Friday, 21 December 2012

Sally's top 12 of 2012!

So it’s that time of year where Bungle and I sit down and pick our favourites books of 2012 and what a year it’s been!  This year I’ve waved goodbye to quite a few of my favourite series, welcomed some new ones in to my world and sadly been slapped around the face by a couple of stinkers along the way. So here then, in some kind of order (although the order does keep changing) are my faves of 2012 and my stinkiest book of the year. There are links to each book in goodreads as well as links to our own reviews where possible.

1. The Fault in our Stars – John Green

Just wow.  I picked this book up at the beginning of the year and to cut a long story short it chewed me up and spat me out in small pieces.  TFIOS tells the tale of three teenage cancer sufferers.  Not a happy read I hear you cry and you’d be right on one level.  That said, it is witty, heart-string pulling, anger inducing and ultimately uplifting.  If I was to recommend one book out of all those written about here, this would be it.  There’s nothing I can say about this book that I didn’t say in the review which you can find here.

2. Beautiful Redemption – Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

Well, this was the first of my most beloved series that I had to wave goodbye to this year and boy did it end with an epic tale! I’ve loved everything about the Beautiful Creatures series and Beautiful Redemption was one of my most anticipated for this year.  It lived up to my expectations and more. This book was a multi POV and follows the major characters as they try to achieve some kind of resolution after the final events that took place in Beautiful Chaos . With Ethan.  And the water tower. And Amma (Takes deep breath). The story is in essence one long journey. There are mysteries to be solved and acts of friendship and bravery that prove the characters devotion to each other.  One of the consequences of such devotion however is that there are also heart-breaking sacrifices that need to be made.   Beautiful Redemption ties this series off perfectly and as gutted as I am to say goodbye to the books I still have the film to look forward to which looks awesome! Beautiful Creatures the movie is out on Feb 13th 2013. So excited!! The review for Beautiful Redemption can be found here.

3. The Immortal Rules – Julie Kagawa

Just when you thought that nothing new could be done with the vampire genre Julie Kagawa comes along and totally blows that theory out of the water.  I had this listed as one of my most anticipated of 2012 based on the pre-amble alone and rightly so.  Kagawa took the old rules and gave them a dystopian twist.  Allison Sekemoto is the heroine in our tale.  Her world is controlled by vampires and has been since a virus all but destroyed human civilisation.  Now humans either live as donors exchanging their blood to survive or like Allie,as one of the unregistered where survival comes from scavenging and risking the dangers of the rabids who exist outside of the safety of the city. It is when she is protecting a friend that she is attacked and the end result is she becomes what she hates most – a vampire.  We watch as Allie struggles with her new identity, especially as she hides it from a group of humans who are seeking not only ‘the promised land’ but a cure for the disease that threatens to destroy them all.  This book provides an amazing backdrop for what promises to be an amazing series.  I can’t wait to get my hands on book two!  You  can find the review for the Immortal Rules here.

4. The Lost Prince – Julie Kagawa

Anyone who reads the blog will know how sad I was to see the Iron Fey series come to an end last year.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Iron Knight was everything I’d hoped for and more but I love the world in which the characters are set.  That there might be no more Ash or Puck or Meghan or Grim seemed quite frankly unsettling.  I was over the moon then when I finally got my hands on the first book in a new fey series which follows Ethan, Meghans younger brother.  As much as he tries to fight it Ethan ends up being dragged into the world that took his sister from him and that he detests as a result.  With his appearance comes new challenges, new characters and what looks to be a storyline as epic as the original series.  As I’ve stated in the review which can be found here, this is not a follow on from the Iron Fey series.  It is a series in its own right although we do see some of the original characters from time to time.  I loved it all the more because it wasn’t hanging on to the coat tails of The Iron Fey series.   Having read this and The Iron Legends I can already see that things are about to get ugly for a fair few people in this story.  Can’t wait to get my hands on the next instalment. You can read the full review here.

5. City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare

Jace, Jace, Jace...what have you gone and done now? Oh that’s right, you’ve gone and become part of a double act that dances along the axis of evil... Jace is now controlled by Sebastian.  Each feels what the other is thinking, hurt when the other hurts and if one is killed then it’s bye bye to both of them! Sebastian wants to pick up where Valentine left off which puts all the shadowhunters at risk especially Jace as he is all that stands in the way of Sebastian being killed and his evil plans destroyed.  Would the council sacrifice Jace to make that happen? Damn right they would! It is of course up to the usual suspects to stop that happening. COLS has a tonne of twists and turns in it. Sebastian’s character develops into someone who maybe isn’t really as bad as first thought (considering his upbringing), Simon develops into a more confident person which I love as does Izzy who even admits to her own weaknesses and shows her vulnerable side! Malec? Sweet and tragic all at once, I can’t believe how their relationship was left hanging!  I also love how confusion reigns with Clary as she tries to figure out where evil Jace ends and angelic Jace begins or if in fact that evil Jace was there all along, he just never had a chance to get out before.   In the end of course, as with all good tales we are left with some kind of resolution and a two year wait for the finale City of Heavenly Fire which isn’t due out until 2014 – seriously?! I hope I can be that patient!

6. Insurgent – Veronica Roth

The middle book in any trilogy is usually the weakest.  It’s the one sometimes known as the ‘mid-series crisis book’ which transports us from book one where the scenes are set to book three where the series reaches its conclusion, hopefully a dramatic one.  Not so with Insurgent.  In book two the main characters evolve dramatically, not just in terms of who they perceive themselves to be but in terms of their political affiliations and how they interact with those most important to them.   Tris and Four have to try to overcome some major hurdles in Insurgent many of which result from the events of Divergent but battle through them they do taking us to a place where the scene is, as you would expect, set for a grand finale.    There are only a few months to wait now... Can’t wait!! You can read the full review here.

7. Whispers at Moonrise – C.C Hunter

This is a series which for some reason seems to exist under the radar somewhat and I have no idea why!  There is something for everyone in the Shadow Falls series, including fae, werewolves and vampires plus a few others besides.    In this instalment Kylie Galen, our main protagonist has finally found out what she is and though this is good news her life hasn’t gotten easier.  She is plagued by ghosts one of whom seems to be out to warn her of the impending death of her friend and school ‘headmistress’ Holiday.  She’s also worried that her love interest Lucas, who is a werewolf, will not accept her for what she is.  Enter love interest number two, Derek, a fae who is more likely to accept her no matter what she is.   Whispers at Moonrise details Kylie’s challenge to find out the truth about Holiday’s impending death as she tries to find out more answers about herself.  The finale was brilliant and leads us straight to the finale which is out next year.  If you haven’t gotten hold of this series so far, try it, you won’t regret it!

8. Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver

I love this series.  Pandemonium was down as one of my most anticipated for 2012 and I was right! More than anything I needed to know what had happened to Alex.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to find out straight away which killed me.  What we do get is more detail about Lena’s journey as she joins the resistance and carrying her fake ID lives among the cured.  It’s when she’s attending a rally in the city she ends up being kidnapped along with Julian, son of the Deliria-Free America movement.  Talk about your chalk and cheese.  And of course your potential new love interest given Alex’s disappearance.   I hated Julian at first but as the walls come down he becomes a really likeable character.  The ending of Pandemonium? Well... It certainly had me screaming for the last book in the series.  Not long to wait now...

9. Rapture – Lauren Kate

And so here we said goodbye to another series as Luce and Daniel race to find location of the fall before Lucifer returns to earth and effectively wipes out mankind in its entirety both past and present.  I loved and hated the ending to this book.  I got most of what I wanted but I also felt a little short-changed even though if I had gotten everything I wanted it could have caused all sorts of problems.  Cryptic much?   Most of the characters were wound up quite nicely save for Cam who I hope will reappear at some point so we can find out more about what happens to him next.  As with the other big series that have finished this year it’s sad to have to say goodbye to the characters of the Fallen series.  That said I can’t wait to see what Lauren Kate produces next.  The full review for Rapture can be found here.

10. Promised – Caragh M. O’Brien

Another series that came to an end!  I got into the Birthmarked trilogy when I started reviewing books for Midnight Reads and Birthmarked was one of the first books I read.  I quickly became addicted to this dystopian series.  Over the past three books Gaia has been through a hell of a lot.  She’s witnessed the effects of the brutal regime in the enclave, helped deliver her own sister, witnessed the death of her mother. During book two, prized,  Gaia finds herself in the matriarchal enclosure called Sylum where she comes to realise that inequalities exist in all societies irrelevant of how they are constructed.   Now in Promised Gaia is given the task of leading the people of Sylum back to the Enclave in order to survive.  She soon finds out that things have deteriorated since she left and that women are now being used as baby making factories and it would seem it’s down to Gaia to fight for change no matter what the potential consequence.  I loved these books and the main characters and I loved how they evolved through the series.  I found myself as attached to the characters that emerged in Prized as in Birthmarked and not everything about the ending pleased me!   That said, it made for a ‘fuller’ ending by not just tying everything up in pretty bows.  Again, if you haven’t read this series I could thoroughly recommend it.

11. Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

Finally we have something new to replace one of the many series disappearing this year!  I was definitely more of a fan of this book than Bungle J You can read her review here.  Don’t say we don’t offer a fair and balanced view here at Midnight Reads!  Throne of Glass has a kick-ass assassin which I like, who having survived the salt mines of Endovier is pretty much blackmailed into a Hunger Games style battle to the death fighting against some of the most renowned thieves and assassin around.  Which I also like. The prize? To become the King’s champion.  Whether she likes it or not.   The challenge isn’t helped when it becomes clear that not only are the contestants killing each other there’s an unknown threat which is also taking them out.  There’s intrigue,  a couple of nasty baddies, a bit of a love triangle, although this is a bit strange and an ending that left me wanting more!  I loved a lot of the secondary characters and I hope they show up in book two.   This was a promising start to a new series.

12. inbetween – Tara Fuller

The start of another promising new series!  Inbetween is primarily the story of Finn and Anaya.  Finn is one of a group of reapers.  Formerly a WWII pilot his role is to transport the dead to the underworld.  Anaya is a slightly atypical teenager.  Her father has been killed in a car crash and while she doesn’t know it yet Anaya is actually a soul reincarnated.  To go one step further she bears the soul of a girl that Finn once fell in love with and saved before.   So whilst she is the object of Finn’s affection she also an object of hatred for Maeve the girl whose salvation was taken away when Finn moved to save Anaya from the inbetween and hell.  I loved all the characters in this series!  The relationship between Anaya and Finn was very sweet but I also liked the secondary characters especially Cash and Emma.  It’s a multi POV which again, I love and I like how the plot is progressing for this series. I have to say book one didn’t end as I expected it to but that probably made me like it more!  Can’t wait for book two!

Stinker of the year!

Heaven - Christoph Marzi

So I'm sorry to say it but Heaven by Christoph Marzi is my stinker of the year.  I committed the cardinal sin with this book  I fell in love with the cover (because, let's face it - it's beautiful) and I didn't stop to read the premise or indeed have a quick scan through a few pages.  That said I might have still bought it had I read the premise which is:

The night that Heaven lost her heart was cold and moonless. But the blade that sliced it out was warm with her dark blood...

David Pettyfer is taking a shortcut over the dark rooftops of London’s brooding houses, when he literally stumbles across Heaven: a strange, beautiful, distraught girl who says that bad men have stolen her heart. Yet she’s still alive...And so begins David and Heaven’s wild, exciting and mysterious adventure—to find Heaven’s heart, and to discover the incredible truth about her origins.  Part thriller, part love story and part fairy tale, this brilliantly original novel from a bestselling German author will take your breath away...

Sounds good no? No.  Whilst the plot traversed along smoothly there was little to no action.  There was so much descriptive text I was flicking through the pages to find out when someone was actually going to say something.  I found the plot to be more than a tad confusing and the language seemed rather jumbled at times. Knowing that the author is German I wonder if perhaps this may be a poor translation rather than being the result of bad writing.  Either way it was in need of a good editor... My need to flick through the pages meant that I lost interest in the characters rapidly and I'm sorry to say that this was one of the rare occasions that I didn't finish the book.   Just goes to show you really shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.

So, that's my 12 for 2012 and my stinker! Are any of your favourites among them? We'd love to hear from you!


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