End of the Year: YA picks of 2010

It was harder to chose 2010 release books to focus on for this year's End of the Year YA post.  In my attempt to read with more diversity, I didn't read as many 2010 releases as I had hoped to read.  However, there were some incredible reads and I decided to go with my 5 top picks from 2010 and several sequels that I really enjoyed.  I am also going to reflect on my favorite debut author books in a separate post.

Top 5 picks (in no particular order):

FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Anthony John - I tend to prefer fantasy or sci-fi fiction.  So when I come across a contemporary fiction book that I loved, it means I really loved it.  I can't rave enough about this book.  Great concept (a deaf teen who becomes the manager of a rock band), an ensemble cast of characters that are all well developed, and a great sense of place & people (Seattle, references to Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix).  This was my absolute favorite YA read of 2010.

WHITE CAT by Holly Black - This is the first book in The Curse Workers Series and Black has done an outstanding job in mixing fantasy with present day.  In some ways, this book is the Sopranos meets Magic but way better.  In this world, everyone is required to wear gloves because you never know who might be a Curse Worker and by wearing gloves it prevents people from using touch to unleash their powers.  Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers and yet doesn't seem to have a gift/ability.  However, he does have a secret and can run a con as well as the rest of them.  One of the many things I loved about this book is that there are consequences to the use of these powers.  I so can't wait for Red Glove (Book 2) to come out this spring of 2011.

CHASING BROOKLYN by Lisa Schroeder - I had been under some erroneous impression that I didn't like novels in verse.  This probably came from the belief that I am not really a big fan of poetry so I wouldn't like novels in verse.  However, in about a span of a couple of days (really more like a couple of hours), I read through all three of Schroeder's novels in verse.  I loved the books, and I loved her writing.  Chasing Brooklyn is a companion novel to I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and though it can be read separately, I was glad that I had read them in order.  This book was particular strong in that it is told from both Brooklyn's and Nico's perspectives in alternating chapters.  Chasing Brooklyn is filled with grief, loss, healing, love, and hope.  And Nico is one of my top fictional crushes.  *heart beats a little faster*

THE RED UMBRELLA by Christina Diaz Gonzalez - I was trying to reserve all of the debut books for a separate post but I just had to add this one to the list.  The Red Umbrella is a historical novel that takes a look at a lesser known part of history - the children who fled Cuba in 1961-1962 during Operation Pedro Pan.  I had an unique opportunity to hear Diaz Gonzalez speak to an audience of predominately Cuban American who had experienced this reality first-hand.  To feel their appreciation for having their story told was amazing.  And Diaz Gonzalez was so wonderful with them as well.  This may be an underdog but I do hope it garners some kind of award recognition.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare - I might be cheating here but this is the first book in a new series even if it is a prequel to her previous series.  And since this is my blog and my picks, I'll allow it. Set in Victorian England in the late 1800's, Clockwork Angel mixes in steampunk features with the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders that we have come to love in Clare's Mortal Instruments Series.  Though this book seems to bring up more questions than it answers, I am certainly hooked and ready to find out more about Tessa, Will, Jem and the others. 

Just a quick nod to the following 2010 sequels:

MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins - How can a look at 2010 books not include Mockingjay?!  Three years ago I discovered The Hunger Games.  It was literally one of the best books I had ever read.  The conclusion to this series by Collins came in August with the release of Mockingjay.  Though probably the most hotly debated book this year, I appreciated that Collins choose to end her book in a way that was faithful to her vision even if that was different from how I might have wanted the book to end. 

BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - I love the world that was created by Garcia & Stohl in Beautiful Creatures.  I wasn't disappointed with this second book in the world of Caster Magic.  Old friends, and new characters, and new challenges move the series to the next level.  The third book in the series will be on my books I pine for in 2011. 

And technically this is a 2011 release, but I read the ARC in 2010 so I will add it here.....

FURY OF THE PHOENIX by Cindy Pon - I had the great privilege of reading this in 2010 despite the release not being until March/April 2011.  This is Pon's sequel to her 2009 Debut SILVER PHOENIX.  I will be reviewing this soon, but let me say that Pon took her sequel in a new direction that shows her growth as a writer.  Fury is a beautiful story of decisions & choice, and love & forgiveness in the beautiful world of Xia that she created in book one.  If it isn't on your list of books to read, it definitely should be.

So what were your favorite YA reads in 2010?