A few stats to start us off.

Books read in 2009: 222

Books read in 2010: 277 (55 more books than 2009, go me!)

First book read in 2010: Bound by Cin by Jenna Maclaine

Last book read in 2010: Perfect Play by Jaci Burton (an ARC, not due to release until February 1, 2011. This book is also known as the book with the hottest cover ever. I had it as my laptop wallpaper for months. Go ahead, click thru)

Thanks to Goodreads, it’s easy for me to take a look back at all of 2010 and show the above info, and also remember my favorites. So in the spirit of similar blog posts across the land, here are my top ten favorite 2010 reads, in no particular order (asterisks indicate these are new-to-me authors):

* Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan (urban fantasy/paranormal romance) I had this book on my wishlist before it released, because the cover copy was intriguing. Then it released, and since I’m a little gunshy about new urban fantasy/paranormal authors and books, I didn’t buy it right away. I hesitated, kept going back to read reviews, and finally was convinced by several reviews I read, in combination with the sample chapter. And I was hooked. The story drew me in after the first few chapters, the love story between hero and heroine felt well-played and what I especially appreciated was that this book was a book in itself. No cliffhanger ending, no major dangling plot threads. Just a story within one book. Awesome and refreshing in a paranormal world of series.

Truth of Valor by Tanya Huff (space opera) I was so excited to get a new installment in this series from Tanya Huff. I actually like space opera quite a bit, but have a hard time jumping into new authors and new series, because I’m often afraid the technical side of the space opera will overwhelm the characters, plots and story. I don’t even need romantic elements in my space opera (though it doesn’t hurt) but I need it to be accessible. And that’s what Tanya Huff does. She writes character-driven space opera with fun, entertaining storylines and a kick-ass female protaganist who’s hard as nails. Goodreads review here

Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill (urban fantasy) This is book 3 and I think this was my favorite book to date. The romance moved forward (then back, then forward, then…well, you’ll have to read it to find out) and the worldbuilding has been interesting to me. Not that it’s anything so out of the ordinary, but it’s also not nonsensical and the secondary characters make things intriguing. I’m glad to keep reading this series, though I kind of wish the author wrote faster than 1 book in the series/year! Goodreads review here.

Something About You by Julie James (contemporary romance) Julie James is one of the few contemporary romance authors who has a nearly 100% “hit” ratio with me (there’s one book only of hers that wasn’t a hit for me at all) and I adored everything about this book. This is what good contemporary romance should be! Something else that I like about Julie is that she writes stand-alone books. So if you’ve never read a Julie James book before (and you should) then you can easily jump into her backlist at any point. Though I do recommend this one!

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy) So I’d probably read Ilona’s grocery list at this point. But this book made me SO HAPPY. This was the installment in the series that really makes a romance reader’s heart go pitty pat. Reooowr. I actually re-read this entire series this year and I loved it just as much the second time around. There are a lot of things I appreciate about this series, but one of them is that we’re not forced to wonder who the romantic interest is (Curran, meow) and each book moves the overarching story and plot along in a way that makes us believe it’s not going to go on forever. Not that I want it to end, but I also hate that feeling of an author stringing me along (except JD Robb, she can string me along forever). Very short Goodreads review here.

Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh (urban fantasy) Nalini is another author who’s grocery list I’d read. And I also re-read both this series and her Psy-Changeling series in 2010. Again, they did not disappoint on the second read, and I’d happily have a 3rd go at all of these books. I particularly like this archangel series because it’s a bit grittier and darker, with more edges on the characters. Also? I love how well Nalini does the “show, don’t tell” concept and isn’t tempted to spoonfeed the readers obvious bits.

* The Chief by Monica McCabe (historical romance) I don’t even remember how I came to pick this book up, but I remember reading and loving it and emailing Jane at Dear Author to tell her she needed to give it a try. It reminded me in a way of an early Garwood. What’s even more amazing to me about how much I enjoyed this book is that I’d sampled a few of this author’s books before and they didn’t work for me, and I’ve since read the 2nd book in the series and didn’t love it. But this particular book hit just right for me and I’m glad to have it in my top ten.

* Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (contemporary YA romance) This book came out of nowhere for me. A few people mentioned it on Twitter. Then it showed up on a Dear Author best of 2010 list and I realized that it sounded quite familiar. Turns out? I had it on my Kindle. I’m still not sure how but it had to have been offered free at some point, because I know I’d never have bought it without first reading the sample, and it was completely new to me when I opened the book. So contemporary isn’t really my fave genre, and contemporary YA even less so. In fact, I read like almost no YA and even less contemp YA. But I really enjoyed this book. I loved the protagonist’s voice in 1st person, loved the progression of the friendships and story and was happy when I read the last page. Goodreads review here.

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey (contemporary romance) Yeah, yeah. I edited this book. Sue me. I loved it and it goes on my top ten list for 2010. It’s my list! I wrote more about this book already in this post about my 2010 editing.

Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance) I know I said these are in no particular order but…this was my favorite book of 2010. I didn’t list the novella from the Burning Up anth, Here There Be Monsters, but that novella and this book seriously rocked my world. I was glad to get an ARC of this book and glad to urge people to read it, you must read it! I think I’ve since given away 3 or 4 copies because it’s just that great. The only thing I didn’t love about this book? The cover. Not my favorite steampunk cover, unfortunately. Goodreads review here.

Honorable Mentions, these are books I enjoyed but that didn’t quite make my top ten list:
Song of Scarabaeus— a science fiction romance. I’m anticipating book 2 quite a bit. My Goodreads review is here.
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner — I’d had this recommended to me several times and the voice hooked me in once I finally picked it up. Really enjoyed the twists and turns.
No Place to Run by Maya Banks– One of my final reads of 2010, this and the first, Darkest Hour. I liked the action and the hero/heroine as well as the secondary characters. There’s a lot to like here.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah Maclean — someone recommended this to me on Twitter and I was really charmed by the heroine and the story. The Chief just barely edged this out of my list. My Goodreads review is here
C.S. Harris — I read three of her Sebastian St. Cyr books in 2010, and any author that can get me to read not one, but three, historical fiction books deserves an honorable mention. I do own the others in the series and fully intend to read them. Sebastian is a great protagonist.

So 3 of my top 10 (and 7 of my top 15!) were new-to-me authors, which I’m really happy about. Of the 7 who weren’t, 4 of the books were installments in series that I’ve been reading for a few years, so it’s great for me that these authors continue to produce high-quality books.

One of the things that’s interesting to me about this list is that there are three contemporary romances on it (if I include the YA) and one historical romance because I often say that those are the two genres I read the least. That’s particularly true of historical romance. However, if you look at my Goodreads account, you can see that it actually looks like I read a lot of contemporary romance. But if you look closer, you’d also see that 90% of that is in the form of Harlequin categories!

Urban fantasy series continue to be good to me, yet I find myself not picking up a lot of NEW urban fantasy authors or series, and even less paranormal romance.

In 2010, I’d like to find and read even more futuristic romance, space opera, steampunk and fantasy/fantasy romance. Those are genres that I find myself more and more willing to take chances in, rather than urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

2010 was a good reading year for me. I read 277 books total for pleasure, and that doesn’t count a few books I was unable to list as having read for various reasons (shhh) and all of the Carina titles, acquisitions, and submissions I read. I’m extremely happy with how much reading I did this year, even when I had a period of about 3 weeks in September when I didn’t read anything. Every year I vow to make my reading diverse and to reach outside my comfort zones, and I was happy with how I did at that this year, and I’ll continue to make that a goal for 2011.

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