Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Top 12 Reads for 2010

by Hilde Garcia

In addition to writing my own YA novel this year, I had a super time reading the amazing books below between my own writing, the laundry and dinner. Every one made my list. I hope they make yours.

These books were awesome. They are in no particular order, just how I grabbed them off of my bookshelf, but I thoroughly enjoyed each one.

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander
What a great story! Austin is a main character that is irresistible. The book is suspenseful and fun. And Dean Ottmer is the quintessential villain who could give J. R. Ewing a run for his money. I loved the characters and the mystery. I cried and learned all about raising a rooster. What more could you want from a book?

Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss
I cried. I laughed. I held my breath. I have never read suck a book about cancer. The main character, Izzy, has a wry sense of humor. “Izzy know her cancer could kill her. But that’s no reason to lose her sense of humor.” That’s on the front cover. I have never thought about cancer being funny, but Ms. Koss truly captured an essence that is often overlooked. This book will stay with me for a long time. Here’s to every child that has had to find a reason to laugh through the side effects.

The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts
I met the author at the SCBWI conference party, without realizing I had purchased her book earlier that day. She was so excited to know that someone other than her Aunt had bought one. I peed in my pants from laughter. I cried in many places at how hard farm life is for young people in this country. I wanted to go and milk a cow. Michelle is a true farmer’s wife and told me I can do her chores anytime I’m in her neck of the woods.

39 Clues, Books 1, 2 and 3 (Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, Peter Learangis)
WOW- so much fun. The premise, siblings Dan and Amy are on a worldwide race against other family members to uncover the secret that will be more powerful and valuable than $1,000,000. The are 39 clues that will lead to this discovery. Each book has collectible cards and you can play an on line version of this game. The authors are rotating, and the whole book takes kids through history and around the globe. It’s a real chase. Oh, did I mention the kids are on the run from social services? Yeah, too cool. I’m on book 4, so no one ruin it for me.

Twilight Child by Sally Warner
I had the pleasure of taking Sally’s class last summer. As part of our tuition, we were able to choose one of her novels. I love far away stories set in olden times with a mystery and fairies. What a fabulous read It was full of action, sadness, love and friendship. I highly recommend her classes in the Los Angeles area.

Dirty Little Secrets by C J Omololu
SCARY. Hoarding is a disease. But what happens to the child that lives with a parent who hoards? Things like having friends over are not even a possibility. What happens when they want to keep their room clean and the mom takes their door off of the hinges? It’s a disturbing look into this disease. The whole book takes place in one 24-hour period. It’s intense from the moment it starts until it ends.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
A Newberry Winner from 1925. A fabulous historical fiction read, reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie. You love Caddie and her brothers and her love for people and the land. You love the book from the start to the end. I found this book at a garage sale. It’s a keeper.

Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
Middle grade magical realism- fun and heartwarming. The main character is stuck going to visit a grandmother she has never seen in another state while her mom finishes her doctorate. What she thinks might be a boring summer, turns into the summer of her life. She discovers herself through exciting action scenes and cultural history. She even discovers the answer to a secret. I felt transported to New Mexico.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney
Finding wonder in the world is amazing. Finding it in your own back yard, extraordinary. I cried and laughed at the same time. I didn't want it to end.

Gentle’s Holler by Kerry Madden
If Caddie Woodlawn is reminiscent of the Little House Books, then Gentle’s Holler reminiscent of The Walton’s. Family love is stronger than anything money can buy. Livy Two and all her siblings, each with their own unique look at life, reach in and pull you into their lives. And then, you never want to leave that mountain. The next two books are just as wonderful- Jessie’s Mountain and Louisiana’s Song).

Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
What a fabulous read. I loved it, and geeks shall inherit the earth. The relationship between Mara and V was beautiful and real. The story is poignant but not sickly sweet. And who could see that ending? I didn’t. Talk about yummy to the last word.

Paris Pan Takes the Dare by Cynthea Liu
After meeting the author at the last conference and having a great talk, I read this book. OH MY GOODNESS. What an amazing story, incredible characters, such believable relationships between the siblings and the parents. I felt like I was in my own life, and it was uncomfortable to think someone could capture me so well. The mystery was intense and I found myself gasping as I turned each page.

Great Reads for 2010 from my Terrific Twins

So now you know my 12 great reads for 2010. 
Here are picks from my six year olds:

Why do you like this book: SAM

Custard and Mustard by Maureen Sullivan
"Because the title is funny."

"Because of the Spider."

"Because of the animal pictures."

"Because of the adventure of getting eaten up."

"Because there are lots of trains and tracks." (Never mind the cool poetry.)

"Because, because, because, they become friends and they get married and she lives."

Why do you like this book: VICTORIA

"Because she feeds the piggy and he’s so cute. (A girl after her mommy’s heart.)"

"It’s cool and they’re lots of interesting things and I love the weird trees and the creatures and the pink, blue and orange grass. (Did I say she was mine or what?)"

"It’s a cute title and I like how they drew the pictures."

"Because she wants to be mayor and on the title page she hammers a sign in and I don’t know the words, but I like it. I like when she made chocolate pancakes with candles and it wasn't even her birthday."

"Because it is a chapter book and the designs are pretty and I love Orange Blossom, Ginger Snap, Angel cake and Strawberry Shortcake."

"Cocoa is caramel and mommy likes caramel. I like Cowgirl Kate telling a story to Cocoa and I love the horse and how he talks to Cowgirl Kate."

So for my son, a good title, a strong MC and some adventure and gore do the trick.

For my daughter, setting, relationships and wacky situations get her every time.

How I love my readers. The hardest part of this assignment for them was only picking six. It almost brought my daughter to tears who wanted a few more books to make the list.

Whatever you decide to read in 2011, enjoy it as much as they enjoy their reads. These have been with them for years and they re-read them almost weekly.

Happy Reading.


  1. Wow! Thank you Hilde for this wonderful list of books. They all sound incredible. I had to pause when I saw the Dick and Jane book. Those guys taught me how to read way back when. I so remember when I figured out the word ‘it’. I was so excited.

  2. What a great round-up of books to add to my ever-growing reading list. It gives me a great sense of security knowing I'll never run out of great books to read. Thank you for the insights, Hilde and your ever clever twins.

  3. I am charmed by all three lists. Some of my favorites, as well, and some new ones to check out, too, ("Custard and Mustard" IS a funny title!)

  4. great Post. I finished side effects and loved it.
    Cant wait to read Tortilla Sun

  5. loved reading the twins' choices. tell your daughter she should start her own blog then she can put on ALL the books she wants ;)


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