Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 in Review

Here it friends, the summary of my reading life in 2012!  I know you've all been waiting with bated breath, so I'll put you out of your misery. :)

Total books read in 2012:  106

Break down by genre/category (No, this doesn't add up to 106, so don't hurt your brain trying to make it work.)

Mystery:  8

Fantasy:  24

Realistic Fiction:  20

Sports:  4

Humor:  6

Historical Fiction:  12

Adventure:  6

Science Fiction:  14

Horror:  3

Nonfiction:  6

Of those 106 books, I gave 35 five stars.  I think those are pretty good odds.  That means almost a third of the books I read were amazing!  I must be a good picker. :)

Here are my ten favorite middle grade/YA books for 2012.  They aren't in any particular order.  It's hard enough to get it down to ten!

If I've already reviewed the book on this blog, I will link the title to the original review.  Click on it to see what I thought when I first read the book and to get videos and links to author websites.  

Title:  The One and Only Ivan
Author:  Katherine Applegate
Genre:  Fantasy
Date Read:  October 12

If you are looking for a book with heart, look no further.  I loved this book because it's really about how love and compassion for others can motivate people (and animals) to do incredible things.  Based in part on a true story, Ivan will break your heart and put it back together again.

 Title:  UnWholly
Author:  Neal Shusterman
Genre:  Science Fiction
Date Read:  December 8

As much as I enjoyed Unwind, I loved this sequel even more!  This is a twisting and turning science fiction thrill ride.  This book is what I love about science fiction.  It allows the reader to see the world through an alternate reality that illuminates questions about our own existence and the way we live our lives.

Title:  Cinder
Author:  Marissa Meyer
Genre:  Science Fiction
Date Read:  January 15

Why do I love this book?  If you know anything about me, you know I am a fairy tale fanatic, and this seemed like an interesting concept:  Cinderella as a cyborg.  I started it because I though it was an interesting take on the ancient story, but the book quickly had me enthralled.  Aside from being a take on Cinderella, this is just a great story, and the Cinderella elements are woven quietly and expertly into the story.  Each time one popped up, it was like finding a treat.  I can't wait for book two!

Title:  A Monster Calls
Author:  Patrick Ness
Genre:  Fantasy/Horror
Date Read:  March 5

Though there is a monster in this story, an ancient ash tree that comes to life, the story is about monsters we don't want to face in our everyday lives and about the power of story.  The ink blot style illustrations contribute to the wonderful mood of this book.

Title:  Paintings From the Cave
Author:  Gary Paulsen
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Date Read:  March 16

This book looks at the real horrors a handful of children face.  I think what makes this book so good is the way Paulsen approaches the stories with compassion but not condescension and he never takes the fairy tale ending approach that often rears up in YA lit.  These are difficult stories about difficult lives that will break your heart.

Title:  The Cheshire Cheese Cat
Author:  Carmen Agra Deedy
Genre:  Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Date Read:  January 30

This book is simply a delight!  It's about an unlikely friendship between a mouse and a cat who has a dark secret (he loves cheese).  With charming illustrations and playful text that pounces and weaves around the page, this was an easy favorite.  And if that weren't enough, Charles Dickens is a character!

Title:  Inside Out and Back Again
Author Thanhha Lai
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Date Read:  June 28

This is a beautiful story of refugees and immigration and the pain of leaving a beloved home for a new and alien place that rarely seems better.  I really enjoyed this verse novel about a young Vietnamese girl who flees a communist invasion and finds herself in Alabama in the 1970's.

Title:  The Mighty Miss Malone
Author:  Christopher Paul Curtis
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Date Read:  May 15

Christopher Paul Curtis is a master of emotional connection and creating characters with personality and spark.  This is the story of Deza Malone and her family who get side tracked on the "road to wonderful" during the Depression.  As usual, I found myself laughing one minute and brokenhearted the next.  While the Great Depression may be long over, children struggling to thrive in poverty are all around us still.

Title:  Insignia
Author:  S.J. Kincaid
Genre:  Science Fiction
Date Read:  December 18

This book was shockingly good!  I knew it had good reviews and had been recommended by students, but I was blown away by how much I enjoyed it.  The science fiction was awesome (computers in your brain!), the characters and relationships were engaging, there were times when I laughed out loud, and I didn't have it all figured out by the end.  Smart and funny really are the perfect combination!

Title:  Shadow and Bone
Author:  Leigh Bardugo
Genre:  Fantasy
Date Read:  September 3

I'm a girl who appreciates a good old school fantasy with plenty of atmosphere and foreboding, so it's no surprise I loved this one.  The story and characters were great, but I think it's the setting in a pre-industrial Russia with lots of fur coats and frozen landscapes that really won me over!

Title:  The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, Son
Author:  Lois Lowry
Genre:  Science Fiction
Date Read:  October 18-December 12

I'm adding a bonus number eleven for Lois Lowry's Giver Series.  I reread all the books again this year to celebrate the release of the final installment.  It's great dystopia fiction, and I highly recommend the whole series.  Lowry's stories allow the reader to question humanity through the lens of fiction.

Okay, I know I said ten favorite, but I am going to cheat and a couple of nonfiction picks separately because I'm the boss of me and this blog and I decided I could do that.

Title:  How They Croaked
Author:  Georgia Bragg
Genre:  Nonfiction/Biography
Date Read:  September 9

I thoroughly enjoyed this delightfully disgusting collection of the deaths of famous historical figures.  It is entertaining, informative, and the book design is awesome!

Title:  They Called Themselves the KKK:  The Birth of an American Terrorist Organization
Author:  Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Genre:  Nonfiction/History
Date Read:  February 13

This straight forward account of the Ku Klux Klan is written in such a way that a person who knew nothing about the group or it's context could read the book and come away with an understanding of both.  It is a disturbing but necessary book for all of us.

Title:  Zombie Makers:  True Stories of Nature's Undead
Author:  Rebecca L. Johnson
Genre:  Nonfiction/Science
Date Read:  November 30

I keep saying I hate zombies, but this is the second zombie book I've enjoyed this year.  This book is disgusting and 100% true.  The text is wonderful and the pages are filled with large full color photos.  It won't take you long to read it, but you will be talking about for days!

Well, that's it.  I will stop myself here even though I feel guilty for leaving out so many great books.  Click on my Goodreads shelf on the right if you want to see some of my other five star books for 2012.  What do you think?  Were any of these your favorites, too?  Were you shocked and dismayed by any of my choices?  Please feel free to leave comments!

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