Saturday, December 29, 2012


Thanks to Elephant's Child, I have been prompted to post my five best books of 2012. She writes:
"I am joining John Wiswell from The Bathroom Monologues in a blog hop about our favourite reads of 2012.  Not necessarily published in 2012, just books we first read this year which for one reason or another we loved."

I'm going to join in too!

I see from my list on the right that I have read 52 books this year - or will have, when I've finished the current one, which will be before midnight on the 31st. It doesn't seem many - one a week - but considering the hours I work, it's not surprising that the total isn't higher. I am somewhat embarrassed that I haven't read ANY non-fiction books this year. That's unusual. There's lots of sci-fi and fantasy, a great deal of crime fiction, some short story collections. Here, in no particular order, are the 5 which  stand out most when I look through the list:

Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

I have read every single one of the Dave Robicheaux novels. This, the latest, by an author who is now 76 years old, is one of the best. They are thriller/crime novels, but not as we know them, Jim. They are set in New Orleans; the beautiful, lyrical prose brings that luscious city alive in a way that turns it into one of the books' most unforgettable characters.

This is a resurrection story, a gripping and un-putdownable description of a battle against evil men and the "known and unknown forces that corrupt and destroy even the best of men." (Amazon)


Reamde by Neal Stephenson
 This sci-fi technothriller has enough plot twists and turns for about 5 books. It's hilarious, exhausting, geeky and endlessly (at nearly 1000 pages) entertaining. It jumps around the world in a fashion to rival any James Bond movie, and includes as much action, even more violence, and some brilliantly endearing characters. I just loved it.


I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Protect the diamonds. Survive the clubs. Dig deep through the spades. Feel the hearts. I am the messenger.

Many readers of Zusak's hugely successful The Book Thief have expressed disdain and disappointment about this book, which was written earlier and is classified as a Young Adult novel. I have the advantage of not having read The Book Thief (I can't read Holocaust/Nazi Germany literature) and I found this book intriguing, interesting, and very memorable. Several of my senior students (18 -year-olds) insisted I read it because they were having huge 'debates' (read arguments) about it. When I had read it, I certainly joined in the discussion...

The hero, Ed Kennedy, has a quest to fulfil. As in all good quest stories, there are obstacles, mysteries, opponents, and rewards. It's definitely in my top 5 for the year.


The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen

This is a gentle, delicate story of two sisters, set in Wisconsin from 1947. Nothing much happens, but the book is full of surprises. I really enjoyed the way the story is cleverly manipulated and gradually revealed, so that the events which have shaped the sisters' lives and brought them to their present situation are slowly peeled back.

I loved the sense of place in this book, and the voice of the writer is confident and assured. It is her first novel.


An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi

This is another book in which at first sight nothing much happens - when, in reality, a great deal happens. It takes place in Paris, in the charged surroundings of diplomacy and international relations. The central character, an American of Irish descent married to a high-ranking British diplomat, is preparing for a dinner party, and the whole book is taken up with those preparations. However, under the surface there are tensions and secrets - familial and political, past and present. They threaten to derail both the dinner party and Clare's husband's hopes of promotion.

Many reviewers have compared the author to Virginia Woolf, and the book's plot does bear many links to that of Mrs Dalloway. I think that the story, and the writing, stand on their own very successfully. 

"Like her protagonist, Korkeakivi's writing is cool, calm and composed."  
(Alison McCulloch, The New York Times )

Please go to John Wiswell's site if you are interested in taking part in this 'blog hop'


  1. I have a deal of respect for authors who can make a lot happen with little actually transpiring. That was the feeling Kazuo Ishinguro's Remains of the Day gave me, as I just finished it and such works have been on my mind. I'll have to try An Unexpected Guest.

  2. thanks alexia!! i'm definitely going to add Burke to my list of authors! i'm always looking for new ones to read...and right now thrillers and mysteries are my addiction!

    Happy New Year!

    1. Alexia, i just looked Burke up online and was wondering if you have to read his Robicheaux books in order?? i'm going to put a hold on one through the library.

      have u read Lee Child? his character Jack Reacher?? right now i'm addicted to him! ha! each book is another adventure!

      Happy New Year!! i guess you're almost there..... =)

  3. Wow. I haven't actually even heard of any of these. I think between teaching and writing I live in a YA world. Are you going to do your breakdown chart like you did last year? That was really interesting.

  4. I've hardly read any books this year, thank you for the suggestions.

  5. I finally got here. I have been comtemplating James Lee Burke for a long time now, and you have nudged me further along. Thank you. Aren't books a wonderful thing? A woman I worked with had a stroke and lost reading and writing. I thought then, and still think, that it is one of the cruelest disabilities I have ever heard of. Several of your other books are enticing as well. So little time, so many books. The books with little going one are often action packed - and I for one love them. An inspiring list - thank you.


It's great when you leave a note!