My Year in Reading: Cassie-la’s Best and Worst of 2012 Wrap Up

2012 Reading ListHappy 2013!!! It’s a new year already, which means a blank slate in which to read new books, enjoy new worlds and start a brand new list of books read in 365 days. This is the 5th year in a row (since I started keeping a book log) that I made my reading goal and I’ve definitely come a long way from my 50 book goal in 2008 to the 150 I aimed to read in 2012. Yay for meeting goals!

Although to be fair, I was unemployed (yet again) January through part of October, so that might be why I was able to read so much. Here’s hoping I can still hit at least 150 for 2013 since it’s already set in stone on GoodReads, which apparently counts the number of books and the page count. Social media never made being a bibliophile so easy.

In 2012 I read a grand total of 156 books (see full visual list HERE), hitting my goal and landing on a nice even number. YAY EVEN NUMBERS! 39 of those were novels, 3 were anthologies, 16 were non-fiction, 45 of them were young adult novels, 36 were graphic novels and trades, 16 were middle grade books and 1 was a poetry collection.

The Best of the Best:

20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Recommended for: Anyone with a desire to read creepy stories about ghosts, serial killers, super powers and everything in-between.

I discovered Joe Hill last year when I read the amazing Heart-Shaped Box which gave me nightmares for weeks, but this collection is proof that he also shines in short story form. From tales about ladies who haunt movie theatres to vengeful super-powered boyfriends, a family of redneck killers tied to a manuscript and ghostly victims who send messages from beyond the grave via telephone, Hill leaves no terrifying stone unturned.

American Vampire 1 - Scott SnyderAmerican Vampire Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder and Stephen King
Recommended for: Graphic novel lovers looking for a high-brow comic book series.

I’m a little late to the American Vampire game (especially considering they’re currently up to volume four) but that’s not the worst sin, I’ve gotten into fandoms after they’ve ceased to exist. This comic book series follows a new kind of vampire throughout the centuries – an American vampire- from the Wild West to the roaring twenties. The other trades travel through different time periods, but volume one will always be the most gripping story for me, giving an amazing back story to the villainous Skinner Sweet and the men who seek to kill him.

Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Recommended for: Everyone who doesn’t think they could possibly enjoy a young adult novel without paranormal elements.

Awful cover notwithstanding, this is an amazing book, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like plots centered around romances. The novel follows Anna as she’s forced into a prestigious boarding school in France and falls in love with the rakishly dashing and awesomely named Étienne St. Clair in a story that’s equal parts fluff, angst and sharp wit. Warning: might have you up until 3:00AM finding out what happens to Anna while simultaneously making grilled cheese because you wish you were in Paris.

Blood StarlightDaughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Recommended for: Young adult aficionados looking for an author at the top of their game.

There are not enough wonderful things to say about Laini Taylor and her writing, and for some reason the only coherent thoughts I can form look a little something like: OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO READ LAINI TAYLOR’S BOOKS THEY MAKE ME WANT TO DANCE AND CRY AND LAUGH ALL AT THE SAME TIME! The series itself follows Karou, a girl with blue hair who is friends with demons and has access to magic. And it’s the most amazing YA series in the history of ever. For serious.

Delirium - Lauren OliverDelirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Recommended for: Readers looking for a refreshing take on dystopic fiction that stands heads and shoulders above similar novels.

Another great new young adult series I stumbled across this year was Delirium, which is the usual dystopic novel where a young, smart girl fights against the oppressive government with a side of love triangle. Good thing Lauren Oliver’s writing is so much better than the average young adult trilogy. The world in which teens are cured of the disease amor deliria nervosa (love) is wonderfully brought to life through the eyes of Lena, who I last left on a painful cliffhanger. Can the finale Requiem be here now?

The Diviners - Libba brayThe Diviners by Libba Bray
Recommended for: Lovers of the paranormal, the roaring 20’s and a great unrequited love story.

The best paranormal story of the year hands down goes to the ever-fabulous Libba Bray. This brand new series from the author follows Evie O’Neill through New York in the 20’s, a world of speakeasies and paranormal mysteries to solve as she works alongside her uncle at The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies (not its official name) and proceeds to be a pos-i-toot-ly adorable young heroine. Bonus points for my favorite trope of unrequited romance which set my shipper heart alight intermingled with some horrifying supernatural elements.

Every DayEvery Day by David Levithan
Recommended for: Anyone and everyone. No, seriously.

A is cursed/gifted with a unique situation, every day they wake up in the body of a completely different person. Unable to make connections, moving from shell to shell, A does the unthinkable: A falls in love with Rhiannon and risks the secret of their existence to get close to her. An intriguing looks at the different lives humanity leads, what molds us, and every manner of metaphysical question that will keep you up at night pondering. A truly wonderful yet wholly undefinable novel, making it one of the best of the year.

The Fault in Our Stars - John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Recommended for: Bookies who want to sob uncontrollably while reading the most gorgeous prose out there.

Is there any more praise that can be heaped on John Green’s latest novel? Probably, so here’s a little more. TFiOS is one of those novels full of lines that will have your heart shattering into a million pieces, whether out of happiness or sadness. If you have a soul, you will laugh and sob your way through it. And if that isn’t enough, it has an unprecedented five stars on Amazon and was at the top of the New York Time’s bestseller list for seven weeks. Did I mention it will make you cry?

For Darkness Shows the Stars - Diana PeterfreundFor Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Recommended for: Readers who love new takes on old classics.

For Darkness Shows the Stars (the title and cover alone are so beautiful they kill me) is a science-fiction remake of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with a post-apocalyptic twist. The story is just as enriching as the concept, with a social divide between the religious Luddites and the mentally deficient Reduced. Add in an epic love story that transcends race and social status and you have a typically romantic Austen novel. Add in ridiculously futuristic names like Captain Malakai Wentworth and a group called the Cloud Fleet, sun carts and genetic engineering and you have sci-fi Austen.

I Am A Pole and So Can You - Stephen ColbertI Am A Pole (And So Can You!) and America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert
Recommended for: Fans of any and all things Stephen Colbert.

Both of Stephen Colbert’s releases this year were equally humorous, but only one has an awesome blurb by the late Maurice Sendak and convinced adults that this children’s book was awfully inappropriate for their wee-ones. His follow-up book America Again on the other hand touched upon all manner of topics, from the economy to healthcare to food, all in glorious 3-D. No seriously, a portion of it’s in 3-D. Would I lie to you?

Memorial - Chris RobersonMemorial Vol. 1 by Chris Roberson
Recommended for: Fantasy lovers or anyone who enjoys independent comics.

An amnesiac girl who calls herself Em wanders into an antique shop that contains a way into other worlds. As Em travels from place to place with her cat Schrodinger (see what they did there?) she learns about her mysterious past and unlocks the secrets to the Queens Maybe, Moment and Memory who rule the lands of Maybe, Is and Was, where the collection conscious of what was, what is and what could be are stored. Classic literary characters abound in this Fables meets Locke & Key world!

Princess Academy - Shannon HalePrincess Academy by Shannon Hale
Recommended for: People who appreciate strong female leads and richly woven fairy tales.

Not your typical children’s book, this lush story from Shannon Hale tells the tale of the Princess Academy, where young of-age ladies learn how to properly behave in order to become a Princess. Despite that all the children in the village learn what it takes to be a Princess, only one girl can be chosen by the Prince as his future Queen. Don’t worry, it’s much less like a reality television show about fighting to become a Princess than it sounds. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

Sacre Bleu - Christopher MooreSacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore
Recommended for: Art lovers and readers who look for a sardonic twist in their books.

Moore’s books are always funny, and this one in particular has the added bonus of being smart, funny and reads like historical fiction crack fic. In a good way. Starring Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa, Vincent Van Gogh and the color blue as well as some fully fleshed out original characters, this is Moore’s funniest and most original work yet, and that’s saying a whole lot. Sorry vampire novels, you have nothing on muses, art and Moore’s most recent penchant for fan fiction.

Saga Volume 1Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
Recommended for: Comic book readers looking for the best new series of the year.

This character driven science-fiction series has everything you need: a star-crossed romance on distant planets, freelance murderers, a cat creature who can sense lies, ghosts, and a forest made of rocket ships. Accompanied by gorgeous artwork from Fiona Staples and punctuated with Brian K. Vaughan’s amazing dialogue, I’m not exaggerating when I say this was the best new series of the entire year. Sorry Hawkeye, sorry Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, you can’t mess with perfection.

Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel - SG BrowneShooting Monkeys in a Barrel by S.G. Browne
Recommended for: Short story enthusiasts who like their talees to range from the fantastic to the avaunt-garde.

Yet another fabulous short story collection- this one only available in eBook form- contains zombies, drug dealers that sell words to cure writer’s block, robotic sex dolls, anthropomorphic shampoo, super powered homeless people and a culture in which you can purchase famous and fictional personalities. At all times imaginative with touches of wit, a good deal of Browne’s shorts will be turned into full length novels in the future. So much to love, so hard to wait for a lengthier version to devour.

Strange Case of Mr. Hyde - Cole HaddonThe Strange Case of Mr. Hyde by Cole Haddon
Recommended for: Lovers of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Jack the Ripper.

This trade collection of the comic book mini-series of the same name follows Inspector Thomas Adye of Scotland Yard (who looks suspiciously like David Tennant) as he enlists the help of an imprisoned Dr. Henry Jekyll. Hannibal Lector style. Quid-pro-quot Thomas Adye. Insert slurping sounds here. The bromantic duo work together to catch Jack the Ripper as he uses Hyde’s serum to wreak havoc on London and decimate their prostitute population. Funny, original and fabulous. Huzzah for bromances.

Strange Talent of Luther Strode - Justin JordanThe Strange Talent of Luther Strode Vol. 1 by Justin Jordan
Recommended for: Violence and action buffs who enjoy their origin stories to have some meat.

One of the better origin stories out there (albeit for a brand new comic book character), Luther Strode follows a nerdy boy through his journey from picked on uber-geek to hulked out enormous anti-hero. Fantastic writing from Justin Jordan, an awareness of popular culture and stunning illustrations by Tradd Moore all work together to create a series that is now available in trade form. If you missed out on adding this to your pull list, I highly recommend grabbing the collected version before the sequel continues its run of awesome.

Stupid Perfect World - Scott WesterfeldStupid Perfect World by Scott Westerfeld
Recommended for: All YA readers big and small and passionate Hamlet fans.

Stupid Perfect World is an eBook only novella from Scott Westerfeld about a dystopic society in which our bodies are modified to protect us from harm and students are assigned to Scarcity class to see what things used to be like back in the day. Back when you couldn’t teleport everywhere, needed sleep to survive and suffered from a variety of illnesses and ailments. Add in some teenage angst inspired by Hamlet, a cutesy love story and it’s one of the best novellas of the year. Highly recommend!

Super Man Red Son - Mark MillarSuperman: Red Son by Mark Millar
Recommended for: People who think Superman is the worst and want to be proven wrong.

I do not like Superman. I think he’s boring, pretentious, and far too “good” to possibly be interesting. That was until I was handed Red Son and had my mind blown into a million pieces. In this alternate history graphic novel, Mark Millar ponders what would happen if Superman crash-landed in Russia instead of America. Starring: crazed Wonder Woman, fat Ruskie Batman and a twist ending that will blow your mind. Seriously, you will ponder it so hard you might be risking an aneurysm.

Voodoo Heart - Scott SnyderVoodoo Heart by Scott Snyder
Recommended for: Readers who can handle ennui, beautiful writing and unhappy endings.

Your heart will break into a thousand pieces if you read this short story anthology from comic book writer Scott Snyder. While you can expect superb writing and original ideas, don’t expect happy endings. Not for the faint at heart or readers who weep easily. Snyder covers airships, biplanes, damaged celebrities, and prisoners- none of whom quite get what they want. If you love bittersweet, you will love this collection. Then you will curl up in bed and cry yourself to sleep while listening to Morrissey. Don’t worry, it’s worth it.

The Worst of the Worst:

50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True by Guy P. Harris (Self-important author tells you you’re wrong about everything, using arguments and stories rather than concrete evidence to prove his point.)
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (No attachment to the space theme or the characters, couldn’t ignore the racism or the fact that it was written by insane bigot Orson Scott Card.)
The Land of Stories: the Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (Two children fall into a derivative book of fairy tales that is too long for its own good. Should have hired that ghost writer.)
MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche (A lonely women desperately tries to make friends in an increasing number of depressing ways.)
Reached by Ally Condie (Lackluster ending to a dystopic YA trilogy with an amazing start that left me wanting- but not getting- so much more.)
Splintered by A.G. Howard (Descendant of Alice Liddell falls into Wonderland and has gag-inducing adventure with her love interest and imaginary friend/Brandon Lee doppelganger Morpheus.)
The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen (So boring I barely remember what it was about besides a dead boy and a missing mom who had an affair with a magician.)

My 2012 Reading Resolutions included finishing all graphic novels and trades (EPIC FAIL), reading more non-fiction (SUCCESS! I read 11 more true stories this year), catching up on all ongoing series (HA!), reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Pygmy and Tell-All (DOUBLE HA!) and finishing everything ever written by Joe Hill (ACHIEVED!)

For 2013, I’m going to keep things much simpler by eliminating the massive to-read pile on my side table by actually reading them into oblivion, finishing any books I borrowed from friends/family, and starting to make a dent in the unread books on my bookshelves. The more I read, the more new books I can buy. I’m gonna need a bigger mouth bookshelf!

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