I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!
It is now time for the third annual Stand-Out Books of the Year (2012) post!
Despite working full-time and never seeming to have quite as much time as I want to read, I’m happy to say that I DID top last year’s stats by a bit. Interested? Okay, then, here goes the numbers for 2012:
How many books did I read?
That is 19 more than in 2011.
How many pages did I read?
That is 6,920 more than in 2011!!!
How many pages (on average) did I read per day?
That is 19 more than in 2011!!!
Just in case you don’t have a general idea how this post works: I am incapable of naming any of the books I read in the year “my favorite”. I get hung up on different categories, different titles, different strengths and weaknesses of each book. You really wouldn’t want to see that. There are tears. There is guilt. It’s not pretty.
Instead, I look over all the books I read all year and pick the books that stand out to me. This doesn’t mean that a book that’s not on here wasn’t AWESOME!!! In fact, even picking with this criterion still makes me feel guilt-ridden and torn.
It was tough picking, as always. Please know there are many AMAZING books that I had on this list that I had to whittle off, or this post could be stuffed with 70+ books. This is by no means the only books that left an impression on me in 2012.
Like last year, even with the cuts I forced myself to make to keep the list down (*sob*), the Stand-Out Books of 2012 list is still long. That’s why to keep it easier for you (and me!) I’m breaking them up into categories again. A lot of the books could be placed in multiple categories, so work with me here. Again, I’ll just give a quick few sentences for each and a link to the review in the title.
I hope you enjoy it!!! Be ready to make up a new to-buy/to-read list!
The 44 books that made the cut are:
Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot
Meg Cabot’s fourth installment in the hilarious, entertaining Heather Wells adult mystery series is a fun, great addition. As well as a great new sleuth-worthy story, we also got a chance to meet with hunky Cooper’s sisters – a scene so memorable it still makes me laugh just thinking of it! Fantastic comedic whodunit!
Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney
I must have an itch for murder mysteries that have a laugh-out-loud style. Call it morbid, call it awesome – we’re all different. But I know that some of you bibliophiles have that same itch – and if you don’t start howling with this adult hysterical mystery within minutes, call me a book-hater!
Clarity and Perception by Kim Harrington
These two YA paranormal mysteries go hand in hand. What’s fantastic is that you can read them one after the other because they’re both available! I absolutely LOVED the Veronica Mars meets psychic abilities tone that Harrington brought to the table. I’m crossing my fingers that we haven’t seen the last of Clarity!!!
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
This YA historical novel has a Jane Eyre gothic touch, not to mention a smart, practical heroine, ramblingly creepy mansion, clockwork brilliance, quiet romance, AND a subtle mystery. Impressive? Yes!
Eyes to See by Joseph Nassise
Here we’ve got quite an excellent adult supernatural novel with a male protagonist that gave his sight to use otherworldly methods to find his kidnapped daughter. Now, working with the police, he uses his newfound expertise and link to the spirit world to help solve cases. It’s the first in a series and was really original, scary, and very striking!
Dragon’s Keep and Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
Companion YA novels, these two poetic, intimate novels have lovely, fully realized magical, period history environments and enthralling, resonant tones that give them a top tier dragon fantasy superiority, in my opinion. Carey’s writing is always perfectly hypnotic and sometimes heartbreaking.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Another incredible YA dragon novel that takes a different approach. I was stunned by the psychological element involved, mixed with a medieval kingdom on the precipice of war, espionage, and secrets. Intelligent and well-plotted, I can’t wait for the sequel!
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Sometimes you just want a fairy tale! Here you get exactly that with a whimsical, new story that weaves in some of the classics but remains a tale all its own. Fun escapism.
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
This YA/middlegrade adventure novel never really has any magic in it, per se, but the setting of a faraway land, believed dead prince, and a slew of orphaned boys recruited to learn to impersonate him or face possible death feels very fantasy, even so. I was riveted all the way through and kept guessing the whole time! Here again I’m excited for book two in the trilogy, The Runaway King, coming out in 2013.
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
As a lover of Jane Austen, I love it when an author can catch that tone and style – here is the closest I’ve experienced lately (besides Stephanie Barron’s OUTSTANDING Jane Austen Mystery series) and I loved it!! Plus, the gentle, naturalistic infusion of “glamour” (a.k.a. magic) gives it its own feet to stand on. Yet again, I’m happy to say that I’ll be reading the sequel soon! Notice a pattern here?
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Wow. This YA novel is probably one of the MOST memorable of the year for me. It’s a lyrical beauty of a book featuring an original myth of man-eating horses, a highly dangerous race, and a boy and girl that understand each other. I mean, really, I could hardly stop crying. Definitely a MUST for animal lovers, as odd as that may sound. Actually it’s a MUST for EVERYONE!!!
The Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
Probably two of the most flat-out diverting books I read this year. We’ve got a ragtag group of Victorian teens with special abilities (controlling the aether, super strength, half-clockwork bodies, ability to speak to machines, etc.) fighting bad intentioned automatons, their own personal difficulties, among other things. It was a blast and I’m THRILLED that there’s another book coming out next year. This is an awesome steampunk series that I hope continues for quite a while!! FUN!
Extraordinary* the True Story of My Fairy Godparent, Who Almost Killed Me, and Certainly Never Made Me a Princess by Adam Selzer
Hilarious, spoof-like urban fantasy with a surprisingly well-fleshed out world of zombies, vampires, and the like. When our gal meets the foul-mouthed guy who tells her he’s her fairy godparent, who is she to argue? But is he really supposed to make everything WORSE?! A laugh-out-loud read!!
Don’t Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough
Mix of contemporary father/daughter sweet and painful relationship drama and magic, as she learns the true reason of his often absent father syndrome. A gene involving the ability to grant wishes – a fairy godmother gene that she now possesses! Both satisfying and funny, I’m dying for the follow-up!
Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
Stunner of a middlegrade novel about a young girl dealing with the illness of her father. Hard to explain all the expressive loveliness that exists in this story, except to mention that it involves wanting to help a struggling swan. I’d recommend it to animal lovers for sure, but anyone who appreciates a touching; beautifully written story will enjoy this. Killed me!
First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci
An offbeat, very short YA novel that takes an angry teen convinced he was abducted by aliens years ago and presents him with another boy that says he actually is an alien and needs help getting home. Is he lying or could this be the proof he’s long waited for? Distinctive, absorbing, and refreshingly different – I found this to be a quietly compelling story that’s shockingly relatable.
Hooked by Catherine Greenman
Teen pregnancy novel that neither glorifies it nor bashes it. Far more graceful and painfully candid than I expected.
The List by Siobhan Vivian
Shockingly frank and realistic look at the effects on multiple lives when a list of the high school’s most beautiful and most ugly is posted. Truly superb. The last line was profound and lasted in my mind for days afterwards.
Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
All four of this sincere YA series were excellent – all of them funny, fresh, and believably angsty – but I thought for the sake of this list I would only include this final book. It was perfect finale, in my opinion. Loved the close, the focus on self-confidence and growing up, independence and real romance. The sidesplitting situations and narrations helped to make it unforgettable, too!
The Copper Room by Henry Melton
Whaddya know? Mr. Melton has made the list again! Always an expert at creating believable science situations and taking them to that sci-fi place, this story of two teens moving forward in time in a copper room was mind-bending. Favorite thing was seeing how their existence in different periods left impressions and legends. Very cool!
Green Heart by Alice Hoffman
Oh. My. Gosh. This compilation of Green Witch and Green Angel was like poetry in motion. Taking an end-of-the-world scenario and weaving grief, loss, heartbreak and hope was phenomenal. If you haven’t read it – change that immediately!
Revived by Cat Patrick
Cat Patrick is officially becoming one of my favorite authors. With this amazingly matchless look at a girl that has died multiple times (yes, you read that right) and her constantly mobile life and her previous Stand-Out (2011) Forgotten, I see her as an energetic voice in YA fiction. Heartfelt, touching, funny, suspenseful, and always oh-so-intriguing, Revived was EXCELLENT!!!
Pure by Julianna Baggott
A YA epic start to an apocalyptic adventure. New, different, chilling, and WOW – I was won over by the character’s strength and the pure creativity brought to the table here.
The Forgetting Curve by Angie Smibert
Sequel to the excellent Memento Nora – taking a futuristic world where people take pills to forget unpleasant things – and if that isn’t disturbing enough, there’s an ulterior motive to it. This is the second installment of the series when we see the struggle to remember, to fight against it. Wowza!
The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
Oh how I love Kelley Armstrong! Her YA series just have me all up in arms to get her adult books too, if that day presents itself. This is the second book in the Darkness Rising trilogy, a companion series to my BELOVED Darkest Powers trilogy. Made me love the characters more, brought more layers out, and gave me all kinds of sci-fi/paranormal goodness!
Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
I really don’t understand how anyone can’t be flat out in love with this and its predecessor Starcrossed! I know that y’all are out there – and I know we’re all different – but REALLY? Oh, Greek myths revisited, dark curses, messed up romance, strong family connections, and really a phenomenal plot!!! I cannot wait for book three!!!
Taken By Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
If you haven’t read the first two books in the YA Taken by Wolves series before this, you need to rectify that. Stunningly effective, smart and heartbreakingly suspenseful I found this third book to be just as magnificent as the others. I hope it’s not the end, I don’t know. But I treasure these books.
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Sequel to the acclaimed Anna Dressed in Blood, I felt this follow-up was even better! Hair-raising, freaky, and still involving on a character level – this is definitely a must-read for fans of Supernatural or any cinematic-like ghost hunter vs. ghost readers that like an unusual twist to their story.
The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer
Marie Antoinette is a fascinating woman in history. Here we get a fictional, but primarily historically accurate, look at her perspective from childhood to her death. Hurts to read at times, but it’s so beautifully well-done by a truly talented author – I was speechless.
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
This is an adult novel that takes the known Tussaud name and puts life behind it. Oh my goodness is the French Revolution a bloody, gory, extremely disturbing moment in history! Moran really made it feel real, terrifying and gripping from start to finish. I was impressed and transfixed – if also looking for a lighter read afterwards.
With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
WWII era romance between a soldier and a nurse – all in the form of anonymous letters. Very touching, gently written, and highly affective.
Escape From Home and Into the Storm by AVI
These two novels of Irish siblings and a runaway English boy gaining passage to America in the late 1870s have a classic tone and a breakneck adventure feel that never felt melodramatic. I was absorbed from start to finish and quite often on the “edge of my seat”.
A Promise to Love by Serena B. Miller
Astonishingly well-written and tender novel of a widowed father, accused/suspected of causing his wife’s death, and the immigrant, strong young woman determined to help him by offering marriage is a exquisite story of love. Miller is quickly becoming one of my favorite inspirational historical fiction writers.
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
As he did with the magnificent The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Selznick created another lovely story through both words and illustrations. This time it’s the tale of two different children in two eras, and we get to see how their lives parallel and, eventually, meet. Tear-jerker achievement.
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Familiar author? Yep. My, oh my, is she good! This is a stand-alone YA novel with a girl who is human for 24 hours, then something else entirely the next 24 hours – back and forth continually. And when she’s not human she’s super powerful and likes to kill other non-human things – monsters, zombies, and the like. But when she knows someone’s in danger? Wrong 24 hours. So, so different and FANTASTIC!!!
The Game of Triumphs and The Master of Misrule by Laura Powell
These two YA mind-puzzles are AWESOME!!! If you like books that twist and mess with reality, here ya go! Four teens in London become involved in a game that takes place in an alternate universe – with some serious stakes. I don’t want to give more away except to say READ THEM BOTH!!!!!!!!!!
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
You think you know how Romeo & Juliet ended? Think again! Neither is truly dead but in a centuries long battle over the souls of true love – jumping into other teen’s bodies to complete their next assignment. It’s Juliet’s choice to try and bring the two together and keep the souls safe – Romeo chose long ago to try and steal those souls, in exchange for his immortality. Thrilling, unique stuff. Awesome.
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
YA dark take on mermaids. We’ve got a merman and his sisters that are out for revenge on a human man they blame for their mother’s death – but he’s an adult with two daughters. To get closer to him, the main character tries to get in good with the teen girl – but finds himself falling for her. Nicely creepy and nerve-wracking new approach to mermaids!
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Freaky things are a-happenin’ in 1920s New York City. Bray really showed her stuff here, interweaving multiple young adult characters into a sprawling novel of absorbing writing, frightening plot, funny lines, and dynamic characters. Happily it’s the first in a series. I was turned off by the few scenes of animal violence – that’s a big no-no for me. I only let it slide because of the way it’s done, and the fact that I understand the purpose – but I’d still prefer it without, and don’t believe it’s necessary.
Okay, so there are 44 books for you to look into, to buy, to READ!!!
I want to thank the authors that write – that provide us these worlds, these stories to soak ourselves in. I want to thank the publicists, publishers, and writers that promote books and have provided me so generously with the opportunity to review books throughout the year.
And I want to thank YOU, reader of the Bibliophile Support Group. At times it can be tough to keep up with this blog, to remember why I created it in the first place – but every time you comment, click a link, or subscribe to this blog it reminds me that I wanted this site to be a place that readers’ who felt as passionate about reading and books as I do could have something to share - thank you!!!
Have a wonderful New Year’s Day – and I’ll see ya in 2013!!!
*I dedicate this year's Stand-Out post to Ritchie - my cat that died on April 3rd of this year at almost 14 years of age. For over half my life he was a near constant companion while I read - purring, snoring, and being his sweet self. I miss him every day. I also want to dedicate this post to Rusty and Nippy, Ritchie's siblings, that bring joy and love into my life every day. I cherish every moment!