Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Favorite Reads Of 2012 by Cornelia Amiri

Well two days after the end of the world and two days before Christmas, I found it hard to decide to what to post about so I thought I’d share my ten favorite books I read in 2012. Some of these books came out in 2012 and some came out years earlier but I just got around to reading them this year. You can see by the list, even though I love romance, I am open to any genre. As you probably suspected, I had a hard time narrowing this list down to only ten. I chose those that meant the most to me. They are listed in the order in which I read them. Also please add your favorite books you read in 2012 in the comments below.

1. Confessions Of A Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley

This is an incredible book. It's written in first person point of view, which is hard to pull off but the author does a fabulous job. The book is very authentic to the history and the belief system of the time. It's set in either 5th or 6th century Ireland. I absolutely loved this book. The ending is sad though. I wish it could have had a happy ending but perhaps the story would not have been as good. I highly recommend this book. I'm so glad I read it.

2. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

This fresh and creative novel is about the Fangs, a husband and wife performance art team, who create all type of disturbances some quite dangerous for the sake of their art. They have two children who they include in the performances referring to them as Child A and Child B, Annie and Buster. The story begins with A and B all grown up and having serious problems that bring them both back home to their parents. 

This is a book where you will laugh out loud as well as cringe because the main characters, Annie and Buster are so fleshed out and the emotions are written so well. The author does a great job of connecting the reader with the brother and sister so that you are hooked to the story and to finding out what will happen to Annie and Buster from the beginning. It was a page turner for me. I highly recommend it.

3. The Wolf Gif by Anne Rice

I was so happy to read a new Anne Rice book. In The Wolf Gift, a young reporter is sent to write a story on an old gabled house that always fascinated him.The mysterious gothic house is crammed full of incredible antique treasures and artifacts, even clay tablets with a writing no one can explain or decipher. The house is isolated, quite a distance from other neighbors and the town.The forest beside it is full of ancient red wood trees, thousands of years old. Its owner along with a group of close friends all left for an archaeology dig and disappeared twenty years ago. No trace has ever been found as to what happened to them. With the owner now officially declared dead, the house has been inherited by the missing man’s niece. The young reporter, Reuben, is enchanted by the house and the new owner, the niece, and then tragedy strikes. She is murdered and in trying to save her, the reporter is attacked by some wild animal he only heard and didn't really see. He makes a remarkable recovery and has to find out what has happened to him and why; as well as what really happened to the owner of that house so long ago. 

This is classic Anne Rice, her characters, even without their paranormal traits, are so unusual, not the type of people you usually meet. I found The Wolf Gift intriguing and suspenseful. I loved the characters. My only complaint is the last two chapters. Philosophical questions are part of Anne Rice’s author voice and the second to last chapter is almost pure dialogue of philosophical discussions between the characters and nothing else. Also the last chapter doesn't move well either. Both could have used tightening and a bit more action in my opinion but despite the fact that they are not the best chapters in the book, The Wolf Gift is well worth reading and I am sure all Anne Rice fans will love it. I did. 

4. Mr G by Alan Lightman

As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I deiced to create the universe. That is the first sentence of Mr g … how it all begins.

The author is a theoretical physicist as well as a novelist of five previous books. He’s served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT. Alan Lightman was the first person ever to receive a dual faculty appointment at MIT in science and in the humanities and he utilized that wisdom and talent in writing his latest work, Mr g. 

A young creator, living with his aunt Penelope and his uncle Deva in the void, creates time, matter, space, energy, galaxies, stars and planets. From all of that, life begins to emerge all on its own, from simple to highly complex, throughout his universe. With that life is great beauty and great sorrow that touches the young creator, his uncle and his aunt, deeply, and in turn they are changed by his creations. The best current data and theories in physics, astronomy, and biology are followed but put into almost poetic explanations though still scientifically accurate. 

This is a heartfelt fictional account of an artist’s greatest work, the creation of the universe and life itself. It’s an amazing, uplifting read. Quite original. This book is nothing short of a work of art. I highly recommend it.

5. The Island House by Posie Graeme

From the ancient past, when the gods of the Picts, the Vikings, and the new Christian religion vied for power on a small island off the coast of Scotland, springs the tale of a Pict woman and a Viking man whose lives came together during a tragic raid when they were children. The story of the struggles and separation their deep passion endures until they meet a tragic end, is mingled with a contemporary tale. After her father’s death, a daughter, embarks on a journey to discover what happened in his life, a man who had come to be almost a stranger to her. This, along with ancient finds she uncovers, and paranormal experiences with the ghost of those ancient lovers, leads her onto her own path of self-discovery and…love.

This is international bestselling author Posie Graeme-Evans’s latest novel, released June, 26th, 2012. 
In addition to her career as novelist, she worked in the Australian film and television industry as an editor, director, writer, producer and executive producer. She may be best known as the creator and producer of the well loved television show, McLeod’s Daughters. 

The island house is a haunting, mystical yet realistic and well researched historical novel. The story easily swept me up and took me on a wonderful ride. I highly recommend The Island House.

They Eat Puppies Don't They by Christopher Buckley

This is incredible satire.The book is hilarious, insane, and frightening as when I read it I thought – this could actually happen. A Washington lobbyist is hired to create anti-Chinese sentiment among the American public to help a company working on a top secret weapon system gain congressional approval. When the Dalai Lama is hospitalized, this lobbyist sees his chance to start a rumor that will gain unfavorable media coverage of China.Things unwind from there into a maddening comedy of errors. 

Christopher Buckley is the author of 14 books. You may be familiar with his,Thank You For Smoking, a hilarious move released in 2005. In his bio on the inner back cover of the book, it states he, “visited China in 1974 as a guest of the government. A spontaneous attempt to present Chairman Mao with a jar of American peanut butter resulted in his nearly being gunned down by unamused palace guards.”

Anyone that likes humor and satire and current events would love this book. If you are a fan of such shows as John Steward and Steven Cobert, then this is a must read. It’s creative, refreshing, original, and laugh out loud funny. I highly recommend They Eat Puppies Don't They.

7. The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

They call Amelia Gray the graveyard queen, renowned for her amazing work at restoring old cemeteries. She also has a secret, she sees ghost. The book begins when she rides the ferry across to the small southern town of Asher Falls. A town she soon finds is full of dark Asher family secrets and something even more malicious, something from across the veil. She thinks she is going there to restore the Asher family cemetery. 

She discovers there is deeper, darker purpose for which she has been summoned to Asher Falls. Beside the old graveyard she is restoring, there is another, an older one, flooded. The underwater graveyard lays just beyond the doorstep of the house she is staying at.Then she discovers a hidden grave, a mystery she is driven to solve. One by one with twist and turns old secrets are discovered, and the ghosts of Asher Falls are the least of her worries.

Amanda Stevens has been writing books for 45 years and this is the second book in the Graveyard Queen Series. Here is a marvelous video of her discussing her Graveyard Queen series.

The character, Amelia Gray, is amazing, complicated and fleshed out. This contemporary, paranormal, gothic mystery is compelling. The Kingdom is a true page turner. The writing is exquisite. I loved this book and I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. 

Wilder's Mate by Moria Rogers

I read some wonderful Steampunk/erotica/romances this year but this was my favorite. Wilder, the hero, was so hot to me. He’s a western bad-ass type hero, who is a paranormal creature called a bloodhound. I fell in love with him so much, I couldn't get him out of my mind.

It’s alternate history, set in the wild American west shortly after the civil war, vampires have taken over and blood hounds are the only ones who are able to hunt and kill them.  Vampires have kidnapped a weapons inventor, Nathaniel, and the Bloodhound guild has sent Wilder to get him back. Satira, Nathaniel’s apprentice, insist on coming along as he is like a father to her and the only thing close to a family member she has left. Satira is a strong, fleshed out character that is easy to connect to and care about. She grew up with a blood hound as her mother, a prostitute, lived with one, but she soon finds she’s never met anyone quite like Wilder before.

Wayne Of Gotham by Tracey Hickman

Justice Is blind. In Wayne of Gotham a story unfolds of what made justice blind in Gotham, why that was bad, and how bad that it got. Batman, Bruce’s father, Thomas Wayne is at the center of the tale. Secrets are revealed such as why Thomas Wayne was killed and why Gotham is so ridden with strange costumed villains. 

I attended Tracy Hickman’s reading at Space City Houston earlier this year. He said that when discussing what book he might write next, his agent brought up the idea of a super hero. The author deiced if he were to write about any super hero it would be batman because he had no actual super powers. He told us about a fond memory form childhood when he and his brother saw the bat mobile at a car show. The author did an excellent job of describing the bat mobile and its technical features in the book. He did his research into the entire history of batman and kept to the traditional story so fans of the original comic will not be disappointed. 

The book is action packed and intriguing. The character of batman, Bruce Wayne, is well flushed out as is that of his father, Thomas Wayne. This is an interesting, enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

 10. Defending Jacob by William Landay

This book is about a prosecutor with the D.A. whose teen son is accused of murdering one of his classmates. This book gave me such a creepy feeling but it opens up discussions of a real problem in our day, trying to figure out why some teens or young people become murders, if there are warning signs that could prevent the crimes, do the parents have a responsibility, how do they deal with it, is it too easy for some of these murderers to get by with crimes again and again. The murder gene is brought up and also issues with our justice system, and the question of how far will a father go to protect his child.

The book is incredibly suspenseful. It ends with a mind boggling twist. It's written in first person, which is hard to do well, but the author did a fantastic job, the writing is superb. I highly recommend Defending Jacob. It will not leave you with a warm fussy feeling as the subject matter is serious and disturbing but it is also thought provoking.

Please feel free to comment on your favorite reads of 2012. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,


Tina Donahue said...

Great list, Cornelia - I see a couple I'm going to get. :)

jean hart stewart said...

A thoughtful blog and it includes some Ill definitely have to try. I always like Anne Rice for her very different point of view. I've read so many books this year, as always, but can't think of my favorites without spending time I don't have right now. Will look for several on your list, though.

Cornelia said...

Thank you so much Tina and Jean, I appreciate the comments and I'm glad some of the books looked interesting. I'm on goodreads so it keeps track of what I read and when and what I thought about it. It made it a lot easier to compile this little list. I love goodreads.

Fiona McGier said...

Static, by L.A. Webb. Cover gives no indication of the thoughtful ideas posed by this unusual sci-fi romance novel. It raises questions as to why you love the person you love, and what it is about them that you love. I laughed at some parts, and cried at one touching scene. This is a book I thought about for days afterwards, and I'm still talking about it. I bought 2 paperbacks to give to friends.

Merry Christmas to all sexy divas everywhere, including our male friends (divos?) Hope you get some time off to enjoy peace and quiet. Or at least to enjoy your time off!

Fiona McGier said...

Oops! Static is by L.A. Witt. Sorry for the memory lapse!

Cornelia said...

Thnak you, Fiona. Static is by L.A. Witt sounds like a great book, I've got to check it out.