Sunday, December 30, 2012

What I Read in 2012...

I set a goal last December of reading at least 25 books in 2012.  I actually surpassed this goal by reading 32 books.  I rarely surpass a goal, so Woo Hoo!  I did not, however, write a review on this blog of each of those 32 books.  I've become a major slacker in the book review area.  So, I thought I would write a recap of what I read in 2012 (I provided links for the ones I actually reviewed).  A few were great.  A few were not.  Most were just good reads.  Here's a list of what I read in 2012 (in order, thanks to goodreads.com):


1.  Sarah's Quilt by Nancy E. Turner
This is the sequel to These is My Words.  I LOVED the first book so much that I think this sequel stood little chance of great success.  There is a 3rd in the series which I plan to read someday.
3/5 stars






 2.  Matched by Ally Condie
My daughter and I read this at the same time.  We both thought it was just so-so.  Neither of us plan to read the rest of the series, but it is a very popular series.
3/5 stars






3.  Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo
Another "okay" book.  I love Jane Austen, so I wanted to like this book.  It was entertaining, but not really good.
3/5 stars







4.  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This was a distrubing book, but I'm glad I read it.  The main character, Hannah, has committed suicide.  She recorded on good-old-fashioned cassette tapes the thirteen reasons why she killed herself.  This book does make you stop and think about the influence you have over other people and the danger in "doing nothing" instead of making an effort with people.  It will make you think and make you sad.  A worthy read.
4/5 stars



5.  Night Road by Kristen Hannah
This was my first Kristen Hannah book. The novel is well written, but I never felt that connected to the characters. With a storyline so dependent on heavy emotion, the characters need to be very well defined. I wanted to feel for them, but I wasn't able to consistently. I think Harris just had too many characters to define them well. Not a bad read, but I was disappointed. The 2nd half is much better than the first and I was happy with the ending.
3.5/5 stars


6.  Divergent by Veronica Roth
This book held my attention from start to finish with an intriguing plot and well defined characters. Really well written and a fun read.  My daughter read it also and loved it.  I have heard the movie is about to be cast.  It will be a thrill ride, for sure.
4.5/5 stars





7.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I actually wrote a review of this one (click title to read it).  Such a powerful book.  Don't let the heavy topic (teenage cancer) keep you from reading this gem.  John Green has mega talent.
5/5 stars




8.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Another powerful YA book.  Set in WWII, this is an educational and emotional journey.  I can't believe this was Sepetys's first novel.  Definitely a must-read.  I'm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.
4.5/5 stars



9.  A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
This is the third in the Flavia de Luce series and is just as delightful, maybe more so, than the first two.  If you are looking for a fun series that takes a break from vampires, werewolves, forbidden teen romances, and government controlled fights to the death, then you might like (adore) these cerebral 1950s murder mysteries. 
4.5/5 stars


10 Defending Jacob by William Landay
A smart legal thriller is always fun.  This one is more than that and keeps you guessing until the very end.  Landay puts the reader in the position of answering the question, "How far would I go to protect my family?"  A really good read.
4/5 stars


   11.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This was the strangest book...peculiar, even.  Somehow, I really liked it.  There were times I was completely lost and confused, but everything eventually makes sense.  This is not a book I would suggest for an e-reader.  The photographs are amazing and add a lot to the story.  Definitely a fun read.
4/5 stars

 
12.  Insurgent by Veronica Roth
This is the sequel to Divergent  and it does not disappoint.  What a ride!  The third book isn't out yet, so be prepared for a serious cliffhanger in this book.  I am really looking forward to the third book.
4.5/5 stars


13.  The Passage by Justin Cronin
I did not know what I was getting myself into with this one.  It's a committment, but worth it.  I'm no fan of vampire books (or vampires in general), but this is just different enough to suck you in (pardon the pun).  I scare easily and lost a little sleep while reading this one.  I haven't read the sequel yet (The Twelve), but it's on my must-read list for 2013.  Cronin can really write.
4/5 stars


14.  Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Follett's new trilogy opener does not disappoint.  I learn so much from his epic historical fiction.  Lots and lots of characters who all, eventually, connect.  Great historical research, but not for the squeamish.  Follett holds nothing back, as usual.
4.5/5 stars




15.  Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran
Really well written , but began to drag in the second half. I learned a lot about the French Revolution. I will look for another Moran book. She is well researched as an author and develops characters very well. Enjoyable book.
3.5/5 stars


16.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Definitely my favorite book I read in 2012.  One of the most touching books I've ever read. There is no one who would not benefit from getting to know August Pullman and his family. This book truly is a wonder.
5/5 stars





17.  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This book does not live up to the hype...at all. I really wanted to like it, but I struggled to even finish it. There were so many good reviews, I thought I would really enjoy it (especially with the history worked through the story). I found it to be really boring throughout, and silly at times. I know this is the first of a trilogy, but I am not interested in reading the other two. Matthew is a oompletely flat character. I just couldn't feel anything for any of the characters. The reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 2 is that Harkness does have strong moments in her storytelling. I just wish there had been more of them. The book was very interesting at first and then went completely downhill.
3/5 stars


18.  A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
Great storytelling. Funny, poignant, touching, and completely Southern. The only reason I couldn't give this book 5 stars is the rough language. It was too much for me and not at all neccessary for this wonderful story. This was my first Joshilyn Jackson book, but it won't be my last. 
4.5/5 stars



19.  Bossypants by Tina Fey 
This book is certainly entertaining, especially the audiobook because Tina Fey is reading it. I laughed quite a bit, but I still didn't think the book was exceptional. There's just not a lot there.  I do think that Tina Fey and I, if we ever met, would be instant friends. This could be wishful thinking on my part, but since both of us speak the complex language of sarcasm and share a similar poor body image, I think we could be BFFs, but I didn't love her book.
3/5 stars


20.  Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar
I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read the sequel. It wasn't as good as Pearl In The Sand, but it is a great story. Tessa Afshar is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
4/5 stars


21. Fearless: The Heroic Story of One Navy SEAL's Sacrifice in the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the Unwavering Devotion of the Woman Who Loved Him by Eric Blehm
This is an amazing story. It's not the type of book I usually read, but I'm really glad I did. I actually bought this book for my husband and I've recommended it to several friends. Adam Brown was a true hero, as are all our service men and women. This book made me truly appreciate the difficulty of their training, the sacrifices their families make, and the true heroism of these men and women. I think everyone could benefit from reading Fearless.
4.5/5 stars


22.  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
I loved this book! It made me look back on my life and think about how I've changed (or not changed). It also made me aware of how many judgements people make every day. Very well written. I especially appreciated the peripheral characters and the way the reader gained insight through them (letters to a counselor and a dead fiancé). A great read.
5/5 stars


23. Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself Be Loved by Harville Hendrix
I thought this was terrible.  I wish I had not read it. Hendrix is only trying to sell his products.  A few good ideas, but nothing really useful.
1/5 stars



24.  The Witness by Nora Roberts
Good story and enjoyable book. Likable characters. I just wished Roberts had used less profanity. Way too much: gratuitous in my opinion. It added nothing to the story.  This was my first Nora Roberts and I think I will read more of her novels.
3.5/5 stars


25.  A Dog's Purpose by Bruce Cameron
I thought this was so-so. I have 3 dogs, so I guess I am a "dog person". I just didn't get into this book, but apparantly others do.  It's reviews are great.  Maybe I missed something, but it didn't work for me.
3/5 stars

26.  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Absolutely beautiful! Wonderfully written and illustrated. This is another that works better if you don't read it on an e-reader because of the amazing illustrations.  I have recommended this book to many.  I will certainly read more of Patrick Ness's work.
5/5 stars 

27.  The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
I found this book to be delightful. I really had no idea what to expect, but I ended up loving this book. It seemed so realistic, especially for a dystopian novel. I can understand the buzz around this book. Excellent read. 
4.5/5 stars

28.  The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown
Very good advice from Dr. Brown. I highlighted dozens of passages. Now, to put what I've learned to work--wholehearted living. This will not be the last of her books that I will read.
4/5 stars

29.  Winter of the World by Ken Follett
This is the sequel to Fall of Giants.  Follett is masterful in his storytelling, as usual. I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel. So many characters to keep up with, but Follett makes it manageable. Epic and engrossing. I also learned a lot about WWII. I look forward to the third part of the trilogy.
4.5/5 stars

30.  The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
A sort-of fairy tale for adults, The Snow Child is sweet and poignant.  I liked the first 1/2 better than the second. I'm still not sure how I feel about the way the book ended. Very well written.  An especially good winter read.
3.5/5 stars

31.  Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis
Katie Davis is an amazing young woman. This book tells an incredible story and makes you ask a lot of questions of yourself. The writing is young and fresh, but a bit repetitive in parts. Definitely a worthwhile read. 
4/5 stars 

32.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Although this book was a little tedious in the middle, I ended up really liking it. You can't help but love the very ordinary Harold Fry who has decided to do an extraordinary thing. I even shed a few tears at the end. A very sweet story about how life can knock you on your rear-end, and your only choices are to stay down or to get up and walk. I'm glad Harold Fry decided to walk. I'm, also,glad Rachel Joyce chose to write this touching tale.
4/5 stars



Overall,  I had a good year of reading.  The perpetual problem is that there will never be enough time to read all of the books I already own, much less the ones I haven't purchased yet.  I think I'll set a higher reading goal for 2013 and a goal to review each book I finish on this blog.  I plan to mainly read from my already purchased stack (2013 Challenge), but I'm sure I won't be able to resist purchasing a few new books along the way.  So, here's to a great year of reading in 2013!

-Renee-


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting all these - I'm always looking for new books! It was good to see that some of the books I already have on my list are highly recommended too.

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