As the clock ticks ever closer to the end of 2010 and we approach midnight on New Year's Eve, what reader among us will not think back to those books that he enjoyed the most over the twelve months past. In no particular order, here are my top ten for the year.
For all its simplicity and brevity, the power and pathos of the themes of helplessness and loneliness embodied in Steinbeck's story about George and Lennie, two itinerant field workers in 1930s depression era California, are not to be denied.
See the full review, "A powerful exploration of loneliness and helplessness!".
Do you ever dream of being an astronaut? Do you enjoy well written popular science? Do you enjoy a good laugh? Are you unembarrassed or undisturbed by a good fart joke? If this sounds like you, then PACKING FOR MARS is a book that you really must read. PACKING FOR MARS is the story about why man's biology is the sole impediment to a space flight to Mars!
See the full review, "100% educational, 100% entertaining and 100% hilarious!".
One of my Top 100 All-Time Best Novels! A superb tale of courage, romance and achievement built on the Japanese atrocities in World War II Malaya and climaxing with the development of a pioneering community in the northern cattle country of Australia.
See the full review, "Some bonzer story-telling!".
THE BOOK OF NEGROES gives today's readers the opportunity to savour a novel like Alex Haley's ROOTS and to experience the horror, shame and embarrassment of acknowledging that such abhorrent conduct towards black people is an indelible part of North America's past.
See the full review, "A powerful indictment of Canada's part in the history of slavery!".
THE HUNGER GAMES, inspired by the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, is an innovative, dare I say unique, young adult twist on the recurring themes of violence, cruely, despair, privation and revolution that are the mainstays of post-apocalypse novels. It is BRILLIANT!
See the full review, "THE HUNGER GAMES is a bestseller for very good reason!".
A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM is a provocative blend of genres - speculative fiction, sci-fi and alternate history - that brilliantly uses the irony of slavery and prejudice in early America as a springboard to deal with considerably less obvious sociological issues that Pielke is convinced mankind will ultimately face - alien first contact and communication.
See the full review, "The eternal paradox of time travel!".
A debut mystery novel set in rural Quebec that can be characterized as roughly halfway between the cozy mysteries of Agatha Christie and the deeper, psychological much darker mysteries starring the likes of angst-ridden detective Harry Bosch.
See the full review, "A uniquely Canadian mystery ... brava!".
A provocative, complex mystery that is more than exciting enough to justify reading and enjoying an extraordinarily long novel. Slightly below the surface, we have a number of cautionary tales on topics as disparate as sexual abuse, the abuse of trust by those in a position of power and, finally, the confounding ethics of legitimate journalism.
See the full review, "A phenomenal best seller but Lisbeth Salander is NO Harry Potter!".