2012 in Books


It’s time for my annual year in books review! I love these posts, I hope they don’t bore you to death. Here’s what we read this year (I asterisked super favorites):

I finished reading the Harry Potter books to the older boys:

Thanks to reader Alison, I discovered Diana Wynne Jones and gobbled up everything my library had:

I re-read an old favorite: The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery.

While at my inlaws, I read my sister in law’s Matched by Ally Condie. I checked out the sequel Crossed when it was available at the library. I’m currently on the waiting list at the library for the third book in the series.

I read the My Side of the Mountain Trilogy (My Side of the Mountain / On the Far Side of the Mountain / Frightful’s Mountain) out loud to the older boys. They LOVED it.

I think the only Robin McKinley book I read this year was The Door in the Hedge. I loved it.

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden was a Kindle freebie. I liked it a lot and will read more by the author.

Another Amazon freebie for the Kindle was Semper, which was surprisingly good. I was only surprised because it was free and self published. But it was a really good dystopia. The author is working on a sequel and I’ll definitely read it.

Y’all know how much I loved The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I haven’t read the sequel yet, it’s on my wishlist.

I read Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I’ll read the third one too. I do like dystopia, but I’ll admit I skipped large chunks of angst in both books.

My library had Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. What an amazing writer. I’m reading the next book in the series, The Dark Is Rising. The cover art on the library books is terrible, the art on Amazon is much better!

J. read the Erec Rex Series by Kaza Kingsley and gives it two thumbs up (there’s one more book he hasn’t read yet):

I read the following by Jessica Day George:

Ever a fan of post-apocalyptic literature, I read Enclave by Ann Aguire, and the sequel, Outpost.

I read Nick James’ Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars, and Skyship Academy: Crimson Rising. I liked them both and think J. will enjoy them.

Miss K. and I read a couple Roald Dahl books together: Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Matilda. We had to watch the movies after, of course. She says the books are better than the movies. Smart girl.

I read Eoin Colfer’s first two books, and plan on reading the rest. These are clever, I think both boys will like them.

I re-read Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy to Miss K, and then we read Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. I also read Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, which was super fun.

K and I read Cinderella together, too.

Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur by Ruth Nestvold was a Kindle freebie, and I really enjoyed the history in this epic novel, but I skimmed over the sexy bits. Yeah, you won’t find 50 Shades of Gray on this list.

War Brides by Helen Bryan was another Kindle freebie. I enjoyed it, and thought she handled the multiple POVs really well. The wrap up is a little rushed at the end, but I’d still recommend it.

Before Midnight: A Retelling of “Cinderella” by Cameron Dokey is one of my favorite Cinderella rewrites.

I started The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy but got distracted when Chima’s fourth book came out (see below). I’ll finish it soon, I think the boys would like this series a lot.

Okay, so I loved Cinda Williams Chima’s series, and reread the first three books so I could properly enjoy the fourth. I adore this series, and can’t believe it’s not getting more attention. For conservative readers: They are young adult novels, and there are some references to sex, though no actual scenes (other than kissing). There is also mention of group of women who choose women as lovers. It is not a main part of the storyline, however. There is made up swearing eg: “Blood and bones” or “Hanalea in chains.”

E. read The Hobbit and is now reading The Lord of the Rings to the boys.

I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. It has a very likable overweight protagonist, and I’m on the waiting list at the library for the sequel.

The boys are currently devouring everything by Erin Hunter at the library. I can’t keep track of them all, but they are Warrior books that have to do with cats. They love them.

I keep trying to get through Les Misérables because it’s one of my favorite stories of all time, and I wanted to read the actual book before seeing the movie this year (my inlaws took us, I loved it and cried through the whole thing! Though the Santa sex scene could have been tossed, ugh.) Anyway, I keep getting stuck in all the politics. But I’m going to try to finish it in 2013.

J and I read Johnny Tremain for one of his homeschool co-op classes.

Pollyanna, Heidi, and Little Lord Fauntleroy were all free on the Kindle and fun reads. We had to track down movies to watch after each book.

This The Boxcar Children Mysteries Box Set: Books One Through Twelve was a steal during the Black Friday days at nine dollars. Miss K loves these and we’ve read half of them already.

I read The Light Princess after our homeschool group put it on as a play (the play was amazing!)

I think Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception (Gathering of Faerie) by Maggie Stiefvater was a Kindle freebie or prime rental or something. I liked it well enough, but admittedly forgot about it until now. I’ll have to see what the other books in the series look like.

I read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton on a whim. Much better than the film.

Zipped through Wizard’s Hall before handing it over to the boys. Many say it may have inspired Harry Potter.

After Nanowrimo was over, I started thinking maybe I could write something people might want to read, so I started researching. I’ve read the following to help me along this crazy novel-writing path:

On the health and fitness front, I read:

Gardening books:


As usual, I’m leaving out hundreds of picture books (I should keep track this coming year) and probably dozens of library books I forgot to take note of. My husband read five million books on the economy, politics, and theology. I’ll spare you his list, but here’s a shot of his desk. (It doesn’t always look like this, we just straightened up the office this morning, as the children had cut out a million snowflakes and left tiny papers and scissors all over the place. But he had just finished his morning reading.)


Checked out, but not started yet:

A Wizard of Earthsea

The Secret of Platform 13 (Just finished this 1/3/13)

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders)

I forgot! I also have Ender’s Game checked out, I think my brother recommended it.

What did you read this year? Any good recommendations?


  1. says

    A bit random, but I wanted to mention that Frances Hodgeson Burnett’s other books are much better than Little Lord Fauntleroy – have you read “The Secret Garden” and “A Little Princess”. Particularly the latter, was one of my favourites.

    I love your list – hoping to read more myself this coming year, and we’ve just started the six-year-old on chapter books at bedtime and he’s been loving Roald Dahl. Must get my hands on some Eoin Colfer – he’s from my part of the world, you know.

    • says

      I read The Secret Garden last year but I don’t think I’ve read A Little Princess in years. I think Miss K would love that one, I’ll put it on my list, it’s probably free on Amazon.

      I love Eoin’s name! You might like Yesult too, it’s all about ancient Ireland and Breton.

  2. says

    I loved the Secret of Platform 13! I think you’ll enjoy it (I really liked all of her books!).

    I’ve read and enjoyed about half of the books in your list, above, and I’m excited to devour the rest. I feel thankful for our similar reading tastes and love your annual summaries; I always put a bunch on my library queue for the upcoming year. Thank you for that! :)

    One other Cinderella redux that I thought was interesting is the first in a new series called Cinder (the Lunar Chronicles), a futuristic cyborg retelling that I enjoyed. Not sure if futuristic sci-fi is your thing or not, but I’d recommend it for a quick, fun read.

    I also enjoyed Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers and R.M. ArceJaeger’s retelling of Robin Hood (assuming that Robin Hood was in fact a woman) called Robin: Lady of Legend.

    Happy reading! (It’s my favorite thing to do!)

    • says

      Oh good! I think someone recommended it for us since we liked HP so much. I looked at Cinder a while back on Amazon but wasn’t sure about the cyborg bit. I like some sci-fi, maybe I’ll see if the library has it.

      I didn’t love Jessica’s Cinderella rewrite so I quit her for a bit, but I’ll look those up. Robin Hood as a woman sounds like it’d be a really fun take!

  3. says

    p.s. right I’m rereading Robin McKinley’s Beauty — still my most favorite of her books! I need to read The Door in the Hedge stat.

    • says

      Oh gosh, yes. Beauty is what I read first, and then I had to find all the other books. I liked her Sleeping Beauty rewrite too, Spindle’s End.

  4. says

    If I could recommend a blog — Alena at alenaslife.wordpress.com has such wonderful reviews. I feel like I’m so far behind on all my reading, but after catching up with her blog, I have a ton of new reads in my queue.

    Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year! All the best in 2013!

  5. says

    The sequel to the Girl of Fire and Thorns is arguably better than the first – I LOVED IT. I can’t wait for the third one.

  6. says

    Oh my word. I feel woefully under-read. Can I count blogs that I have faithfully read? (Ha).

    I always want to have a reading quotient with my kids for every day, but I never get around to it. When I have little motivators like that, it keeps me reading to them more. Like when our library has “turn off your t.v. week”. We ignore shows that week and read a lot more than usual and I always love it.

    Anyway- I’m inspired! I’m going to make a little reading chart tonight for getting our daily read on.

    • says

      Yes, this is how I will spend my New Years’ Eve. Making a reading chart. Already in my pj’s and settled in with my Google reader for the night. Wheeee!!!

      • says

        I do most of my reading at night, I don’t know if I could get to sleep without reading first… even if it’s already late, if I’m in a good book I’ll read until I fall asleep with it on my face. It might be a problem, ha!

        Yay for reading charts! That totally sounds like something I’d do.

  7. Michelle says

    How do you find out about free Kindle books?

    I started out keeping track of my books on Goodreads, but I forgot a few and then just gave up. I used to do a better job of keeping track when I journaled daily.

    Happy New Year!

    • says

      I go into the Kindle lending library on my Kindle, and I can borrow lots of books with my Prime account. It’s one thing I haven’t axed in our new budget constraints because we utilize Amazon so much (free two day shipping for grocery items, yay).

      You can also sign up for the Amazon daily deals, and sometimes I just search Amazon for 0.00 in the Kindle store. That brings up lots, and when you find one you like, Amazon does a good job of recommending similar titles. That’s how I found and read all the Sherlock Holmes books for free a year or two ago.

  8. Sarah says

    I have been reading Sharon Kay Penman’s Plantagenet series. It is very good historical fiction. It makes me want to go to Europe and see all the places in the books!

  9. My Little Otter says

    I found Tuesdays at the Castle for my daughter because I saw it on here. She LOVED it…wanted to read more by the same author. Just a suggestion for Miss K– she might like a boy, a bear and a boat. Daughter also loved that one to bits.

    Okay. She loves all books to bits, but she has spoken of those two multiple times.

  10. says

    Have you read the books by Megan Whalen Turner starting with The Thief? Looking at this list I think you’d like them. They get a teeny bit dense with political intrigue but the protagonist is complicated and lovable. You’ve got a bunch here I’ve added to my list.

    • says

      Not yet! I’ve got them on my wish list, and cannot believe my library doesn’t have them. I’m going to have them track them down via interlibrary loan when I go into town next. I think they sound fabulous.

  11. Alison says

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Diana Wynne Jones! I second the suggestion of the The Thief. Also, have you read anything by Nancy Farmer, my two favorites by her are The House of the Scorpion, and The Ear, the Eye and the Arm.

    • says

      I adored her! There’s lots more of hers I need to read, maybe I can track some down via interlibrary loan or find some penny books on Amazon.

      I’m really excited to read The Thief.

      No! Looking those up now. Thanks!

  12. Katie says

    Holy Fetch. I used to read like crazy until high school, and then it seems I ran out of time. I don’t watch TV, but the internet certainly gets a chunk of time I could devote to reading.

    I love dystopian or post-apocalypse books, so I’ll check out the ones you mentioned.

    I was excited to see the Orson Scott Card book in your picture, because I’ve read all 12 books in the Ender-verse, and wanted something similar. But because that’s your first OSC book, and you haven’t read anything Ender, I guess you won’t be able to help me there yet! I love the Ender books. You might not like Ender’s Game though — you seem like you might be more averse to language and violence than I am, and there is some of both in it.

    • says

      Bedtime and bathtime = booktime for me (don’t tell my librarian about the last one).

      Ha, do I come off that conservative? I hate the f-bomb but I can roll with most other stuff. I do hate violence, but a if it’s not all gory and super descriptive I’m fine with it (I watched most of the last Twilight movie from between my fingers and that didn’t even have any blood).

      I got realllly tired of the zombie violence in the Maze Runner series (I liked the first book a lot though).

      I’ll start Ender’s Game after I finish The Dark is Rising… it’s on my nightstand!

      • Katie says

        You come across as awesome and spiritually connected. I am probably projecting some internal neurosis on to you :-)

        I let my 10-year old read Ender’s Game. That’s controversial to some. Ender’s Game has been banned in places, though I’m not exactly sure why.

        • says

          Well, that’s super nice. If you knew me in real life you’d see I have a nice pile of neurosis of my own!

          Well hey, letting kids read Harry Potter in some circles is controversial. My brother said from this post it sounds like I pre-read everything, which isn’t at all true. I find that I like YA stuff myself and often after I’ve read something I think, “Hey, he’d like this!” So language or no, if I think it’s good and they’d enjoy it…. then there you go.

      • Katie says

        When you said ‘bedtime’, it made me realize one reason I don’t read much. The 11th (or something) book in the Ender saga came out this year, and I finally realized I had missed it. I read it in less than 24 hours. That’s fine, but I can’t sustain that on a regular basis, and that’s how I get with books — I MUST finish them, even if it’s 3 am and I have to be up early the next morning.

        • says

          Oh no, I totally do that. If I’m in the grips there’s no way I can put it down, even if I’m exhausted. I’ll push on and read until 3 or 4 in the morning. But I still read every night… :o)

  13. Jenn says

    I LOVE Ender’s Game! I suggest reading it, then it’s parallel Ender’s Shadow. I love Ender’s Shadow a bit more, but if you read it first I reckon it’d spoil it. There is a movie coming out this year of Ender’s Game – it’s only loosely based on the book though. (It would be quite hard to actually follow the book in a movie, it’s too advanced to replicate on screen imho! I’m a bit worried the movie is going to be crap :S )

    A teacher in year 7 or 8 suggested Ender’s Game to me and it’s been a favourite since. I’ve read it so many times my paper copy is falling apart. It is a bit war-y and strategic and there are aliens, but I think the emotional battle throughout is what glued me and captured my heart and mind. Hope you enjoy it!

    Another fantasy style one that I love is Sabriel, by Garth Nix. It’s the first in a trilogy, but the it really outshines the others. I’m pretty sure it’s a YA, and it’s another that is from a different world/time but really good :) I’m not a hardcore sci-fi or fantasy reader, but I like Sabriel and Ender’s Game. (I did read the rest in the Ender-verse but there is something about a first book that really captures you and is hard to emulate as you continue through a story! The parallel is great because it’s centred around the same time-frame and seeing it from a different perspective was really interesting.)

    • says

      Sweet. I definitely love fantasy, but I’m on the fence w/ sci-fi, it can be so goofy. So many have recommended Ender’s Game, I’m looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about. I’ll look up Sabriel! Thanks Jenn!

      • Katie says

        I don’t think you’ll think it goofy at all. It’s all very believable and realistic, even if the technology has advanced beyond what we have now.

        • Jenn says

          True, someone brought up on a facebook rant/vent the other day that the way “games” are played in teh end of Ender’s Game has potential to be real in our current technological age. It’s right on there, might as well be with all the long-range weapons we have etc..

  14. says

    I’m so glad you posted this list before my book club meeting about books for next year, lol! Have you ever read “Gone with the Wind”? Its pretty obvious historical fiction, and I’ve seen the movie a thousand times (named after the leading lady after all…) so I had written it off, but holy cow, it changed my life and relationships. I loved it. We’re reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for January (not about divorce just fyi) and I guess you could say it is futuristic, ha ha (tongue in cheek). Oh and two we read last year that I loved were “Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls and “These Is My Words” by Nancy E. Turner. Both incredible biographical novels, another of my “favorite” genres, haha.

    • says

      Yes! I’ve read all of those! I know it’s cliche, but I love CS Lewis, and I think I’ve read everything of his.

      These Is My Words is amazing. I think my mom’s book club did it a couple of years ago? One year ago? I can’t remember, anyway, she recommended it so I read it, and then my friend Tracy did it for her book club here.

  15. Emerald says

    I know we just met (not really but I do read your blog a lot) and this is crazy but I think am in love with your reading list. :) So much inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

  16. says

    I’d like to know how you remember all that you’ve read?! I read a lot but could never recall what all I read at the end of the year!

    • says

      Hey Lori, I keep track on Shelfari, and I compare that with my Amazon order receipts — especially the Kindle orders — at the end of the year to see if I missed anything. Every year I tell myself to keep all the little print outs from the library when we check out, but I forget and the little yellow slips get tossed, so I’m sure I forget some here and there.

      • Kathy says

        Jessica, you can usually go to your account nonlinear with the public library and see your check-out history…at least with my library I can.

          • says

            I’ve checked on the website but I can’t see anything, I’d LOVE it if they have something like that. I’ll have to ask next time I’m there. Thanks!

  17. Helena says

    Hi Jess, Happy New Year!

    There is a MATILDA musical coming to Broadway in just a few weeks (from London). We downloaded the soundtrack, it’s awesome. It won several awards in it’s original run, so there is quite a bit on Youtube.

    I couldn’t bring myself to spend $$$$$ on tickets, but we’ll have to eventually, it looks really lovely. Thanfully, its sure to be cheaper after the first few months. . .


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