My Best of 2012

It’s my fifth year doing this! It’s also the post (well, the one several years ago), that prompted another local blogger to say “Book Nut: it’s not just a blog name, it’s a diagnosis.” Which I still agree with. I have discovered that doing this is a ton of fun, and starting about mid-December, I scroll through all my archives, dreaming up awards. Enjoy!

By the Numbers:

Middle Grade Fiction: 89
YA Fiction: 47
Graphic Novels: 8
Non-Fiction: 19
Adult Fiction: 25
(Number of those that were sci-fi/fantasy books: 88)
(Number of those that were audiobooks: 14)

Grand Total: 188

Abandoned: 6

Not bad; more than the past couple of years, but not as many as my peak. Also: I knew my middle grade and fantasy totals would be out there this year. But, as I’m going through these awards, I realize that it was a really fantasy-heavy year overall. That’s not a bad thing: there was a LOT of good stuff out there. However, on the downside, I probably won’t have read the book that will win the Newbery before it does.

And now this year’s awards:

Best Adult Fiction: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
Best YA book: Code Name Verity
Best Middle-grade book: Three Times Lucky
Best MG Fantasy: You’ll see what we come up with on our shortlist tomorrow!
Best YA Fantasy: Bitterblue
Best Sci-Fi/Distopian: Ready Player One
Best Graphic Novel: Fables, the Deluxe Edition, Volume 1
Best Non-Fiction: Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Best MG/YA Non-Fiction: Amelia Lost
Best Romance: Highland Fling

Best Mystery (I read more than one this year!): The Sherlockian
Best Audiobook: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Best Jacket Flap: Cold Cereal

And in other categories…

Okay, okay, so the hype isn’t always wrong: Water for Elephants, In the Garden of the Beasts 

Love stories aren’t always romances: Every Day

Cover love: Vessel, Splendors and Glooms
Worst cover, good book: Seven Tales of Trinket

Food love: Kitchen Counter Cooking School; Food Rules; Dearie; The Spice Necklace; Yes, Chef

Feeding my new-found interest in steampunk: Goliath, The Peculiar, Steampunk

*Swoon*: Grave Mercy

Long Title, Good BookThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Best in-person book group book: Outcasts United

Best Nook book: Factory Girls

Best YAckers book: The Raven Boys (our discussion)

Favorite reread: Anne of Green Gables

Woot, dragons!: Seraphina, Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy, The Last Dragonslayer, Dealing With Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Dragon Castle

Fine. I cried: A Monster Calls, The One and Only Ivan, The Fault in Our Stars, Wonder

Books I should have read AGES ago: I, Robot; Brave New World; Good Omens

Give it up for the Awesome Heroines: Cold Fury, Grave Mercy, Blood Red Road, Unspoken, Hex Hall, Code Name Verity

Guys rock: Curveball, Stupid Fast, The Fault in Our Stars, Ghetto Cowboy, Liar & Spy

Boarding school rules: Ordinary Magic, Beswitched

Snorting milk outta my nose award: Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire, Sports from Hell, Good Omens, Cold Cereal, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom; Bossypants.

Proof Stalin was evil: Between Shades of Gray, Breaking Stalin’s Nose

Best book with the worst characters: Before I Fall

It’s not Megan Whalen Turner, but it’s close: The False Prince

Series I devoured: Rae Carson: The Girl of Fire and Thorns/The Crown of Embers. Rachel Hawkins: Hex Hall/Demonglass/Spell Bound. Jacqueline West: The Shadows/Spellbound/The Second Spy; Patrica Wrede: The Enchanted Forest Series. Ally Condie: Matched/Crossed

Favorite reviews: Something Like Fate, Mark of Athena, Fake Mustache, Keeper of the Lost Cities

The Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge book: Shadow of Night

Better than Glee: Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy

The Guinea Pig award: Drop Dead Healthy

Odd isn’t a strong enough word: Railsea, Fake Mustache

Woo-hoo, they’re back!: Goliath (also, Waah: It’s Over!), Caddy’s World, The Mighty Miss Malone, The Unseen Guest, Midnight in Austenland, Clementine and the Family Meeting

Loved it, but can’t seem to sell it: Gilt, Splendors and Glooms, Grave MercyPalace of Stone, Breadcrumbs, Ready Player One, Nerd Camp

Can we have the sequel NOW?: Unspoken, Days of Blood & Starlight, Froi of the Exiles, The Raven BoysThe Crown of Embers, Amulet: the Last Council, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl

Fancy names does not a fantasy make: Throne of Glass, What Came from the Stars

Indulging in my desire to carry around a photo of Nathan Fillion: Frozen Heat

Books I finished but didn’t feel the love for: Jepp, Who Defied the Stars; Wildwood; Ilium

Disappointing book by an author I respect: Mark of Athena,What Came from the Stars, Why We Broke Up, Purity

Author everyone else loves that I discovered I liked: Meg Cabot (Size 14 is Not Fat Either), J. R. Moehringer (Sutton), Pauls Toutonghi (Evel Knievel Days)

First-time authors I’d love to see more from: T. M. Goeglin (Cold Fury), Mike Jung (Girls, Geeks, and Secret Identities), Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Child), Anne Nesbit (The Cabinet of Earths)

What are some of your bests this past year?

My Best of 2011

By the Numbers:

Middle Grade Fiction: 57
YA Fiction: 45
Graphic Novels: 7
Adult Fiction: 30
(Number of those that were sci-fi/fantasy books: 49)

Grand Total:157

Abandoned: 9

Challenges Completed: I only did three this year: Once Upon a Time, The Great Blogger Book Swap, and the People Of Color Challenge. I hit my goal in the POC challenge, finished the Once Upon a Time, and did less than I hoped on the Great Blogger Book Swap. I’m wondering if I should just be done with challenges for a while.

And now this year’s awards:

Best Adult Fiction: The Night Circus 
Best YA book: I’ll Be There 
Best Middle-grade book: Okay For Now 
Best Fantasy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone 
Best Sci-Fi/Distopian: Divergent 
Best Graphic Novel: Zita the Spacegirl 
Best Non-Fiction: The Disappearing Spoon 
Best Romance: The Grand Sophy 
Best Mystery(I read more than one this year!):  The Devil Went Down to Austin 
Best Audiobook: The True Meaning of Smekday 
Best Jacket Flap: How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack

And in other categories…

Okay, okay, so the hype isn’t always wrong: The Night Circus, The Help

Books I should have read AGES ago: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Cold Sassy Tree, Beowulf, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Hattie Big Sky 

Author I overdosed on this year: Rick Riordan (a grand total of 6, plus I read the Percy Jackson series aloud to A.) 

Favorite Reviews: Scones and Sensibility, Heat Wave 

The Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge book: good heavens. I shelved a lot of romance fiction, but didn’t read a single one. Favorite worst title: The Oldest Living Married Virgin. 

Best *Swoon* Factor: Uncommon Criminals, Anna and the French Kiss 

Satire isn’t just for English Majors: Beauty Queen 

Best Interviewee: Clare Vanderpool (whom I have seen in person now, but have yet to talk to…) 

Best book with the longest title:  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making 

Best book with the worst cover:  The Trouble With May Amelia 

Best book for those sick of vampires: Drink, Slay, Love 

Favorite reread: The Great Gatsby, On Fortune’s Wheel, The Wee Free Men 

Woo-hoo, they’re back!: Son of Neptune, The Demon’s Surrender 

Can we have the sequel NOW?: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Divergent, The Hidden Gallery, Liar’s Moon 

They’re commercial brain candy, but I liked them anyway: Heat Wave, Naked Heat, Heat Rises 

Book for in-person book group I liked best: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency 

Book for on-line book group I liked best: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer 

Books I finished but didn’t feel the love for: The Cross Gardener, Same Kind of Different as Me 

Number of Shakespeare plays I read: 1 – Twelfth Night. And we saw Taming of the Shrew, and about a third of Troilous and Cressida. The latter one was rained out. 

Disappointing book by an author I respect: Pay the Piper 

Books that made me laugh the most:  Seriously… I’m Kidding, Knucklehead 

Can I move in next door?: The Penderwicks at Point Mouette 

Best quirky book: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick 

Author everyone else loves that I discovered I liked:  Mercedes Lackey (The Fairy Godmother) 

Best book from an author I previously didn’t care for: Daughter of the Forest, Keeper 

First-time authors I’d love to see more from: Sarah Stevenson (The Latte Rebellion),  Erin McCahan (I Now Pronounce You Someone Else), Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich (8th Grade Superzero) 

Theme(s) that inadvertently manifested themselves: Greek gods (Son of Neptune, Gods Behaving Badly, Athena and Zeus); The South (Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Help, all the Texas mystery books, Friday Night Lights, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Lions of Little Rock); Death/Loss (The Cross Gardner, Same Kind of Different as Me, Chime, Cures for Heartbreak, Angel in My Pocket)

What are some of your bests this past year?

My Best of 2010

By the Numbers:
Middle Grade Fiction: 68
YA Fiction: 60
Graphic Novels: 12
Non-Fiction: 15
Adult Fiction: 27
(Number of those that were fantasy books: 45)
Grand Total: 182

Abandoned: 7
Challenges Completed: 6

And yes, I have to do my awards (you’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you?):

Best Adult Fiction: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Best YA book: Marcelo in the Real World

Best Middle-grade book: Out of My Mind

Best Fantasy:
Finnikin of the Rock

Best Sci-Fi/Distopian: Academy 7

Best Graphic Novel Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper and Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse

Best Non-Fiction: Open: An Autobiography

Best Romance: A Song for Summer

Best Mystery: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

Best Jacket Flap: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

And in other categories…

Books I should have read AGES ago: Eat, Pray, Love; The Picture of Dorian Grey; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Favorite Reviews: It’s not terribly clever, but I really enjoyed being part of the NerdsHeartYA tournament this year.

Theme(s) that inadvertently manifested themselves: books about the immigrant experience, fantasies that have a historical fiction feel, crazy parents

The Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge book: Sugar

Best *swoon* factor: Heist Society, The Demon’s Lexicon/The Demon’s Covenant

Best Interviewee: Varian Johnson (though Wendy Mass has the squee factor)

Favorite Challenge (that wasn’t hosted by Carl): Flashback Challenge: It was fun rereading books this year!

Favorite reread: The Grey King

Woo-hoo, they’re back!: Ring of Solomon, The Lost Hero

Books that I wanted the sequel for as soon as I read them: Incarceron, Starcrossed

Best main characters: Augie, TC and Ale (My Most Excellent Year)

Book for in-person book group I liked best: Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Book for on-line book group I liked best: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Books I finished but didn’t feel the love for:
Hachiko Waits, I am Morgan le Fey, Countdown, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

Number of Shakespeare plays I read: 1 – Much Ado About Nothing (and watched two movie versions of it), and I only saw one (MacBeth, even though the interpretation — the witches were actually space aliens — didn’t really work for me).

Best Sequel (by an Author Who Didn’t Write the Original):
Wishing for Tomorrow

Disappointing book by an author I love: The Candymakers (no review, as I chose not to put one up), by Wendy Mass

Books that made me laugh the most:
Belly Up; Going Bovine; Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging

Best books with the worst parents: How I Nicky Flynn Get a Life (and a Dog); One Crazy Summer

Best quirky book: The Kneebone Boy

Authors everyone else loves that I discovered I liked: Diana Wynne Jones, Sarah Rees Brennan, Ally Carter

Best book from an author I previously didn’t care for: Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder; Going Bovine, by Libba Bray; Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

First-time authors I’d love to see more from: Rob Buyea (Because of Mr. Terupt),

Yay, a local author: Clare Vanderpool (Moon Over Manifest)

Book I read the fastest: Mockingjay

Favorite book from a series: I Shall Wear Midnight, A Conspiracy of Kings

Newbery Books I read: I didn’t read a single one this year. Shame on me.

Books that made me want to go out and do something: Confections of a Closet Master Baker (bake, of course); French Milk, Under a Tuscan Sun, Eat, Pray Love (travel); The Cardturner (play bridge); Bamboo People (help the people in Burma)

What are some of your bests this past year?

Sunday Salon: Books at the Top of My List

I figured since, last week, I did the bottom five, I should probably give you my top five. It’s only fair. To make it easier — since I really do have a hard time choosing what I truly, truly love (is that just me, or does your favorite list change from year to year?) — I think I’m going to pick one book from each year I’ve been blogging. (Yeah, that’ll be six, but I have to narrow down my favorites, somehow.)

America’s Women, Gail Collins (2004-2005): This was actually a book group read for my in-person book group. And I was blown away. Not only by the subject matter — Collins delves into history (or herstory?) in a very in-depth way — but by the fact that this book was so readable. Up to this point, I wasn’t that interested in history books; history was boring, history was dry. But, this showed me that history could be interesting, fun, and memorable.

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (2005-2006): One of the things I’m proud of is getting on the Percy Jackson bandwagon before he got really big. I picked this up on a whim — even with the horrid hardback cover — at my library, and couldn’t put it down. It’s not deep, but it is clever and I thought, from the outset, that Riordan’s use of Greek mythology was brilliant. I’m just glad that my girls (well, M and C) love it as much as I do.

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher (2006-2007): I don’t usually write letters to authors. (Well, unless I want to interview them, anyway.) But I finished this book — I won the ARC in a giveaway — and I was blown away. Literally. It’s one of those books that changed the way I see people, affected me deeply, and I needed to share that with the author. It’s not for everyone, but I do recommend it, and loan my battered ARC out, whenever I feel it’s right. Because it’s an amazing book.

Dracula, Bram Stoker (2007-2008): I avoided Carl’s RIP challenge for years, because horror and mystery are not my “things”. For some reason, though, this year I decided to sign up for it, and I picked Dracula as one of my reads. (Possibly chalk it up to being interested in vampires due to Twilight…) I was amazed. Completely and utterly blown away. I was reminded that I did, once, love horror (I went through a Poe phase), and that it’s not the gore that I love but the mood. That spine-chilling, goose-bump inducing mood. And Dracula has that in spades, which thrilled me to no end.

My Life in France, Julia Child (2008-2009): I love food books, and so I knew going in that I would like this one. I wasn’t prepared, though, for just how awesome Julia Child was. Determined, focused, funny, amazing. I loved her joy, and how that joy — of love, of life, of food, of France — came through in her stories. It did lose a little steam near the end, but by that time I was invested: I am, unabashedly, a Julia Child fan. And I would happily read this book over and over again.

My Most Excellent Year, Steve Kluger (2009-2010): I adored this book. Hands down. As much as I adored The Casson family books by Hilary McKay. (They should be on this list; but the reasons why are similar to the reasons for this book, so I excused them.) I fell in love with the characters, and I want to move in next door to them and be their friend. I want them to take me in, and let me bask in their awesomeness, their quirkiness, their uniqueness. I was charmed the entire time I was reading about them, and I feel that, somehow, my life is better for having visited their world. It’s become a comfort read, something to pick up when I’m feeling down, because I know, without a doubt, that I will be happier when I finish reading.

So, what are some of your all-time favorites?

The Best of My 2009

You do it three times, and it’s a tradition.

(I’m doing this early, though, because — if all goes well — we should be driving back from Texas today. So the numbers aren’t quite exact. But that doesn’t really matter, does it?)

Presenting my best of list for this year.

By the Numbers:
Middle Grade Fiction: 78
YA Fiction: 69
Graphic Novels: 11
Non-Fiction: 20
Fiction: 41
Grand Total: 219 (I made it past 200 this year! Woot!)

Challenges Completed: 9

Gotta do my awards…

Best Adult Fiction: People of the Book or Sweetness in the Belly. I couldn’t decide.

Best YA book: Speak

Best Middle-grade book: Anything But Typical

Best Fantasy:
Lips Touch Three Times and When You Reach Me

Best Sci-Fi/Distopian: The Stand (Hunger Games is a really, really close second.)

Best Graphic Novel: Tales from Outer Suburbia (with Babymouse: Dragonslayer coming in a close second.)

Best Non-Fiction: My Life in France

Best Romance: Poison Study (Valik still makes me swoon.)

Best Mysteries: Perhaps I should say best mystery writer? The Woman in White and The Moonstone.

Best Jacket Flap: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

And in other categories…

Books I should have read AGES ago: Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Screwtape Letters, The Stand, The Wee Free Men, Fire and Hemlock, Speak, and My Life in France.

Favorite Reviews: Bee Season, The Darcys and the Bingleys, Devilish

Theme(s) that inadvertently manifested themselves:
Women’s bodies (Intuitive Eating; Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters; Artichoke’s Heart; Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies); Baseball (The Brooklyn Nine, All the Broken Pieces, The Girl Who Threw Butterflies); Jane Austin (The Darcys and the Binglys; Pemberley by the Sea, Jane Austen Ruined My Life, Becoming Jane Austen); Darwin (The Adventures of Charley Darwin; The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate; Why Darwin Matters; I didn’t get to Charles and Emma, but I wanted to…).

Writing Style/Genre I Discovered I liked: steampunk (Leviathan), zombie books (The Forest of Hands and Teeth)

Genre I’m getting tired of, finally: Vampires.

The Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge book: Pemberley by the Sea

Best Interviewee: Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman, followed closely by Shannon Hale.

Favorite Challenge (that wasn’t hosted by Carl):
End of the World II

Best main character: Katsa

Book for in-person book group I liked best: Garden Spells

Book for on-line book group I liked best: Fifth Business

Books I didn’t feel the love for: Atonement, Chocolat, Bee Season, Fragile Eternity

Number of Shakespeare plays I read: 1 – The Tempest (and that was as a Manga Shakespeare; I totally cheated this year!), and I only saw 1 (Romeo and Juliet; the guy playing Romeo did him kind of Emo, and it totally worked.)

Number of Fantasy books I read: 57. Choosing the “best” was REALLY hard this year!

Books that Made me Laugh the most:
The Tiffany Aching series, Order of the Odd-Fish, Whales on Stilts!, Leaving the Bellweathers

Authors everyone else loves that I discovered I liked: Terry Pratchett (fave: A Hat Full of Sky), Sarah Dessen (fave: Lock and Key), Elizabeth Scott (fave: Something, Maybe), Georgette Heyer (fave: The Talisman Ring).

Best Book from an author I previously didn’t care for: The Trouble Begins at 8 (Sid Fleischman and I haven’t gotten along in the past…)

First-time authors I’d love to see more from: Rosanne Parry (Heart of a Shepherd); Kathryn Fitzmore (The Year the Swallows Came Early); Ann Haywood Leal (Also Known as Harper)

Books I read the fastest: Hunger Games and Catching Fire

Favorite book from a series: The Last Olympian (Alas, what will I do without Percy Jackson? At least the movie is out in February!)

Newbery Books I read: The Graveyard Book. Pathetic. I need to get back to reading those again.

Books that made me want to go out and do something:
Operation Yes (cheer!); My Life in France (cook! Visit the Smithsonian!); Sweetness in the Belly (read more about Africa!); Mission Control, This is Apollo (visit NASA in Houston!);

Books I abandoned: I finally became bold in my book abandoning: there too many this year to list! (25, half of which were Cybils reads.)

Here’s to another great year! What were your favorites this year?

My Geeky Best of 2009

This week’s geek is a reprise from last year: help the Weekly Geekers come up with a Top 10 for 2009. The basic guidelines:

This year, when you submit your novels, you must include the genre it is from as well. Last year, when I was trying to categorize everything, I had to guess on a lot of novels and I know there were some people who disagreed with my choice. If there are any contradictions in genres (say if a book was selected for two genres), then the Weekly Geek Staff will vote on where it goes (please?).

We’re trying to gather as many lists as we can, so we can come up with a nice comprehensive list. You’ll have two weeks to come up with your list before I begin compiling the voting booths. Then we’ll put it to a vote. Last year, we ended up with over 1300 individual voters and I know we can make it just as big this year.

I’m sending out a personal plea: let’s get some kidlit on this list, okay?!

So, my top ten that were published in 2009 (in no particular order…) (I also discovered that if it’s not kidlit, then chances are I’m not going to read it new!):

1. When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead (sci/fi/fantasy/middle grade)
2. The Actor and the Housewife, Shannon Hale (ungenreable: chick lit? fiction? fantasy? what?)
3. Lips Touch Three Times, Laini Taylor (fantasy/YA)
4. Fire, Kristin Cashore (fantasy/YA)
5. Anything But Typical, Nora Raleigh Baskin (middle grade)
6. Liar, Justine Larbalistier (fantasy?/YA)
7. The Chosen One, Carol Lynch Williams (YA)
8. Wild Things, Clay Carmichael (middle grade)
9. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly (middle grade/historical fiction)
10. Babymouse: Dragonslayer, Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (graphic novel)

Okay, there’s my list. What’s yours?

I Heart My Bloggy Friends

Happy BBAW, everyone!

We’re supposed to, today, spotlight blogs we absolutely love that didn’t make the shortlist of the BBAW awards. This was actually difficult for me, since many of my friends didn’t make the shortlist!

So, I picked a handful of people that I consider friends, women that if I really need a book recommendation, I turn to them first (sorry, Becky, you made the shortlist, so you’re not here!). I’ve also noticed that we have similar tastes in books, and that we read many of the same books, which makes commenting on their blogs fun (also pretty similar: “OOH! SO glad you loved it, too!”). Anyway, some of my bloggy best friends:

I feel like I really know Corinne at The Book Nest, Dawn at My Thoughts Exactly, and Tricia at Library Queue, even though I’ve never met either one of them, mostly because the four of us are part of an online book group that Corinne started three years ago. They’re all amazing women: smart, talented, inquisitive. Talking books (and other things) with them is part of what makes my blogging and book experiences so much fun.

Can I tell you how stoked I am because Abby from Abby (the) Librarian is going to the Kidlit Conference this year, so I actually get to meet her! Squee! While I don’t always see eye-to-eye with her on books, I completely trust and respect her opinion on them. Besides, how could I not love someone who also unabashedly loves John Green… which also goes for Suey at It’s All About Books. They are women who are made of awesome! (I do like Suey’s book reviews, too!)

I’ve been following Kailana at The Written World and Heather at A High and Hidden Place for quite a while, but it seems like in the last year — possibly because of Twitter? — I’ve been paying more attention to them and their musings (and well as their incredible reading habits!) in the past little while. I’m so glad I did: I’ve found a ton of books through both of them that I’ve either loved, or are desperate to read.

Alysa at Everead is one I discovered — by the benefit of being on the same panel as her — last year during the Cybils. Again, we have similar tastes, and I have gotten a lot of recommendations from her. I admire her passion for books, and her enthusiastic spirit. I just wish she was able to blog more!!!

And, last but not least: Melissa at One Librarian’s Book Reviews. Melissa’s a new friend — she’s a relatively new blogger! — and I think she found me first. But, I’m so glad she did, and she left a comment (or two or three), and that I clicked through to see who the “other” Melissa was. Not only do we share similar tastes, she’s a great writer, who writes interesting, thoughtful posts. And check out her posts from her trip to Europe this summer. Fabulous.

There. Now that you’ve been introduced, you can stop by and say hi to some of my friends!