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Favorite Reads of 2012

So here they are. My top 10 favorite reads of 2012. This year's surprise? The YA outnumber the MG. That's never happened before. And only one of my choices was published before 2012.



Links are to my reviews:
Above World by Jenn Reese
The Broken Lands by Kate Milford
Code Name Verityby Elizabeth Wein
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
The Drowned Vault by N.D. Wilson
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Graffiti Moonby Cath Crowley
Peaceweaverby Rebecca Barnhouse
Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson*
Seraphinaby Rachel Hartman 

Your turn. Let me know your favorites too!

Stay tuned to see my most anticipated of 2013 list on Tuesday. Then it will be back to reviews as usual on Thursday beginning with Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool.

*My review of this one won't publish until closer to the release date in March. Just let me say that it is excellent in every way and you should go and pre-order it right now.

Les Miserable as a Movie: My Thoughts

I just returned from seeing the Les Miserable movie and I am so hyped up. I need to share my thoughts with EVERYONE. I have, of course, gone over all this with my beloved baby sister, who shares my love for this story and the music. I will not be able to sleep tonight until I get all the thoughts out of my head though. So internet, thanks for being here to receive them.

My history with Les Miserable (just for background, feel free to skip): I have a long one. I have loved musicals since being introduced to Annie as a preschooler. I saw my first staged production at age 7 (it was The Sound of Music). By the time I was 11 I had seen Fiddler on the Roof, Cats, Brigadoon, and Starlight Express-all performed in London's West End. But I wasn't a serious connoisseur of musicals until high school.  It began as a flirtation with The Phantom of the Opera (which I soon realized was ridiculous) and quickly moved to Les Miserables. I had the Original London Cast recording on cassette origin…

Bookish Presents

Christmas was fun around here today. Many bookish presents were received and I'm sharing a few because some are AWESOME. Or all really.

The Hogwarts uniform my sister made for Bit's AG doll complete with wand. (She is supposed to be Ginny so April even made her a pygmy puff.

A bracelet my mom got for me. (This is where it came from. There are several different types available: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables. I think that this might become a thing for me.)
My wonderful husband got me the new UK editions of the Diana Wynne Jones Chrestomanci books and a mug with this C.S. Lewis quote.
 Also this T-shirt.
I'm a lucky girl.

Did anyone else get awesome bookish presents?

Merry Christmas!

We are at my parents' house happily awaiting the arrival of my sister, brother-in-law, sweet baby niece, and already getting a head start on the festive cheer. (My family is one of those strange ones. We actually enjoy and look forward to spending time together.)

Anyway, as a result of all this holly jolly fun I'm having I won't be around much this week. I'm certainly not posting any reviews. Stay tuned Tuesday or Wednesday as I will most likely be posting a book related gift post. (My sister made Bit a Hogwarts uniform for her AG doll. The world needs to see that.)

On Friday my Top 10 of 2012 is posting.

In the mean time everybody have a fun filled festive week!

Will Sparrow's Road

Karen Cushman is well known for her historical fiction novels. She is the author of the Newbery Award winning The Midwife's Apprentice and the Newbery Honor book Catherine Called Birdy. Her latest historical fiction, Will Sparrow's Road, is the first time she has told a story from the male point of view. It also tells the tale of a way of life not often explored in historical fiction.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of "oddities," including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the "monsters" and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that  he has been his own wo…

Guest Author: Karen Cushman

Today I welcome Newbery Award winning author Karen Cushman to the blog to  tell us a bit about her writing process. Ms. Cushman is responsible for such wonderful books as The Midwife's Apprentice and Catherine, Called Birdy. Her latest novel, Will Sparrow's Road, is her first book with a male main character. 

Bit Guest Review: The Penderwicks

Bit and I reviewed The Penderwickstogether following the first time I read it to her. She just read it independently for the first time. As it was for school she had to write a critique when she finished it and immediately asked if I would put it on here. I agreed. Here is the original review she participated in for comparison.

I love how she thinks the story takes place in 1995. Why 1995??? (She had no explanation for why she chose that year when asked.) 

Review by Bit (age 8, third grade)

Books for Christmas Presents

As a lover of books I like giving them as presents. Here are the books the children in my life are getting for Christmas this year.

For Bit (age 8, third grade):

For Little Man (age 4):


 For my niece (age 10mo-for her to grow into):

My Life Next Door

I'm not as enamored with My Life Next Doorby Huntley Fitzpatrick as many others are. I was especially frustrated by this as I really enjoyed the beginning.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.” 
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

My Life Next Door has the same formula that Sarah Dessen is famous for writing. A smart girl with a carefully ordered life and a controlling mother falls …

Shorter Musings: MG Fantasies

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. Those are the books that are reviewed quickly on Goodreads and then I move on. Some of those are starting to pile up so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

Here are a few MG fantasies I've read recently and my shorter musings on them.

The Graverobber's Apprenticeby Allan Stratton
This is an entertaining medieval type quest fantasy story. It is very typical of the genre and predictable if you are familiar with the tropes. Young readers who are not will have a lot of fun with a story full of adventure, mystery, and just the right amount of creepy. For reasons I can not understand my library shelved this in the Teen section. It is totally going to miss its audience there. There is nothing Teen about this book. Nothing. 


Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
I really enjoyed the characters. I loved Abby, Fred, and Peter. Abby's family was great too. Each of them wer…

The Peculiar

Ancient Faery lore brought into an alternate history/steampunk world? Was there any doubt that I would want to read a book with all that? Noooo. (Also the cover. Look at that cover. It's beautiful.) I'm happy to say The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann did not disappoint.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.
In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.
One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.
First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly …

For Darkness Shows the Stars

I have a weakness for retellings of Austen novels. Why I am not sure, since most of them make me break out in hives and want to stab things. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is not one of those. I not only enjoyed it, but found it very hard to put aside when I needed to. I have never been able to say that about an Austen retelling before. And this is a retelling of Persuasion which is my second favorite Austen novel.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, for…

Characters Who Captured My Heart in 2012

As I have said many many many times: I love characters. Characters are why I love to read. As we arrive at the time of year when lists of the best books start to come, I like to take time to focus on the characters I fell in love with. I did this last year and it was a nice way to look back over the year's reading. Some of these books won't end up making my Best Reads of 2012 list, and yet I still feel the need to recognize them for making me love the characters whose stories they told.

Links are to my reviews.

Fer and Rook
There is so much to love about Winterling, but Fer and Rook make up the best part of that love for me. Particularly Rook. I always love characters who are heroic and angry about being heroic at the same time. Good stuff.

Julie and Maddie
Just typing their names made me tear up. Again. Code Name Verity is just the most beautiful story of friendship, heroism, courage, and humanity that has been written in a long time. There is a definite need to avoid spoilers …