Sunday, December 30, 2012

Favorite books of 2012

This year I read quite a few less books than last year, but I also delved into the world of manga. I read 44 novels in total, and 41 volumes of manga. Mangas are so much faster to read though, those would probably equal 10 or 15 novels. Anyway, back to the novels. I read a lot less fantasy than last year, or at least I read a lot of really good contemporary. Of these top 14, 8-ish (some are debatable) are non-fantasy/sci-fi, and it's definitely the first year those have been outnumbered!

This is going to be very haphazard. I gave up on giving most of them plot descriptions, sorry about that. And these are not in order at all (except for the last five, those are probably definitely my favorite five), I just found random categories for all of them so I wouldn't have to decide on an order!

Favorite classic: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I didn't think I would like this book, but I did. The tension was great, every chapter had me going 'Oh, crap,' at the end, the writing was gorgeous, and I loved the characters. The end was perfection. 

Favorite adult (non-classic) novel: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. True, it was the only non-classic adult novel I read this year, but I wanted to include it somehow. I actually just finished it today, and I really liked it. I've seen the movie before so I knew how it was going to end, but that didn't take away from it at all. I loved the haphazard way the plot progressed, it really drew me in. I also loved the frequently alternating voices, the present tense, and most everything about it.

Favorite book written in letters: Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. I loved this book so much. It's about a  boy who writes to a famous baseball player and their friendship, and it's not nearly as cheesy as that made it sound. It's set pre-WWII, and the details about that time were really natural. The thing I loved most about this book was the characters, they were all so real and believable and unique, which is especially impressive considering it's all in letters. This is one I'll definitely be re-reading soon.

Favorite book about zombies: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. This is definitely my favorite zombie book of all time, not just that I read this year. It's so unique: it's a book told from the point of view of a zombie, and it's a love story. That's all I'm going to say about the plot, but I'll also say that the writing is really good and the story made me think, and I am SO excited for the movie.

Favorite fairytale retelling: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan. First of all, this novel is the author's debut, and she wrote the first draft during nanowrimo, which makes me happy. The book itself is a retelling of A Sleeping Beauty, but it's sci-fi, and Rose wakes up from a decades long chemically induced sleep to find that she is the lone heir of a lot of money. Things I loved: the world (I do love some sci-fi), the characters (I didn't want the book to be over, and I can't wait for the sequel that doesn't have a release date yet), and the main character's growth throughout the book. She had a really excellent character arc.

Favorite two books by the same author: Everybody Sees the Ants, and Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. A.S. King is shaping up to be one of my favorite authors, her books get better with each one. I really loved these two books. They were both quirky, strange, had awesome characters, and compelling plots.

Favorite book that introduced by to an author I hadn't read before: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Obviously I'd heard of John Green (my sisters have loved him for years), but I hadn't actually read anything by him until I bought this book for myself as a birthday present. I loved it. I've read two of his other books since then, and I'm planning to finish his books next year.

Favorite book set in a desert: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. This book surprised me a lot-- I've read most of Sarah Beth Durst's other books, but this one blew them all away. The world was very detailed and drew me into it, the scope of the plot was large, the writing was good, and of course I loved the characters. 

Favorite ensemble cast: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. This book, more than any of the others in this list, was about all of the characters I thought. Blue and Gansey were the most prominent, but Adam, Ronan, and Noah were just as important in their own ways. And I loved Blue's mother and her friends. Anyway, this book is the weirdest of Maggie Stiefvater's so far, and I loved that. I loved the characters, the weird plot, the fact that nothing got resolved, the fact that it ended on an incredibly puzzling sentence, and the fact that I have three more books with these characters to look forward to.

Favorite sequel: Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. I squeed about the first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns in my top ten list last year, and this one was just as good. Elisa has new challenges to face-- she's now a queen, her old enemy the Invierne are not really gone, and she's not certain she can trust her own counselors. Rae Carson is easily becoming one of my favorite authors-- her writing is SO good, I love Elisa and all the characters, Hector and Elisa's budding romance was one of my favorites of the year, and the action never stopped.

Favorite murder mystery: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. I LOVED Jazz's voice in this one. And it's too good not to give a plot description: 'Jazz has a best friend, a girl friend, he's great in school-- he would be just your average teenage boy if not for the fact that his father is a world famous serial killer, and everyone thinks that Jazz is going to follow in his footsteps.' So obviously it's dark, Jazz struggles with an incredibly heavy past, the expectations of everyone around him, his own fears and worries, and he has to figure out who this copycat serial killer who shows up in his town is also. Because of the darkness and depth though, it made Jazz one of the most likeable and layered protagonists I read this year. I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Favorite book about cancer: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. I also could have categorized this one as funniest book of the year, and it really was, not because of the subject but because of Greg's voice. He's hysterical. Greg is forced to spend time with an old friend who has just gotten Leukemia, but he's quick to tell you that this will not be one of those sappy "And I learned the meaning of life as she died" stories. The author made this story as real as he possibly could while making me laugh at Greg and Earl's teenage boy crudeness, and it felt like I was peeking into someone's life to watch. I'm not doing a good job at explaining it, so just go read it, as long as you don't mind tons of swears.

Favorite book that's hardest to categorize: Where Things Come Back by Jon Corey Whaley. This book is about a tiny town in Arkansas where a teenage boy's brother is abducted, an it's the hardest one to explain. It's about Cullen dealing with his brother's disappearance, it's about a town that is suddenly famous when the Lazarus woodpecker (Ivory billed woodpecker, actually, with a different name) is sighted, and it's a bunch of stories woven together that don't make sense until the end. It's a book that could have made me throw it across the room if it hadn't ended the way it did, it has writing I fell in love with, and even to me it's inexplicable why it affected me as much as it did. But I did, and I loved it, and you should read it along with all the other books on this list.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

100 poems

For many years now, one of my new year goals has been to write 100 poems. Usually I get to 70 or 80, but I can never seem to hit a hundred. This year, though, I did.

I realized in the fall that if I wrote a certain amount of poems each month, I'd easily hit a hundred. I think the reason I was able to do it so easily this year was because I kept writing in the summer, which is usually when I slack off the most. I wrote 10 poems in both July and August, instead of a normal three or four. 

And last night I wrote my 100th poem! It's not the best, but I'm posting it anyway.

Poems can capture many things,
but some things they can't touch.
There is no way to sum up
these past days, no words
will bring back floods of memories
like hearing Falling Slowly--
nothing can bring smiles like
silly faces, grinning, laughter--
and no written scene can conjure up
the peace of reading in cafes
with lovely, lovely sisters.

In other news, The Hobbit was good, and Les Miserables (which I went to see Christmas night with my sisters) was AMAZING. I loved it so much, and I want to see it again.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December Life

So, life. Colleges and nano have been taking up most of my time lately, with a little bit of school inbetween.

I completed NaNoWriMo on November 25th, which is the fastest I've ever done it! I've been editing a bit this month, and I might have people read it soon. I actually like my story this year, which is always a good thing. Now I have to see if other people like it too. Nano was strangely easy for me this year, partly because I planned out my story a lot which helps, and partly because it was such a release for me. I'd been focusing so intensely on colleges that it was SO NICE to be able to think about something else. Colleges are so stressful, but I've sent in my CD to all the ones that need it. I've applied to six colleges between this month and last, and I might apply to two more, or I might not. Applying is so expensive! There's a fee for auditioning as well as applying, so for me it's twice what it would be for normal applicants. But oh well. I don't find out till January where I'm invited to audition, and then auditioning is mostly in February, and then I find out where I got in in April. So far away, but at least the first step is done.

And Christmas is so soon! We decorated the tree Sunday, made christmas cookies, and watched christmas movies. I've bought a few presents, but I really need to get more. Time is going way too fast. And for the most exciting news of all, I'm going to see The Hobbit tonight!!!