1. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen: Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope. A retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale finds Briar Rose living in forests patrolled by the German army during World War II in a dark tale of the Holocaust. I loved this retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Tragically beautiful.
2. Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge: The imperious Winter colonists have ruled the planet Tiamat for 150 years, deriving wealth from the slaughter of the sea mers. But soon the galactic stargate will close, isolating Tiamat, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. All is not lost if Arienrhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can destroy destiny with an act of genocide. Arienrhod is not without competition as Moon, a young Summer-tribe sibyl, and the nemesis of the Snow Queen, battles to break a conspiracy that spans space. Loved this when I was in my science fiction phase.
3. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world's most heinous villains -- a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother's children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England's throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower. One of my all-time favorite mysteries.
4. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara: In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny. The book upon which the movie Gettysburg was based. Although I was already a bit of a Civill War buff, this book (and movie) got me even more interested.
5. Persuasion by Jane Austen. The romance between Captain Wentworth and Anne, the daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, seems doomed because of the young man's family connections and lack of wealth. My favorite Austen so far. Somewhere around here I have my papers from college. There's one about this book....if I could find it, I could use it to help to do a review....Or I could just reread the book.
6. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R King: In 1914, a young woman named Mary Russell meets a retired beekeeper on the Sussex Downs. His name is Sherlock Holmes. And although he may have all the Victorian "flaws" listed above, the Great Detective is no fool, and can spot a fellow intellect even in a fifteen-year-old woman. So, at first informally, then consciously, he takes Mary as his apprentice. They work on a few small local cases, then, on a larger and more urgent investigation, which ends successfully. All the time, Mary is developing as a detective in her own right, with the benefit of the knowledge and experience of her mentor and, increasingly, friend. And then the sky opens on them, and they find themselves the targets of a slippery, murderous, and apparently all-knowing adversary. Together they devise a plan to trap their enemy--a plan that may save their lives but may also kill off their relationship. One of the best stories with Holmes that wasn't written by Doyle.
7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas: Edmund Dantès, betrayed by his enemies and unjustly convicted of aiding the exiled Napoleon, escapes after fourteen years imprisonment in the Château d'If and embarks on a carefully crafted plot to seek his revenge. I like this even better than The Three Musketeers.
8. Dragon's Egg by Robert Forward: Dragon's Egg is a neutron star with a surface gravity 67 billion times that of Earth, and inhabited by cheela, intelligent creatures that have the volume of sesame seeds and live a million times faster than humans. Most of the novel, from May to June 2050, chronicles the cheela civilization beginning with its discovery of agriculture to its first face-to-face contact with humans, who are observing the star from orbit. One of the all-time best hard science fiction novels I've ever read. I don't do a lot of hard SF...but this was fabulous.
9. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco: In 1327, finding his sensitive mission at an Italian abbey further complicated by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William of Baskerville turns detective, penetrating the cunning labyrinth of the abbey and deciphering coded manuscripts for clues. A wonderful historical mystery. With one of the most awesome libraries in fiction.
10. The Nine Wrong Answers by John Dickson Carr: Carr's forte is the rational crime problem costumed as an eerie tale of the seemingly supernatural. This tale set in London is an elaborate puzzle that concerns a large inheritance and contains a wonderful scene at Sherlock Holmes' rooms on Baker Street. The first mystery I ever read by Carr. I would love to have my thoughts from when I read it.