Well, it's the last day of 2012, and I thought I'd take some time today to look back at what I've read over the year, and lay out my top picks of the year. I've read some genres more than others, so some genres will be limited to one 'the best of', while others may have up to 5 books rockin' the charts. I don't know, maybe there will be a tie or 2!
So, pretties, let's skip down the long and winding road through 2012. Did your favorite book make my list?
I read some very good books in this category, The Lords of the Underworld, by Gena Showalter, had the most well-written, creative, and unique story-lines. There are so many books in this series, that I'm still reading, but all of my favorite adult fantasy books this year have come from this series. So, how to pin down to the top 3? Hard, I know. Nothing was like reading the first book in the series and knowing you just hit on something really special (which technically I read in 2011, so that doesn't count). So it really comes down to personal favorites, because each book features a different character, one of the Lords of the Underworld, and new characters that interact with that Lord.
(3) The Darkest Whisper, LOTU #4, features Sabin, the Keeper of Doubt. Even though I'd hardly noticed Sabin in earlier books, this particular book featured Gwen, a Harpie, and I quickly signed up for Team Harpy. This book had so many twists and turns I had mental whiplash.
(2) The Darkest Lie, LOTU #6, features Gideon, the Keeper of Lies. Gideon was another under-the-radar Lord...he was that goofy guy in the corner that never made any sense, because everything he said was a lie. In this book, the whole lying thing was endearing, adorable, and downright funny. Gideon quickly became one of my favorite Lords.
(1) The Darkest Surrender, LOTU #, features Sabin, Keeper of Defeat and comes in at my #1.
I really didn't like Strider in earlier books, mainly because of his demon. See, Strider can't lose at anything, which makes him cocky and arrogant. Didn't think I was going to like his book, and I loved his book. A lot of that probably had to do with the harpies...yeah, the book is loaded with harpies, and in fact, might be more about the harpies than Sabin. Harpies are strong, confident, tough, beautiful, sarcastic and just a whole lot of fun. I gobbled this book to see how on Earth things were going to come together, and it was indeed, wholly satisfying.
Adult Fantasy - Indie
In this category, indie includes not only self-published authors, but those authors published by small press publishers. There are some rockin' books in this category, so never, ever sell an indie book short just because it's indie. There's a lot of untapped talent out there.
(1) On the Edge, by Ilona Andrews. Solid writing, great characters, and a believable world, called the Edge, between worlds of magic and non-magic. While the plot was a little predictable, the book was totally enjoyable.
(2) Reaper of Sorrows, by James A. West. This is a gritty story of men and war and betrayal. It is non-stop action, a long list of betrayals, and very solid writing with a strong plot.
And coming in at #1....
Adult General - Indie
This general category is a pot-luck, filled with contemporary, mystery, suspense, thriller, horror. I don't read enough in each of these genres to expand on each one separately. And despite that, only one book made the list in this category.
Life of the Party, by Christine Anderson. This is a gritty look at addiction, how it ravages your life, your soul, and even those who love you. The only draw-back to this book was the length, which to me was a little long, but captivating none-the-less.
Adult General - Traditional
Nothing made the list for me. My skirt was inadequately blown.
Young Adult Fantasy - Traditional
This is a very tough category for me, as I did read a lot of good YA books this year. So what it really comes down to for me is memorable characters and/or outrageous imagination. I couldn't limit myself to 3. Sorry.
(5) Poison Princess, by Kresley Cole. Another story featuring an apocalyptic event, but what's unique about this story is how the characters are tarot cards come to life, set on a plane where they have to battle each other in this new world where nothing grows. Very interesting. What leaves this in the bottom 5 is that the 2 main characters, Evie and Jackson, are absolutely horrible to each other at times. It was frustratingly over the top. Is that how kids treat each other these days? Maybe. Do we want to read about it in our characters? Nope. Jackson's Cajun accent, however, is undeniably sexy and well worth the read.
(4) Sweet Evil, by Wendy Higgins. Okay, this is the teen version of the Lords of the Underworld. Same premise, except with teens. I loved it, full of sexy bad boys, lots of tension and romance and fraught with vice and temptation. There was just something a little abrupt about the ending.
(3) The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3), by Julie Kagawa. While I seriously enjoyed the first book in this series, I read it in 2011 so can't count it. Ash, the Winter Fey Prince, is by far one of my most favorite of characters in YA fantasy. What I loved about The Iron Queen most, though, is the growth, strength and conviction of Meghan as she sacrifices much to be a Queen she doesn't want to be.
(2) Divergent, by Veronica Roth. This dystopian novel shows a world that's divided into 5 factions (honesty, selflessness, bravery, peacefulness and intelligence). The factions work together to create a well-run society. Ms. Roth has created a realistic world where our main character, Tris, leaves her family to live with another faction. But in this perfectly-run society, there are those who are still greedy and power-hungry and will stop at nothing, including genocide, to get what they want.
And, by a close call, the #1 pick is:
(1) City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. We have demon hunters in this book, which are descendants of the Nephilim. I have a soft spot for fallen angels to begin with, and this book doesn't fail to deliver on action and intrigue and mystery. The best thing about this book is the didn't-see-*that*-coming ending. It was one hell of a twist!
Young Adult Fantasy - Indie
Young Adult fantasy indie writers really shine, and they are well-deserved.
(3) The Demon's Apprentice, by Ben Reeder. This book rocked. The characters have depth and are well-drawn, motivations are clear. The plot is well-paced, with excellent tension in all the right places. The bad guys are bad, the good guys good, and our main character is stuck in a gray world where a good guy can do bad things. I absolutely loved that. I had a little trouble following ages and spent too much time trying to figure out what age our character was, and I thought the sister wasn't portrayed realistically for her age.
(2) Touch, by Jus Accardo. At last, a YA book with a believable YA heroine. She's not perfect, not a great student, is sarcastic, likes to party and have fun, and you know what? It was so refreshing. Perfection is, shall I say it? Boring! No offense to those straight A students out there, but naughty is much more entertaining. In this book we have a group of super-power peeps, evil adults who want to take over the world, and a whole lotta intrigue and action. And our main guy kills with a single touch, hence the title. But there is one girl who doesn't croak at his touch, so natch, he latches on to her. I would, too.
And the #1 pick of this incredibly talented pool of authors....
(1) Rapture, by Phillip W. Simpson.
Okay, so Sam, our main character, is, well, a demon. But despite the bad karma of his birth, Sam wants so badly to be a good, kind,normal kid. The problem is, he's not. The portrayal of Sam is so well-written, so heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching at the same time, you have no choice but to be pulled in to his story and feel for him. You like him. You want things to be different for him. You want him to succeed. And don't let the religious premise of the book lead you into thinking this is a heavy-handed-preaching-religious-platform kind of book...it's not. Secular audiences will enjoy this book just as much as the Christian audience will.
Young Adult General - Indie
(2) I Am Not A Serial Killer, by Dan Wells. The premise of this book is chilling, and the characters realistic, the setting utterly believable. You have a kid who knows he's a sociopath, his doctor knows he's a sociopath, his family knows he's a sociopath. But what what John knows best is that he doesn't want to become a serial killer. He's got all the signs; instead of letting his psyche choose his path, he takes matters into his own hands and sets rules for himself, rules that he hopes will stop him from becoming a serial killer. What keeps this book on the bottom of the list is that John is, well, not all that likeable. It's kind of hard to root for him because he doesn't really feel anything for anyone deep down, he's just going through the motions, because of course, he's just not normal.
And my #1 choice in this category:
And my #1 choice in this category:
(1) Fix by Force, by Jason Warne
Young Adult General - Traditional
(3) Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson. An amazing look into the psyche of a teenage girl who falls into the anorexia trap. The writing is just short of brilliant as the reader is immersed into the twisted thought process of a girl who is literally withering away.
(2) The Christopher Killer, by Alane Ferguson. 17 year old Cameryn Mahoney wants to be a forensic pathologist. Living in a teeny town in the mountains of Colorado, she doesn't get to see much in the way murders and forensics, even with her dad being the county coroner. So Cameryn learns what she can by studying her books. Until a new deputy comes to town, and the Christopher Killer drops a body right at the town's doorstep. This forensic mystery is rock-solid. Solid characters, solid plot, solid writing, and solid details regarding the science of forensics. There was just a little too much time describing the forensic lab processes. But what really pushes this read to the #2 spot is Ms. Ferguson's ability to write suspenseful tension. Wow! The writing keeps you on the edge of your seat.
And the #1 spot in this category and, dare I say it? Perhaps my favorite read over-all in the year 2012:
Wow. This book is, shall I say it? A killer of a book. If you think it's about death and gore and horror, it's not. It's a psychological case study of a kid who tries so hard to not be what he thinks the world thinks he is going to grow up to be, and trying so damn hard to be a decent human being, but ends up internally questioning his every thought and motive 24/7. It was brilliant. The title indicates there is more Jasper Dent to come. God, I hope so.