I always see people asking for book suggestions, so I thought now would be a good time to review some of the best (or better, in some cases) books I’ve read in 2012.
Now, granted, many of these books won’t appeal to most people since I have been reading a boatload of YA (young adult) literature this year, there are some that really do stand out. Here is my top 12 of 2012, in reading order:
1) Brodi Ashton – Everneath
So often in YA the story begins normally – girl meets boy, girl’s world is turned upside down, blah blah, but the nice thing about this story is that we start right in the middle of the epic shitstorm that is Nikki’s life.
Main character, Nikki Bennett, has been to the underworld and is now back in the world of the living, trying to deal with the routine of real life, her family and her boyfriend. In a way, she is trying to say goodbye properly this time – to tie up all those loose strings she left behind first time round – because she only has six months until she has to go back.
But ofcourse, this isn’t easy for Nikki. For one, she doesn’t want to go back, and second, there’s Cole. Cole was the one that enticed her into the underworld in the first place, and he’ll do almost anything to bring her back and make her his queen.
Unlike most stories that fall into this genre, there’s very little boo-boo, and dodging of responsibility. Nikki knows what is expected of her, and she fights with everything to stay and continue her life, even though it wasn’t that great to begin with.
2) Rosemary Clement-Moore – Texas Gothic
I didn’t know anything about this book or the author before I started reading it. This is pretty rare since I hate starting something without having some sort of idea where it might be heading. Since I had the Kindle edition, I didn’t really have a back cover to look at either, but I’m sort of glad.
The story follows Amy, a normal girl from a family that is anything but normal. She comes from a line of witches, but unlike her sister, she tries to steer clear of all the magic. Unfortunately, she has agreed to look after her aunt’s ranch in Texas during her vacation.
So, what should have been a relatively magic-free and boring holiday turns upside down. Amy finds herself ghost hunting, solving crimes and resisting the charms of her very delicious, stetson-wearing neighbor.
But what really drew me in was the first line of this book: “The goat was in the tree again.”
3) Alden Bell – The Reapers are the Angels
Zombie book! Or an apocalyptic western. Whichever. Zombies have infested the world and Temple, a 15 year old girl, is on the run. She’s hiding from zombies, looking for freedom, and running from a man who will stop at nothing to kill her.
Temple can’t remember a time before the zombies. This world has stolen her innocence, and she is haunted by her past. On her journey for salvation, she kills, she hunts, she finds family and ultimately, survives. But for how long?
Although this is a relatively short book, it is a fucked up, awesome read. Temple is this scary, indelible character who is smarter, more independent and damaged beyond her years. It’s bleak and magnificent.
4) Tammara Webber – Easy
This probably falls under the more grown up version of YA, called New Adult or Mature Young Adult. Gosh, all these genres. Basically it just means that it is about 20-somethings, and is hella more sexy 😛
Jacqueline follows her boyfriend to college. Like most girls who do this, there’s an assumption they’re in it for the long run. Nope. Her boyfriend breaks up with her two months later and Jacqueline is faced with a pretty stark reality – she’s single, she’s at a university she doesn’t really want to be attending, she’s failing her classes and her friends aren’t talking to her. Ouch.
In an effort to shake up her life a bit, Jacqueline heads off to a frat party and when she ends up leaving alone, she’s assaulted. Luckily, she’s rescued by a stranger. Thinking she can just forget the attack and move on, she carries on as normal. Until she realises her savior, Lucas, is in one of her classes.
When her attacker starts stalking her, Jacqueline is faced with a decision – give in or fight back. This is a story about personal growth, asking for help, and learning to trust the people in your life. These aren’t easy things, but they are attainable. Oh and it comes with a side-dish of super sexy. Ahem.
5) Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere
This was my first proper read of anything written by Gaiman, and I just have to say this… I’m kinda in love. Ha.
One day when Richard Mayhew, an average guy living a somewhat below average life, stops to help a girl, his world is forever altered. He enters the reality of London below – a place that exists in the form of labyrinths, sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He thinks he’s lost his mind, but instead, he’s only just fallen through the cracks of reality into a world that is Neverwhere.
This is an adventure, with dark and twisty paths that lead to crazy, mystical beginnings, and end in courage, honor and happiness.
6) William Goldman – The Princess Bride
I don’t think I can even describe this book. Seriously. This book is about everything. Fighting, true love, hate, revenge, women, beauty, pain, bravery, passion, monsters, escapes, captures, death, lies, miracles and truth.
Just read it, already!
7) Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy
So this started…an obsession of some sorts. The Vampire Academy series has been on my list of to-reads forever. And it took me like four years to actually get around to reading it. Whoops.
Rose Hathaway attends St Vladimir’s Academy. Or at least she did before running away with her vampire best friend. Thing is, her best friend (Lissa) is in danger, and the only way to keep her safe was to return to the human world.
But, that didn’t turn out well. Rose and Lissa are dragged back to school, the very place that is the most dangerous for them.
Forbidden romance? Check. Bad ass females kicking some major butt? Check. Murder and intrigue? Check. Oh and some smexy scenes? Hells yes.
If you like urban fantasy or paranormal romance, you should probably give this a go.
This series is six books long, with a spin off series called Bloodlines…which is just as awesome btw.
8) Rachel Hawkins – Hex Hall
Sigh, more YA you say? Yeah, sorry about that. I really did read a lot of this stuff. It’s easy reading, y’know?
Sophie Mercer is a witch. She found out a few years ago, and her powers have got her into some major trouble. Although her non-magic mother has been supportive and understanding, Sophie manages to push it too far. To keep her under control, Sophie is shipped off to Hex Hall, a reform school for wayward supernaturals.
By the end of her first day, Sophie’s made quite an impression. She now has a stack of enemies, a major crush on some warlock, bumped into a ghost and her roommate is hated by everyone because she’s a vampire. But worst of all, Sophie has uncovered a plot that affects everyone – students are being attacked and they think it’s her roommate.
What a ride! This series is 3 books long, and oh my, I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. Makes me want to be young and carefree again. Oh, and a witch 😛
9) Mary Lindsey – Shattered Souls
As Goodreads says: “A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger”. Don’t think I could have summed it up better.
This left me wanting more – in a good way, I guess. Some books are perfectly set up to be trilogies or series because the characters click so well and you don’t want to leave them behind. I guess this is what happened to me.
Lenzi’s dad committed suicide because he couldn’t get rid of the voices he was hearing. Lenzi, now 16, is also starting to hear the voices. But she’s also starting to see things too. She’s convinced she’s destined to go the same way as her dad – insane and then dead.
Luckily she has a boyfriend, Zac, who is trying to help her through what they both think is mental illness. She’s been popping pills and trying to get it under control, but it just keeps getting worse. One night, her and Zac go to the graveyard to visit her dad. Zac passes out and Lenzi meets Alden. Alden claims that she isn’t crazy; she’s actually something called a Speaker.
A Speaker speaks to lost souls and helps them find rest in death by freeing them from their earthbound problems. And Alden is her Protector – he protects her from the violent spirits who don’t want to be helped and who could possess her body and use it for their own purposes.
According to Alden, Lenzi has lived lifetimes, and is the best Speaker there is. But she has no recollection of her past selves, and now there’s a spirit who wants her, and wants her badly. If only she could remember why.
There’s a lot of hate for this book, but I actually enjoyed it. Lenzi and Alden had this magnetism, and I suppose in some way it just reminded me of Blood+, you know, without the vampires… 😛
10) Megan Hart – Dirty
Ah, finally a smutty book for all you people out there. Or “smutty”, whatever. Either way, it was pretty hot, and adult-y 😛
Elle meets Dan at a candy shop. Ha. 50 cent, anyone? There’s some light flirting, but if she’s honest with herself, she’s already come up with some backstory for why he was there, buying expensive chocolate. She surprises herself by agreeing to go and have a drink with him and he surprises her by not inviting her for a one night stand.
Elle does the sex-without-strings thing sometimes. She does it because it makes her feel good and wanted, even though most of it is faked and unsatisfying. And for a long time this has been fine – she has a job, a house and a life she likes and enjoys. She hasn’t wanted very much else in a forever. Until Dan comes along.
All I’m gonna say is…SJOE. And yum. Moving on… 😉
11) Rainbow Rowell – Attachments
This is my chicklit of the year. And it’s not the horrible gushy-omg kind either. Oh, and it takes place on the eve of the year 2000, so it’s a great laugh because I was in school then, and I remember the whole world gearing up for some Y2K disaster that never happened, and the same thing is happening in this book.
Beth and Jennifer work for the same newspaper house. They’ve recently adopted email, and they know that their office messages are monitored but they don’t really care or think too much of it. They spend their free time emailing each other, gossiping or sharing their personal lives like no one is watching.
Enter Lincoln. Lincoln’s life has been pretty disappointing so far. His long term, only girlfriend cheated on him, and he hasn’t figured out what he wants to do with his life. But it’s been a few years since the breakup, and he’s studied as much as he can for now, so he applies for a job as internet security officer.
This means Lincoln needs to sift through people’s inboxes and turn offenders for misusing their company email. But after reading through the exchanges between Beth and Jennifer, he can’t bring himself to crack down on them. And by the time Lincoln realises he’s falling in love with Beth, it’s too late for him to introduce himself. After all, what would he say? “Hi, I’m the guy reading your emails?”
After a series of close encounters and near misses, Lincoln decides it’s time to suck it up and speak to her.
Sigh. I loved this. Beth and Jennifer are so real and their lives are so fucked up and normal and Lincoln is just one of those people you really wish was reading your email – because he sees and understands and hates and loves you anyway, for your words, and not for what you look like.
12) Barry Lyga – I Hunt Killers
What if one of the world’s most infamous serial killers was your dad? And what if your dad had trained you as an apprentice to take over from where he left off?
Jasper’s lived a fucked up life. He was brought up with killing and torture as if they were the norm, and brainwashed and blackmailed to keep quiet. But when his father is caught, Jasper’s life changed.
Even though his life changed for the better, Jasper is finding it hard to ignore that inner voice. His father’s voice to be precise. And he feels that urge. He is constantly struggling with what he knows is right, and what he thinks he might want, or what he might turn into.
So when bodies start piling up in his home town, Jasper wants to join the hunt. He has witnessed crimes from a serial killer’s point of view, and this could benefit the cops. But he is also considered a suspect based on his past and the way these victims were killed. In an effort to prove to himself and others that he is not his father, Jasper starts uncovering something that could make him more like his father’s son than anything else.
Holy shitballs, guys. If there’s one book you read, read this one. It was disturbing, and horrible and great. Thankgod there’s another book coming out in April 2013.
There are actually a few that I have not mentioned in the list. This is because they deserve a super special mention.
The first is the Charley Davidson series
(currently on 4 books at the moment) by Darynda Jones.
Charley Davidson sees dead people. This is mostly because it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light”. The light being her.
Being a part-time PI and full-time grim reaper is hard work. She mostly uses her powers to bring justice to the people who have died at the hands of others, which means that she closes a lot of cases for the police department. Too bad they’re not all too fond of her.
But to complicate matters, Charley’s been having sexy dreams about a cloaked and dangerous entity that has been following her around all her life. And when she tries to get to the bottom of it, she realises that he is connected to her past. And he might be something else entirely.
Gosh, guys. Reyes Farrow. That’s all I’m saying. Oh, and Cookie. Because she’s the best. Darynda Jones does something I absolutely love – and that is giving Charley this unique, snarky and fun voice. I want her on my side. I want her as a friend. She’s bad ass, vulnerable and loyal. She’s also not the sort of person you expect to be a grim reaper or a PI. Love her.
The next is Karina Halle. Oh my gosh. I think her Experiment in Terror series
has changed my life. Ha. Currently there are 6 books out and 3 novellas.
The Experiment in Terror series is a beast of its own. Honestly, I’ve never read anything close to it. The series follows Perry Palomino and Dex Foray. They meet under fucked up circumstances and start a ghost hunting show on the internet.
Perry and Dex are both flawed, albeit in slightly different ways. Perry can’t figure out where she wants to go in life, has body issues and has a whip tongue I love to death. She’s that girl everyone thinks is a bit weird but when you get to know her you just want to keep her forever because she’s unusual and different and amazing and awesome. And Dex ofcourse, is this hard, dependable, unpredictable and completely lovable guy just trying to stay afloat in this fucked up world.
So, think Supernatural crossed with X-Files crossed with…I don’t know, crazy beautiful characters who have this sexual chemistry that makes everything sizzle… and you get one of the most fun series I’ve ever read. And it’s not a superficial series either. It delves deep into what it means to be sad, to struggle, to live, to fight and just be.
Also, this is not a kids book, guys. It’s all horror, and sweaty sexy and has a Debra Morgan mouth 😉
And finally Colleen Clayton’s book “What Happens Next”
Cassidy “Sid” Murphy goes away on a ski-trip with her friends and the unthinkable happens. She meets a man called Dax Windsor and can’t believe that someone actually likes her awkward curls, and her athletic body. But Dax takes everything from her the night he invites her to a party.
When she returns home, Sid can’t cope. She doesn’t know how to relate to her friends anymore and she knows she need to talk to someone but she can’t verbalise the things that happened. She starts pulling away and doing things she shouldn’t. And then she meets Corey.
Corey makes her happy, but the nightmares keep coming, and the urge to look different to the way she was before drives her into a dark place.
This book should be put in libraries or made recommended reading for teens. Sadly, the topic that this book deals with is a reality. It happens and it’s horrible and I think so many people and kids don’t even know how to understand it. This book helps. Just by reading how others experience and come to terms with such horrific ordeals, to know that you’re not alone and that what you’re feeling is completely normal… I think this is important to read. It shows there is hope at the end of hell.
I am going to be honest here, I cried like a crazy person through the last few pages. Based on this, I think the author achieved something very real here and something so incredibly important. It helps all of us sympathise, empathise and keep those who experienced this, moving forward.
So that’s it! Let me know what your favourite books were for 2012 so I can start updating my to-read list 😉