Miscellaneous

My Top Ten Favorite Books Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme from The Broke and the Bookish.

Mystery/Thriller

Summary

Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into a complex and atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of iniquity and corruption.

I really enjoyed it!

Between the book and the English-language movie adaptation, I’ve found a new series to enjoy! I haven’t gotten around to reading the second two books yet, so I’ll be looking forward to that in 2013. And I’ll definitely be eagerly awaiting the next two movies that should hopefully be coming out over the next few years.

Historical Fiction

Summary

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus–three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

I loved it!

When my tenth grade teacher tried to get me to read To Kill a Mockingbird, I wasn’t having it. If I’m forced to read something, it’s going to be, almost undoubtedly, a terrible experience, and I’ll come to  hate the book.

I’m so glad that didn’t ruin the book for me, because To Kill a Mockingbird is a truly great book. After sitting down to read it because of my GR shelf challenge, I was definitely pleasantly surprised.

Fantasy

Summary

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I loved it!

A Game of Thrones is the second book I’ve read for my GR shelf challenge. After hearing so many wonderful things about it for so long–from the TVTropes page to the gushing of the HBO television adaptation’s fans–I finally sat down to read it. And though it was incredibly long, it was definitely worth it. I’m thrilled to have a new fantasy series to read!

Horror

Summary

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth — musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies — the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

I enjoyed it!

I’ll admit that I’m not a “true” fan of House of Leaves in the sense that hardcore House of Leaves fans would insist that I missed the point of the book.

House of Leaves definitely wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and I can’t pretend I wasn’t disappointed by that. But it was definitely a good book, and I’m happy for having read it.

Short Story

Summary

“The Colour Out of Space” is a short story written by American horror author H. P. Lovecraft in March 1927. In the tale, an unnamed narrator pieces together the story of an area known by the locals as the “blasted heath” in the wild hills west of Arkham, Massachusetts. The narrator discovers that many years ago a meteorite crashed there, draining the life force from anything living nearby; vegetation grows large, but tasteless, animals are driven mad and deformed into grotesque shapes, and the people go insane or die one by one. (Source)

I loved it!

This wasn’t the first story I’ve read from H.P. Lovecraft, but it’s nearly so. It was, on the other hand, the one that convinced me I need to read more Lovecraft!

Science Fiction

Summary

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I really enjoyed it!

When I heard that the Hunger Games movie was coming out, I knew the time had come to read the trilogy. I didn’t have high hopes; I’ve never been one to agree with hype.

But Hunger Games was much more enjoyable than I expected it to be, and I quickly went on to read the rest of the trilogy. Now I’m looking forward to the next movies… though I wasn’t particularly impressed by the first one.

Indie or Self-Pubbed

Summary

Being twelve years old can be challenging, but add to that the unusual ability to experience dreams as reality and you begin to understand Patrick’s need for a little self-control. A “sweet” dream devouring the world’s largest ice cream sundae can end with an enormous stomachache. A fall from a bike means Patrick wakes with a broken arm. Try explaining that to the emergency room doctor Oh wait – that would be Patrick’s mom. She’s a dream seeker too, as are Patrick’s sister and brother. If Patrick follows the family’s dream-seeking rules he can have cool nighttime adventures. But if he forgets…

I enjoyed it!

When Lisa Ard first contacted me about reviewing her book, I wasn’t sure what to make of the offer. I’d never interacted with an author or reviewed a book before, and I certainly had never received a review copy! But I gave it a shot.

And I’m glad I did. If I’d turned down the offer, I may never have started reviewing books or started requesting review copies through Netgalley and Edelweiss. Or, for that matter, started up this blog!

You can read my review of Fright Flight here.

Nonfiction

Summary

You’ve always wanted to write, but . . . just haven’t gotten around to it. No Plot? No Problem! is the kick in the pants you’ve been waiting for.

Let Chris Baty, founder of the rockin’ literary marathon National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), guide you through four exciting weeks of hard-core noveling. Baty’s pep talks and essential survival strategies cover the initial momentum and energy of Week One, the critical “plot flashes” of Week Two, the “Can I quit now?” impulses of Week Three, and the champagne and roar of the crowd during Week Four. Whether you’re a first-time novelist who just can’t seem to get pen to paper or a results-oriented writer seeking a creative on-ramp into the world of publishing, this is the adventure for you.

So what are you waiting for? The No Plot? approach worked for the thousands of people who’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, and it can work for you! Let No Plot? No Problem! help you get fired up and on the right track.

I loved it!

I can’t believe I don’t own this book. I need to own this book.

No Plot? No Problem! is the guide that every WriMo should read. I didn’t get around to reading it until after my second NaNo, which I’m a little ashamed of. But No Plot? No Problem! is the single best writing book I’ve ever read, with the possible exception of How Not to Write a Novel. I definitely suggest both of them to anyone interested in writing!

Children’s Chapter Book

Summary

Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard’s new translation of the beloved classic–published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s birth–beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry’s unique and gifted style. Howard has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this new edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry’s original artwork. Harcourt is proud to introduce the definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince. It will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.

I loved it!

It is very, very rare that a book will have a genuine emotional impact on me. The Little Prince is exceptionally unusual in that I very nearly cried.

It’s a really touching story that I would recommend to everyone.

Picture Book

Summary

A bear has lost his hat. What if he never sees it again?

WAIT!

He has seen his hat.

I loved it!

Picture books aren’t exactly my thing. I read a ton of them, but mostly in the interest of revisiting childhood memories. And I’m very rarely impressed by them.

I was impressed by I Want My Hat Back. After seeing it nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in 2011, I added it to my GR shelves. And when I finally got around to reading it, I didn’t expect to be amazed.

But I Want My Hat Back was genuinely hysterical. The ending was so delightfully absurd, and I truly didn’t see it coming. The surprise was enchanting, and I hope to read more delightful picture books like this in the future!

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