2012: A Retrospective (Of Sorts)

Another year gone, another lump of books read.  To be quite honest, I'm not disappointed in myself at all for failing to reach my 75 book goal.  In looking at my list of books read this year, I am quite proud of the genres, lengths and authors I've tackled this year and I am feeling very accomplished at a total of 51 completed books for the year.  Of course, I can't count the two unpublished manuscripts I read, nor can I count the book I am working on proofing (I am getting it chapter by chapter, so I haven't finished reading it yet as it's not yet done).  But if you do count those in my totals I'm up to 54, which is admirable in itself.

Anyway, enough patting myself on the back.  And don't mind me as I take a short stroll through some of my most memorable reads of the year.

(There are captions underneath the photos - I don't know how to change the color of the text so just hover for the captions and the links.  You'll be able to see them that way if you're interested!)

The Zona, by Nathan L. Yocum
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The Zona - Nathan L. Yocum
Date started: 2/14/2012
Date finished: 2/17/2012

This book was more of a novella, as it was only 115 pages.  I didn't particularly click with this one, didn't enjoy the read as much as I had hoped, but it was an interesting book that has stuck with me since I read it.  It's certainly an interesting topic for thought: Preachers as killers, tasked with sending their marks to their death or to Purgatory.  The thing that has stuck with me the most, though, was how the reader gets to see three different points of view on what happened to Vegas, a brutal massacre on the part of the Church in order to purge sin from the world.  A recommended read, even if you don't consider yourself a religious person.




Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Date started: 4/3/2012
Date finished: 6/5/2012

I took a long time to read Anna Karenina, but that's not really surprising considering it's close to 1000 pages.  I used to crave epic, sweeping, long books, the way I now crave pizza or macaroni and cheese.  I find myself, lately, really digging the short stuff.  Probably because I can read more of them.  But I still find myself sinking my teeth into these huge volumes, and collecting copies as well.  Anna Karenina is something I really should have read a long time ago, during undergrad, or even my senior year of high school.  The more I think about it, this is something I should have been re-reading this year, not just experiencing for the first time.

I picked this up because I was hungry for a classic, and had been reading Collins, Austen, Dickens, etc., and wanted to experience someone I'd never read before.  Lucky me, right around the time I finished the book, the newest movie was announced!  Alas, it did not come to a theater near me, so I will have to wait for the DVD to come out before I can see it.

Anna Karenina has been announced as the greatest love story the world has ever heard.  I strongly disagree with that sentiment, as this was not a love story, but rather a warning: Be careful of your choices for they have their consequences.  Considering that Anna ended up killing herself and Vronsky was horribly miserable, that hardly screams "Look at this fabulous love story!"  Ah, but what about Levin and Kitty? you may ask.  Surely they were a match made in happiness!  But no, Kitty is perfectly dissatisfied with her life by the end of the book, and Levin hardly notices.  I doubt his own happiness as well, for he has the wife he always wanted, but what else?  She obviously does not care for him as she thought she would, and he does not seem blissful by the end.  A very disconcerting story as well.  Lastly, any who would call this a great love story obviously ignored all of the social aspects of the book.  This was more social commentary than romance, and calling it a love story does not do it justice.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
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Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi
Date started: 7/29/2012
Date finished: 8/3/2012

Shatter Me is an example of when anticipation goes horribly terribly wrong.  The story sounded fantastic!  I loved the cover!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, was talking about it.  There was buzz.  There was coverage.  This book was everywhere when it first came out.  So I put it on my To Read shelf, and left it there for a while.  I had other books to read first, and didn't own a copy.

This was a lesson learned in hype: Just because it appears everywhere, does not mean it is all it's cracked up to be.  I was extremely disappointed that something I'd been waiting and wanting to read for so long was so terrible, but it happens when you read new stuff.  An argument for sticking with the old tried-and-true?  Not quite.  Because even when we read bad books, we are still learning more about what we like and don't like.

Still, this wasn't worth the read.  Or the hype.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
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Cinder - Marissa Meyer
Date started: 8/5/2012
Date finished: 8/12/2012

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Cinder is what happens when all the hype is warranted.  This is an example of when science fiction and fantasy truly blend and get it right.  Cinder is truly a great experiment in science fiction for young adults, something that could lure the unsuspecting young ones into a life of sci-fi addiction down the road.  And this is an addiction that can't be cured, and isn't going to hurt anyone.  Except maybe the characters.  Because a lot of sci-fi characters die.  But that's besides the point.

I really truly and wholeheartedly loved this book.  I wish Kai had been less of a dimwit, but everything else about it screamed sci-fi/fantasy fan.  I could just tell, Marissa Meyer really enjoyed writing this book.  There's an air of excitement to it, between the storyline and the characters and how the reader is immediately suckered into something you start out feeling is juvenile but quickly realize is a lot more than that.

If you only read one sci-fi book in the next year, I would highly recommend this one.  It was worthwhile and really made me smile when I was done.  I was so happy!  Finally, someone who could do good sci-fi and it wasn't necessarily geared towards teen boys always talking about their boners and thinking war was the end-all and be-all of their lives.  I've read quite a bit of that kind of sci-fi and it was so refreshing to read something that girls would love.

Love on the Run by Katharine Kerr
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Love on the Run - Katharine Kerr
Date started: I have no idea
Date finished: 9/27/2012

The reason I don't know what date I started reading this is because I actually read it twice this year - once before it was published, as a beta-reader, and once after it was published.  Or once last year, I can't quite remember when exactly I was sent a copy, but whatevs.  Doesn't really matter, does it?

Love on the Run is book four (and unfortunately the last that will be officially published) of the Nola O'Grady novels.  How anyone wouldn't immediately fall in love with Ari Nola is beyond me, but seriously, if you were into paranormal urban fantasy and read all the other crap that's out there, and you haven't read this one, then there's something wrong with you.

Okay, okay, I kid.  But not really.  Seriously, Nola is one of the most engaging and enigmatic characters I've read in current fiction.  Her partner Ari's pretty hot too, if I do say so myself.  At least from the image I have in my head.  I know I've said it before, but whenever I think of Ari, I picture Naveen Andrews.  I know, right?  RIGHT?!  *cough*  But looks aren't everything, especially when you're in a book and no one really knows what you look like anyway.  What really gets me is the way these two characters mesh and work together.  They are a pair right from the start, even in the first book when they just meet and Nola hates having a bodyguard but realizes that he's useful.  In a manly sort of way. ... ... I mean, as a bodyguard.  He's all manly.  And stuff.  But Nola can take care of herself, and she does a pretty damn good job of it.

The reason I talk about this series so much is because I believe it's a great set of fiction that would appeal to a wide range of readers.  I like talking about it, because I know that if I didn't know the author and had seen this on the shelf, I don't know that I would have picked it up.  I don't read this genre.  I just tend not to like it.  But Kit doesn't quite fit the genre anyway, and this series not only laughs at the genre, but at itself too.  Some of it is silly, some of it is just plain nuts (psychic squid anyone?), but when it's serious it's serious, and when it's funny you know to laugh.  I enjoyed this probably more than most of the books I read this year, and it will continue to be a favorite of mine for a long time to come.  So give the series a shot.  Just remember to start with book 1.

Miss Peregrine's Home
for Peculiar Children
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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
Date started: 9/26/2012
Date finished: 9/29/2012

Only three days?  Three awesome, wonderful, scary days!  This book came out in 2011 and I only got around to reading it a few months ago, despite my wish to read it as soon as possible after I had discovered it last year.  My experience with Miss Peregrine was very similar to my experience with Room: why on earth did I wait so long to read this?!

An epiphany - Start reading books when they come out, as soon as you can.  Then you won't feel like you cheated yourself out of years of happiness.  I am better for having read this book.  Does that sound silly?  Well it's true.  One of the biggest feelings I got after reading this book was a feeling of wonder and awe, that something to odd and creepy could be so entrancing.  I feel better for having finally read it.  It feels like the perfect story for Riggs to tell, and that only he could tell it.  I can't think of anyone I've read who would have been better suited to tell the story of Miss Peregrine and her home caught in a time loop, full of children with mysterious powers and abilities.  Do you ever feel that way?  That a certain story came out of the only person who could have written it?  That if anyone else had tried, it just wouldn't have carried the same weight?

I will end my retrospective on one note: No matter how much or what kind of book you like to read, set a goal for yourself for the next year.  Be it 5, 50, or 150, read your hearts out.  For only in books can we find our true selves.

Happy New Year everyone!  Happy reading!

Comments

  1. I didn't realise there were no more Nola O'Grady books being published. It's a shame, although not Kit's best work.

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    Replies
    1. I agree it's not her best, but I do enjoy them. They're kind of a fun distraction from her high fantasy.

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