Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, bloggers get to talk about the first ten books that they ever did a review for.
This is quite an interesting topic for a top ten list, and it is one that proved to be a lot of fun for me to put together. It is always an intriguing prospect to dig back into one’s past, and I was quite curious to see what my earliest reviews were. Luckily, I have kept a copy of some of my earlier professional reviews for The Canberra Times, which were among the first reviews I ever did. Thinking back even further, I also remember doing a bunch of reviews or review-like documents for a random assortment of books back in my school days. I decided to include them, as I count them as books I have reviewed, especially as many of them required a large amount of work to do. As a result, my list is going to be an interesting combination of historical fiction books and some of the novels I read in high school, which luckily proved to be quite a unique and diverse collection of tomes.
While I am confident that I have listed the books in the order that I read and reviewed them, I may have to get a little vague when it comes to the dates I did them on. The actual dates are probably lost in some ancient hard drive or long dead family computer, but I am fairly certain of which year I did them in. Anyway, here is my list in the order that I reviewed them:
1 – The Other Side of Dawn by John Marsden – Reviewed in 2004
I reviewed The Other Side of Dawn when I was in year 8 for an English class I was doing. I cannot quite remember why we had to do reviews, but I remember inadvertently spoiling parts of the story for someone who hadn’t read it (an important lesson I remember to this day). The Other Side of Dawn is the seventh and final book in John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, which is one of the best and most iconic Australian young adult series of all time. I was a huge fan of the Tomorrow series when I was younger (I still am, to be honest; it is a pretty epic series) and I had just finished the final book when I had to write a review for class, so it seemed the logical choice. I cannot remember too many details about the review, but it got me a good mark, so it must have been alright. This is one of those series I have read numerous times, and I will have to review it on my blog at some point.
2 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Reviewed in 2006
I reviewed this classic American novel from acclaimed author Harper Lee in an English class in year 10. We were starting to learn a lot about analysis and essay writing at the time and To Kill a Mockingbird was a major focus of our class. I wrote a bunch of reviews and essays for this book, and I found it to be quite a powerful and moving novel that is still relevant in this day and age.
3 – Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurst – Reviewed in 2007
In the latter half of 2007 I was still in school, and we got a choice of which English classes we wanted to attend. Due to my love of the genre, I chose to do a fantasy fiction course, which was unfortunately taught by the very worst English teacher in our school, whose bad teaching still haunts me to this day. While the class as a whole was pretty shocking, we did get to read and review Daughter of the Empire. I was already a huge fan of Raymond E. Feist and his Riftwar series, so this was the perfect book to read in class. We did a number of reviews and essays for this book, and I loved it so much I have re-read Daughter of the Empire and its sequels several times in the last 12 years, even doing a review of the Empire trilogy on my blog last year.
4 – The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett – Reviewed in 2007
The same fantasy course also required us to read and give an in-depth presentation on a fantasy book of our choice. I chose one of my favourite books in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, The Last Continent. The Last Continent is the 22nd book in the Discworld series, and follows one of Pratchett’s most entertaining protagonists as he adventures around a continent on the Discworld that is definitely not Australia. I gave quite a good presentation on this book, if I do say so myself, and it was a great book to round out the class on. A review of The Last Continent will probably show up on this blog in the future, as it is quite a funny read.
5 – Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell – Reviewed in 2008
Another book reviewed as part of an English class. Postmortem was the book we had to read and review as our main assessment in a pretty good crime fiction course. It was an interesting book to analyse, and we did a pretty detailed examination and discussion of the book throughout the length of the course. I have never really gone out of my way to read any other Cornwell books, but I am glad we got the chance to review Postmortem, and it was quite an intriguing piece of crime fiction.
6 – Outlaw by Angus Donald – Reviewed 26 September 2009
Back in 2009, while I was in my first year of university, I got an opportunity to review some books for The Canberra Times. They were in need of someone to review historical fiction, and as that was the genre I was mostly reading at the time, I managed to secure a position as The Canberra Times’s historical fiction reviewer for a few years. For my first review, they gave me a couple of books publishers had sent them and told me to have a go at writing an article. The first book I read for this was Outlaw, the first book in Angus Donald’s The Outlaw Chronicle series. I really enjoyed this book and thought that it was a great reimagining of the classic Robin Hood story, and it proved to be an excellent book to do a proper, professional review for. Despite enjoying this book, I never got the chance to read any of the other books in The Outlaw Chronicles, which I see managed eight books in the end. I might have to see what Donald has been writing lately.
7 – Pieces of Eight by John Drake – Reviewed 26 September 2009
In addition to Outlaw, my first article in The Canberra Times also featured a review of Pieces of Eight by John Drake. Pieces of Eight was another reimagining of a classic tale, as Drake created his own version of Treasure Island in this series. Pieces of Eight is the sequel to Drake’s first book, Flint and Silver, and featured a compelling adventure on the high seas. This was another great book to read, and I had a lot of fun reviewing Pieces of Eight.
This was the second book in Sidebottom’s Warrior of Rome series, which continued the story started in his amazing debut, Fire in the East. Sidebottom is one of the top authors of Roman historical fiction, and back in 2009 I was very excited to check King of Kings out after enjoying his first book so much. This was another great historical adventure, with an epic twist at the end. Sidebottom is still going quite strong; The Last Hour was released last year, and his latest book, The Lost Ten, has just come out.
Raiders from the North is the first book in Rutherford’s Empire of the Moghul series, which charted the rise and fall of one of history’s most powerful and self-destructive dynasties. This was a very good book that looked at a very unique period of history that is quite under-represented in fiction. I ended up reading and reviewing nearly every book in the Empire of the Moghul series over the next couple of years, and I really enjoyed this very intriguing series.
10 – The Gladiator by Simon Scarrow – Reviewed 19 December 2009
This is a good place to end my list. I am a huge fan of the Scarrow’s The Eagles of the Empire series, and it was one of the main historical fiction series that got me into the genre. As a result, I was very happy that I got a chance to review the ninth book in The Eagles of the Empire series, The Gladiator, so early in my reviewing career. The Gladiator is an excellent addition to the series which pitted its protagonist against a new type of opponent. This series is still going strong, with its 17th book coming, The Blood of Rome, coming out last year.
I hope you enjoy my list; I had a good time putting it together. I will have to try and scan a few of these earlier columns onto my blog in the future. It was fun going back and seeing what some of my earliest reviews were.