Best Books of 2012

Happy New Year!

Last year I read 90 books.  Some were really good, some were really bad, and most were somewhere in the middle. I read a handful of 5-star books that I’d consider the best books I read of 2012.  Here are a few of them. Click the book cover for the long review on Goodreads.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's GateThe Merchant And the Alchemist’s Gate
This is a short story by Ted Chiang. If you haven’t realized by now, I’m a big Ted Chiang fan. What was surprising about this short story was how much I liked it despite it being a time-travel story. I’m not that interested in time travel plots because sometimes always seems off like I over-think it, or I just can’t suspend my belief long enough to immerse myself into the story. Not this time. This is a time travel story that works. It also doesn’t help that it makes you scratch your chin at the end and go “Hmmm….”

The Tender BarThe Tender Bar
It’s hard to describe this book without it sounding too corny. It’s a bildungsroman set in a small town on the east coast. Nothing really surprising happens, but the cast of characters from the boy’s childhood to his manhood is rich with wonderful descriptions. His anecdotes really made me feel fake nostalgia for growing up during those times.

Code Name VerityCode Name Verity
This book took me a while to get into because I couldn’t completely orient myself in the world of this story until much later. Part of it is because the world is so much like ours during World War II that I kept thinking of it as real. It’s pretty hard to explain the book without giving it away. It’s about women who serve their country during the war. The story and characters are mostly revealed through a series of letters and sometimes that conceit is its weakness, but by the end, I was all on board.

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5)Wool Omnibus
Self-published books get a bad rap. This self-published book was wonderful. It’s a collection of novellas set in a post-apocalyptic time. Instead of falling for the usual cliches or straying too far in the direction of differentiating itself from other PA books, it embraces the genre by focussing mainly on normal people trying to go about their everyday lives in an after-doomsday world. After the first novella, which brought my hopes up for one character, I was hooked and had to read on.

My Reading Challenge is Complete!

I challenged myself to read 75 books this year and it’s only November, but I’m done! Woohoo. I guess it was a little cheating because some were pretty short books and I read a couple of graphic novels here and there, and a lot of trashy stuff, but hey, books are books.

Some of the 5-star books I read this year were:

Stories of Your Life: and OthersA Moveable FeastPale FireWhat the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada

Review: The Native Star

The Native StarThe Native Star by M.K. Hobson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As soon as I finished this book, I immediately rated it 3.5 stars in my head. After a few more hours, as I sit down to write a review, I think it deserves 4 stars.

The characters, the alternate-history world of the Wild West (or is it the Weird West??), the magic system, and the plot all came together to make a very engaging read. So engaging that I read the entire book in less than 24 hours.

The whole heroine who holds the secret to world salvation/devastation is not a new plot device, but it worked in Native Star. It’s a fun romp with pleasant characters, a sweet romance, no blush-worthy mentions of naughty bits, and giant evil mutations.

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