Thursday, December 20, 2012

Favorite Reads of 2012

These kinds of posts make me panicky/grouchy, because I know I'll forget some book I loved and then be mad at myself. But oh well. In no particular order:

THE PRINCESS ACADEMY: PALACE OF STONE by Shannon Hale. Shannon writes strong, real girls better than anyone I know. Her stories always have a timeless elegance to them, but with very modern and interesting themes. I will read anything she writes--it's always worth it.

THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray. When I first got this book--which is a bit of behemoth--and realized it was not a standalone, I was wary. And Bray does weave an abundance of threads into a single book. But what threads they are! It managed to give a satisfying ending while still building enough plot that I cannot wait for the next book. 1920's! New York! Flappers and Very Scary Demonic Serial Killers! What's not to like? (Bonus: There is a boy in my son's Sunday School class that he casually refers to as "Naughty John." SCARIEST CLASS EVER.)

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein. This is one of those books that sneaks up on you. It starts out interestingly enough, written by a girl spy captured by the Nazis. She's writing her "confessions" before they kill her. But as you read--and especially when the book hits the halfway point and the POV shifts--you are suddenly bowled over by the realization that Wein has so completely fooled you in the most brilliant possible way you find yourself marveling for the entire rest of the devastating, wonderful book. There is a certain line associated with the book that people like to tweet, but I'm serious, I can't even write it here. TOO MANY FEELINGS.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. I'm not going to bother talking about it, since Entertainment Weekly or freaking TIME magazine have already done the honors.

I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga. This was a slick, fun read about the son of the country's most notorious serial killer. Twisted and interesting, I've been told it's like Dexter Light, but never having watched Dexter all I can say is I loved it and I'll be looking for the sequel.

TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I'm a bit of a Peter Pan fangirl. And not the watered-down Disney version. The dark and weird and more-than-a-little disturbing JM Barrie version from PETER AND WENDY. So I always approach adaptations with no small amount of trepidation. When I picked up this book and saw it was narrated by Tinker Bell, I was even MORE concerned. I still don't know how Anderson pulled it off, but this book was phenomenal. She tapped into the brutality of the transition from childhood to adulthood, the impossibility of reconciling who you are with who someone wants you to be, and the horrible suffocating guilt of the things we do to the people we love most. Absolutely worth a read.

BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore. I enjoyed GRACELING and FIRE, but what I loved about Bitterblue as a main character is that...she isn't amazing. Katsa and Fire were both so over-the-top unusual that having normal Bitterblue as a main character, and seeing how she felt being surrounded by extraordinary people, was a really interesting and refreshing turn. Plus, the politics, intrigue, and answer to the question of what would happen when an entire country had been devastated by the worst possible type of predator as a king all made for a wonderful read that is my favorite of the three companions.

EVERY DAY by David Levithan. Levithan writes with such insight and compassion. I don't know anyone else who could have pulled off a book like this, but Levithan does so with graceful ease.

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater. SCORPIO RACES stands as my favorite of her novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed the complex and interesting mythology that Stiefvater built into, over, and through the normal world. I'm looking forward to future installments.

DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor. Where DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE was about falling in love, DoBaS is about war. Taylor doesn't shy away from the complexities and impossibilities of the issues Karou faces. The book is saved from being too bleak and brutal by brilliant turns from Zusana and Mik. The world is bigger, the conflicts deeper, and the stakes higher than ever. I cannot wait for book three!

And...that's all for now. Of course I loved many more books than this, but my brain is a drafting-and-editing fog of confusion and desperation right now.

What books did you love this year? What are you most excited for next year?


Ashley said...

I love when you recommend books. Even if it means my TBR list becomes longer.

I enjoyed Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger and The Diviners by Libba Bray.

Kiersten White said...

Keeper was a lot of fun!

Ashley said...

It was! I am also looking forward to reading Mind Games this upcoming year (I flail on twitter about it, I'm sure you see it.) I got an ARC of it, but school made it hard to read it!

Liz said...

Days of Blood and Starlight was the book this year that blew me away. I also liked Sean Griswold'sHead by Lindsey Leavitt.

Erica said...

The Raven Boys is definitely in my top five from 2012. There's just something about the way Steifvater writes - like the brilliancy doesn't catch up with you until the very end and then when it's over, you just sit there, stunned, thinking, wow. But I have to agree with you about Scorpio Races - also brilliant. Two others I enjoyed this year were Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Tasnia said...

I loved Hallowed by Cynthia Hand! I can't wait for Boundless next year.

I love how brief you were about John Green. There are no words, seriously. It was just THAT good.

Amanda J. said...

I have been interested in all of these, so it's good to hear about them! :)

Makayla Anderson said...

I love The Fault in Our Stars! It's so sad though, I heard they're adapting it into a movie. :D

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Loved CODE NAME VERITY! Just finished THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND and thought it was gorgeous.

Irene said...

I Loved (yes capital L) Days of blood and starlight. Bitterblue was amazing and made me want to bake bread, which is a strange, but good thing.

Kate said...

My favorite I read this year would have to be The Hobbit! :D :D :D It wasn't released this year, but it was the 75th anniversary though! :)
And I really cannot wait for Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter to release next year!!! I'm SO EXCITED!!!!!! :D :D :D

Loralee said...

Code Name Verity was amazing. I also really enjoyed "Freakling" by Lana Krumweide, and "Partials" by Dan Wells.

LauraN said...

Unspoken by Sara Rees, --very engaging situation, with sympathetic characters, but no obvious ending.
Vessel by Sara Beth Durst--creates a completely new mythology.
A Long, Long Sleep, by Anna Sheehan--came out in 2011, but I found it in 2012

Anonymous said...

Just read tiger lily cause you recommended it. It was amazing. Thank you so much for recommending it!

Hunter Costa said...

Hey Kiersten! Sadly, I don't know many of the books you've recommended, but they all sound great! My personal favorite of the ENTIRE world; has to me Paranormalcy. I just got done reading it a second time and it was still amazing! After I'm done reading a chapter and back in the real world (sadly) I always want the book to be real-life somehow! And dark-haired dark-eyed hottie sorta reminds me of a certain guy *giggle* and I can just imagine everything happening which makes me want it to be real. :) me and a close friend are now always saying, "Bleep no! Go see your weird boyfriend!" To each other she's Lish and I'm Evie (AMAZING character!!)
Also, I'm a writer myself :) and your book inspired me, although I'm hoping its not to much alike that wouldn't be good! Ok anyways! This is Getting really long! Thanks for takin he time to read this!
-Hunter (yes, *Raquel sigh*, I'm a girl :))