlled down to the tiniest detail. A powerful story that shows the importance of having our own freedom.
13. “The Green Glass Sea” by Ellen Klages takes place in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and is the story of the children of the scientists who built the atomic bomb. We see the mental strain the scientists went through as they tried to make the bomb work, and then the emotional stress they suffered in trying to decide if they had done a good thing, or a terrible thing.
14. “Billy Creekmore” by Tracey Porter is about a boy who is left at a cruel orphanage and left to experience the harshest experiences in life, but rises above it to find a whole new destiny for himself.
15. “Fever 1793” by Laurie Halse Andersen takes us to the yellow fever plague in Philadelphia, a time when people were dying in droves and no one knew how to stop it. A gripping historical fiction novel, you’ll be unable to put it down until the end.
There you have it – my favorite reads of the year. I enjoyed a lot of good fantasy, some science fiction, and a little historical – a different mix for me, as historical is usually my primary cup of tea. I hope you’ve found some books on this list that will appeal to you, as well. I encourage you to follow the links and read the full reviews so you’ll know for sure.