This last quarter saw my reading endurance dwindling at a rapid rate as the house took precedence. That and I just couldn’t get into several of the novels I started—for those who asked about The Casual Vacancy, after my mom and SVV both quit mid-book, I quickly erased it from my own list—which is not a problem I often have. In the end, I only managed to muddle my way through 41 books, which was an improvement on my 33 from last year, but not quite the 52 that was my goal. (Next year! There’s always next year.)
Still, Kindle books make excellent Christmas gifts—you know you can send them as gifts wirelessly with a quick click of a button, right?—so I figured I’d give you a round-up early of what I read in this last quarter (and my favorite books of the year) in case you’re still looking for something to buy that special literary-lovin’ someone in your life.
33. One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
After making good headway on my reading list over vacation, Tropper’s newest read put a screeching halt in my pace. I liked it in the end, but by George, it sure took a lot of will power to keep trucking away each night. I usually can put a Tropper away in a week of just reading before bed, but this one took me a solid month, it was so dry (and a bit boring at times). The story in a nutshell: A washed-up musician, Silver, changes priorities as he reconnects with his daughter and also finds out he has a life-altering medical condition. Definitely not my favorite of his.
Rating: 3 out of 5
34. Swim by Jennifer Weiner
I searched the Kindle store for the newest Weiner book, and Swim popped up. So I downloaded it and read it and was surprised that I finished it so quickly—only to find out it was just an e-short story (annoying! but it’s free right now if you want to read it). I was just getting into the character, too: Ruth is a former TV writer of a hit series who takes on resume-writing and consulting spoiled high school kids as a means to get by. Apparently, the character and story continues in The Next Best Thing (which didn’t get rave reviews but I’m tempted nonetheless … has anyone read it?).
Rating: 3 out of 5
35. Bond Girl by Erin Duffy
In this Devil Wears Prada-meets-Wall Street novel—written by, you guessed it, a former chick on the Street—Bond Girl follows Alex Garrett from graduation to intern to bond sales girl at one of New York’s most esteemed brokerage firms. The writing was smart, and I found the whole world wildly entertaining as I’ve never worked in finance (nor will I ever). I haven’t read a ton of chick lit in recent years, but once I saw this book made my pop culture Bible Entertainment Weekly’s hot list, I downloaded it immediately.
Rating: 4 out of 5
36. The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
I love me some Rhys Bowen and devour every new Spyness novel with the hunger of someone who hasn’t eaten in months. Her writing is just so witty and clever, and you can’t help but fall in love with Lady Georgie, 35th in line to the throne. In this holiday-themed read, Georgie goes to Tiddleton-under-Lovey to be a hostess for a well-to-do (she thinks) family as they entertain a handful of wealthy society types over the holidays. Trouble follows Georgie, always, and after a few “accidental” deaths in town, she decides to get to the bottom of it (as usual). My mom has read the entire Molly Murphy series by Bowen, and I intend to start the first over the holidays, as well.
Rating: 5 out of 5
37. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
This young adult novel—and not as dystopian like my norm, but more of a cute-and-quick contemporary romance—was written by my friend Lauren. I love that it took place in London, satiating my own wanderlust, and that it followed a group of seniors on a school trip abroad for a week (especially seeing as I went to Italy with my AP English group on the last semester of my own high school career and it was like a trip back in time). If you have a high school daughter, this would be a great purchase for her, but if you also dig chick lit like me and like to indulge your inner teenybopper, I guarantee you will find Morrill’s writing quick, clean and entertaining.
Rating: 4 out of 5
38. Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
I am famously not a Giffin fan, mainly because I’ve found her previous novels tired and quite boring. But I loved this book. Marian Caldwell is a high-powered TV exec who gave up a baby for adoption 18 years prior, only to have her daughter show up on her penthouse doorstep and rock her world. And while the story line may sound familiar, Giffin writes from the heart, and there was a satisfying emotional quality to the whole novel.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
39. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
I had heard mixed reviews about this novel by John Green (one friend thought it was his best, another said it was his worst). I couldn’t have loved The Fault in Our Stars more, and Looking for Alaska was equally delightful. Will Grayson (x2) started out slow, and I didn’t think I would care for it much, but Green’s writing style is so pithy, I couldn’t help but fall in love with his characters. It’s kind of a tough book to describe without ruining it—the main character is bi-polar and maybe gay (he’s not sure) and has a tough time in high school. If I say more, it will ruin the shocker that comes mid-read. So I’m just going to say, give it a chance if you’re a Green fan and you will likely be pleased.
Rating: 4 out of 5
40. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I don’t care if you’ve watched the movie 100 times as I have and think you couldn’t benefit further from reading the book. News flash: You can. This is one of my all-time favorite reads, and as the last time I picked it up was 2006 in Spain, I felt the need to delve into S. Morgenstern’s world once more. I think the movie is brilliant, but the book goes even more in depth, particularly with the Zoo of Death (the Pit of Despair), which is not really in the movie at all. And do yourself a favor and read the foreword by Goldman, as you will be impressed by the 30+ years it took for this book to come to fruition and all the research involved in telling the tales of the thieves and princess and con artists and giants and counts that Morgenstern created when he was still alive. And if you don’t take my advice here, all I have to say to you is this: Inconceivable!
Rating: 5 out of 5
41. Crossed by Allie Condie
I read Matched a few years ago when it first came out, and while I didn’t love it—not at all—I still feel the need to complete any series I’ve started (see Twilight, which I absolutely loathed from book one). I’m only halfway through the second book of the trilogy and have a very “meh” attitude toward this read as I did the first—it follows the Aberrations in the Society as they’re shipped to the Outer Boroughs to become bait for the Enemy—but I was feeling a dystopian deficit in my life after the first half of this year and needed something to satiate that craving. Still, something tells me I’ll read Reached, the conclusion of the series, next. Because I’m a glutton for punishment like that (though it has the best reviews of the three on Amazon, which always plays a big part in what I opt to read next).
Rating (so far): 3 out of 5
Next up already in my Kindle queue are The Art of Fielding, The Post-Birthday World, Fire and Bitterblue (books 2 and 3 of the Graceling series), A Visit from the Goon Squad. While unpacking boxes, I also found a number of print books, such as The Outlander series, that I own but have yet to read, so am putting them on my 2013 to-do list.
But my top 11 books of 2012—some of which were written years ago, but only recently made my radar—would have to be the following (hyperlinked to my previous review of each)
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- Pandemonium by Lauren Olivier
- Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen
- The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
- The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn