Thursday, 23 December 2010

Festive Fifteen - Best Books of 2010 (Part 1)

In honour of its being Christmas and in memory of the late great John Peel I thought I’d compile a Festive Fifteen list of books I’ve enjoyed most this year.

(What follows isn’t a chart – just an alphabetical list.)

Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer. 
Criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has summoned an elite group of fairies to Iceland. But when he presents his invention to save the world from global warming, he seems different. Something terrible has happened to him – Artemis Fowl has become nice. And now the subterranean city of Atlantis is under attack from vicious robots and nice Artemis cannot fight them. Can fairy ally Captain Holly Short get the real Artemis back before the mysterious robots destroy the city and every fairy in it?

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. 
Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks as if she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him – his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into smuggling mysterious packages across the border – a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls.

Catch Us If You Can by Catherine MacPhail. 
Rory and his grandad only have each other. But that's fine – they can manage. But then the fire happens, and Rory is told that grandad needs to go into a home, and that he will be fostered. So they go on the run together – a real adventure like something out of the war movies Grandad is always going on about –  but how will it end?

Exposure by Mal Peet. 
Revered as a national hero, married to the desirable Desmerelda and cherished by the media, soccer star, Otello, has it all. But a sensational club transfer sparks a media frenzy, and when he is wrongly implicated in a scandal, the footballer’s life turns into a tragic spiral of destruction. South America’s top sports journalist, Paul Faustino, witnesses the power of the media in making and breaking people's lives.

Freak The Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. 
Max is used to being called Stupid, and he is used to everyone being scared of him – on account of his size and looking like his dad. Kevin is used to being called Dwarf, and he is used to everyone laughing at him – on account of his size and being some cripple kid. But Greatness comes in all sizes, and together Max and Kevin become Freak the Mighty and walk high above the world … for a while, at least. 

More to follow …

I always like personal book recommendations which is why I thought I’d share my list. It would be great to hear about other people’s favourite reads of 2010, so please leave a comment with your book(s) of the year below.

Finally, a very Merry Christmas one and all, and many thanks for your support this year. Hope to see you again in 2011.

Best wishes


  1. Brilliant - I've heard about Freak the Mighty and would like to get a copy soon! My book of the year was published in 2007 - Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve. I just didn't get round to reading it back in 2007 and it's one of those brilliant re-imaginings of a well known story that sets you thinking, and wishing you could write half as well. My other favourite brilliant re-telling is Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean and Here Lies Arthur is clearly a homage to it - even dedicated to Geraldine herself!)

  2. I also read and loved Exposure this year - Mal Peet is my discovery of the year, I'd only read Tamar before, but I was blown away by his South American football books. I can't understand why they're not marketed as crossover titles - they'd work brilliantly in the adult thriller market.

  3. Hi Candy, Keren, thanks very much for your comments.
    Candy – Freak is definitely worth a read – I really admired the way he managed to tell a heartbreaking story without being melodramatic and sentimental. I'm a big fan of Philip Reeve – I loved the Mortal Engines series and am currently trying to get my youngest into them – we bought him a copy of Fever Crumb for Christmas, so I'm looking forward to making that our next book at bedtime! I haven't read Arthur, but after such a recommendation will now be rushing to the library to borrow a copy of that and the Geraldine McCaughrean.
    Keren – I think Mal Peet is a genius. I'm currently reading Tamar (I'm rationing the number of pages I read each day, because I don't want it to end!) and like you, was blown away by the football books. You're right, these could work across many markets because they are simply great stories brilliantly told.

  4. Okay, the football books join my must read list. i read rather too many of them when my sporty son was little. Re Here Lies Arthur - I looked up reviews after I finished it and was shocked that it received quite a few negative reviews. But I re-read it immediately and then it was read eagerly by my husband - who usually only reads books on economics.

  5. Candy, start with Mal Peet's KEEPER, you'll like that. It's not really a football book, in the traditional sense.