Forewarning: this is a LONG post, and only part 1 of 2 posts.
Hey guys, Rose here with another post kind of piggybacking off the last announcement post. I figure this is probably the perfect time to do a bit of a “year-end” post featuring some of my favorite reads from the past year. The end of the year isn’t quite over, but I’m setting this date as the cutoff point for me as far as some of the books I’ve had the chance to read this past year that I loved. I think books I read after this date that catch my eye will have their own feature if they come up, but this is kind of a summary post based on books I’ve read this year.
This is the first ever favorite book post I’ve done on the blog. In the past, I used to have a “Favorite Things” theme where I would highlight some of my favorite music albums among English and Japanese Pop releases in a “year-end release” post. Eventually I figure I’ll work my way back to that, but I think for now, since I’ve had the opportunity to read goodness knows how many books this year (nearly 300 – which is the most I’ve read in a year in a LONG time), my focus will be on this. I might do a music post a little later on because I’ve had the chance to listen to quite a bit of great releases this past year, and it would probably be a good transition into some of my regular music reviews again once the new year comes around.
Tangents aside, let’s establish some ground rules on how this will work.
The following is an unranked list of my favorites I’ve read in a multitude of genres – adult, young adult, fiction and non fiction among other designations. I figure for this first post I’m not going to organize it by category because that would take too much time for me to do (and I don’t think I’ve read enough in all the genre fiction/non-fiction among various age groups to be able to do that – not like how Goodreads had their “Readers Choice” selection this past year). I’ll arrange them with cover, title, release date, genre/age group designation, and just a brief description of why it made my favorite reads list. Some of these you might recognize from where I reviewed them on my blog earlier this year, and a lot of them fall under the Young Adult genre. There are a few others that I haven’t reviewed yet, but I aim to review them in the future as soon as I can do so.
The first part of this will feature exclusively books that I’ve read this year that were also published this year. The “Honorable Mentions” will feature reads I’ve read this year, but may not have been published this past year (because I wanted a list where I could include some very good reads that I missed out reading around the time they were released, but I’d rank them certainly among my favorites for the present consideration).
In other words, I think the main thing I want to do with this series of posts is have fun and give you guys some great reads to check out for yourselves. 🙂 So without further ado, here are my favorite reads for the year 2012 – 20 novels in total for this first list. I hope you’ll enjoy them. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all.
Favorite Reads of 2012
Title: Unspoken (The Lyndburn Legacy #1)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre: Mystery/Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Release date: September 11th, 2012
Reflection: Sarah Rees Brennan’s natural humor and distinct characterizations with respect to Jared and Kami made “Unspoken” one of my favorite reads of 2012. I haven’t read many young adult novels that have treated gothic paranormal romance and mystery in a blend so well that it pops off the page.
Title: Lou! Summertime Blues (#2)
Author: Julien Neel
Genre: Comics/Graphic Novels, Humor, Children’s/Middle Grade
Release Date: January 1st, 2012
Reflection: When Lou and her mother travel to Memaw’s house for the summer, they don’t quite expect the hilarious and enthralling encounters they have in their respective relationships – between each other as well as externally. This second installation in the popular Lou series is a beautiful one, one that had me holding my sides laughing and in awe of the beautiful artwork.
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Travel, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: March 13th, 2012
Reflection: “Wanderlove” is one of the most unique YA novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the past year. With a keen eye to locations and the internal struggles of Bria and Rowan as they try to reinvent themselves, this book is a highly recommended read for teens and for anyone who wants to indulge their wish to be a “global vagabond”.
Author: Dan Wells
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Dystopia, Young Adult
Release Date: February 28th, 2012
Reflection: Dan Wells’ “Partials” is one of the most intriguing, carefully constructed dystopian novels I’ve read in the past year. Great worldbuilding, great characterizations, and an awesome eye into virology. Kira is a wonderful, strong protagonist to follow.
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Paranormal, Young Adult
Release Date: March 8th 2012
Reflection: This was my first read from Linda Joy Singleton, and it certainly won’t be the last. Those who want something of a Nancy Drew mystery with a Goth heroine and a touch towards the paranormal will enjoy “Buried”. It also helps that it has a likable side hero with a snarky attitude.
Author: Hannah Harrington
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance, GLBT, Young Adult
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Reflection: Indubitably one of my favorite reads of the past year, “Speechless” is the story of a young woman who learns much about herself and the relationships she builds in taking a vow of silence after a horrible incident.
Author: Amy Reed
Genre: Realistic fiction, Romance, Tough Subjects, Mental Illness, Young Adult
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Reflection: My first read from Amy Reed – this was a potent eye into a young woman suffering from bipolar disorder, and tells its narrative between two perspectives in letter format – between the young woman and the boy who loves her.
Author: J.A. Beard
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Middle Grade/Young Adult, Retellings
Release Date: February 5th, 2012
Reflection: One of the most charming retellings of a work I’ve read this past year. Gail – alongside her newfound friends at a mysterious boarding school – experience many interesting adventures and unravel many magical encounters in this interesting take on “The Wizard of Oz.” While I was a reader for this particular story before it was released, I don’t mince words when I say I was very impressed with the way this story came across and engaged from beginning to end.
Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Suspense
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Reflection: Mira Grant’s conclusion to the “Newsflesh Trilogy” gives a lot of thrills and surprising revelations surrounding Georgia and Shawn Mason, among their collective team. I couldn’t put this book down the entire time I read it and I think fans of the series will find this engaging and satisfying.
Title: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
Genre: Non-Fiction, Reference
Release Date: January 24th 2012
Reflection: A fascinating and engrossing look into introversion in our present day society on a multitude of levels. As an introvert myself, I couldn’t help but be drawn to many parts of this narrative and examination into the topic.
Author: Kristen Callihan
Genre: Romance, Historical, Paranormal, Adult Fiction
Release Date: January 31st, 2012
Reflection: Lord and Lady Archer get my pick for best chemistry among a historical romantic couple in this particular work. Kristen Callihan crafts a dark, alternative version of London that is immersive and full of mystery, suspense, and wonderful character dynamics. Certainly one I would recommend for adult paranormal romance readers craving a unique take.
Author: J. Anderson Coats
Genre: Historical, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Release Date: April 17th, 2012
Reflection: Beautifully written historical piece on two girls growing up during the clash between the English and Welsh during the 13th century.
Author: Terry Farish
Genre: Verse Novel, War, Realistic Fiction, Tough Subjects, Young Adult
Release Date: May 1st, 2012
Reflection: Potent verse novel of a young woman’s journey with her family from Africa to America. It doesn’t come without some heavy costs for its young protagonist, but she finds love and a place to learn in the process.
Title: Alif the Unseen
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Humor, Religion, Sci-Fi
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Reflection: One of the most unique novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year – “Alif the Unseen” is a blend of technological suspense, religion, morality stories, humor, and even hints of romance. Alif is a hacker who inadvertently invents a code that does more than he bargains for, and the government is willing to chase him to gain it.
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Young Adult, Tough Subjects, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, GLBT
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Reflection: Beautifully drawn novel on the life of “A” – a teen who jumps from body to body every 24-hours, though “A” ends up falling in love for the first time with a girl he meets along the way.
Author: Erik Olsen
Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: April 10th, 2012 (from Cedar Fort)
Reflection: I’m completely (and constantly) surprised that I haven’t heard more about this series among reading circles because this is a wonderfully drawn middle grade fantasy novel about a boy (Flin) and his friends who are swallowed beneath the earth and are transported to another realm full of interesting creatures and encounters full of peril.
Title: Undeniably Yours
Author: Shannon Stacey
Genre: Romance, Adult Fiction, Humor, Contemporary, Chick-Lit
Release Date: January 24th, 2012
Reflection: Shannon Stacey’s second novel in the Kowalski series is a light, fluffy read with plenty of humor and character chemistry to go around. I personally enjoyed the novel for what it offered in the combination of those elements. I still have yet to read further installations of the series, but this counted among a few contemporary romantic reads I enjoyed in the past year.
Honorable Mentions of 2012
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Young Adult/Adult Fiction
Reflection: How could I not include this book on my list for this past year, despite its release in 2011? I missed out on reading it for its initial release, but I’m so, so glad that I read this novel this year. Wonderfully engrossing dystopian adventure combining many references from 1980s pop and gaming culture, narrated by Wil Wheaton in the audiobook version. Certainly one of the best novels I’ve read in the past year, and one of my all-time favorites.
Title: The Piper’s Son
Author: Melina Marchetta
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age
Reflections: I personally love Melina Marchetta’s realistic fiction titles, and “The Piper’s Son” is no exception to that. This could technically count as a 2012 novel since the U.S. Paperback version came out this year, but it was originally published back in 2010, I think. Told between the 20-something conflicted Tom MacKee and his aunt Georgie, “Piper’s Son” is a powerful novel of coming to terms and the relationships built between the respective characters.
Author: Megan Hart
Genre: Adult Fiction, Erotica, Erotic Romance, Mature
Reflections: Forget Fifty Shades of Grey. Seriously.
Ana and Christian don’t hold a candle to an ounce of the development, realism, and chemistry that Dan and Elle have in this respective novel, imho. And Dan’s actually a likable guy to boot who wants to pursue the full terms of a relationship with a reluctant heroine who has a dark past. Not to mention that even the secondary characters in this novel have a great deal of development. That’s saying something.
If there’s something good about the boom in people reading erotica coming out of the past year, it was a renewed interest for some erotic authors who have been in the industry for quite some time, Megan Hart being no exception to that. And Hart does it very, very well. With three-dimensional characters, steamy erotic scenes, and some very tough circumstances that the respective narrator – Elle – has to face in multiple dimensions of her relationships, this novel really impressed me. I realize that it may not be a novel for everyone, especially considering it takes on some very tough subject matters and darker moments, but if you’re looking for well-rounded characters in addition to sensual scenes that pop off the page, Hart’s a great author to look to. “Dirty” just happens to be one of my personal favorites coming from my reads of the past year. Technically with the newer covers from Harlequin – this could count as a 2012 read, but it was originally published in 2007.
That’s all for this respective list. I have a part 2 for my favorite reads coming in the form of superlatives in the next entry. Just because you didn’t see a particular title on this list doesn’t mean that it won’t be featured – it may very well have a place on the next list (and that’s considering if I’ve read it or am in the process of reading it).
Until next entry,