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Friday, January 11, 2013

Favorite Reads of 2012

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
-Author Unknown

I'm going to just into this post and try not to turn this post into a novel of it's own.
Here are my favorite reads of 2012:


Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
This lovely and haunting book is about a family grieving.  They are grieving over the loss of an uncle, a brother and a lover but mostly over the loss of connection and of dreams.  It's a tale of jealousy and love and what the results of both can be.

I don't want to say too much for fear of ruining it for you but I'm not sure that I could put my thoughts into the right words anyway.
Read this book.


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This children's story, told by Ivan the gorilla would be a great family read.

Inspired by a real life gorilla named Ivan,
 this touching story is about friends and family and what it means to help, love and protect each other.

This story will break your heart and then swiftly fill it again.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
This is the second book in the Divergent Trilogy and I'm hesitant to say to much if you haven't read the first which I believe made my list last year.

We learn more about the characters in this book as they learn more about themselves and each other.  The exploration of each faction is interesting and engaging as were the individuals that were so completely representative of their factions.
If you haven't read Divergent yet you'll need to start there.
(or apparently you can wait for the movie to come out as they just started casting for it)


The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
I found this book at the bottom of a bag of clothes being passed to Peanut.  It no doubt came from my sister-in-law who is a mother of 3 and an elementary school teacher.

This book is a fantastic resource for parents, teachers and librarians.
It discusses the importance of reading aloud to children (even past the age they start to read themselves) and the positive effects it has.
The book dives into silent reading, TV watching (and it's not all negative) and other reading-related issues as well.
The second half of the book is a reading treasury- a suggestion of books that are good to read aloud (as opposed to some that are better read silently).  They are marked with grade level and descriptions.

This is probably the best parenting book I've read so far.  It feels universal in that you don't have to be on board with a specific parenting style to appreciate it.  Although, that could be because it's not actually a parenting book but an educational book.
Whatever it is, I'm glad I read it.


A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie
I wandered by this book in the library and picked it up, thinking it might have some good prompts for my blog.  Instead I found so much more.
A day later I decided I wanted to be a writer and started to actually write.

The author and writing teacher creates the perfect balance of inspirational quotes, writing prompts, funny anecdotes, occasional coddling and a few good shoves that all equal the sudden urge or unavoidable deep need to write.

I just ordered this book because I need to have a copy at home.

And last but definitely not least:


Room by Emma Donoghue
This sat on my shelf for several months as I debated whether or not I was in the mood to read this story.
What I didn't understand, given the premise, was that this story could be sweet and loving and hopeful.

All told from the perspective and in the language of 5 year-old Jack, Room is his whole world.
He has spent every moment of his life in Room with his Ma.
What is a prison to her is just the world as he knows it.
I was in awe of these characters, the depth of a mother's love, the innocence of youth and the reality of living life outside of the box.

This book is stunning, haunting, innocent, tragic, full of love and so completely unique.
This may have been my favorite read of the year, perhaps because it was so unexpected but mostly because the story is still with me.



The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I can't remember the last time I read a book so rich in imagery.
Dreamy, romantic, surreal.
I read this last April and am about to start the audiobook narrated by the great Jim Dale.
More on this book to come.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Just thinking about this book, the discussions about this book and the way people feel so vehemently about the characters and especially the ending.
This book made my skin crawl, it made me frustrated and nearly drove me crazy but I loved it.
I though the end was perfect.  Everything about this book was toxic.
Toxic and wonderful.

If my dear mother-in-law is reading this.... you absolutely CANNOT read the end of this book ahead of time!  Do not skip around!  Do you hear me?!

The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
I read the first book in 2011 and finished the series in 2012 although I've found there have been a few stories added as companions.
I enjoyed The Scorch Trials even more then The Maze Runner.
I found the environment much more intriguing and the story kept me on my toes.
 Mostly though, it just brought an onslaught of unanswered questions.
The Death Cure wraps up the story with even more twists and turns.
I still have questions and see the opportunity for so many more stories but it didn't feel like a cliffhanger at all.  I'd definitely read more from Dashner.


The Friday Harbor Series by Lisa Kleypas
I won the second book off Goodreads and ended up reading the entire series, with the exception of Crystal Cove which is released next month.
The first book is a simple and sweet introduction to this chick lit/romance series.
It was predictable but I didn't care at all because
I needed that sort of giggle-squeal-sigh sort of romance.

Although I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the subsequent novels even more.
Rainshadow Road and Dream Lake pick up a little bit of magical surrealism that fans of Sarah Addison Allen might enjoy.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

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Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
Eek!  I don't want to spoil the book but I was totally wrapped up in this story.
Is it fantasy?  Is it fiction?  Is it mystery?
Will all this have a rational explanation or is this really a dark fairy story?
It kept me guessing until the very end.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
What an interesting and somewhat haunting book.  A tale of a boy whose mother is fighting cancer as he fights some monsters of his own.
A unique point of view and an interesting way of illustrating how different people cope with the illness of a loved one.

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Update:  I forgot to add these in my original post!
but I'm too short on time right now to expand on these.
More on these titles in the future,

What were your favorite reads of 2012?
Did you read any of the books I mentioned?
Are the any books I must read in 2013?


  1. I love that we have the same taste in books! I loved Divergent, and I'm waiting for Insurgent, but I should probably just go buy it. I feel like it's a series I could read over and over again.
    The same goes for Maze Runner. I just finished the first book, and WOW. I cannot wait for the second to come to me-the library is taking too long!
    Cinder was also amazing, and I need the next one. Didn't Unwind give you the ultimate willies?

    1. Unwind- what an awful concept! So disturbing but I loved the book. It's been out for a while, I wonder when they are going to tell more of the story. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I loved "Unbroken" and also Everlasting Meal...

    I'll do a little thinking and get back to you.

    Thanks for the recommendations! Always looking for something new to read...

    1. Oh I have Unbroken, I just haven't gotten started on it yet! I'll add Everlasting Meal, is it by Alice Waters (a cooking book?)

  3. I read Room and Gone Girl. Both stayed with me for a long time.

  4. You're so good to have read all of these!! I really need to get more reading done, and your recommendations make me want to run out, pick up at least three, and stay up all night.
    You have definitely inspired me to finish the book I started (six weeks ago!!) and keep going! :)

    1. When I'm struggling with a particular book, I typically just put it down, start something different and go back to it. Sometimes I'm struggling to get into any kind of book, I just lose my reading momentum and so I pick up something fluffy and easy. Maybe its a romance, maybe a children's fiction and it helps give me a good jumpstart.

  5. Thanks for recommending Tell the Wolves I'm Home! I LOVED it and telling everyone I know to read it too. You might want to check out Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. It's kinda like Da Vinci Code for the 20 to 30-year-old generation! Plus you'll totally appreciate the Potter references :)


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