Friday, February 01, 2013

Favorite Reads of 2012

This officially has been my most reading-ness year. I read 60 books. I credit such a high number of books to easier book access with my kindle (which I love) and to giving up all other hobbies and social life in favor of curling up in bed with a new read. So hopefully this year I will be a little more social, get back to my hobbies, and actually accomplish projects around the house and not read quite so much.

I compiled my favorite books from the year and thought I'd share, since a good book recommend is one of my favorite things to receive (just in case you were looking for a late birthday present for me). So here we go:

Favorite Young Adult Reads

 by R.J. Palacio

What it's about:

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
(via Goodreads)
My Review:
What a really wonderful book. I think it will become a classic, one that kids will read in middle school classes. It's about a kid who has major face deformities, and he starts attending real school in 5th grade. I thought the book did a good job at capturing some of the realities that face kids when they look or act different than other kids. There were parts I cried and parts I laughed, but over all the book had a good, uplifting tone. I have a someone in my life whom I love who faces some of these same realities, since he is in a wheel chair and I thought of him multiple times as I read the book and I thought about how he is so brave and amazing. The main message of the book, which is one reason I liked it so much, is kindness. That it is so, so important for us to be kind, to learn it while we are kids, as it will make the most difference in ours and other's lives.

by Jerry Spinelli

What it's about:

He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham.

He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.
(via Goodreads)

My Review:
Another book aimed at a younger audience, but was so rich and compelling that it is a good fit for adults, also. It is the story of an orphan in Warsaw when Germany invaded. The actual history of the holocause is such a tough and intense story, that I appreciate reading books about it written from the more simple point of view of children. It softens the blow for us, the readers, by viewing the events from the innocent, simple, and not-quite-comprehending-all point of view of the children victims. But we don't understand any less what was happening, and the tremendous pain and fear the holocaust was. It is an excellent read, for teens and adults.

Favorite Regency Reads
I have read several Georgette Heyer books and these two are my favorite of the bunch:
The Grand Sophy
by Georgette Heyer
My Review:
Oh, I really, really liked it. A 4 1/2 star. I have read four Georgette Heyer books now and this is my favorite. I loved the main character, she is fearless and frank, and fun. The characters in the book are very entertaining and comical and the story was riveting. I stayed up until one in the morning reading and finished with a smile on my face. The best is the banter. The dialogue in the book is top notch. Really good read.
by Georgette Heyer
My Review:
Another great Georgette Heyer book, with a fun characters, fun story line. I liked it almost as much as The Grand Sophy, except this ending was a little cheesy for me. Her books tend to end a with a bit of hoky drama like movies in the 40s and 50s ended- a little too abrupt for my taste. But still a worthwhile and fun read.
by Julianne Donaldson
My Review:
 I am a little bit in love with this book and its romance. Very fun and fulfilling read. It's a regency Era romance, not as complex or as crafted as a Jane Austen, but with the light-hearted, likeable kind of heroine that fill Austen's books, and it just makes you happy to read. It's more like a 4.5 star book, just for the way it made me feel while reading it. It actually reminded me a little of a Georgette Heyer story, without being filled with as much historical detail fluff. When I finished it, I immediately wanted to read it again, which is very uncommon for me. It is one book I want to own, because I will be reading this again and I hope the author (this is her first novel) releases some more books in this genre.
Favorites Reads
by Jean Webster
My Review:
This is a delightful treat of a book. It is the story of an poor, orphan girl who is chosen by a wealthy trustee of the orphanage where she lives, to attend college, at his expense. The only condition is that she write him letters updating him on her progress. So the book is written in letter form, and the author does a great job staying to true to the feel of a letter. I really enjoyed the main character, she is flippant, and irreverent, and delightful. The story takes us over the four years of college as she grows from this insecure thing from an orphanage to a confident, happy women. I liked how she had moments of doubt and sadness, and also how she talked a lot of about finding the happiness that is around you. The ending was such a treat, though I really would have loved to have had more detail (this is where the letter writing hindered the story a bit). Good read.
by Daphne du Maurier
My Review:
This was never a priority on my reading list. I included it because several of my friends rated it high. I have seen the movie several times, which is dark and a little creepy, so I didn't have high expectations, but I really liked it. Really really liked it. The author is amazingly descriptive of people and their emotions. It felt so real. The first half of the book, I kept thinking that this story wasn't creepy, it was simply about a girl with incredibly low self esteem, married to a jerk, with a insubordinate house keeper. But then the plot thickened, emotions got flaring and I was hooked. Even though I had seen the movie, I had forgotten several important parts of the plot, so it was quite the page turner for me. Well, I actually listened to the book, so it was a metaphorical page turner. By the way, the actress who read the book did an amazing job. I would definitely recommend the audiobook.

Mistborn Trilogy
by Brandon Sanderson
My Review after the first book:
Very good read. The only reason I sought out this book was because of a review I read on a blog, and then I saw that one of my friends gave it five stars, so I gave it a chance. Even though the cover made it made me think twice. I am not a big fantasy genre type of girl, though I am not opposed to some of it. I mean, I once read the Lord of the Rings. The cover of this book makes it look like once I read it, I'd have to join chat rooms, and go to Mistborn conferences and whatever else fantasy geeks do. But I really liked it. Really, really liked it. It was a completely different world, with a complex and well developed "magic" system, with likable characters, and I could remember all the names of the people (I hate this about some fantasy novels, where there are so many people with weird names, I can't remember who is who). Some other reviewers compared it as a fantasy novel, with an ocean's eleven twist, which I think is a fair way to put it.
My review after the third and final book:
WOW. just WOW. . .This is how I feel about 30 minutes after finishing this book and the trilogy of Mistborn. Sooo good. Not only did the author create a complete, fascinating world in this book, he made an incredible story with so many twists and turns, so many unanswered questions, that finally become answered in the final book. This read was such an experience for me, mostly because I am amazed this story, so precise, so unpredictable and un-cliched, and so enormous could come out of any single persons mind. Wow.
Note: Cody also read the series and liked it, for what it's worth.

by Jane Austen

My Review:
This is the second time I have read Persuasion and I loved it even more this time. I might even like it more than I like Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austin is just so talented at nailing subtle human emotion. I felt all the agony and then happiness that Anne Elliot felt. I also love Anne Elliot as a herione. Mature, controlled, and terribly feeling. Such a good read.
There you go! I am a faithful updater, so if you want to friend up on there, I'm always game!!


Laurie said...

Thanks for the tips! I printed out your list and took it with me to the library today. I have never read a Georgette Heyer, but they didn't have any in right now. I got Persuasion and Daddy Long Legs and that was it, since I still need to finish The Good Earth for my book club tomorrow. Did you really like Mistborn? I read Elantris and I was like, meh. I am not usually a fantasy fan at all, but I would try it. Thank you much!

Laurie said...

I just finished Daddy Long Legs last night,and I really enjoyed it. I started Persuasion this morning. I have never read it (shocker!) although I love the movie even more than Pride and Prejudice.

J-Leav said...

thanks for the book list! I just spent about an hour on goodreads getting all updated!

Johnsons said...

I totally agree with you about fantasy. Nathan started reading Mistborn to me when I was pregnant and sick. I was hooked! My teenagegers have read this series more than once.
My younger kids also like his Alcatraz books.
Thanks for the recommendations! I'm going to check these out!

vanessa joie said...

there is no way you remember me. well maybe. I found your blog from Liz (Ogden Agle)'s blog. I went looking to see if you had one after I found a photo of you, me and Daniel at BYU's Spring Fling approximately 100 years ago. Random, no? I Instagramed the photo, my IG name is joiebutter. ANYWAY. I wasn't even going to leave this long, rambling comment except I saw you wanted to go to Beynac-et-Cazenac and I spent the summer there a few summers ago and it's lovely so you should. and, yep, the end.

Carrie Jacks said...

Brooke...Brooke! Where are you?