Today is, officially, the last day of 2012. And even thought it’s not a Tuesday, today’s reading list is inspired by The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday.
Top Ten Books I Read in 2012:
1) When I first started thinking about this post, way back at the end of November, I thought for the first time there was a clear choice for my number one. Normally, I don’t rank the books, but this would be different, because Carolina De Robertis’s Perla was the best book I read all year. Her words were haunting and lovely and spun the sort of tale I’d been hungering for about Argentina’s Dirty War, about the tangle of lies and deceit that resulted in not only so many deaths, but in so much pain. Pain to the families of the disappeared, to the families of the dead, to the people who thought they knew who they were and find that everything was only a house of cards, waiting to fall. Perla is one such person, and her path to discovery reached out and held me hostage. Seriously. If you haven’t read this book, you’re doing yourself a major disservice.
Then I read Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff. And I was floored and astounded and moved all over again. Watching Kid break and heal over the course of two summers, lose his mother and find her again, fall in love, watch it die, and find it again, certain he’ll end up alone, was a sort of catharsis. You fall into the steamy, sticky world of Brooklyn in summertime, full of rank smells and fast beats, punctuated by violent guitar riffs. Kid’s story is so much more than a YA novel, or a love story, or a mystery. It’s all of these, and none of these. It refuses to be categorized, and for that, I’ve got myself a tie for the best damn book I read all year.
2) Going back to my July post, I’ve got Broken Harbor by Tana French. When someone managed to make me care about a character who is so damn uptight I’m surprised he can walk for the stick shoved up his ass, that’s a winner in my book. French, as always, weaves literary prose into a murder mystery, and the end result is I’m once again hungering for more.
3) So…Hammered was a bit off, when it comes to Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. Slow, quite heavy on the mythology, and I didn’t have much invested in what happened in the end. He rectified that by giving us Tricked, where Atticus battles the skinwalkers and strikes a deal with Coyote (never a good idea). And there’s TONS of Oberon. TONS, I tell you. I need to get me an Irish wolfhound.
4) I’m tempted to take back everything I’ve said about snooty book awards, after having read Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz. I probably won’t, but I am resolved, because of this book, to not let said snooty book award get in the way of me trying the book out in the first place. A love affair painted in harsh black, Enright doesn’t make it pretty. It shouldn’t be. She shows us the mess it makes and the problems it causes for everyone involved, and for her unflinching portrait of the consequences of saying screw everyone else, I’m thankful.
5) Speaking of thankful, I so needed Cast in Peril, from Michelle Sagara. We needed a book for Kaylin to not have to worry about the fate of the world so much. We needed to see her vulnerable before Severn. And we needed more insight into her role as the Chosen, her powers, what she’ll be able to do and what she won’t. And we damn sure needed more Teela. I’m looking forward to seeing what develops next on the journey to the West March.
6) I can’t mention Peril without bringing up Silence, Sagara’s first YA novel. Her new spin on necromancing, combined with Emma’s curious mixture of strength and vulnerability, made this novel a treat to read. Another thing I loved about it? No romance! It seems in YA there’s always a romance. While there’s a possibility for one in Silence, it doesn’t take center stage. Hell, it’s barely even a plot point. It lurks, like a ghost, which is exactly where it should be.
7) Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter by Jessica Sims didn’t make any of my usual posts, and that’s an oversight on my part. I adored this book. Sara’s a shifter who was turned, not born, and she’s been in hiding ever since. Too bad for her the local wolf pack has figured out that the shifter clan she’s hiding with is harboring a werewolf. So she comes up with a plan: seek protection from the wolf pack by having someone else claim her as a mate. Ramsey, a werebear, is nominated, and things get a little out of control. See, Sara’s figured out she’s attracted to Ramsey. Really attracted. And he feels the same way, or least she thinks so. But what’s a girl to do when her would-be suitor is a *gasp* virgin? I loved the way Sims handled the intimacy issues both Sara and Ramsey have. Seriously. I’m in the middle of reading her first book right now, When Beauty Dates the Beast, and I’m looking forward to the next one.
8) Talk about oversight: I just discovered Victoria Dahl a few months ago, and completely fell in love with her Donovan Brothers Brewery trilogy. While the first book (Good Girls Don’t) was okay, the second, Bad Boys Do, was phenomenal. Jamie Donovan’s long been stuck with the label of being a bad boy, and there doesn’t seem to be a damn thing he can do about it. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. Then he meets Olivia, and he finds himself trying even harder, because he’s finally found the one thing he never thought he could have-a relationship that lasts longer than a few months. Convincing Olivia, though, might be harder than he thought. Dahl’s stories are witty, funny, and her heroines have that ‘tough but vulnerable’ thing nailed. If you’re looking for a good contemporary romance, Dahl’s Donovan Brothers Brewery is an excellent choice.
9) The Rook by Daniel O’Malley reminded me of all the fun and joy I had reading Harry Potter. Myfanwy Thomas is a Rook, working for a secret branch of the government called the Chequey. Problem is, she can’t remember any of it. Her memories have been wiped clean, and now she’s got to figure out who wants her dead. So maybe there’s no wizards, and brooms, and flying cars. You don’t need them. It’s a delightful mystery wrapped up in weirdness, and probably the most entertaining book I’ve read all year.
10) Oh, Nalini Singh. I didn’t know what you would do after finally giving us Hawk and Siena’s story (Kiss of Snow). I shouldn’t have worried. Tangle of Need gave us the emotional punch we’ve come to expect from the Psy-Changling novels with the story of Adria and Riaz, two wolves who are both emotionally damaged. They circle each other, knowing any dalliance between them would only end in pain, and they dive in anyway. Then we get updates on some of our favorites: Hawk and Siena, Mercy and Riley, and Councilor Kaleb Krychek (SQUEE!). The last pages alone make the book worth reading, and then you’ll throw it at the wall because of the massive cliffhanger she ends on. Seriously. I need more. Now.
All right, technically that was eleven books. Whatever. Happy New Year, everyone, and see you back here on Wednesday for the NO KISS BLOGFEST! WOOO!