Saturday, December 29, 2012

Best Reads of 2012 and Year-end Wrap Up

This has been a very busy year for me, especially since I'm working more in my field and had less time for reading, although I ended up reading more books this year than last. (I'm a Special Care Counsellor, sometimes known as Specialized Educator). My tastes are still very much eclectic as you will see by my book lists. But there are two new things that happened to me this past year:

1) I started reading ebooks. I got a Kobo and I downloaded the Kindle app on my android phone. I still prefer print books but yeah, I'm getting with the times...
2) I've discovered audio books. Wow! I didn't know what I was missing. And listening to books suits my harried schedule since most of it's done in my car commuting to work.

This year I read a total of 121 books (10 children's, 25 middle-grade, 8 YA, and 78 adult books, of which 26 were non-fiction, and I did not finish 2 books). You can view my complete list here: Books Read in 2012

These are the books that have made it on my list of best reads for 2012:

In Children's Books:
Poopendous! by Artie Bennett
A book about poop. Need I say more? My son and I thought this one funny and very enlightening...

Oscar by Jordan Trout and Sarah Preston
Simply adorable with captivating illustrations.

In Middle Grade:
This was funny and poignant. My daughter loved it and she still makes the chocolate mug cake recipe when she needs a pick-me-up. We're reading the second book in the series now.

The Other Elizabeth by Karleen Bradford
My daughter and I loved this time-travel story that took us back to October of 1813, just as Canadians were on the brink of the Battle at Crysler's Farm that ended the war between Canada and the USA, an epic event in Canadian history.

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
Great storyline that deals with racial issues from a child's point-of-view.

Evertaster by Adam Glendon Sidwell
This was such a fun story! For all lovers of chocolate, good food, and action-adventure tales.

Ungifted by Gordon Korman
This book was funny, heartwarming, and filled with surprising twists and turns—classic trademarks of Korman's books.

My son giggled with glee over this book. Great for reluctant boy readers!

In YA Books:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
A dystopian storyline that blends a primitive world with a futuristic one. Loved it!

Switching by Jody Kihara
My daughter and I couldn't put this one down. It's a gripping time travel story with a twist.

YA Audio Books:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
I've been wanting to read this forever, so I chose to listen to it on audio and loved this dystopian tale of forbidden love.

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Another dystopian novel that was great to listen to with a strong female character that included my favorite food: chocolate!

Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler
Awesome narrator that made this dystopian story such a pleasure to listen to.

In Adult Fiction:
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
This was a wonderful historical story set in Italy and 19th century New York. I love immigrants' tales!

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall
This historical story dealing with mental illness blew me away with its writing and heartbreaking situations.

Flame of Resistance by Tracy  Groot
I found this book powerful, emotional and intelligent. It made me appreciate the resilience of the human spirit, the strength of friendship, and the value of loyalty.

Dreamspell by Tamara Leigh
If you love time travel, historical fiction and a clean romantic escape, Dreamspell will take you away.

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
The brutality and splendor of Rome comes to life amidst the background of a young Christian slave's life, making me experience a range of emotions unlike any other book.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Lyrical, poignant and simply delicious!

Come and Find Me Hallie Ephron
Great suspense set in the digital age. Best thriller I read this year.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
This one simple surprised me with its premise that I couldn't put it down. Made me reflect on what I'd do if stranded on an island.

Non-fiction Adult:
Little Princes by Conor Grennan
This story of one man's mission to make a difference was inspirational and well-written. A touching story!

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Another uplifting and inspirational book that celebrates women as unheralded heroines, telling of their quiet courage, their grace under fire, and their determination to use their skills to survive in impossible situations.

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
The amazing journey into the past with a group of survivors in the once unknown world of a lost civilization deep in the wild jungles of New Guinea. 

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
The fascinating story and work of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, a remarkable woman and Canadian pioneer in the practical application of “neuroplasticity.”

Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté
A well-written psychology book that helps a parent to understand the importance of attachment in their relationship with their children.

In 2012, I also participated in 10 challenges and completed 6 of them. Here is a recap:
  1. Time Travel Rerading Challenge (Completed!)
  2. Short Story Reading Challenge (25% done)
  3. War Through the Generations (Completed!)
  4. TBR Pile Reading Challenge (Completed!)
  5. Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge  (75% done)
  6. Read Dystopia Challenge (Completed!)
  7. YA Historical Fiction Challenge  (Completed!)
  8. What's In a Name 5 Challenge  (83% done)
  9. A - Z Book Challenge (85% done)
  10. I Love Italy Reading Challenge (Completed!)

I will not be hosting any challenges in 2013 but will continue to read books and make it a personal challenge to read time travel books and books with an Italian connection . I am trying to focus more on reading without time limits and also reading books for Reading the World Challenge, which is a perpetual challenge that I neglected in 2012.

But enough about me, here are my review partner Sandra's best picks for 2012:

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen
The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney
Painting the Darkness by Robert Goddard
The Wrecker by Clive Cussler
Dinner with Lisa by R.L. Prendergast
A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley
Once Upon a Rose by Judith O'Brien
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzumach Lemmon
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Lost in Shangrila by Mitchell Zuckoff
The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla
Things your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know by H.Conrad & J.Johnson
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
New England White by Stephen L. Carter
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
The Secret Memoirs of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

Finally, I want to thank all my readers and blogger friends who have supported Sandra and me with your heartfelt comments. A big thank you to all the authors, publicists, book tour organizers and publishers who trust us with their books and allow us wonderful hours of reading!

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