New Book Loves of 2012

15922261This year held several new-to-me authors that I fell in love with. I already covered some of them over in a post about Loud Reading, but I couldn’t contain myself to a single book love post. What follows are more of my favorite reads of 2012.

As a scifi classic, I know I have had plenty of time and opportunity to read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. After reading this book, I can see why he has such a fan base, even with its few flaws (such as only 1 female main character). The plot, the narration of the audio version, and the lovable AI character made this a keeper on my shelf.

A pleasant surprise in this category was Shifted Perspective by J. Bridger. Were-cocker spaniels. Yep. I bet you weren’t expecting that. This book snuck up on me with it’s quiet way, a light snuffle, followed by a cold velvety nose to the armpit that made me sit up and take notice. I was turned into a cranky child, not wanting to put this book down and staying up far too late on a work night reading it.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed is the first Arabic fantasy tale to save the world using flawed humans who enjoy cardamom tea. There’s ghuls, and shape shifters, and sword warriors, and magic, and bad folks who do really bad things.

The biologist in me was fascinated by the nonfiction Mushroom by Nicholas Money. This read was easily accessible, not too long, and left me with a deep respect for fungi – mostly because they can kill us in oh so many ways.

Now I know this series has been around for many years, and I even heard someone mention a tv series based on the books, but it was only lately that I stumbled across George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. It’s nitty gritty, complex, and full of flawed characters faced with tough decisions. I definitely plan to continue on with the series; in fact I am on the library waiting list for Book 2.

Diane Setterfield entertained by greatly with her The 13th Tale. An eerie tale featuring twins, it was part historical fiction, part ghost story, and one very large part suspense. The audio version worked very well.

Hands down, one of the best origin stories I have ever had the pleasure to read was Zorro by Isabel Allende. Piece by piece, she drew together over a period of years all the bits that made Diego the man we know as Zorro, from his warrior mother, to his years spent in Europe, and his time as a pirate captive, to finally the conflicts as a young man that drove him to put on the mask. Excellent read.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was unlike any other book I have read. Part fantasy, part historical fiction, and part mystery, it was super intense. Oh, and the audio kept catching me off guard with an accentuated Spanish accent popping off such phrases as, ‘They are just a bunch of ass-lickers!’.

Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul was an intense modern-day fiction about a Turkish family of women and their ties to a young Armenian American who comes to visit. Some might call this magical realism, as there is a djinn at some point that no one thinks odd. I enjoyed it because it was different from what I normally read and because it opened the door a little wider for me on the Turkish culture.

Giraffe by J. M Ledgard is a historical fiction based on facts, almost a nonfiction. Basically it is about a group of giraffes brought to a Czechoslovakian zoo and how all these folks are affected by their presence. Let me just say that the ending was not sudden, not over quickly, and was immensely sad. In fact, my man refused to listen to this book because of how sad it made me – but that is a sign that the author got the point across in full color.


I am not well versed on the classics and through Darkcargo’s efforts to encourage reading of the classics, I tackled The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck this year. this book was so poignant and moving, especially the ending (which is definitely not shown in the black and white movie). Steinbeck didn’t hold back from showing the gritty parts of Depression Era USA and the affect on migrant workers.

Dracula by Bram Stoker has received so much hype over the years and so many versions of vampires now abound in our world, that I simply did not expect how good this book would be. The suspense is high all the way through, and then there was the description of the Romanian and Transylvanian food that inspired some cooking of my own.

Pico with my book.

Conn Iggulden provided me with many, many hours of entertainment via his Emperor series covering the life of Julius Caesar, a part of history that has fascinated me for decades. From a young Julius running around getting into scraps with other idiot children, to his days captured by pirates, on to Greece, and eventually a long stint in Gaul, and finally Egypt and the birth of his son, and then Rome and his death. The four books in the series are worth the read (The Gates of Rome, The Death of Kings, The Field of Swords, The Gods of War).

About nrlymrtl; Round Table Farms; organic farming; reading scifi/fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries; cooking good stuff; weaver

8 thoughts on “New Book Loves of 2012

  1. Wonderful, eclectic list! Of course I’m jazzed about it because you included my absolute favorite book of all time: Dracula, and another near the top of my list, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Dracula is such a rich, absorbing reading experience. I read it for the first time at age 11 and have read it many times since then. lt never fails to grip me. I read Setterfield’s novel when it was first released and fell very hard for it. Over the years since its release I’ve tried to find a book similar to it, something that would have the same impact in that gothic sense and nothing has come close.

    I haven’t read Moon is a Harsh Mistress, yet, but am a big Heinlein fan. If you want to read a good story of his with a female protagonist, try the novella, The Menace From Earth. His books that are classified as “juveniles”, because of their young protagonists and the fact that they were often written for publication in magazines for young men, like Boy’s Life, are among his best works. My favorite Heinlein thus far though is The Puppet Masters. It reminds me a lot of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books.

    I’ve had Shadow sitting on my shelves for years. Every year I promise myself that I will get to it and one of these days I need to fulfill that promise. Just had my best friend read Throne of the Crescent Moon and he was swept up by it.

    As I said, great list!

    • I’m planning to read some Heinlein for Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage Scifi Month Jan. 2013, so I will see if the library has Puppet Masters and The Menace from Earth.

      I’m glad you talked about how much you enjoyed The 13th Tale during The Little Stranger read along; that’s what inspired me to check it out from library.

  2. It’s super that you got so much read this year! Congrats!

    Shadow of the Wind is still one of my all-time faves.

    Dracula was a total, utter surprise; the audio we chose was well-done.

    I read The Grapes of Wrath 800 years ago, it still affects me today.

    • The Shadow of the Wind was such an entertaining read for both me and my man. We both enjoyed the mystery, the history lesson, and yes, the creative insults. Oh, and the prostitute.

      Steinbeck is going on my YOBC 2013 list. I am thinking I will read The Pearl.

  3. I like your list too.

    I read Moon is a Harsh Mistress long ago, and consider it Heinlein’s very best work. Granted, I’d like to see more women, but others of his books (Stranger in a Strange Land, Number of the Beast) that have more women were even worse. None of those women could seem to think of anything much except getting pregnant. He was very much of another age where women are concerned.

    I also liked the 13th Tale. It was very well crafted, holding its mysteries to its chest until the very last moment, and the characters are portrayed very movingly. But my favorite part is the opening sequence where we meet the main character and her father in their rare book store. It is perhaps the best example of a character’s appreciation of books that I have ever seen.

    Like you, I found Dracula a very enjoyable surprise. But I still think that The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova is the best vampire book ever.

    I think I was too young to fully appreciate the honesty and struggle of Grapes of Wrath when I read it in mid-high school. I should read it again, but the hopelessness always has me picking up something else instead.

    Alliende’s Zorro has been on my to-read list for some time. Now Shifted Perspective, Throne of the Crescent Moon, and A Game of Thrones are there as well.

    Thank you!

    • Heinlein is an interesting author, because while I agree that his later books relegated women to little more than sex objects, his earlier books, especially his juveniles and some of his short stories, have a surprising mix of standard gender roles and women striving to do more and be more with ambitions and roles that were ahead of their time in comparison to the attitudes of the time.

  4. Pingback: Still In Love 2012 | Dark cargo

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