Favourite Books of 2012 - A Guest Post by @RinnReads
The lovely Jo asked me if I'd like to do a guest post for this blog, and I was more than happy to oblige! As it's the end of the year, I thought I'd list my top ten books read this year - they are not all necessarily published this year, however.
So let's begin! In no particular order (because that would take more forever to decide, it was hard enough picking a top ten)...
1. The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood (published by Simon & Schuster, 2012)
Just... wow. I'd seen a couple of reviews of this one on Goodreads, all very positive. I then saw comparisons with Donna Tartt's The Secret History, which is one of my favourite books, and knew I had to read it. I have this thing for books set in Oxford or Cambridge, because I (not so secretly) wish I'd applied to one of them for my undergraduate degree. What started off as a rather normal story about an intelligent young man, but not a student, being accepted into the Cambridge 'bubble', turned into something much, much darker and ultimately shocking. I don't want to say much else about the story, for fear of giving it away.
Read if you enjoyed: The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
2. The Painted Man (Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett (published by Harper Voyager, 2009)
I picked this one up from the library, when I was hunting through my library's sci-fi and fantasy section. I was actually looking for more sci-fi to read, but I am so glad I got this one. I read a lot of fantasy, but there's only a few series that I really get into, that I want to completely immerse myself in - The Lord of the Rings, the Abhorsen trilogy, A Song of Ice and Fire - but this is definitely one of them. One of the problems that fantasy writers seem to encounter more frequently than authors of other genres is making their worlds or magic systems really work - detailed enough that they are original, but simple enough that the reader doesn't get lost in the terminology. Brett manages it perfectly. The third book in the trilogy is coming out this February, but I am lucky enough to have an ARC and I'm so excited to read it!
Read if you enjoyed: Sabriel, Lirael or Abhorsen by Garth Nix, The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan
3. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) by Dan Simmons (published by Headline, 1989)
This is one of my dad's favourite books, and since he knew that I was trying to read more sci-fi this year he kept urging me to read this one. And I'm glad I did. It is a sci-fi retelling of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, with each of the seven travellers making a pilgrimage to a monster called the Strike in order to save mankind. Each of the tales are so different, and completely striking in their own way. There are four books in the series, and I still need to read the last two.
Read if you enjoyed: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (purely for the comparison), the Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds
4. House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (published by Gollancz, 2008)
Yes, more sci-fi! I have to admit, I actually almost gave up on this book. But I kept going, and it really paid off. It is very much heavy sci-fi, so definitely not something to start the sci-fi genre off with! It is not so much the action in this one that drew me in, but the characters.
Read if you enjoyed: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
5. Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar (published by Piatkus Books, 2008)
This has got to be my most surprising book of the year. I really think the cover would put a lot of potential readers off it - it looks like a rather generic YA paranormal novel, but in actuality it's a bit of a black comedy. The MacRinnalch family are Scottish aristocracy, living in a gloomy castle, but they're also werewolves. For some reason the entire scenario is hilarious to me, especially when they're all sat around the table in their werewolf form, having a family meeting. If you're looking for something on the paranormal side that is a bit different from all the werewolf/vampire/etc stuff these days, this is definitely it.
Read if you enjoyed: the Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris
6. Incarnation by Emma Cornwall (published by Gallery Books, 2012)
This one really stood out for me because of the way it was written - actually fitting within the late nineteenth century. It is a retelling of Dracula, from the point of view of Lucy Weston, one of Dracula's victims. She wakes up with no memory of what happened, and how she became what she is, so sets out to find the answers to her questions. The intertwining of Bram Stoker and various other historical figures in the story is also clever. Cornwall paints a fantastic picture of a grimy, alternative Victorian London, as well as the Yorkshire moors. This was also the first steampunk novel I've read, and to my surprise I rather enjoyed the genre.
Read if you enjoyed: Dracula by Bram Stoker, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
7. The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness (published by Walker Books, 2008)
My biggest regret about this series is that I didn't read it sooner. I worked in a book shop when I was in sixth form, and I always thought about buying this one (and I really should've, with my seventy percent discount...). It's one of those series that grabs you by the heart and doesn't let go, and one where you feel so attached to the characters that it actually physically hurts when something happens to them. I'm halfway through the last book and really quite scared to finish it, because I have a feeling it's going to really upset me.
Read if you enjoyed: The Wind On Fire trilogy by William Nicholson
8. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (published by Bloomsbury, 2012)
Such a beautifully sad book. I absolutely loved this one, as expected. I did my degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, and am a sucker for books set during Ancient Greece or Rome. I love ancient mythology, and really enjoyed The Iliad. So reading a story from the point of view of one of the 'lesser' (important role, but not as widely known) characters of The Iliad was fascinating. There are so many theories about who Patroclus was to Achilles - friend, cousin, lover - but Miller chooses lover, and crafts a heart-breaking story.
Read if you enjoyed: The Iliad by Homer, Troy by Adele Geras, David Gemmell's Troy series
9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (published by Scholastic, 2008)
What to say about The Hunger Games... I don't know if there is much left to say! It was just so refreshing to read a YA novel that had a love triangle that just didn't matter. I love how Katniss is completely focused on saving her family, and the romance pretty much takes a backseat.
Read if you enjoyed: Divergent by Veronica Roth, Legend by Marie Lu
10. A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George R. R. Martin (published by Harper Voyager, 2008)
Of course I'm including ASoIaF! The only problem was choosing which one. Mostly because I read them all in a row and they sort of blurred into one - but I do remember some particular choice moments from A Feast for Crows. Unfortunately, there's not much I can say, for fear of spoilers. But Tyrion is definitely my absolute favourite character - and having favourite characters in this series is a bad idea. Now just to wait a few years more for book six...
So those are my favourite books of this year! How about you?