Books Read in 2012
If you’ve been following the blog this year, you know I’ve placed more of an emphasis on reading, with my Book-Talk Monday posts and the First Monday of the Month “What Are You Reading” posts.
After reading 30 books in 2011 (10 re-reads and 20 new-to-me books, a record for me since reading for pleasure lost its joy starting in grad school and continuing on through my short career as an editor), I set a goal for myself in 2012 of reading 36 new-to-me books in 2012. When I set that goal, I was working only part-time, and I had just signed a three-book contract, with the books due six months apart. Little did I know when I set that goal that by the end of the year, I’d not only be writing those books (and have to get a deadline extension on the second one) but I’d also be working full-time and teaching part-time, which really curtailed my reading time.
But all-in-all, I still did pretty well—and I found some enjoyable books, some new-favorite authors, and some authors I want to love but can’t quite get into. When all were accounted for, this year I had a total of 31 books read (so I only increased by 1 over last year), but I did improve my ratio, with only 5 re-reads to 26 new-to-me books. Tracking what books I’ve read as well as my thoughts on them has become much easier now that I’m on Pinterest with my “Books Read in…” boards. So I took those, sorted them, and present the list to you here, in order of highest to lowest rated.
- My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = I did not like it at all and/or DNF (did not finish)
The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg. Audiobook read by Robert Powell. Started 3/14/12. Finished 3/26/12. My only 5-star read in 2012. This is the perfect book for those unfamiliar with the History of the English Language as well as word nerds like me for whom that was a favorite undergraduate course. Not only is it well-researched, well-written, and full of info and humor, narrator Robert Powell is fabulous. Highly recommended!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Started reading 3/17/12. Finished 3/18/12. Definitely worth all the hype, and now I’m wanting to see the movie. Won’t replace Harry Potter as my favorite YA series, but still a keeper and makes me want to read the entire series. (Update 5/15/12–Now that I’ve read the whole series, I can definitively say this is the best of the three.) 4.5 stars.
The Duke & I (Bridgertons Book 1) by Julia Quinn. Started 11/30/12. Finished 12/10/12. This was my first experience reading a Julia Quinn book—and I’m sorry that I put it off for so long. I love her easy-breezy writing style and humor. I also loved the character and romance development based on emotion and intellect, not just physical reactions. Though anachronistic language and situations abound (“Paris was boring” says one character–but in 1813, England & France were at war!), it didn’t matter. 4.5 stars.
Pride & Passion (Brethren Guardians Book 2) by Charlotte Featherstone. Audiobook read by Bianca Amato. Started 7/30/12. Finished 8/7/12. Even better than the first book in the series! I loved Featherstone’s twist on Austen’s Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. And even though I’d figured out most of the mystery of the Brethren Guardian plot, the story was so well told that it was fun figuring it out and then getting the confirmation that I was right. But she really needs a better editor to help with tech issues. 4.5 stars.
A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales Book 1) by Eloisa James. Audiobook read by Susan Duerden. Started 2/4/12. Finished 2/17/12. Thoroughly enjoyed this Cinderella retelling. It’s the first general-market romance novel I’ve read in some time in which the author actually took the time to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine before they fell into bed together (first time was more than midway through the book). 4.25 stars.
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren. Started 2/28/12. Finished 3/3/12. The length of time from starting to finishing says it all—this was a great book! I love both the time travel and romance aspects of it, and though parts were predictable, other twists made those parts forgivable. Really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. 4.25 stars.
Seduction & Scandal (Brethren Guardians Book 1) by Charlotte Featherstone. Audiobook read by Helen Stern. Started 7/19/12. Finished 7/30/12. While Featherstone needs a better editor to eliminate repetitive words/phrases as well as those that don’t quite make sense, she’s an excellent storyteller, and this was a fabulous introduction to her–and to the world of the Brethren Guardians. Such a good introduction, in fact, that I immediately downloaded the second book! 4.25 stars.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Started 4/1/12. Finished at 12:50 a.m. 4/2/12. While this book was as engrossing and captivating as the first, at times, I felt like Collins was trying to cover too much time—there were things told in summary that should have been shown on-page. However, the twists in this book more than made up for the deficiencies. 4 stars.
Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane Book 1) by Elizabeth Hoyt. Started 6/18/12. Switched to audiobook 7/13/12. Finished 7/19/12. Who needs Fifty Shades of Grey when there’s Wicked Intentions? And unlike this new flash-in-the-pan trend, WI is actually a romance novel in which the physical relationship (which involves light B but no DSM) between the hero and heroine is integral to their character growth and the growth of their relationship. I will read the next book in the series. 4 stars.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Audiobook read by Susan Lyons. Started 12/13/12. Finished 12/22/12. So much better than either of the film adaptations. Written from Mary Boleyn’s POV, the book takes a very unflattering stand on Anne Boleyn and incorporates many of the legends that have been proven false. But still a great story. 4 stars.
Sandwich, with a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips. Read 7/1/12. (Advance galley.) Krista Phillips ia a unique and entertaining new voice in contemporary Christian romance. She brings a fresh, young perspective to the genre and left me eager to read whatever she writes next. 3.5 stars
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. Started 2/19/12. Finished 2/26/12. Interesting glimpse at the pre-queen life of Elizabeth I. However, it is obvious Weir is a historian/nonfiction writer, not a novelist. The book suffers from too many info-dumps and too much head-hopping/too little focus on the character through whose eyes everything should have been witnessed: ELIZABETH. 3.5 stars.
Christy by Catherine Marshall. Audiobook read by Kellie Martin. Started 2/27/12. Finished 3/13/12. If I’d never seen the TV show (back when it aired in the 1990s and again recently on DVD), I probably wouldn’t rate this book so high. Too much author-intrusion preaching and no conclusion to the romance thread(s). But familiarity with the characters through the TV show, and read in Kellie Martin’s familiar voice, it works. 3.5 stars.
We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill. Audiobook read by Rosalyn Landor. Started 3/27/12. Stopped listening 4/20/12 (after the chapter on the Great Exhibition). Gill is NOT a fan of Prince Albert and paints him as a power-hungry, controlling misogynist, quite different from Victoria’s romanticized version. But it was good to hear about English society’s negative view of him/the Great Exhibition. 3.5 stars.
When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales Book 2) by Eloisa James. Started 4/2/12. Finished 4/18/12. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I didn’t find it as fun/funny as the first book in this series, A KISS AT MIDNIGHT. The resolution was a bit melodramatic, and the epilogue was completely unnecessary. But James is such a good writer, those things are forgivable. 3.5 stars.
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. Started 7/19/12. Finished 9/1/12. Gaskell’s unfinished book. While I freely admit that the ending of the Davies-scripted miniseries feels lacking (specifically lacking a KISS), it’s infinitely better than the unfinished ending of the book. Other than that, though, Davies did an excellent job of bringing pretty much everything in this looooonnnnnggggg book to the screen. 4 stars for the miniseries and 3.5 stars for the book.
A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer. Started 1/30/12. Finished 2/18/12. It’s easy to tell that this was Witemeyer’s debut novel. While she’s got a great writing style I really enjoy, I didn’t find that I really connected with the hero, Jericho, very well, mainly because of his priggish, judgmental attitude toward Hannah being the main barrier toward their relationship. Also, a little too heavy on prayers/scriptures for me. Will read more by Witemeyer in the future, though. 3 stars.
Dracula by Bram Stoker. Audiobook read by Greg Wise. Started 2/19/12. Switched to e-book 2/22/12. While Greg Wise’s performance (5 stars) of the audio version is spectacular, I ended up switching to reading this because there was so much stuff I wanted to skim over to get to the good parts. Stopped reading about halfway through (after the group comes together). Lost interest at that point, mostly because Dracula hadn’t been around for quite some time and it got boring. 3 stars (mostly because of Greg Wise’s reading).
Torchwood: Slow Decay by Andy Lane. Started 5/29/12. Switched to audiobook 7/10/12 (read by Burn Gorman). Finished 7/12/12. The audiobook was abridged, so it left out all of the angsty relationship stuff between Gwen and Rhys, which was why I wasn’t enjoying the book—because the show had already progressed their relationship FAR past the point it’s at in this book. As far as the mystery/alien plot—predictable. 3 stars.
Fool for Love by Eloisa James. Started audiobook 6/11/12. Switched to ebook 7/11/12. I switched to the printed version of this book because there was a secondary storyline that had nothing to do with the main romance and which I was not interested in at all. For some reason, James’s usually tight POV is absent here, with scenes (and backstory) from random minor characters–including a newborn baby in the last chapter! I’m now 1 for 4 with James’s full-length novels. 3 stars.
Temptation & Twilight (Brethren Guardians Book 3) by Charlotte Featherstone. Audiobook read by Helen Stern. Started 8/7/12. Finished 8/29/12. I had to FORCE myself to finish this book–and that’s after devouring the first two books (and Book 2 ends on a great cliffhanger). Unfortunately, this book goes back in time and rehashes most of the events of Book 2–and introduces a new (boring) “mystery.” Iain is an absolute jerk. When you wish the heroine would end up with the OTHER guy, it’s never a good thing. 3 stars.
Untamed by Elizabeth Lowell. Started 10/2/12. Finished 10/13/12. This was recommended highly, but I found I really took issue with the theme of the heroine having to be “tamed.” The heroine seemed to have no flaws. Her only fault seemed to be going along with the hero’s need to completely control everything she did. The hero had major control issues, and it bugs me to see captivity and control being made the basis of the relationship between them. But Lowell is a good writer. 3 stars.
Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane Book 2) by Elizabeth Hoyt. Audiobook read by Ashford McNabb. Started 10/3/12. Finished 10/14/12. I did not like this second book nearly as much as the first book in the series. I have no sympathy with the heroine who allows herself to be seduced by her fiancé’s brother—a man she caught in flagrante in the first scene of the book with another woman. The hero is flawed, but the flaws do not make him relatable or endearing. Didn’t find any chemistry between them. 3 stars.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Started 5/3/12. Finished 5/14/12. Nowhere near as good as 1 & 2. Not because of the ending (I liked that) but because I felt like I had to slog through hundreds of pages of repetitious angst, waiting around (and stuck inside Katniss’s head where I didn’t want to be), and politics I cared nothing about to get to anything interesting. And it took 10 days to read because of this, when I finished the first two in a matter of hours. I’m glad I read it, though. 2.5 stars
1 Star (Did Not Finish)
The Lady in The Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir (nonfiction). Started 3/8/12. Returned to the library 3/31/12 (e-book). Only made it about 25% of the way through this book. How could someone make a book about the last few months of Anne Boleyn’s life so boring? I’ve read remedial Freshman Comp essays that had more pizzazz. 1 star (DNF).
The Duke is Mine (Fairy Tales Book 3) by Eloisa James. Started 4/20/12. Library digital loan ended 5/11/12. I only got through about 30% of this book. I did not like the heroine AT ALL. She’s supposed to be spunky and independent, but she just comes across as rude, petulant, stubborn, and unfeeling. Even James’s usually scintillating writing couldn’t save this one for me. I decided life’s too short to force myself to read a book I’m not enjoying. 1 star (DNF)
Ransome’s Crossing by Yours Truly
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling. Audiobook read by Jim Dale.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling. Audiobook read by Jim Dale.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling. Audiobook read by Jim Dale.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. Audiobook read by Jim Dale.
Do you have a 2012 reading recap to share? Post your list here, or post a link to your blog or Goodreads/Shelfari page to share what books you loved, liked, or loathed in 2012.