Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top Ten Teen Reads of 2012: Some Pretty Good Stuff Here!

I don't know what it is about Christmas, but it seems to suck all the time out of my life and leave me ragged and only wanting some quiet time.  I've put together my list of my ten favorite teen reads of 2012.  They run the gamut--which says a lot about the quality of the novels I'm finding in the teen section of our bookstore.  They are amazing!  And so many that I just didn't get to read in 2012.  Add 'em to the 2013 list....it's already impossibly long.  

Without further ado.....here's my top ten:


Prudence sets out to help find the source of a deadly typhoid outbreak in New York City, and sets the course for a showdown between emerging modern medicine and old beliefs.  Loved this! 

9.  Oh, this was good!  Young Victor Frankenstein suffers an horrible loss, and decides to travel down a dark path to achieve the impossible.  Fantastic, well written, and oh so good.

8.  Young Sherlock Holmes is 14 in 1868 when he's sent to his Uncle's home for the summer and gets tangled up in a mystery that threatens the security of England.  Clever and fun mystery. 

7.  Set in White Cemetery near Chicago, this novel is told chapter by chapter by  different teen ghosts that remain trapped near their graves. They've all died odd deaths from the 1860's to present day.   Smart, interesting, and great for late night reading.

6.  Oh, a very smartly written novel about a young girl's race against time to save her town from a horrible horrible fate--courtesy of the medicine show that decides to stop for a visit.  

5.  A novel that lingers with you and keeps you unsettled long after you've finished it.  Young Charlie climbs out a window late one night to help Jasper, and gets entangled in a mystery that will rock his small town.  Brilliant writing.

4.  Young Lina finds herself, her mother, and brother on a train bound for Siberia during World War 2.  Lithuania is not a safe place, after all.  Great historical fiction that will leave you haunted and in tears.  

3.  Laini Taylor can imagine worlds that take your breath away.  Join Karou in Prague as she learns about her past--and the dangers it represents.  Simply amazing!

2.  Sherman Alexie can write one hell of  story.  Add in art by Ellen Forney, and Junior's story about leaving the Indian reservation school to attend the white kids' school miles away will make you laugh, cry, and never forget Junior.  One of the best teen books I've ever read.  Twice.  

1.  Seraphina, you pulled me in, and I knew I was reading something special within a few pages.  Dragons, secrets, learning who you are, unlimited love, and devious people are all mixed up in this magical, musical novel.  A must read for anyone who loves to read about dragons.  Rachel Hartman has created a world you won't want to leave. 

So there you have it!  I can't wait to dig into my reads for 2013.  What were your favorite teen novels of 2012?  What are you looking forward to reading the most?  

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Top Reads of 2012: Adult Fiction

Looking back over my list of read books for this year, I was taken aback by all the wonderful stories I read.  I had a hard time picking my top favorites; there were so many that I throughly enjoyed and lifted my heart into that happy realm that only a good story is capable of doing for me!

Anyway:  here are my Top Ten Favorite Fiction Reads of 2012:  Starting with #10:

#10:  The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss

Magic, Lord Byron, and the English Industrial Revolution.  Delightful surprise read.

#9: The Healing by Jonathan Odell

 The Satterfield Plantation is the scene for young Granada's entry into the world of healing during pre-Civil War America.  An excellent novel about the Old South.  

 #8 Sister by Rosamund Lipton

Bee searches for answers to her sister Tess' untimely death.  Heart wrenching psychological thriller about what it means to be a sister.

#7 The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

An famous old french perfumery family is at the middle of this novel about a lost fragrance that imparts special powers, reincarnation, Ancient Egypt, and a sister seeking answers to her brother's disappearance.

#6 The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A young couple living on an island make a choice that will rock their world for
years to come.  A great book club book that will lead to lively discussions.

#5  The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window... by Jonas Jonasson

This delightful novel will make you laugh out loud as you follow Alan's adventures after he escapes a retirement home.  Brilliant.

#4  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

The second in a trilogy about Diana and Matthew.  Kept me on the edge of my seat!  Smart, sexy, and highly entertaining.

#3 True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

A group of Mormon followers travel to Salt Lake City in deteriorating conditions that strengthen the bonds between 4 women on the journey.  Great novel about a little known episode of American history:  the Mormon Handcart Disaster.

#2  Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd

My gigantic read of the year!  I have found an author that is truly a gifted historical writer.  This novel travels a 10,000 year road of history surrounding Salisbury, England.  Follow the lives of 5 families that survive, thrive, and become part of the very core of this amazing novel.

#1  The Island House by Posie Graeme-Evans

Ah.  Love at first page.  A young archeologist travels to a small island off the coast of Scotland only to discover a mystery surrounding her father's work and the island's past.  Vikings, Pagans, Christians all come together to weave the past (AD800) and the present in a wonderful novel.  Just so damn good!

And.....My top 10 is actually my top 11!  My favorite book of 2012 is....

It came to me at the end of the year, but it was worth waiting for!  Intrigue, other-wordly creatures, lost memory, and a delightful main character all wrapped up in a British bow.  You MUST read this book!

So there you have it.  I cannot wait to see what 2013 brings.  What was your favorite read this year?  

And...coming soon:  My favorite teen and young adult reads of 2012.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Anyone with the name of Eowyn Ivey is required to write a magical, timeless novel set in the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1920's.  It's a given.  So glad she did--and I thoroughly loved it!

Jack and Mabel have come to the Alaskan wilderness to start over after a miscarriage ends their hopes of having a child.  It's the early 1920's, and Alaska is such a wilderness only the most brave and optimistic people tackle the land.  And those who want to flee heartbreak.  That's Jack and Mabel.  They are not youngsters with a dream in their minds and a gleam in their eyes; they are running away from all they know to start in the middle of nowhere in a land that does not suffer fools gladly.  

One snowy winter evening, Jack and Mabel pull themselves out of their rapidly spinning thoughts of failure, starvation, and ever present grief--and run outside to build a snowman in the swirling snow.  They quickly dress the snowman--now a snow child--with red mittens, and a red scarf.  It's a moment of serene beauty, quiet, and peacefulness in this novel that reminded me of being much younger, skating out on the lake behind our house at night--quiet, quiet, quiet.  Shhhh.  That is what this novel is about--quiet.  Nature.  The indifference of weather, the icy blast of wind, the unbelievable beauty of a single snowflake caught in the palm of the hand.  It's about grieving, healing, retaining hope, and learning to love again--or for the first time.  

The next morning, the snow child is ruined.  The mittens and scarf are gone.  And soon, Jack spies a young girl in the woods, wearing those very mittens and scarf.  She looks like she was created out of nature itself--was she?  Her name is Faina, and she is the center of this story--she is the fixed point from which this story progresses.  

I really did love the writing in this novel.  It truly is magical, and hopeful, and gives such an ode to Nature that it makes you want to run outside and play in the snow--or just take a silent walk during a snowstorm, enjoying the hush hush and the sound of falling snow.  It  is a great reminder of how connected we are to Nature--from which everything comes and returns.

Available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book.  

Rating:  4/5 for writing style, well drawn characters, and a lovely story.