Top 10 Reads of 2012!

1. The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

I absolutely adored this book (which is clearly apparent in my review ) and even though it was one of my first reads of the year (read from mid-January to mid-February) I knew even a few chapters in (heck, maybe even a few pages in!) that It would be in my Top 10 reads of the year. Since I read The Night Circus I have recommended it to friends and family, and the three that followed my recommendation loved it as well. My mind boggles every time I remember that this is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel and I look forward to more delights from her in the future. According to her website’s not really a FAQ page, she is working on a book which is a “film noir-flavoured Alice in Wonderland” (squee!!) and she is also painting a black-and-white tarot deck inspired by her work (double squee!!) so I’m sure many delights with be had in the near future, and in the meantime I’m glad I own The Night Circus so I can read it again 🙂

2. American Gods by Neil GaimanAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman

Another book I knew would be on the list early on (I started it at the same time as The Night Circus) because even after a few chapters it blew me away. You can see a succinct summary of what I thought of American Gods in my latest Micro Reviews post, but let me just say this – American Gods now one of my favourite books of all time as well as of 2012. Neil Gaiman is slowly becoming one of my favourite authors (I say slowly because I have only read a few of his books and I personally like to read all of an authors works before they are officially one of my favourites), and American Gods was a big part of this. Unlike The Night Circus I borrowed American Gods from the library, so this year I’ll have to find and purchase it so I can read it again and again!

3. The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadderravens heart

Another debut novel (in fact 4 of the books on this list are debut/only books of their authors and all but one – American Gods – are books by authors I hadn’t read before!) and one by an Australian author too, this book was a gem and the only true Historical novel I read in 2012. As I said in my Micro Review post, it is set in Scotland during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, which I found really interesting as I had never read a book exploring that particular period. I will certainly keep a keen eye out for any other novels by Jesse Blackadder!

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

Reading this classic was a big moment for me this year as I have been meaning to read it for many, many years (unlike many schools mine sadly didn’t designate it as required reading). As I said in my Micro Review (wow a lot of these are on the same Micro Review! O_o) because of the language and subject matter it is sometimes hard to stomach, but nevertheless I am glad I did. Now I just need to tackle the other 9 classics on my list !!

5. Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbinsstill life with woodpecker

I have to say a big thank you to the person who gave this book to me and so introduced me to Tom Robbins – thank you Shayne if you happen to read this! 🙂 I am very glad that Still Life With Woodpecker is not a debut or single-child-novel because of all the “new” authors I have discovered this year, Tom Robbins is the one I most want to read again (ooo spoiler for the upcoming Book Polygamist Awards!). I haven’t yet written a review of this wonderfully quirky little book, because every time I try it’s so hard to fully capture and explain the bizarre story, hilarious characters and thought-provoking prose style. I promise I will get around to it at some point (and when I do it will definitely be a full-length one as a book this unique can’t be summed up in a Micro Review) and I hope to read more of Tom Robbins works this year.

6. Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjaliansecrets-of-eden

This one was a surprise highlight of the year for me. The subject matter (domestic violence; murder/suicide) was quite heavy and the plot wasn’t particularly complicated, but it was the way it was arranged and written, and the distinctly different voices of the main protagonists/antagonists that made it memorable. Because the book was broken up into quarters narrated by four different main characters (the town priest who was close to the abused/murdered wife; the detective investigating the crime; a renowned author who had experienced  the  murder/suicide of her parents when she was a teen and took an interest in the couple’s daughter and the priest; and the dead couple’s teenage daughter) a simple and tragic event morphed into a complicated whodunnit, where I doubted the “facts” of the crime and changed my mind over what really happened at every turn.

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hungergames To me 2012 will be the year that I finally read The Hunger Games trilogy, and Suzanne Collins claimed another fan girl for her growing horde! 😀 I had an inkling that I would love this book/trilogy because as I’ve said before I have been meaning to read them for a while following some glowing recommendations from fellow book nerds, and I really enjoyed the film, but I didn’t suspect that I would love it as much as I did, especially considering the fact that I knew the progression of the plot beforehand! In fact I became so engrossed that when it came to key heart-breaking moments (which I won’t spoil here in case any of you are yet to read the book or see the movie) I actually became quite emotional, as if it was a surprise. Bravo Ms Collins, that is a fine feat 🙂

8. Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsCover - Catching Fire

As sometimes happens with a trilogy (at least a good one) I loved this second installment more than the first and devoured it over three days. This may be in part due to the plot being completely unknown to me, as the second film has not been released yet and I managed to avoid the spoiler landmines littered around the Interwebs, or purely because the world and plot were more expanded in this book, and the final setting was amazing! Either way, despite the first and last books being equally amazing, I think this was my favourite of the trilogy, and I am positively bursting to see how they managed to convert it into a film 😀

9. Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsMOCKINGJAY-jacket

As I said above, this final installment was just as brilliant as its predecessors, and a fitting end as it was extremely intense and wrapped up all the loose ends that had developed over the series (whether they were wrapped up positively or negatively I won’t say :P). Of the three this one took the longest to read (in saying that it still was only a little over a week), mainly because of the intensity of most of the scenes, and I will be very interested in seeing how it is adapted for the screen, and more importantly what rating they’ll be able to give it!

10. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groffmonstersoftempleton

This was a last-minute gem as I only started it at the end of the year (November) and finished it a couple of days into January, even though it has been on and off my library To-Read pile for a really long time. Barely a page in I already knew I was going to love it because even the first line was alluring: “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” What followed was a beautifully written and ambitious novel (especially for a debut!) which gave me countless delicious lines, some of which I made into Notable Quotables, and a story which was an interesting blend of contemporary and historical novels, including old photographs, a map (you know I love maps!) and other tidbits to deepen the historical parts of the story.

So, there you have it: my Top 10 Reads of 2012! If you have read my recent update post you will know that these books will play a very important role in the 2nd Anniversary of Book Polygamist celebrations – one of my fantabulous Bookbaggers (that would be you guys!) will win the book off this list of their choice!! The competition will officially begin on the date of the anniversary (March 5th) so you have a couple of weeks to think about which book you would want the most, and why and I’m really excited to see all your choices 🙂 In the meantime I would love to know what your top reads for 2012 were – did we have any in common? Did you have a fantastic batch this year or a sort of crummy one? And what books are you looking forward to as 2013 trundles on? Feel free to sound of in the comments, and as always I wish you all:

Happy Reading!

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Kicking off 2013 with Owls, Mammals and Phryne Fisher!

I have already wrote about how poor my book tally has been this year, and even though I have had heaps of free time since Xmas to read (especially because it’s so hot in Perth at the moment and reading in front of a fan is about all I can manage) my grand total was only 26 – pretty sad considering the last few years I have read over 40 a year and 2012 was the National Year of Reading O_o

I did manage to finish a few great books at the last-minute (Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith; The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff; Soulless by Gail Carriger; and I finally finished the Neo-Noir anthology, Blood, Guts & Whiskey) which meant I could still choose my Top 10 of the year and Annual Award recipients (which I will post ASAP) but it was still a pretty disappointing total.

In the first few days of 2013 I chose a set of new books to read: one from my Bought-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile – The Journey (Guardians of Ga’Hoole, Book 2) by Kathryn Lasky;

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 2: The Journey by Kathryn Lasky

one from my Library Books pile – Mammals by Pierre Mérot;

mammalsand one from the pile of books that I’ve borrowed from my friend Sarah – Death Before Wicket (Phryne Fisher Mysteries, Book 10) by Kerry Greenwood

death before wicketplus I also have two reads which I’ve carried over from 2012: Pyramids (Discworld, Book 7) by Terry Pratchett

pyramids

and a book that I fear will be on my bedside table forever since It’s already been there since May and I’ve only read two stories out of it – Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe.

Tales of mystery and imagination

I’ve already gotten really into all three of my new reads so hopefully that’s a good sign for the year ahead, at least reading-wise!

Beloved Bookbaggers, keep thine eyes peeled for my Top 10 Books of 2012 and the 2012 Book Polygamist Awards as well as other little titbits before I’m back to work in February, but for now I wish you all a (belated) Happy New Year and as always:

Happy Reading!

From the end of the Woodpecker to the Beginning of an Ending

Two weeks ago I finished reading Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, a fantastic novel that took me 18 weeks to finish despite it being a mere 277 pages long, mainly because I haven’t been reading on a regular basis due to study and then work. Since I have been plodding through the other three books i’m reading for almost as long or even longer (Blood, Guts and Whiskey for 23 weeks and counting; Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe for 16 weeks; and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen for 14 weeks) I was excited to finally get into something new, but I was also dreading picking one of the thicker books on my To Read pile which with the reading rate i’ve developed lately I would probably still be reading come 2013.

To my surprise and joy the eeny meeny miney moe Gods smiled upon me leading me to the thinnest book of the bunch – a novella which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize – The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – weighing in at a teeny 150 pages. Suffice to say even though I’ve only had two or three reading sessions with The Sense of an Ending I’ve almost finished which should lead to a quick review and then choosing of another (hopefully) thin yet enjoyable book 🙂

At this rate my reading tally for 2012 (the National Year of Reading no less!) which is looking very sad at the moment (only 14 books when my average per year is 30-40 O.O) still has a glimmer of hope – hazah!