On average, I’ve been reading between 65-75 books each year for the last few years. So I thought I was setting the bar high when I set a goal of reading 70 new (to me) books. Which obviously wouldn’t include re-reads – both old favorites and new ones. (Hey, remember that time I read the Hunger Games trilogy three times in one year?) I was so worried that I wouldn’t hit my mark that I swore most fervently that I wouldn’t indulge in any re-reads until I hit my mark. As it turned out, I didn’t live up to that promise exactly, but then again, I didn’t need to. 182 books read, people. 1-8-2! !!! I amazed even myself.
So! Rather than give you a single list than no one other than the singularly-obsessed me would ever get through, I decided to divide the books by genre to better serve your recaplet reading pleasure. Here goes…
1. Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James. (Jan 2012) I thought it would be fun to read something about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after the curtain had fallen. Wow, was I wrong. Don’t do it folks. Friends don’t let friends read horrible fan fiction – even if it’s been published. 1 of 5 stars.
2. The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht. (Jan 2012) This was one of my favorite stories of the year. The narrator’s grandfather, a doctor, has passed, and she struggles to find meaning in his life, her own adolescence, the war and politics of their town, to untangle the legends from the truth of who her grandfather was…but Tiger’s Wife comes across as so much more. There’s a mythical quality about the storytelling that unfolds, especially in the telling of death myth that is woven in. Obreht’s lyrics held me prisoner; I put the book down only once, for work, and then I quickly gulped down the rest. 5 of 5 stars.
3. Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon. (Jan 2012) The first book in Gabaldon’s series, The Outlander, was a fabulous escape book for me. Don’t want to think anymore? Here! Read about time travel! And historical England and Scotland! And castles! And love and REALLY steamy sex scenes! Did I mention the love? (Twoo wuv.) Unfortunately, the continuation of Claire and Jamie’s adventures didn’t keep me quite as riveted. 2 of 5 stars.
4. The White Mary, by Kira Salak. (Jan 2012) War correspondent Marika Vecera travels to Papa New Guinea to track down rumors that her dead mentor is alive. This is one of my sister Kim’s favorite books of all time and I’m a little annoyed she didn’t make me read it sooner. My original review is here. 5 of 5 stars.
5. The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen. (Jan 2012) I’ll confess: the only reason I finished this book is because I didn’t want my friend who loaned it to me to be disappointed. I can see why everyone was raving so madly about Franzen’s brilliance: he crafts each sentence as if his life depends on the abundance of detail. And yet it’s not just volume of detail – you wonder how the bloody hell someone could think of something so realistic and pin it to paper with such finesse. The problem with that is that Franzen compiled so many brilliant moments so realistically that by the time I finished the book (or each day’s allotment), I was utterly exhausted. So I guess in this case, I stopped enjoying all the trees for the forest. Still. Get ready high school upperclassmen and college lit majors: I have a feeling this book will be for you soon what Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was for me then. Bloody brilliant, but utterly boring. 2 of 5 stars.
6. The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus. (Jan 2012) Abort! Abort! I couldn’t get into this. AT ALL. And I was so hoping to: a dystopia where the sound of adolescents’ speech is lethal? It should have been amazing. But I couldn’t get emotionally invested or follow enough of the background-less plot enough to get invested. 1 of 5 stars.
7. Sing Them Home, by Stephanie Kallos. (Feb 2012) I was really looking forward to this book. So much so, in fact, that I used Christmas money and paid full price for the paperback. At an actual bookstore. And then I let it languish on my TBR shelf for the longest time. That being neither here, nor there, I was crushed when I started reading and couldn’t get into the story. The story follows three adult children whose lives have all been shaped by the grief they still carry for their mom, who went missing during a storm when they were young. Since my mom is, in a sense, “missing”, I thought I would feel some connection – or at least empathy – for the characters. But I just couldn’t click into their stories. They had fallen so off the path that there was a wall between us. I didn’t care if they overcame their pitfalls because I just couldn’t empathize. I wanted to, I wanted so much to enjoy the story! But 100 pages in, I still couldn’t give a darn. Readers be warned. 1 of 5 stars.
8. The Reader, by Bernard Schlink. (Feb 2012) I have a thing for WWII-themed fiction. I find studying the war fascinating; fiction gives us ways to explore so many different facets in it in an emotional sense. The Reader portrays sides of that the conflict and aftermath that would be hard to explore without the help of fiction: a German boy who befriends (unknowingly) a woman who worked at the death camps. It was a powerful coming-of-age story. The first half of the story dealt with the boy’s struggle with identity, as a person and half of a romantic entanglement – complicated by the fact that the secret affair was taboo. After his lover disappears without warning, the boy struggles in the second half of the book to reconcile who he is and who he wants to be as he watches his former lover stand trial for war crimes. There was nothing that disappointed; Schlink got it all right. The angle, the nuance, the emotional tension… This is a book I will read again and, I’m sure, learn even more from the second time around. 4 of 5 stars.
9, 12, 14. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, by Stieg Larsson. (Feb-Mar 2012) One of my new reading buddies at work lent this to me and told me I must read it. Since I treasure reading buddies – you never know what books you will discover – I tend to read everything they suggest at first, if only to cement the relationship before worrying about hurting their feelings. If I didn’t have that rule, I never would have finished Dragon Tattoo. My buddy warned me about the beginning of Dragon Tattoo – he said there was a huge bit at the beginning dealing with finance and that I would most likely want to toss it aside. Be patient, he said. Stick with the book. He said it was important to the ending, but I wouldn’t understand its relevance until then. So I slogged through it. I stopped mid-page several times in order to take a nap. But eventually I got through it. Once I hit the part where Blomkvist moves to the island, I was hooked. I couldn’t read fast enough. Sure, it’s a bit gory and blushingly explicit – I would never want to know if my parents read this book, for example – but the pace couldn’t have been better staged and the plot couldn’t have been better outlined. Books 2 and 3 had me groaning in places where things magically happened to advance the plot, but nothing I couldn’t forgive. Also, really, who here wouldn’t want to be Lisbeth, at least for a little while? That chick is total badass. 5 of 5 stars.
10. Hope: A Tragedy, by Shalom Auslander. (Feb 2012) If you love dark and twisty, if you love sarcasm and oh-no-he-DIDN’T! send-ups, if you can find the utter brilliance behind the seemingly outrageous, and if you’re not above taking on a little guilt so you can laugh out loud when you shouldn’t, you MUST read this first novel by (have I already said it?) the brilliant Auslander. His middle-aged protag Solomon Kugel has moved his wife and son and, to his wife’s chagrin, his dying mother to the suburbs, into a house they can’t afford in order to escape the evils and foibles following their seemingly cursed family. Soon after moving, dementia besets his mother, who thinks she is a concentration camp survivor (she isn’t)(although she is really great at thinking she is). As if that wasn’t enough, Kugel finds an unwanted houseguest hiding out in his attic. And that houseguest insists she is Anne Frank. Kugel spends the rest of the novel trying to hide his bossy, needy Anne Frank wannabe from the rest of his family, as well as continuing to conquer the biggest curse of all: Hope. For it is hope that distracts us from the reality that we’re all going to die and suffer ALL OF THE CURSES! before we get there. Really, Auslander says it all much gut-bustingly better than I. The only thing I will say against Hope is that I was ready for the story to wrap up about a quarter of the novel earlier than it did. The ending, it did drag. But then I’m sure the characters would have enjoyed that. 4 of 5 stars.
11. The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz. (Feb 2012) You guys, I loved this book SO HARD! Oscar might be my favorite loser in all of literature. I mean, you can’t help but root for the kid! A “ghetto-nerd” who is bullied mecilessly his entire life because the dude has no game, no street cred, no anything whatsoever to help him get by…nothing, that is except for his writing and his romantic nature. Oscar devours science fiction and fantasy stories, then begins writing them himself to distract him from his own inepititude and his sister’s wild shenanigans. Then the fuku – a powerful curse – is leveled against Oscar’s family and he must escape to the United States to try to begin again. Love. Immigration. Culture. Coming of age. Family. History. You root for Oscar, you want him to find and slay that six-fingered man (metaphorically) because goddamn it, Diaz and his magic-weaving fingers taps out his story in such a beautiful, glorious beat that you can’t not get invested. It is unpossible not to fall for Oscar, his short, wondrous life’s worth of evidence be damned. 5 of 5 stars.
13. No One Is Here Except All of Us, by Ramona Ausobel. Another Holocaust-era story, this one about a small town in Romania in 1939 that undertook drastic and imaginative measures to secure the town’s survival. The townspeople start over. Like, really over. They create new meanings for every day words and occurances. They deny knowledge of anything that came before that day. They reallign families, seemingly at random. And then there is the mysterious stranger who arrives at the town’s new beginning. But can the town keep the world at bay forever? 3 of 5 stars.
15. The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey. (Mar 2012) Just when I started to doubt my book-choosing abilities, one arrives on my doorstep to ensorcel me. Ivey’s debut novel was nothing less than spell-binding. In 1920, a young couple travels from farmland back east to the riches of Alaska to make their fortunes and an imprint on the land. The life is tough, but enjoyable, except for one thing: they have no children with whom to share their life. Without someone to care for, to struggle for, Mabel is about to give up. And then, like a fairy tale she often read as a child, a little girl appears on their doorstep after a blizzard. Ivey’s writing is so crisp, so beautifully sparse in a way that doesn’t scrimp on the magical, that I just wanted to crawl inside the story and ask for more and more and more. Snow Child made my heart break in all the right ways. 5 of 5 stars.
16. 11/22/63, by Stephen King. (Mar 2012) This started out with a deliciously familiar Kingish feel to it: a young English teacher in a small Maine town finds a doorway in a diner. (YAY doors! I LOVE doors!) But then as the heft of the tale continues, it started feeling like something more. His critics will say it starts feeling like a genuine novel, and that’s when I try to not punch them in their faces. To me it sounded like Mr. King speaking from a world next door, or like he was painting with an entirely new medium. You can still see fingerprints, brushstrokes, to to speak, that make the story his. But the effect was just…different. Good different – the novel was amazingly executed, even if it could have been at least 150 pages lighter – but even as enjoyable a jaunt as it was, listening to King speak about a subject he’s so passionate about, I will still love the “classic” Kings more and better. (P.S. I get great big giant points for not saying a single thing about the ending.) 3 3/4 of 5 stars.
17. The Lantern, by Deborah Lawrenson. (Mar 2012) All I can remember about this book is that I got it in a dollar bin and that the writing was horrid. 1 of 5 stars.
18. The Map of True Places, by Brunonia Barry. (Mar 2012) I thought this would be a therapeutic read for me; one of the main characters is dealing with a parent with Parkinson’s. But as much as the beginning drew me in, the book sort of lost interest for me. I wanted the psychologist to be a stronger character, not a mushy mess. And I wanted her relationship with her father – and her father’s circumstances – to have more definition. In the end, I grew tired of trying to hold it all together and just gave up. 2 of 5 stars.
19. Left Neglected, by Lisa Genova. (Mar 2012) You know, I enjoy Lisa Genova – she’s incredibly readable. The problem with Lisa Genova is that I don’t feel like I gain anything by the time I’ve finished her books. It’s almost like (and wow does this sound wrong to say), she’s too readable, like the literary equivilent of watching something mindless on Oxygen. Left Neglected fell into that category. I enjoyed reading about her main character, a busy career woman balancing a full schedule of mommying in between meetings and deadlines – until she’s in an accident and loses function in the left hemisphere of her brain. The story of her fight to regain her life – even if it’s one reimagined from what she previously had – was interesting enough to hold me until the last page. But it’s not a story I will ever pick up again. Alas. 2 of 5 stars.
20. Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer. (Apr 2012) Don’t hate me – but I could not get into this book. I don’t understand: I adored Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. So much so that I hunted for this book every time I was in a used book store. I couldn’t wait to read it. From everything I heard, the character Alex Perchov was something to behold. And so I finally got my hands on a copy, dove in…and couldn’t latch on the to ADHD pace. Not the characters, not the writing. Nada. And it was WWII fiction, too! My favorite! I kept my copy, though, and I’m not giving up. Maybe it just wasn’t me right now. 1 of 5 stars.
21. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Housseini. (Apr 2012) My sister had me read Housseini’s The Kite Runner first because it was supposed to be the better story. And it was brilliant! So I tried to temper my expectations going into Thousand Splendid Suns. Of course, then I started reading it and couldn’t put it down and loved it so hard I wondered why there were only a thousand splendid suns; surely it deserverd a hundred million more or so. Be warned – the book is a heartbreaker. You will cry as many tears (at least) as there are suns. But just stock up on tissues – you must, must, MUST read this book. It is well written, smart, filled with characters you’ll care about and those you’ll despise (and all of whom act in incredibly believable, true ways), and will stay with you for a long, long time. 5 of 5 stars.
22. The Drawing of the Three, by Stephen King. (Apr 2012) I conned my best friend Corrie into reading this series. She is going to kill me when she gets halfway through Book 7. In real life.
23. Carry the One, by Carol Anshaw. (Apr 2012) This was one of the new release books I bought as part of my resolution to read more current publications this year. I couldn’t wait to read it: a carload of guests leaving a wedding accidentally hit and kill a mysterious young girl walking in the middle of the road late at night. The story follows those affected and studies how each deals with their grief and guilt and other psychological after effects. Sounds amazing, yes? Unfortunately, I felt Anshaw’s writing distanced itself too much from the raw emotional potential lying about her in every direction. I wanted power, and instead I felt like all of the characters were heavily drugged, pushing through an invisible sludge. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but I certainly couldn’t connect, even if the dulled delivery was intentional. 1 of 5 stars.
24. Tar Baby, by Toni Morrison. (Apr 2012) This might be my least favorite of Morrison’s novels. Might be? Definitely is. Even though admitting I don’t like some of her work makes me look up nervously for bolts of lightning to rain down from the sky. 2 of 5 stars.
25. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (Apr 2012) Another re-read! See the praise I heaped on it a few spots up when I talked about the sequel, Dragonfly in Amber.
26. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides. (Apr 2012) I think I might like this book now that I few months have passed when I read it. For one, I’ve (mostly)(sort of)(okay not really, but I’m DEALING WITH IT) gotten over the fact that it is not Middlesex. You need to know this. If you want something as good as Middlesex, then you’re better off just re-reading Middlesex. Because this is nowhere near as great, or as good, as that technical, emotional, literary genius of a novel. (I rather fancied it, can ya tell?) The Marriage Plot, however, is kind of good in its own right. Sort of. If what you’re looking at is a college campus and post-grad what-does-my-life-mean-now? rumpus of a triangle, and you don’t mind wanting to bang all of the characters’ heads against the wall, then yes, this might be for you. As long as you know beforehand that it’s not Middlesex. Hmpf. 3 of 5 stars.
27. Wind through the Keyhole, by Stephen King. (Apr 2012) Who was excited to read this book? THIS GIRL!! I am a sucker for Stephen King – there is no greater comfort read for me. Add to that the fact that this is a bonus Dark Tower novella (DT 4.5 for those following along), and I was all over it. In fact, I read it in one night. The night my daughter had a sleepover birthday party and so I was up all hours, but still. A very tight story within a story within a story from one of my favorite writers. A must-read for all Dark Tower fans, but try to keep your expectations in check – it’s no Wastelands. 4 1/2 of 5 stars.
28. Salvage the Bones, by Jasmyn Ward. (May 2012) This was a big, fun (is that word appropriate for heavy issues?), important-feeling novel. A readable “literary” novel, to use a term with which I have a very love/hate relationship. Was it just me, or did you hear ghosts of Fauklner and Toni Morrion rising up from the southern setting, and lush but deliberate prose? Just 12 days cover the entire plot as four kids and their largely absent alcoholic father prepare for a Katrina-like hurricane on the Mississippi gulf shore while also trying to fend for themselves and eek out enough to get by each day. Oh! And the 14-year-old girl narrating just found out she’s pregnant. Salvage the Bones won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2011 and every single page shows you why. 4 of 5 stars.
29. Easter Island, by Jennifer Vanderbes. (May 2012) I did not, did not, did not like this book. I wanted to. The premise sounded like something I’d love: in 1913, one woman travels to Easter Island with her anthropologist husband and instead of familial duty finds adventure; 60 years later, an American botonist travels to the island to find herself the death of her husband. Mysteries ensue, as do their eventual unravelling. Sounds exciting, yes? Unfortunately, the writing lulled me to sleep every. single. time. I tried to invest myself. If you make it, you’re made of stronger stuff than I. 2 of 5 stars.
30. The Thorn and the Blossom, by Theodora Goss. (May 2012) I was intrigued by this gimmicky, two-sides-to-every-story fable. Two lovers, a mysterious romance, and a weird box-shaped accordion book that is hard to hold. You start on one side to get one character’s take; then flip the book over and read the other side of the story. The fable held my attention all the way through, even if I did roll my eyes a few times. 3 of 5 stars.
31. Eleven Minutes, by Paulo Coelho. (May 2012) I liked this book a ridulously whole lot. A young girl from South America falls for a scam artist, is forced into prostitution, and then makes her life her own – all without selling her pride or her soul. And Maria will make you turn your brain inside out with all of the thinking. I haven’t underlined so many thought-provoking passages in a single book since college. And I dare you to find more readable prose. 5 of 5 stars.
32. Objects of my Affection, by Jill Smolinski. (May 2012) Here’s where you get to judge me viciously, with my full permission: I read this book because it was about hoarding. In real life! It was just enough better than a Lifetime movie that I kept reading, but it did elicit a few outloud groans in places. It was the
literary equivalent of mac&cheese – just what you need to make it through some days. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.
33. Hannibal, by Thomas Harris. (May 2012) I read Silence of the Lambs earlier this year (or was it last?) and it quite frankly scared the ever-living jeebus outta me. I thought it was psychologically paced and artfully excuted much, much better than the movie. So I had similar expections heading into Hannibal. Meh. It was okay – I mean, I finished it and everything. But was it as gripping as Silence? Not even close. You won’t lose anything if you need to trim it from your TBR, but if you find it in a clearance bin, it’s good for a rainy day. 3 of 5 stars.
34. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. (Jun 2012) You’re going to think this is silly, but I always forget how much this nearly-perfect book is about…well…books. I mean, it has LITERARY SOCIETY in the title, for Pete’s sake! But I never forget how much I love it. Dearly. 5 of 5 stars.
35. Three Junes, by Julia Glass. (Jun 2012) Paul, a recent widower, and his three grown sons reflect on their lives and the complexities of love. If I had read it at any other time, I might have liked it more, but it read a little dry and highbrow and I wanted to be gripped by something unputdownable. 2 of 5 stars.
36. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. (Jun 2012) Babs kills me. She does. Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven, Poisonwood Bible? LOVED THEM. Poisonwood is even on my Favorite Books of All Time list. So she has these glorious works that make me want to read her entire backlist…and then I hit clunkers like Lacuna and Prodigal Summer that make me want to banish myself from all of nature. I mean, there were parts that I liked. But it just… was so backwoodsy and kinda Cold Mountain-ish. (I didn’t like Cold Mountain.) If I want nature, I’ll go camping and sing girl scout songs. When I read books – especially Kingsolver – I expect a great deal of insight. I just wasn’t fealing it with this one. 2 of 5 stars.
37. Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson. (May 2012) I wanted so much to like this novel. I’d heard so many good things and it won the fancypants National Book Award for Fiction in 2007. Tree of Smoke tells the story of an American, lost in soul, who wants to be good and wise and something meaningful, but instead thinks of himself as the effing American, a tale set in the midst of our war in Vietnam. A tale of identity questions and war? That’s so up my alley! I love that stuff! Except…I didn’t. And no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t make myself. Johnson, he’s got chops, but I couldn’t dig ‘em. 1 of 5 stars.
38. The Reservoir, by John Milliken Thompson. (May 2012) The late 1800s. Richmond, Virginia. A woman’s body found in the reservoir. Murder-or-suicide? Mystery. Love triangles. Brother against brother. It could go either way, right? And the mediocre writing and pace of the story did me in. 1 of 5 stars.
39. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. (Jun 2012) I know everyone else is saying this, too, but…you guys, Gillian Flynn is a GENIUS. Seriously. I hope I never meet her because she could kill me dead and convince everyone that someone else had done it. Very clever, sassy, funny, brilliant, and masterfully deceptive. There’s a reason this is the It book of the year. And if you’re the last person alive who hasn’t read it, go. GO NOW. And you might as well buy her other two while you’re there – I read them both and loved them. (Uh…spoiler alert.) 5 of 5 stars. And I’m itching to read it again.
40. The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks. This was a Traveling Book. The dude…travels. Mysteriously. With magic-type stuff. And there are other bits, too, but traveling stories are my weakness. Secret doors. Magic. Dreams. Alternate realities. Thin places in existence. All of it. So I should have loved this book. I don’t know what it was – if the reality was too alt-reality, or the fantasy was too fantastical – but I felt like the story started in the middle and I couldn’t quite catch up. I’m very picky about my alternate realities, apparently. 1 of 5 stars.
41.. Night Strangers, by Chris Bohjalian. (Jun 2012) I had quite a few books by Mr. Bohjalian on my TBR list, and this one seemed like a great first candidate: a pilot tries to save his doomed plane via miraculous water landing (a la Miracle on the Hudson)…only this time it doesn’t go quite as smoothly. Reeling from the disaster, our protag retires from his job and moves into an odd old house in rural New England. And not only are their ghosties and mysteries and twins, but there is a mysterious door in the basement. How many of my literary weaknesses can we squeeze into one book?! Each one kept my interest snagged, relieving the plot any time one subject got a little soggy. I wasn’t quite entranced with the voice, but interested enough in the whats to keep reading even when the hows of Night Strangers wasn’t working for me. This is definitely one I’d borrow rather than buy, but a good afternoon’s worth of entertainment either way. Just maybe don’t read it right before you fly. Or spend a winter’s night in a creepy manion. 3 of 5 stars.
42. Open City, by Teju Cole. (Jun 2012) One of the distinctions I make between the fictions books I read is to divide them between Books With Plot and Philosophical Books. Which isn’t to say one can’t dabble in the other – nearly all books must have some plot, or it would just be a string of words – but usually a book will fall concretely into one category or the other. Open City is a thinking book, a philosophical one. A young med student wanders New York City alone, thinking long thoughts about his past, his studies, his failed romances, his life in Nigeria, and all manner of things. If you’re spending a lot of time thinking about your life and what it’s amounting to, or wondering exactly where you want it to meander towards, this is just the kind of book that will help you think about it without actually thinking about it for awhile. It’s smart, refreshing, and beautiful in its unhurried pace, with just enough smattering of “stuffs” going on to keep me from fidgeting. 3 of 5 stars.
43. Domestic Violets, by Matthew Norman. This was an ebook I found through our local library. (Library loans without leaving your living room, for the win!) Unfortunately, I was more impressed with the technology of ebook-loans than I was with the actual book. The plot sounded intriguing: mid-life crisis by aspiring novelist makes me feel like a failure in all aspects – his marriage is failing, he’ll never write like his Pulitzer Prize-winning father…even his dog doesn’t like him. I love me some stories about how life seems to suck, but then there are <jazz hands> revelations! And things turn around! Or they don’t, but the protag doesn’t care anymore! This one… still waiting for the jazz hands. Or any hands. 1 of 5 stars.
44. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. (Jul 2012) I picked this book up because on of my favorite reviewers over at BookRiot described eleven-year-old protagonist Flavia de Luce as her favorite child protag of perhaps all-time. Flavia is a budding chemist, a busybody in a charming Harriet-the-Spy/child-yearning-to-be-an-adult sort of way, and an amateur sleuth when she must clear her father’s name in the most mysterious death of a stranger on their property. What more can I say? This book made me start writing in books again: I couldn’t help it! I was yelling, “Yes! Yes!” and reading passages outloud. Trust me. Read it. 5 of 5 stars.
45. Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes. (Jul 2012) Tony and Adrian met in school as chaps and grew up together before moving on to separate colleges and separate lives – linked by a single girl, of course. It’s told years later from the viewpoint of a middle-aged, divorced Tony in a voice that never quite clicked, somehow. I never fell in love with Sense of an Ending, and I never really grew attached to any of the characters involved in the love triangle at its heart, but I couldn’t ever put the book down, either. I needed to know what happened, and it wasn’t quite unbeautiful, either. Some books are just like that. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.
46. The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri. (Jul 2012) The Namesake is a story about coming of age, about generational differences that cannot be bridged until it is almost too late, about the cultural divide each generation experiences as the immigrating parents and the first generation born in the new country. It’s about so many things woven so tightly that you can’t speak about any without the others, and done so well that you will need to talk about those many things with everyone. The Namesake made me think about my own identity for an indecent amount of time after I finished, and made me wonder all over again about the secret lives my parents might have lived before they were mine. 4 of 5 stars.
47. Zone One, by Colson Whitehead. (Jul 2012) A zombie plague has infested the world, dividing humanity into two types: the infected and the uninfected. Martial law has been ordered, and groups of former citizens are assigned the task of clearing zones, including New York City: Zone One. I’ve read Whitehead before and I think I could maybe have like this book if it wasn’t written an unimpassioned voice that seems to be his trademark. My sister enjoyed this, though, so I’m pretty sure this is a personal (un)preference. 1 of 5 stars.
48. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. (Jul 2012) What? I couldn’t help myself.
49. Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt. (Jul 2012) It’s 1987. 14-year-old June has just lost her beloved uncle to AIDS, and she has no idea how to cope. Her uncle used to hold the strings together, it seems, make everything bearable, and now she has no one to listen to her. Or does she? Gah. I’m recapping it all wrong. Because this book was beautiful and had the perfect tone and made me want a gay uncle just like June’s, and I read it in a single sitting because it was THAT good. It even made me cry at work. (Don’t finish it on your lunch break. Just sayin’.) It was my vote in Goodread’s Best Fiction Book of 2012. AND I’m buying the hardcover just for the gorgeous art on the dustcover. Stunning, inside and out. 5 of 5 stars.
50. Gold, by Chris Cleave. (Jul 2012) I had high hopes for Gold. Too high. I fell in love with Cleave when I read Incendiary. I likened his follow-up, Little Bee, to Morrison’s Beloved, for crying out loud! But Gold…meh. I understand it was a character study. I understand that Cleave is masterful at releasing only as much information as he wants you to have, and only when he wants you to have it – and he does it well – but I can name many other authors (GillianFlynn:cough:cough) so do that, too. And I liked their books a lot better than this soap-opera. 2 of 5 stars.
51. The Final Solution, by Michael Chabon. (Jul 2012) My original review is over here, but if you want to skip ahead, I gave it 2 of 5 stars. But for a reason!
52. Rose Madder, by Stephen King. (Jul 2012) Viva ze bool! If I had to list my five favorite King novels (please don’t make me), this would get strong consideration. 5 of 5 – even with allll the re-readings over the years.
53. The Sea, by John Banville. (Jul 2012) Uggggggh. I couldn’t do it. Banville just isn’t my thing. It was so dry and just…not me. 1 of 5 stars.
54. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson. (Jul 2012) This English delight, on the other hand, was so adorable! and English! and filled with formerly-supressed feelings! Our widowed title character falls rather unexpectedly “in like” with the shopkeeper in his village. Except she happens to be Pakistani and ten years his junior. Major Pettigrew discusses love, tradition, cultural differences, generational expectations, expectations and tradition, and courage to be your own person in spite of family, norms, and even yourself. Simonson uses such charm, elegance and subtlety that the measure of how attached I was to the characters and the story sort of snuck up on me. I first read Major Pettigrew as a library eloan…and then went out and sought out a used copy of my own. 3 1/2 of 5 stars.
55. The Wastelands, by Stephen King. (Jul 2012) Every time I read Drawing of the Three, I decide it’s my favorite of the Dark Tower novels…until I read Wastelands.
56. Mad Desire to Dance, by Elie Wiesel. (Jul 2012) I confess: I couldn’t get into this book. I finished it, but if I had to gamble on remembering much about it, I’d lose. 1 of 5 stars.
57. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. (Jul 2012) The fact that I’ve shelved my Neil Gaiman books next to my Stephen Kings and Joe Hills tells you exactly what I think of his storytelling abilities. If you’re unfamiliar, American Gods is like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series for grownups…only with so much more to unpack and delight over. 3 1/2 of 5 stars.
58. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain. (Jul 2012) If I taught high school history, I would offer an entire letter-grade bump to any of my students who could prove to me they read this book. It’s THAT important to American relations, domestically and internationally. Billy Lynn’s squad gained fame for a ferocious battle with Iraqi insurgents, from which only eight soldiers survived. Fountain lampoons Americans ideas of patriotism and the treatment of our heroes during a single day, during which Billy Lynn’s squad is honored at a Dallas Cowboy’s football game. It’s not a book you’ll fall instantly in love with, it’s not one you’ll off in a single sitting, but of all the books I read this year, this one might’ve made me think the most. 4 of 5 stars.
59. What is the What?, by Dave Eggers. (Aug 2012) I was prepared to not like this book. I had picked it up almost a year before at a used book store for cheap and it had been sitting on my TBR shelf getting picked over ever since. I’d tried and abandoned Eggers’ work before. Several times, in fact. I found him egotistical and smarmingly left of center. But then I started reading his fictionalized account of a Sudenese refugee searching for the American dream and…I really liked it. Deng’s voice – no matter how much of it was his and how much was Eggers’ – completely captivated me. I loved his backstory as told through flashbacks, I loved hearing stories of his acclimated (current) life, I loved hearing stories from when he first came to the U.S. I didn’t even care about the controversey surrounding the format of the book. I just wanted to read Deng’s story no matter whose reality it belonged to. 4 of 5 stars.
60. One Breath Away, by Heather Gundenkauff. (Aug 2012) A fun read, even if it did smack at time of Jodi Piccoult-esque formulaic writing. It was a light contemporary thriller I looked forward to reading each night, critics be damned. 3 of 5 stars.
61. Sway, by Nick Lazar. (Aug 2012) Sway was the complete opposite of being formulaic. The story of a Manson family edge dweller that intersected with the early days of the Rolling Stones, this was a trippy, fun, smart read that made you pay attention. 3 1/2 of 5 stars.
62. The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown. (Aug 2012) Another disappointment. I couldn’t get invested in the sisters to ever involve myself in their story. They were whiney. Irresponsible. Flighty. And not in a way that you want to know anything more. 1 of 5 stars.
63. Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger. (Aug 2012) Rhi snuck this into my suitcase on my way back from vacationing this summer. At first I was all Hells No – I am so anti-Time Traveller’s Wife after a bad collision with Octavia Butler’s Kindred in college. No time travelling. No “there are are, hey where’d you go?” for me. And Niffenegger’s new (to me) novel is just one step removed. Except then I read the book blurb. Twins. Dead aunts. English countryside. Cemeteries. Haunted apartments. More twins. Love. Identity. Ghosts. In case you’re wondering, that kinda adds up to one of my things. So I read it. And while the novel was a shade too long, and there were bits and pieces I didn’t love, I still bought my own copy and housed it on a shelf next to Rebecca and Thirteenth Tale and handsold it to several of my readerly friends. 3 1/2 of 5 stars.
64. The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova. (Aug 2012) A famous painter attacks one of his own masterpieces in the National Gallery and is assigned to a psychiatrist. Of course there is a love story and the untangling of identities – both the painter’s, and the psychiatrist’s – and it sounded much like something I usually love…except I didn’t. I don’t know if the disconnect was because Kostova was writing across the gender divide and the protag’s voice sounded off (truly, for the first several dozen pages, I kept being pulled out of the story whenever I read that he was a he, and not a she as I pictured), but something just wasn’t working for me. 1 of 5 stars.
65. Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn. (Aug 2012) If you haven’t dropped what you’re doing to read all of Gillian Flynn’s novels, you’re nuts. As nuts as several of her so brilliantly written characters. This was the second of her novels that I read, and while Gone Girl is obviously her crowning achievement (to date), Dark Places wasn’t too far behind. I underlined so many perfectly turned phrases and kept shrieking loving adulations that I was afraid I might fall into the book. I will warn you that the beginning of Dark Places is…well…a little dark. But I promise it picks right up! I had even forgotten how depressing it was until I read another reviewer’s reaction. I’ve also heard people who were irritated at how things just sort of happened and fell into place too neatly for their tastes, but I’m of the camp who doesn’t mind setting aside reality a bit if the execution is pitch perfect. And for me, this thriller was. 5 of 5 stars.
66. The Astral, by Kate Christensen. (Aug 2012) A “lost soul looking for redemption” novel, this time it’s poet Harry Quirk who has been tossed by his longtime wife Luz for suspected infidelity. I thought the sidestory of Harry’s grown children – one a crunchy granola daughter, the son a follower of a Christian cult – who would captivate me. Instead, I have to admit that I don’t remember a blessed thing about this novel, other than the writing was descent but it seemed like so many other novels. 2 of 5 stars.
67. Await Your Reply, by Dan Choan (Aug 2012) This novel read like a bunch of connected stories, only we don’t see for the longest time how interconnected the stories are. Part creepy thriller, part contemporary fiction, I had a hard time getting into the three stories…and then a hard time not thinking about them once I was done. 3 of 5 stars.
68. 1Q84, by Haruki Marukami. (Sep 2012) I can’t say I ever loved 1Q84, but I read the book consciously aware of being amazed by and in awe of it. Read my mid-read review over here.
69. Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King. (Sep 2012) Every time I read this, I always think I’m going to have to just get through it, and then I’m always surpised by how much I enjoy it. You know – right before it breaks my heart.
70. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. (Sep 2012) This book fell apart in my hands. Really. My sister loaned me hear copy and I would turn a page, and the page would fall out into my hands. It made for a rather surreal experience. Thank goodness the mystery? novel? nonfiction? what was it exactly? was so good because messy books are a bit distracting. 3 of 5 stars.
71. Sister, by Rosamund Lupton (Sep 2012) Two sisters are as close as close can be. Except one, the younger one, lives in London where they grew up and the older sister has run away to New York City to be rich and have a career and a fancypants boyfriend/fiancee and everything else…until Older Sis finds out that her sister is first missing, and then found murdered. She travels home to find out what really happened, of course, except it all turns out to be more than the sum of its parts. Part thriller, part mystery, part heartbreaking forced confrontation of what-the-hell-would-I-do-if-I-was-her?! I’m not gonna lie – I actually connected so hard with pieces of what Lupton wrote about these sisters that I would find tears rolling down my cheeks as I furiously turned pages faster and faster. I couldn’t face the lonliness Lupton’s suriving sister faced. 4 of 5 stars.
72. The Sister Brothers, by Patrick DeWitt (Sep 2012) I hate Westerns. Except this one. This one was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and won the Tournament of Books – and for good reason. Want to know more of the reasons I loved this Victorian Western that was really The Odyssey? Read here. Also? After Tell the Wolves I’m Home, this was my favorite cover of the year. 3 3/4 of 5 stars.
73. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walters. (Sep 2012) A lot of people picked this book as their favorite of the year. It was a finalist for Goodreads Best Fiction. Me? Meeeh. I finished it. I wanted to know what happened. But it was no where close to my favorite. I explained why over here. 3 of 5 stars.
74. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller. (Sep 2012) If you enjoyed the genius of The Road, but hated the soul-crushing despair that just wouldn’t. let. the frick up., then this book’s for you. A man lives with his beloved dog and a gun-crazy lunatic in post-apocalyptic America. Colorado, I believe. One day he hears a radio transmission from farther out than he’s explored and he decides to go all in. Because he is HOPEFUL, DAMNIT. Not that you won’t need a tissue or two. But I’d say it’s worth it. 3 of 5 stars.
75. Triangle, by Katherine Webber. (Sep 2012) A fictionalized account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire – until 9/11, the greatest tragedy in New York City history. Told years later by a dying survivor – we think – this story both worked and didn’t work. I enjoyed the story much more in the present as her granddaughter copes with losing her beloved grandmother than I did in the recounting of what happened. Even more that, I was fascinated by the way Rebecca’s boyfriend interacted through the world solely through music. Which, I think, was not the point of the book. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.
76. Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stern. (Sep 2012) This novel wasn’t even on my TBR. I was leary of reading another We’re Going To Warn You The Dog Is Gonna Die And You’ll Cry novels. (Um, spoiler. But it says that in the first three pages, so…) But the reviews! They were all glowing. And it was the only e-book available. And the voice was so engaging that I just kept reading. And so I found myself reading this book almost by accident. And reader, it’s good. Like, screw the tissues, you can skip the really sad bit at the end kind of good. The dog who narrates this? One of my favorite narrators of all time. THAT kind of good. Really. 4 1/2 of 5 stars.
77. The Devil in Silver, by Victor LaValle. (Oct 2012) A group of lovable misfits find each other in an insane asylum (sorry – mental institution) in New York and decide to battle another miscreant secretly living there – the devil. Awesome, right? Well…sort of. LaValle’s story was fun to read, except for when he’d get all diatribey and interrupty and pull me out of the story, which happened pretty frequently. And the ending…oof. The last quarter of the book just BUGGED. And I’m a girl who can easily set reality aside and just let things go without a great explanation. So the fact that this drove me nutsy and actually led to me selling the book back to the bookstore because ha, ha, ha – yeah. Still. There was very worthwhile discussion going on about how our society really works and how broken our health system is. Unfortunately, not enough to balance everything out. 3 of 5 stars.
78. The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling. (Oct 2012) The only thing casual about this book was the council seat Barry Fairbrother vacated when he died unexpectedly. It’s a big book with lots to say about living in a small town – and the living ain’t easy. Neither was reading all of the many, many things Rowling had to say about small-town living. And I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t one of the readers who was disappointed because it wasn’t a “Harry Potter” novel – and all of the many things that means. I was disappointed because I know how brilliantly Rowling can write about desperate situations without losing the undertones of hope. Casual Vacancy was so consciously vacant of that hope underneath all of the grit. And I don’t think it was better for it. 2 of 5 stars.
79. Gap Creek, by Robert Morgan. (Oct 2012) This wasn’t the sort of book I would normally enjoy. It was a sort of a more readable, younger cousin of Cold Mountain, without the flash or grandness. It wasn’t epic. It’s not something I’ll probably ever read again. But it was an interesting portrayal of marriage. I didn’t always like the characters – young, poor, uneducated newlyweds in the mountains of North Carolina – but by the end of the novel I was wondering rather often whether they were right to act as they had. That means Morgan did something right. 3 of 5 stars.
80. Arcadia, by Lauren Groff. (Oct 2012) I think everyone in the reading community liked this book – except me. I wanted to like it. I wanted to get whatever it was the “cool” kids were seeing. But I couldn’t get into the storylines. At all. Sigh. Maybe I’m just not meant to ever be a hippie. 1 of 5 stars.
81. The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley. (Oct 2012) One of my earliest picks for Katie’s List. This book sucks me in SO HARD every time I read it. Nearly perfect, it is. 5 of 5 stars.
82. The Gravedigger’s Daughter, by Joyce Carol Oates. (Oct 2012) Not Oates’s strongest books, but good if you don’t have anything else to read. 2 of 5 stars.
83. Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone, by Stefan Kiesbye. (Oct 2012) Need a good book to suck your face off and make you afraid to look in any of the shadows when you’re alone in your house? Read this new collection of interconnected fairy tales. Scary-ass fairy tales. Need more convincing? Read here. 4 of 5 stars.
84. Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon.(Oct 2012) A record store called Brokeland Records set near Oakland and Bereley, childhood friends whose wives are fellow midwives, and an ex-NFL-type badguy who’s trying to put a megastore on the corner to put Brokeland out of commission. Doesn’t that sound awesome?! It does. Until you remember that you don’t like Chabon, no matter how much you try or how much everyone else says you should, and you die a slow death waiting for the beat of the story to speed up. Ugh. 1 of 5 stars.
85. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. (Oct 2012) I don’t care if some people thought this novel was too pretentious and self-aware: I thought it was amazing! A mystery set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore, code-breaking, books books and more books, Googlemagic, kooky old people who love to read, and love, twu wuv (or not). You’re either going to love it, or you’re not. But the bookcover glows in the dark, either way. 5 of 5 stars.
86. Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. (Oct 2012) In case you were wondering, the second time you read what was my favorite book of 2011, you will love it even more than the first time. Just sayin’. 5 of 5 stars.
87. The Fates Will Find their Way, by Hannah Pittard. (Oct 2012) Mehhh. It was like it was trying to be The Lovely Bones, without the first person, and falling just short. If I had read this first, I think I would have liked it a lot more than I did. 3 of 5 stars.
88. Book of Illusions, by Paul Auster. (Oct 2012) My sister wanted me to read this to see if I’m a Paul Auster person. Apparently, I’m not. 1 of 5 stars.
89. World War Z, by Max Brooks (Nov 2012) Yet another zombie book. (ZOMG – ENOUGH with the zombies!!) This one is supposed to be coming out as a movie soon, and is about an oral history of the zombie wars that decimated the global community. I don’t know how the movie’s going to do, but I imagine it could capture an oral history a lot better than a book could. The format just didn’t work for me at all. The story – when it wasn’t being hampered by the format - was decent. 2 of 5 stars.
90. Mouthing the Words, by Camilla Gibb. (Nov 2012) This novel would have gone over in my Mental Health list if it wasn’t, you know, a novel. A girl is removed from her home again and again because of atrocities her parents commit: emotionally exiled by her mother, sexually abused by her father, punished by her mother because of the abuse she suffers – this read like so many of the horrific memoirs I’ve read. Except, perhaps because it was fictionalized, Gibb was able to make her tale both heartcrushingly painful and irreverently funny. Her narrator knows that being able to laugh when you’re crying is just about the most powerful tool we have. 3 of 5 stars.
91. The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley. (Nov 2012) What?! You read the ending to this book and not turn around and read it again right away. I’ve read it dozens of times and am still compelled.
92. Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks. (Nov 2012) I don’t think held as much emotional punch as it did the first time I read it, but it still entertained the entire way through. 3 of 5 stars.
93. The Monster at Templeton, by Lauren Groff. (Nov 2012) I knew the author sounded familiar, and I followed along better than did with Arcadia, but not much more. Arcadia is far and away the better novel, but I think my taste might not be Groff-like. (Why do I still feel so guilty admitting that?) 1 of 5 stars.
94. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. (Nov 2012) I would love this book so much more than I already do if I knew that Skeeter didn’t just walk away at the end. I don’t know that that’s what she did – nothing in the text says she abandoned anything…and yet, I wonder if that’s not just how it feels. I don’t think Skeeter felt like she had done enough by giving voice, but that’s almost the taste that was left in my mouth. We all need to be kind, we all need to be compassionate, we all need to help each other as much as we need to help ourselves…but I don’t think there’s ever a point where you can say “Okay, I did my part.” Is anyone else getting this vibe? The “off the hook now” vibe? Still a good re-read. 4 of 5 stars.
95. Before You Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson. (Nov 2012) Not a literary unveiling of epic proportions, but an absolutely un-put-downable read. It was a mystery with a very likeable protagonist and a plot that was different! Huzzah! I had to recommend it to all of my friends – and that’s something. 4 of 5 stars.
96. The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. (Dec 2012) This is hands down one of my favorite books of all time. I love how well it stands up to many re-reads because I foresee several dozen more in my future. 5 of 5 stars.
97. An Arsonist’s Guide to Author’s Home in New England, by Brock Clarke. Yeahhhh, not so much. It sounded so promising – it’s about books and authors and mocking. Oh the mocking! The problem I had was that it was so transparent when I was supposed to laugh, or chuckle, or perhaps add a sardonic comment…only I never really wanted to. And that kinda bugs. 1 of 5 stars.
98. The Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan. (Dec 2012) I loved the premise: a Titanic-era ocean liner sinks while crossing the Atlantic. There aren’t enough lifeboats (sound familiar?), so these 20 people are stuck in a lifeboat for almost two weeks. The story is told in flashbacks as you try to figure out how things ended up where the starts. Pretty good premise, but I wish Ms. Rogan had made her main character a little more sympathetic. I really couldn’t work up any sort of emotion towards any of the characters, which really makes the entire story sort of pointless, right? Still, there was some promise, and this was her first novel; I’d give another novel a whirl to see if maybe it was just a one off. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.
99. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonassen. (Dec 2012) This was an impulse read. It was okay, but I think most of the fun got lost in the translation. Or, um, maybe it wasn’t the right time for this read. 2 of 5 stars.
100-102. Three senseless romances that got me through a horrible headcold but weren’t really worth even mentioning. So. Ahem.
103. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. (Dec 2012) Um…autobiographical fiction much? Not a book you have a hard time putting down, but I’ve certainly read classics with less readable plot. 3 of 5 stars.
104. The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, by Kathleen Alcott. (Dec 2012) I didn’t quite know what I was getting when I picked this one up (or, er, booted up my Kindle as the case actually was). The main characters Ida, Jackson and James all grew up next door to each other, tangling each others lives and families and dreams and even psychoses as they grew from children to adolescents and from adolescents into…well, complicated adults. I didn’t much care for the squishy and squickiness that came with the brothers navigating adulthood, I very much enjoyed the scenes from when the three of them were all youngsters. Their games of imagination and the descriptions of summer freedom made me so nostalgic I couldn’t refuse to read something else by Ms. Alcott in the future. 3 of 5 stars.
105. When It Happens to You, by Molly Ringwald. (Dec 2012) I didn’t expect to like this nearly as much as I did. But it was getting so much buzz that I thought I should at least try a few paragraphs. Short stories usually aren’t my thing. Linked short stories like these have a better than average change of piqueing my interest because then it has more of a novelesque feel. With this, I felt like each story was just another chapter in the book with a vastly different point of view. And narrator. But the flow was so seamless, it just worked. I liked the characters (or liked to hate them) and I genuinely cared what happened to them. I loved the liberal bend and general acceptance of all people and the variety of thinking offered. I loved that Ms. Pretty in Pink is still going strong and apparently can do anything she puts her mind toward. I can’t wait for her next offering, be it novel or stories or poems written upside down. 4 of 5 stars.
106. The Vanishers, by Heidi Juvalaits. (Dec 2012) Yeah, this book just was NOT for me. Way too woo woo. Which is weird, because I can do woo woo. I read lots of woo woo. But this? This was just off for me somehow. 1 of 5 stars.
107. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, by Shani Boianjiu. (Dec 2012) I LOVED this book. If I hadn’t read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk this year, this would have been my favorite war book of the year. I loved the wild go-who-knows-where story arcs of the three girls. Their lives weren’t perfect, their choices were neither perfect nor maddening, there were characters and sections that I really didn’t like. But as a whole, the story was more perfect than the sum of its parts. Or, um, something less trite than that. 4 of 5 stars.
108. A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick. (Dec 2012) I liked the idea of a woman who answers an advertisement in the early 20th century to marry a man in the Western Territories with whom she has only corresponded. What I don’t like is a period piece with an unreliable narrator. In Katie’s World of Literature, unreliable narrators are more comfortable in more modern stories. So when each plot twist was unveiled, I grew even more annoyed. And things just went downhill from there. 2 of 5 stars.
And that’s pretty much when my sister showed up and Christmas lurched around the corner and I stopped having chunks of time in which I could lose myself to the magic of reading. It was a glorious year filled with many more wonders than I had any hope of discovering. I have a few more lists for you this week as I recover from Kim’s visit and head back to work, but I have to say: I can’t wait to see what adventures I fall into in 2013.