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Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

My 20 Best Books of 2012

[ Edited ]

20 Best Books of 2012

This year as most is a genre smorgasbord from contemporary to historical, from factual to fantasy and one non-fiction in this years group. So without further ado, let’s get to it. Number one means the best of the best, after that they’re in alphabetical order.
Click the top link for the B&N product page and the bottom link for my complete review

 

BEST BOOK

Overseas  

Overseas, by Beatriz Williams is the best book I’ve read in 2012 and perhaps the best book I’ve read in a very long time. It’s epic, it’s historical, it’s contemporary, it’s fantasy, it has some of the most memorable characters ever and remember this is a debut. It’s simply amazing and I’m thrilled that it will be my March featured read at B&N.com General Fiction forum.

Catch Me (Detective D. D. Warren Series #6)  

Catch Me, by Lisa Gardner is again featured here and again has another top pick. This novel features her protagonist D D Warren who’s just returned from maternity leave to face a case involving child predators. Lisa’s unnaturally expert at bringing the most heinous of criminals and this one is no different.

Edge of Black  

Edge of Black, is the second in the new Samantha Owens series

by amazing storyteller and thriller writer JT Ellison. Samantha Owens, if you’re familiar with JT’s writing was a co-star in her Taylor Jackson series. She’s suffered a great loss and she’s picking up her life and starting over. In this novel Sam’s living in Washington DC, starting a new job and is caught in the middle of what looks like a terrorist attack, but looks can be deceiving.

Ember's Kiss (Dragonfire Series #8)  

Ember’s Kiss, by Deborah Cooke is #8 in her bestselling dragon shape-shifter series starring the oh so macho Pyr, only this dragon doesn’t really know about his heritage and thinks he’s more monster than man, who needs his mate and his brother Pyr to show him who he really is. If you know me you know how much I love this series, in fact anything by this wonderful author who’s way with words and worlds is in a class by herself.

Home Front  

home front, by Kristin Hannah is an incredibly hard story to read, but a necessary one. It deals with not only the soldiers “over there” but the realities they face when they come home. It’s touching, it’s dramatic, it’s a must read and a keeper for your shelves.

Illuminations  

Illuminations, by Mary Sharratt is about a real historical figure, who’s just this year finally been canonized in May of 2012 and was raised in October 2012 to Doctor of the Church, it’s about Hildegard von Bingen who was an anchorage (click the link for more information). Mary has wowed me before with her historical research and what results in her novels. Whether you’re a lover of historical fiction or just great fiction this one will appeal.

King of Thorns (Broken Empire Series #2)  

King Of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence is the second in his fantasy trilogy featuring Jorg, the anti-hero, the very noir-ist of protagonists. Jorg has matured since we first met him in Prince of Thorns, he’s a King now and he’ll defend his throne any way he has to. (The review is courtesy of RT Reviews Magazine August 2012 edition)

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend  

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, by Matthew Dicks was a very refreshing change for me. The premise is quite unique as his protagonist is the imaginary friend of an autistic boy who’s job it is to be there for him in whatever way is needed. It’s a read that will appeal to a multitude of fans and genres. I’m pleased to announce that Matthew and his wonderful novel will be featured for the monthly read at B&N.com General Fiction forum in June 2013.

One Breath Away  

One Breath Away, by Heather Gudenkauf was a terrifyingly realist crime drama that will bring memories of Columbine and Virginia Tech and the Nickel Mines Amish school shooting. In a fictional Iowa town on the last day of school before spring break terror is about to unfold in a K-12 school building when a gunman holds the entire population inside the walls hostage.

One Good Friend Deserves Another  

One Good Friend Deserves Another, by Lisa Verge Higgins is a testament to what being a friend really means, when this group of 4 cemented their friendship 15 years ago they made a pact. These 4 friends are as different from one another as dark and light but they have something special that shows through those differences. Friendship. Lisa is not a stranger to my B&N.com forum, she was with us in 2012 when we read and discussed her previous novel, The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship and will be with us in May of 2013 when we will read together her upcoming March release Friendship Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.( review is courtesy of RT Reviews magazine)

Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: My 20 Best Books of 2012

[ Edited ]

  

One Mountain Away  

One Mountain Away, by Emilie Richards is all about forgiveness, redemption and hope. It’s also about loss and it reminds we mere mortals that we never know what lies ahead so if we have regrets we should take care of them. I also loved that the protagonist was a woman of a “certain age”, I love seeing an older, mature star of a story. This is the first of Emilie’s newest series entitled “The Goddess Anonyms Series” Emilie was our guest for the month of September at B&N.com when we read and discussed this novel as a group.

Paris in Love  

Paris in Love by Eloisa James is a novelty for me, it’s a non-fiction. A memoir of the year award winning, #1 NY Times Bestselling author and Professor of English Literature packed up her entire family and moved to Paris for an entire year, she fascinated and entertained her fans on FaceBook for the entire year with snippets of what was happening, the humorous, the sensitive, the sad, the happy and finally turned her experience into a book. Paris in Love is a 2012 Goodreads finalist.

Scorched (Tracers Series #6)  

Scorched, by Laura Griffin is #6 in her Tracers series, this time it stars forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn and her ex, Navy Seal Gage Brewer. It’s a web of intrigue of suspense and of ever loving terror which Laura is an expert at, it involves murder and mayhem and a huge who done it. It definitely needs to go on your read list.

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)  

Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness was definitely one of my most awaited reads of the year after the monumental first in the trilogy A Discovery of Witches from last year. It did not disappoint. It’s as epic as ever, it takes us to 16th Century Elizabethan England where we knock elbows with all the name droppers of the time, where witch Diana and her forbidden vampire spouse Matthew go so Diana can be taught the art of her craft and to search for the alchemic tomb known as Ashmole 782.

The Book of Lost Fragrances  

The Book of Lost Fragrances, by MJ Rose who’s another of my favorite go to authors. Her newest in her loosely related series in this novel she takes us to France where perfumer Jac L’Etoile’s fragrance heritage can be traced back centuries perhaps all the way to the very first fragrance factory built by Marc Anthony for Cleopatra, she’s also haunted by glimpses of past lives. MJ mixes genres with mystery, romance, historical and a bit of non-fictional facts as well. If you’re a fan of any of these, this might be right up your alley. It was my pleasure to have met MJ in person last summer when she visited as part of the Atria Mystery Bus Tour.

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves  

The Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, by Kristina McMorris is a culturally beautiful piece of Americana and yet nothing this country has to be proud about. It’s a WWII piece involving the not so happily ever after of a Japanese American man and a Caucasian woman. What they went through for the sake of their love, what they gained and especially what they lost. It’s a look at the dirty little secrets of our nations history that they never taught when I was in school, that should never be forgotten and told often. I am lucky to have Kristina with us the entire month of January when B&N.com General Fiction forum discusses this wonderfully worded novel.

The Dog Who Danced  

The Dog Who Danced, by Susan Wilson is an especially uplifting novel about the power of unconditional love given to us by our pets and one pet in particular that had a knack for dancing. No matter who you are, where you are in your life or what age you will find something to love about this story. Susan was my guest in November at the B&N.com General Fiction forum when we read this very inspiring novel.

 

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy, by Margot Livesey is one of those novels that would have never crossed my path if not for the cover having inspired me to look inside where I found a work of recent historical fiction. Gemma Hardy was an orphan from the 50’s in Scotland where she went through some life trauma because of her status. The author tells a brilliant story of neglect, hardship and success. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming with characters who’re quirky to very realistic.

The Other Woman  

The Other Woman by Hank Phillipi Ryan is the first of Hank’s brand new series starring girl investigative reporter Jane Ryland. Jane’s been recently fired from the TV news because of not revealing her source of a particular story. She’s landed on her feet at the newspaper where she’s given the mundane assignment of interviewing a candidate’s wife. Well Jane smells a story and boy does she get one. Kudos to Hank for this fast paced new novel. Hank was my guest in October when the B&N.com General Fiction forum read this amazing new novel.

The Reckoning (Taker Trilogy #2)  

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu was a novel that my editor at LibraryJournal thought I might like, yeah she was right. I loved it. This is the second in Alma’s Taker trilogy and I was beamed right up into the plot, the characters and the amazing storytelling of this very talented fantasy author. The characters are very un-hero, very dark, very sensual, a very adult novel. But this adult can’t wait to get her hands on book three of the trilogy. (The review is courtesy of LibraryJournal)

 

Well that’s my list for the best of 2012, I hope you enjoyed one or more of the selections. I’d love to compare notes. Bring on 2013 which I’m sure will be a bumper crop of glorious new titles to pick from for next year.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

 

 

Wordsmith
elaine_hf
Posts: 389
Registered: ‎01-05-2010

Re: My 20 Best Books of 2012

Here's one that I loved, and that you didn't mention. It isn't getting stellar reviews here, but I thought it was an excellent study of the aftermath of the accidental killing of a young girl due to a car accident. And youthful irresponsibility. 

 

Carry the One

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/carry-the-one-carol-anshaw/1102118320?ean=9781451656930

‎"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -Bokonon
Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: My 20 Best Books of 2012


elaine_hf wrote:

Here's one that I loved, and that you didn't mention. It isn't getting stellar reviews here, but I thought it was an excellent study of the aftermath of the accidental killing of a young girl due to a car accident. And youthful irresponsibility. 

 

Carry the One

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/carry-the-one-carol-anshaw/1102118320?ean=9781451656930


Thanks Elaine 

Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: My 20 Best Books of 2012

 

The Dog Who Danced  

 

The Dog Writers Association of America nominated "The Dog Who Danced" as a best book of the year.

 

http://dogwriters.org/writing-category-nominees-regular-2012.php

 

 

Distinguished Bibliophile
Ryan_G
Posts: 3,295
Registered: ‎10-24-2008

Re: My 20 Best Books of 2012

I have my top 15 post done if anyone is intersted.  The Dispatcher made the list by the way.

 

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com/2012/12/my-15-favorite-reads-of-2012.html

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com
Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: My 20 Best Books of 2012


Ryan_G wrote:

I have my top 15 post done if anyone is intersted.  The Dispatcher made the list by the way.

 

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com/2012/12/my-15-favorite-reads-of-2012.html


Great list Ryan, The Dispatcher was a close call on my last years list and so was The Last Policeman on this years.

 

Happy New Year

Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: My 23 Best Books of 2012

I read 46 books in 2012, which is a record number for me.  Here are the 23 I would recommend:

 

 

The Tiger’s Wife

 

I loved the originality of this book.  It alternately tells a story set today with two folklore-ish stories set in the past.  I thought it was great how all three stories tied together.  What was not so great was the lack of ease with which the reader is able to piece together the big picture.  It was a book that required a careful reading and some time to “process” after finishing it, but it was well worth it.

 

 

Juliet

 

This book had it all --- adventure, romance, history, family drama, and mystery.  It was a fun book to read, but don’t go into it expecting a believable story, even though it contains elements of truth and realism.

 

 

Brooklyn

 

This short book was a wonderful portrait of the immigrant experience of a young woman from Ireland in the early 1950’s.  The book seamlessly mixed period details within the story of Eilis’ life over a two year period.  The fourth part of the four part book was full of tension and was a great finish to the story.

 

 

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

 

Based on the synopsis of this short book, I expected a serious story about re-education during China’s Cultural Revolution.  While the book is indeed about that subject matter, it is told in an unexpected way.  At times, the book was laugh-out-loud funny!  At times, it was heartbreakingly sad.  It was always entertaining and yet educational. 

 

 

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

 

This book is a series of interconnected short stories which narrates the life of a painting.  I loved this clever idea for a book!  The stories are told in reverse chronological order, which adds a sense of mystery.  This is the third book I have read by this author.  I love how she brings art to life through the written word.

 

 

Claude & Camille

 

This is a wonderful account of Monet’s life with Camille, his first wife.  It was like reading a biography, but in the form of a novel.  Monet’s early life defines the term starving artist.

 

 

The Weird Sisters

 

I absolutely loved this book.  It was a wonderful story, told in a unique voice (first person plural), full of wit and humor, but, at the same time, very realistic, and it addressed serious issues too.  It is one of those books that you gush over, telling everyone to read it, so read it! 

 

 

Quiet

 

This book is about “the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”  It provides great insights into how different personality types act and react in situations.  It was written in an easy-to-read way, yet contained lots of researched information.  I found it to be informative and interesting.

 

 

Bereft

 

Melancholy, hopeful, dramatic, historical, spiritual, and beautifully written all describe this book.  It is a short book, one that tempts you to read it very fast, but savor it over a few sittings instead.  It is no wonder it has won so many awards in Australia.

 

 

The Rational Optimist

 

This book is so refreshing!  If you are tired of all the gloom and doom headlines, this book is for you.  It argues, with many very specific examples, that human exchange and specialization have allowed humans to innovate and thrive for the last 8,000 years, and things are only going to keep getting better as long as people are free to pursue such activity.  The many examples are fascinating.  The only downside is that sometimes I felt a bit bogged down by so many detailed examples.

 

 

Secrets of Eden

 

Loved it!  A real page turner!  This book was centered around the issue of spousal abuse, but was told in a way that made it read like a mystery as well.  The story was told by four narrators, each having a section of the book himself/herself, as opposed to alternating narrations between the narrators.  This technique enhanced the momentum and mystery of the story.  About fifty pages in, I found myself reading as much as possible to find out what happened. 

 

 

Russian Winter

 

This was an outstanding book.  It is told in alternating narratives taking place in post World War II Russia and Boston within the last 10 years.  Mysteries are immediately revealed in the book, then unraveled during the narrative.  The book is about love, loyalty, and society, set against a backdrop of ballet and jewelry --- very unique!

 

 

Run

 

A good, solid, well written story.  Some may find it too contrived, but I found it to be believable.  There was more of a political overtone than I would have liked, but given the plot, it was almost necessary.

 

 

No Angel

 

I just loved this book!  It is a family saga told in a very straight forward way, but with lots of twists and turns that seemed to accelerate as the book went on.  I am not a soap opera watcher, but this book was like the best parts of a soap opera to me --- a great story with lots of intertwining relationships and unexpected, but believable occurrences.  The best news is that there are two more volumes to this family saga and I already own the next one!

 

 

Something Dangerous

 

This is the sequel to No Angel, a book which I loved.  The sequel did not disappoint!  I loved it too!  This book centered around World War II and its effect on the characters.  It did not have many twists and turns as the first book, but was a very enthralling family saga nonetheless.  I can’t wait to start the final book in the Lytton family trilogy, Into Temptation.

 

 

The Light Between Oceans

 

A baby washes ashore in a dinghy on the coast of a lighthouse island in southwestern Australia.  The ramifications of this singular event are exceptionally told in this heart wrenching debut novel.  The writing style to be poetic at times, thoughtful at all times.  I found each and every character to be sympathetic and found myself siding with each and every one at different points during the story.  During the last third of the book, the novel was a page turner as I was anxious to see how things would be resolved, and the author managed to include a few more twists when I thought there surely couldn’t be any more.  It is no wonder that this book is a Barnes and Noble Recommends selection --- I wholeheartedly recommend it!

 

 

The Dovekeepers

 

I would use the words atmospheric and poetic to describe the language of this book.  It was slow paced, I think because so much that was unsaid was revealed descriptively, but it was never boring as there was always something happening.  The story was told from the viewpoints of four women, each taking approximately one quarter of the book, which added dimension to the story.  The book brought history to life.  If you do read the book, be sure to view the gallery of pictures on the author’s website, alicehoffman.com and other photos available on the internet.

 

 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

 

This book is pure entertainment!  It is so funny, so clever, and so quirky.  The only thing I didn’t like is that the old man met a lot of political leaders during his life and I don’t like to read about politics.  However, the back story of his life is funny too, and essential for understanding how and why he does what he does at 100 years old.

 

 

Fieldwork

 

This is an engrossing and thought provoking story which raises questions about cultures --- how are they the same, how are they different, and can people become part of a different culture?  This book was ultimately a murder mystery, but was told in a unique way, given the unique circumstances of the murder and the people involved.  I don’t think I have read any books about an anthropologist prior to this one…Too bad the author hasn’t written any other books…yet.

 

 

The Sparrow

 

I wasn’t sure if this book would be one for me since it takes place in the future and has an element of science fiction.  Although there were two short chapters where I found myself zoning out, I thought the book was thoroughly engrossing and suspenseful.  The ending was phenomenal!  The first 35 pages were confusing, with the introduction of several time periods and many characters, but once past the beginning, I found myself caught up in the book, eager to find out what happened (the end is at the beginning of the book, with the story revealing how the present was arrived at).  I plan to read the sequel.

 

 

The Round House

 

While I was not expecting a joyful book, given the subject matter of a book told from the point of view of a boy whose mother was attacked and raped, and who subsequently investigated the matter, I was not prepared for the brutality of the story told.   Despite the brutality of the story, I found it very readable and enjoyable.  I liked the quirky characters, the Indian folklore stories, and the spiritual aspects of the book.  The author tells a powerful story, but prepare yourself for it.  It is definitely worthy of the National Book Award.

 

 

Garden Spells

 

This book was delightful, if predictable.  I liked the premise of a magical garden and a family of women with special powers.  I will definitely read more by this author.

 

 

Gone Girl

 

This was a very entertaining book.  I do not read crime fiction and will only read the occasional literary thriller, so I wasn’t sure if this book would be for me.  I understand why it is so popular --- because it is written such that it appeals to many types of readers.  The story was very clever, one of those that leaves a reader wondering how a person can think up such a story. 

 

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: My 23 Best Books of 2012


Fozzie wrote:

I read 46 books in 2012, which is a record number for me.  Here are the 23 I would recommend:

 

 

The Tiger’s Wife

 

I loved the originality of this book.  It alternately tells a story set today with two folklore-ish stories set in the past.  I thought it was great how all three stories tied together.  What was not so great was the lack of ease with which the reader is able to piece together the big picture.  It was a book that required a careful reading and some time to “process” after finishing it, but it was well worth it.

 

 

Juliet

 

This book had it all --- adventure, romance, history, family drama, and mystery.  It was a fun book to read, but don’t go into it expecting a believable story, even though it contains elements of truth and realism.

 

 

Brooklyn

 

This short book was a wonderful portrait of the immigrant experience of a young woman from Ireland in the early 1950’s.  The book seamlessly mixed period details within the story of Eilis’ life over a two year period.  The fourth part of the four part book was full of tension and was a great finish to the story.

 

 

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

 

Based on the synopsis of this short book, I expected a serious story about re-education during China’s Cultural Revolution.  While the book is indeed about that subject matter, it is told in an unexpected way.  At times, the book was laugh-out-loud funny!  At times, it was heartbreakingly sad.  It was always entertaining and yet educational. 

 

 

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

 

This book is a series of interconnected short stories which narrates the life of a painting.  I loved this clever idea for a book!  The stories are told in reverse chronological order, which adds a sense of mystery.  This is the third book I have read by this author.  I love how she brings art to life through the written word.

 

 

Claude & Camille

 

This is a wonderful account of Monet’s life with Camille, his first wife.  It was like reading a biography, but in the form of a novel.  Monet’s early life defines the term starving artist.

 

 

The Weird Sisters

 

I absolutely loved this book.  It was a wonderful story, told in a unique voice (first person plural), full of wit and humor, but, at the same time, very realistic, and it addressed serious issues too.  It is one of those books that you gush over, telling everyone to read it, so read it! 

 

 

Quiet

 

This book is about “the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”  It provides great insights into how different personality types act and react in situations.  It was written in an easy-to-read way, yet contained lots of researched information.  I found it to be informative and interesting.

 

 

Bereft

 

Melancholy, hopeful, dramatic, historical, spiritual, and beautifully written all describe this book.  It is a short book, one that tempts you to read it very fast, but savor it over a few sittings instead.  It is no wonder it has won so many awards in Australia.

 

 

The Rational Optimist

 

This book is so refreshing!  If you are tired of all the gloom and doom headlines, this book is for you.  It argues, with many very specific examples, that human exchange and specialization have allowed humans to innovate and thrive for the last 8,000 years, and things are only going to keep getting better as long as people are free to pursue such activity.  The many examples are fascinating.  The only downside is that sometimes I felt a bit bogged down by so many detailed examples.

 

 

Secrets of Eden

 

Loved it!  A real page turner!  This book was centered around the issue of spousal abuse, but was told in a way that made it read like a mystery as well.  The story was told by four narrators, each having a section of the book himself/herself, as opposed to alternating narrations between the narrators.  This technique enhanced the momentum and mystery of the story.  About fifty pages in, I found myself reading as much as possible to find out what happened. 

 

 

Russian Winter

 

This was an outstanding book.  It is told in alternating narratives taking place in post World War II Russia and Boston within the last 10 years.  Mysteries are immediately revealed in the book, then unraveled during the narrative.  The book is about love, loyalty, and society, set against a backdrop of ballet and jewelry --- very unique!

 

 

Run

 

A good, solid, well written story.  Some may find it too contrived, but I found it to be believable.  There was more of a political overtone than I would have liked, but given the plot, it was almost necessary.

 

 

No Angel

 

I just loved this book!  It is a family saga told in a very straight forward way, but with lots of twists and turns that seemed to accelerate as the book went on.  I am not a soap opera watcher, but this book was like the best parts of a soap opera to me --- a great story with lots of intertwining relationships and unexpected, but believable occurrences.  The best news is that there are two more volumes to this family saga and I already own the next one!

 

 

Something Dangerous

 

This is the sequel to No Angel, a book which I loved.  The sequel did not disappoint!  I loved it too!  This book centered around World War II and its effect on the characters.  It did not have many twists and turns as the first book, but was a very enthralling family saga nonetheless.  I can’t wait to start the final book in the Lytton family trilogy, Into Temptation.

 

 

The Light Between Oceans

 

A baby washes ashore in a dinghy on the coast of a lighthouse island in southwestern Australia.  The ramifications of this singular event are exceptionally told in this heart wrenching debut novel.  The writing style to be poetic at times, thoughtful at all times.  I found each and every character to be sympathetic and found myself siding with each and every one at different points during the story.  During the last third of the book, the novel was a page turner as I was anxious to see how things would be resolved, and the author managed to include a few more twists when I thought there surely couldn’t be any more.  It is no wonder that this book is a Barnes and Noble Recommends selection --- I wholeheartedly recommend it!

 

 

The Dovekeepers

 

I would use the words atmospheric and poetic to describe the language of this book.  It was slow paced, I think because so much that was unsaid was revealed descriptively, but it was never boring as there was always something happening.  The story was told from the viewpoints of four women, each taking approximately one quarter of the book, which added dimension to the story.  The book brought history to life.  If you do read the book, be sure to view the gallery of pictures on the author’s website, alicehoffman.com and other photos available on the internet.

 

 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

 

This book is pure entertainment!  It is so funny, so clever, and so quirky.  The only thing I didn’t like is that the old man met a lot of political leaders during his life and I don’t like to read about politics.  However, the back story of his life is funny too, and essential for understanding how and why he does what he does at 100 years old.

 

 

Fieldwork

 

This is an engrossing and thought provoking story which raises questions about cultures --- how are they the same, how are they different, and can people become part of a different culture?  This book was ultimately a murder mystery, but was told in a unique way, given the unique circumstances of the murder and the people involved.  I don’t think I have read any books about an anthropologist prior to this one…Too bad the author hasn’t written any other books…yet.

 

 

The Sparrow

 

I wasn’t sure if this book would be one for me since it takes place in the future and has an element of science fiction.  Although there were two short chapters where I found myself zoning out, I thought the book was thoroughly engrossing and suspenseful.  The ending was phenomenal!  The first 35 pages were confusing, with the introduction of several time periods and many characters, but once past the beginning, I found myself caught up in the book, eager to find out what happened (the end is at the beginning of the book, with the story revealing how the present was arrived at).  I plan to read the sequel.

 

 

The Round House

 

While I was not expecting a joyful book, given the subject matter of a book told from the point of view of a boy whose mother was attacked and raped, and who subsequently investigated the matter, I was not prepared for the brutality of the story told.   Despite the brutality of the story, I found it very readable and enjoyable.  I liked the quirky characters, the Indian folklore stories, and the spiritual aspects of the book.  The author tells a powerful story, but prepare yourself for it.  It is definitely worthy of the National Book Award.

 

 

Garden Spells

 

This book was delightful, if predictable.  I liked the premise of a magical garden and a family of women with special powers.  I will definitely read more by this author.

 

 

Gone Girl

 

This was a very entertaining book.  I do not read crime fiction and will only read the occasional literary thriller, so I wasn’t sure if this book would be for me.  I understand why it is so popular --- because it is written such that it appeals to many types of readers.  The story was very clever, one of those that leaves a reader wondering how a person can think up such a story. 

 

 


Great list Laura, congrats for topping your read amount. Are you hoping for more in 2013?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on each too.

Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: My 23 Best Books of 2012


dhaupt wrote:

Fozzie wrote:

I read 46 books in 2012, which is a record number for me.  


Great list Laura, congrats for topping your read amount. Are you hoping for more in 2013?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on each too.


I'll set the same goal as last year --- a book a week, or 52.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Ryan_G
Posts: 3,295
Registered: ‎10-24-2008
0 Kudos

Re: My 23 Best Books of 2012

I've read Russian Winter in 2011 and really enjoyed it, glad to see if made your list.  The only other one I've read is Bereft, which I like a lot too.


Fozzie wrote:

I read 46 books in 2012, which is a record number for me.  Here are the 23 I would recommend:

 

 

The Tiger’s Wife

 

I loved the originality of this book.  It alternately tells a story set today with two folklore-ish stories set in the past.  I thought it was great how all three stories tied together.  What was not so great was the lack of ease with which the reader is able to piece together the big picture.  It was a book that required a careful reading and some time to “process” after finishing it, but it was well worth it.

 

 

Juliet

 

This book had it all --- adventure, romance, history, family drama, and mystery.  It was a fun book to read, but don’t go into it expecting a believable story, even though it contains elements of truth and realism.

 

 

Brooklyn

 

This short book was a wonderful portrait of the immigrant experience of a young woman from Ireland in the early 1950’s.  The book seamlessly mixed period details within the story of Eilis’ life over a two year period.  The fourth part of the four part book was full of tension and was a great finish to the story.

 

 

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

 

Based on the synopsis of this short book, I expected a serious story about re-education during China’s Cultural Revolution.  While the book is indeed about that subject matter, it is told in an unexpected way.  At times, the book was laugh-out-loud funny!  At times, it was heartbreakingly sad.  It was always entertaining and yet educational. 

 

 

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

 

This book is a series of interconnected short stories which narrates the life of a painting.  I loved this clever idea for a book!  The stories are told in reverse chronological order, which adds a sense of mystery.  This is the third book I have read by this author.  I love how she brings art to life through the written word.

 

 

Claude & Camille

 

This is a wonderful account of Monet’s life with Camille, his first wife.  It was like reading a biography, but in the form of a novel.  Monet’s early life defines the term starving artist.

 

 

The Weird Sisters

 

I absolutely loved this book.  It was a wonderful story, told in a unique voice (first person plural), full of wit and humor, but, at the same time, very realistic, and it addressed serious issues too.  It is one of those books that you gush over, telling everyone to read it, so read it! 

 

 

Quiet

 

This book is about “the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”  It provides great insights into how different personality types act and react in situations.  It was written in an easy-to-read way, yet contained lots of researched information.  I found it to be informative and interesting.

 

 

Bereft

 

Melancholy, hopeful, dramatic, historical, spiritual, and beautifully written all describe this book.  It is a short book, one that tempts you to read it very fast, but savor it over a few sittings instead.  It is no wonder it has won so many awards in Australia.

 

 

The Rational Optimist

 

This book is so refreshing!  If you are tired of all the gloom and doom headlines, this book is for you.  It argues, with many very specific examples, that human exchange and specialization have allowed humans to innovate and thrive for the last 8,000 years, and things are only going to keep getting better as long as people are free to pursue such activity.  The many examples are fascinating.  The only downside is that sometimes I felt a bit bogged down by so many detailed examples.

 

 

Secrets of Eden

 

Loved it!  A real page turner!  This book was centered around the issue of spousal abuse, but was told in a way that made it read like a mystery as well.  The story was told by four narrators, each having a section of the book himself/herself, as opposed to alternating narrations between the narrators.  This technique enhanced the momentum and mystery of the story.  About fifty pages in, I found myself reading as much as possible to find out what happened. 

 

 

Russian Winter

 

This was an outstanding book.  It is told in alternating narratives taking place in post World War II Russia and Boston within the last 10 years.  Mysteries are immediately revealed in the book, then unraveled during the narrative.  The book is about love, loyalty, and society, set against a backdrop of ballet and jewelry --- very unique!

 

 

Run

 

A good, solid, well written story.  Some may find it too contrived, but I found it to be believable.  There was more of a political overtone than I would have liked, but given the plot, it was almost necessary.

 

 

No Angel

 

I just loved this book!  It is a family saga told in a very straight forward way, but with lots of twists and turns that seemed to accelerate as the book went on.  I am not a soap opera watcher, but this book was like the best parts of a soap opera to me --- a great story with lots of intertwining relationships and unexpected, but believable occurrences.  The best news is that there are two more volumes to this family saga and I already own the next one!

 

 

Something Dangerous

 

This is the sequel to No Angel, a book which I loved.  The sequel did not disappoint!  I loved it too!  This book centered around World War II and its effect on the characters.  It did not have many twists and turns as the first book, but was a very enthralling family saga nonetheless.  I can’t wait to start the final book in the Lytton family trilogy, Into Temptation.

 

 

The Light Between Oceans

 

A baby washes ashore in a dinghy on the coast of a lighthouse island in southwestern Australia.  The ramifications of this singular event are exceptionally told in this heart wrenching debut novel.  The writing style to be poetic at times, thoughtful at all times.  I found each and every character to be sympathetic and found myself siding with each and every one at different points during the story.  During the last third of the book, the novel was a page turner as I was anxious to see how things would be resolved, and the author managed to include a few more twists when I thought there surely couldn’t be any more.  It is no wonder that this book is a Barnes and Noble Recommends selection --- I wholeheartedly recommend it!

 

 

The Dovekeepers

 

I would use the words atmospheric and poetic to describe the language of this book.  It was slow paced, I think because so much that was unsaid was revealed descriptively, but it was never boring as there was always something happening.  The story was told from the viewpoints of four women, each taking approximately one quarter of the book, which added dimension to the story.  The book brought history to life.  If you do read the book, be sure to view the gallery of pictures on the author’s website, alicehoffman.com and other photos available on the internet.

 

 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

 

This book is pure entertainment!  It is so funny, so clever, and so quirky.  The only thing I didn’t like is that the old man met a lot of political leaders during his life and I don’t like to read about politics.  However, the back story of his life is funny too, and essential for understanding how and why he does what he does at 100 years old.

 

 

Fieldwork

 

This is an engrossing and thought provoking story which raises questions about cultures --- how are they the same, how are they different, and can people become part of a different culture?  This book was ultimately a murder mystery, but was told in a unique way, given the unique circumstances of the murder and the people involved.  I don’t think I have read any books about an anthropologist prior to this one…Too bad the author hasn’t written any other books…yet.

 

 

The Sparrow

 

I wasn’t sure if this book would be one for me since it takes place in the future and has an element of science fiction.  Although there were two short chapters where I found myself zoning out, I thought the book was thoroughly engrossing and suspenseful.  The ending was phenomenal!  The first 35 pages were confusing, with the introduction of several time periods and many characters, but once past the beginning, I found myself caught up in the book, eager to find out what happened (the end is at the beginning of the book, with the story revealing how the present was arrived at).  I plan to read the sequel.

 

 

The Round House

 

While I was not expecting a joyful book, given the subject matter of a book told from the point of view of a boy whose mother was attacked and raped, and who subsequently investigated the matter, I was not prepared for the brutality of the story told.   Despite the brutality of the story, I found it very readable and enjoyable.  I liked the quirky characters, the Indian folklore stories, and the spiritual aspects of the book.  The author tells a powerful story, but prepare yourself for it.  It is definitely worthy of the National Book Award.

 

 

Garden Spells

 

This book was delightful, if predictable.  I liked the premise of a magical garden and a family of women with special powers.  I will definitely read more by this author.

 

 

Gone Girl

 

This was a very entertaining book.  I do not read crime fiction and will only read the occasional literary thriller, so I wasn’t sure if this book would be for me.  I understand why it is so popular --- because it is written such that it appeals to many types of readers.  The story was very clever, one of those that leaves a reader wondering how a person can think up such a story. 

 

 


 

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com