Rae's Best Books of 2010

And here we come to another end of the year. 2010, the year we make contact.

No aliens in sight but there have been tons of fae, historicals, gangsters, some werewolves, speakeasies and a little bit of toe-tapping jazz thrown in just to name a few. So here is my list of the best books I read and enjoyed this year.

Parallax by Jon F. Merz

What happens when two professional assassins - one a Mafia hitman and the other a former German terrorist - kill at exactly the same moment in time? For Ernst Stahl and Frank Jolino the result is a psychic bond that slowly blossoms in each man's mind, enabling them to see into the other's world. Frank Jolino doesn't like what he sees, especially when he realizes that Stahl is headed to his home turf of Boston to kill a scientist who may hold the key to solving the world's deadliest diseases. But for Stahl, there's no other option. Virtually bankrupt and with his son in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, he's got little choice but to take the assignment. Jolino has other ideas. On the run from his crime syndicate for refusing to kill his ex-girlfriend-turned-government-informant, Jolino sets a plan in motion that will bring the two men face-to-face and gun-to-gun...with no guarantees either will survive.

Parallax is what made me a Jon F. Merz fangirl and I've been gathering his backlist since then. I'm excited to announce that he'll be making a stop here at AWD next month so it'll be an honor to have one of my fave authors on the blog.

With a mixture of awesome action, intrigue and romance, Parallax had me glued to the page all the way to the end. I love books featuring likable anti-heroes and this book had two! I also loved the sci-fi angle in there and the conspiracy of experiments that was uncovered later on down the road. I can see many enjoyable re-reads of Parallax and it has earned my favorite book of 2010!

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
  Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

 The Iron King was the one that started it all! A rousing Young Adult adventure fantasy with a romance hanging in the wings. I loved it! I first listened to this on audio and remember hanging to each word. I'm a bonafide Fae fan so I had to grab this. I was not disappointed in the least. I loved the characters, the beautiful lush landscape of the Fae and my favorite hero of 2010 - the winter Prince Ash. Yum.

Reading The Iron Queen now makes the first book seem like it happened eons ago rather than just a few months. Meghan has gone through quite the journey and I'm dying to see more of the adventures in this world. I would love to see a movie version but I fear that it will taint my imaginations just a bit. For now, I'm happy to re-read this series as I look forward to the fourth book which features Ash's prequel. If you like YA fantasy with a Fae backdrop, definitely pick up the Iron Fey series!

Gold Mountain by Sharon Cullars

 In 1865, the hope for gold has spurred many to seek their fortunes in California, the place the Chinese call Gum San or "Gold Mountain." Amidst this backdrop, Quiang, a new Chinese immigrant, works the dangerous rails hoping to save enough money to send home to his parents. In town, Leah and Clara, two enterprising women from New York, have plans of their own to grow a restaurant and laundry business. However, both plans go awry when Quiang and Leah meet one fateful day. What starts as a budding attraction soon grows into tumultuous desire despite the cultural and language barriers between them.

Initially resistant, Leah succumbs to passion following a tragic loss that leaves her vulnerable and alone. With hopes for a future that now includes Leah, Quiang embarks on a perilous path as he leaves the railroad behind for a more profitable position as a courier for The Tong, henchmen for the dangerous Triad. Quiang soon finds that navigating the secretive life of a courier brings more danger than he has ever faced on the railroad, dangers that not only threaten to tear him and Leah apart, but may cost them their lives as well.

I loved this book! I had heard about Sharon Cullars work but reading it firsthand, I can see she is definitely a fantastic author. There aren't many historicals much less westerns that feature people of color and I was ecstatic to pick this one up to read the experience and to read an IR from my fave couple mix: AM/BW. This book was a real treat. It had romance, historical detail, suspense and action with a richness that really brought the story to life. I would love to read more historical IRs. My favorite other than this one is Zoe by T.A. Ford which was on my 2009 list of best reads. I look forward to more offerings from Ms. Cullars but in the mean time, I'll be diving into her backlist!

Other faves of 2010: