Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012: Fiction

Happy New Year's Eve! For book bloggers, the last day of the year is a time for reflection. As of today, I read a total of 35 books this year which included 11,171 pages. That is a good dozen less than last year, but I realize I read longer novels this year, therefore my total count would be smaller.  From that number I have chosen my top 12 to share with you.

The authors I read the most of this year were Stephenie Meyer and John Green. Each of their writing styles are very different from each other, but I think that is what drew me too them. So, if you are in need of direction I would point you there.

Thank you all for reading for another year. And I can't wait to see what challenges and events 2013 will bring!

By clicking on the title or author in blue, you may view and read my review of the book.

Top 12 Novels of 2012

12. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

11. My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult

10.  Looking For Alaska, John Green

9.  If I Stay, Gayle Forman

8.  The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks

7.  Paper Towns, John Green

6.  The Host, Stephenie Meyer

5.  Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

4.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

3.  Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

2. My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick

1.  The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best of 2012: Characters

Continuing my series of posts entitled The Best of 2012, Friday brings me to my favorite characters of the year. When I was first deciding what I wanted my lists to consist of, I hadn't thought of characters right away. I then realized that characters are really the most important - their point of view moves the story along, and sets the tone for the entire book. Each one is unique, crafted by the author to send a particular message.

My favorite characters are sometimes quite different then myself - for example, Bella Swan was so clumsy, yet so brave, I sometimes wondered what I would do in the situations that were tossed at her. Would I be that courageous? That strong? But in the time that I read The Twilight Saga, I got to be her - I got to be in love with a vampire, best friends with a werewolf, and a mixed up teenager all at the same time - and it was so darn cool.

This list is compiled of both major and minor characters and does not include re-reads or series where previous books where read in past years (ex. The Hunger Games).

Top 12 Characters of 2012

12  Jamie Sullivan, A Walk to Remember

11.  Esme Cullen, The Twilight Saga

10.  Ian O'Shea, The Host

9.  Elizabeth Proctor, The Crucible

8.  Hazel Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

7.  Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice

6.  Jase Garrett, My Life Next Door

5.  Alice Cullen, The Twilight Saga

4.  Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

3.  Sam, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

2.  Edward Cullen, The Twilight Saga

1.  Bella Swan, The Twilight Saga

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Best of 2012: Historical Fiction / Memoir

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! Mine was wonderful, as I received new skis, some books (On Writing Stephen King, The Fault in Our Stars John Green) and got to spend time with family. As the year comes to a close, I have complied my lists to create The Best of 2012. I will be posting lists of characters, authors, historical fiction, memoirs, and finally, the best of the best in fiction.

Also, be sure to check out my Remembering 2012 links in the sidebar. This column includes posts that documented important events in personal reading and culture.

Earlier this year I announced that I would be challenging myself to read 15 historical fiction books through Historical Tapestry's Historical Fiction Reading challenge. As you can see from reading the list below, I did not fulfill the expectations I had set for myself. I must say through, that the five books I did read were very good, and educational. You may read my review of each book by simply clicking on the title in purple.

Top Historical Fiction of 2012

5.  The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks

4.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, David Boyne

3.  The Crucible, Arthur Miller

 2.  Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay

1.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

In this post I have also decided to include the memoirs I read this year. All three I was required to read for school, but all were very inspirational.

Top Memoirs of 2012

3.  A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah

2.  The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

1.  When Broken Glass Floats, Chanrithy Him

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

"Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me . Have a holly, jolly Christmas, and in case you didn't hear, oh, by golly, have a holly jolly Christmas this year!"

I just wanted to stop in real quick to wish everyone and their families a very Merry Christmas. May everyone be safe, happy and healthy, and I'll be back in a few days to start my week of "The Best Of 2012" posting. I am so excited to announce my choices! In the meantime, feel free to check out the Remembering 2012 list in the sidebar.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's the Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas; soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing - right within your heart."

Over the weekend, I spent quite a bit of time in the car on the way to my brother's ice hockey games. The back roads we take to the rink are anything but flat, and the houses along them are not grand and and gated, but rustic and humble. Some were adorned in colored lights, others in white. Some went for the traditional look, with columns wrapped in garland, and red satin bows. And then there were others, with no lights at all - maybe their timer just hadn't come on yet.
Many houses had lights on inside, and beyond those shaded windows, I'd like to think there were families eating dinner, passing around the mashed potatoes and saying a little prayer. I know that is not always the truth - that in some homes there is simply no one to eat with, or even food to have. In my fantasies, everyone has a family as perfect as mine - a family that celebrates Christmas with joy and laughter, and that is grateful for every moment together. It makes me sad to think that some will spend this Christmas alone, without a coat, or without a heart.
In many windows, you could get a glance at a tree, tall and embellished. And maybe there was a Christmas CD in the stereo, filling the house with cheer. Maybe shortbread cookies were coming out of the oven, or a Christmas special was on TV. While leaning my head against the car window, and watching the scenery flick by, I could not be sure of any of these things, but these imaginings passed the time and kept my mind off of other things...
Like the fact that I had to go back to school the next day - back to the tests, the homework, the stress - things that are just so unChristmasey! But then I realized that every other teenager was probably feeling the same way. We would just have to tough it out together.
In the end, it really is "Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas" (Snow, you are welcome to come along any day now!)  and although I know the truth about what this holiday might be like for others, I am grateful everyday to come home to a house smelling if homemade treats and a family that is as perfect as can be. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Let It Snow

Let It Snow: Three Holiday Stories
John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
352 pages

"Silly girl, it's not what the universe gives us that matters. It's what we give the universe."

Its Christmas Eve, and three teenagers are stuck in the biggest snow storm to hit North Carolina in years.When Jubilee's train to Florida halts due to a ginormous snow drift in the middle of the tracks, she finds herself totally confused in a house where Jewish people celebrate Christmas. Then there is Angie, who is need of some of the Waffle House's greasy and sloppy hash browns, and drags the guys away from James Bond to come along. And Addie must still navigate her way through town to her early morning shift at Starbucks - because no matter what the circumstance, people will always need their coffee. Their small town of Gracetown as been turned into a winter wonderland of perilous mishaps and a little Christmas magic.

Let It Snow is the perfect holiday read - a perfect blend of humor, fun, and great writing. Green, the author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, Johnson, and Myracle, three of today's best Young Adult authors, each a have a writing style very unique, yet they flow together perfectly.

I loved how these stories were individual, yet interconnected, as you would be reading one story, and then a character from the previous one would show up and you laugh and say, "Hey! Wait! Is that the guy...I remember him!"

This story was so feel good, the characters so relate able - one will find themselves wishing for a blizzard to snow them in for a day or two as well!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where She Went

Where She Went
Gayle Forman
260 pages

"Her eyes were closed, and her brow was a little furrowed. She was so still, it seemed like she'd taken a brief vacation from her body...I somehow knew then she was listening to music then, was grabbing the notes from the silence...I stood there, riveted by her, until she seemed to wake up and start playing with this intense concentration." 

Four years after the accident, Mia and Adam have gone separate ways.  Mia tries to put the pieces of her life back together as she studies at Julliard, while Adam struggles to find comfort in the whirlwind of his rockstar-celebrity life. By a stroke of chance, the two are brought together for one night, and although their hours are short, together Mia and Adam explore the city, and who they have become.

Gayle Forman's sequel to the New York Times Bestseller If I Stay, is written through Adam's voice, in that raw prose which defines her novels. I enjoyed this change in point of view as it gives the readers details about Adam that were not told in the previous story.

With a setting of New York City, the reader will feel jostled and shuffled about as if on the busy streets with Mia and Adam. Flashbacks are also very common, as they were in If I Stay. Each piece of the past is unique and effective - enlightening the reader in a way to help them understand the story better.

Each chapter is headed with fictional lyrics from Adam's songs and I'd like to share my favorite:
You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow be realized to late
There was nothing but air beneath my feet

Where She Went is a deeply moving story about the power of true love, and the pieces that make our lives full and whole.