Now that weíre well into 2013 (and Iíve procrastinated long enough), itís long past time to take a look back at the best books of 2012óthe ones that inspired the team of reviewers here at N&W.com to hide in the bathroom for a few minutes or turn in a little early at night, just to fit in some extra reading time.
Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Confessions of a Murder Suspect is mesmerizing and hauntingóand itís the best collaboration between Patterson and Paetro to date.
Baby Sharkís Showdown at Chigger Flats by Robert Fate
Plenty of hair-raising scenes will keep readers turning pages as guns blaze and the body count rises.
The Innocent by David Baldacci
Filled with twists and turns that are sure to keep readers guessing and reassessing, Baldacciís The Innocent is wildly suspenseful and packed with hold-your-breath thrills.
Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis
A deep-seated plot, exceptional characters, and hard-driving suspense will keep readersí lamps burning late into the night.
Surrender to the Roman by M. K. Chester
Second-century Rome comes to life in the skillful hands of author M.K. Chester, who weaves a tale of passion and retribution among the filth and disregard for human life.
Iíll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
Queen of Suspense Marry Higgins Clark offers up a mysterious story of identity theft with a new twist.
A Simple Murder by Eleanor Khuns
A Simple Murder offers a puzzling crime, a host of suspects, and a bit of chilling suspense, all set in the religious community of the Shakers.
Hunt the Wolf by Don Mann with Ralph Pezzullo
Don Mannís Hunt the Wolf is full of action-packed scenes that leap off the page in 3D.
Faithful Shadow by Kevin J. Howard
This creepy thriller will keep reader on the edge of horror with its suspenseful flow and interesting characters
Scary Mary by S. A. Hunter
With its wonderful characterization, unique paranormal ability, and truly creepy scenes, this is one book youíll want to check out.
For me, 2012 was a year of reading ups and downs. The most exciting part of my reading year was the premiere of my new radio show, Shelf Discovery, which now airs each week on 91.9 WITT in Indianapolis and 90.5 WCBE in Columbus.
Throughout the first half of the year, I read voraciously. After all, I was pregnantóand, really, I had the energy to do little else. I always had a book with me at doctorís appointmentsóand, toward the end, when I was trekking out to the doctorís office twice a week for tests, my doctor was amused to find that I always had a new book with me.
Then, on July 5th, everything changed. My doctor often warned me, ďRead all you can nowóbecause you wonít read again for another 18 years.Ē Of course, that hasnít been the case. But itís been more of a challenge to find time to read since my daughter was born. In a way, though, it makes me enjoy reading so much moreóbecause my reading time takes more effort. Sure, I often have to squeeze in a page or two at a time, but Iíve learned to treasure those moments spent with a good book.
Here are the books that I treasured the most:
Kingdom of Strangers by ZoŽ Ferraris
In 2010, author ZoŽ Ferraris first caught my eye with City of Veils. And the follow-up is every bit as culturally rich and captivating. More than just a mystery novel, itís an in-depth exploration of the life of a modern woman in a strict Muslim world. Even though the bookís conclusion didnít leave me breathless, the rest of the novel kept me absorbed in both the mystery and the culture.
The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz
Author Gregg Hurwitzís latest is a fast-paced thrill-rideóa gripping race against time. At the same time, though, in focusing on a character who believes that heís lost everything that matters, it also packs a surprising emotional punch. Throw in plenty of twists and turns and clever curveballs, and youíve got one riveting read thatís so much more than just another thriller.
NYPD Red by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
Best-selling author James Patterson is a man with more ideas than timeóso he often enlists co-authors to help him keep cranking out the hits. The pairings can be hit-or-missóbut he gets it just right in NYPD Red, choosing a co-author who brings a solid sense of humor to the usual Patterson thriller. The result is like a lot like your favorite summer popcorn flickóonly on the page instead of the screen.
Blood Lance by Jeri Westerson
I always look forward to reading Jeri Westersonís latest Crispin Guest mysteryóand her latest, Blood Lance, is one of her best. Though it employs many of the seriesís usual formulas, itís still more challenging and more layered than the average mysteryóand the fascinating historical details make it even better.
An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi
It may not be a fast-paced beach read, but author Anne Korkeakiviís An Unexpected Guest is a captivating, character-driven read. Youíve probably never given much thought to the life of an ambassadoróand, much less, to the life of an ambassadorís wifeóbut Korkeakivi does a beautiful job of bringing the private lives of these public people to the page.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Author Veronica Rothís Divergent series appears to be The Next Big Thing in young adult fiction, joining wildly popular series like The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games. But while many other series seem to rest on their laurels, with later installments failing to live up to the action and drama of the original, Insurgent is just as thrilling as Divergent. I can only hope that the conclusion will be just as good as the rest of the trilogy.
A Woman of Consequence by Anna Dean
The former English major in me just canít resist the Austen-esque flavor of author Anna Deanís A Woman of Consequence, which mixes the prim and proper tone of a classic Regency romance with touches of murder and mayhem. Deanís clever and strong-willed heroine, Dido Kent, is one that I look forward to following on future adventures.
Iíve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
And now for something completely differentÖ. You can say what you want about contemporary chick litóbut while Iíll readily admit that itís generally clichťd and fluffy and brainless, itís often a lot of fun to read, too. Author Sophie Kinsella is a chick lit proóand she makes the same old rom-com clichťs feel fresh and fun in Iíve Got Your Number, a quirky and comical read thatís the perfect choice for a long flight or a trip to the beach.
Goodbye to All That by Judith Arnold
Or, for chick lit thatís completely out of the ordinary, thereís Judith Arnoldís Goodbye to All Thatóan unconventional novel with a different kind of heroine and a story that heads in all kinds of unexpected directions. Itís not as fluffy as most chick lit; instead, itís charming and thoughtful with an important message about taking time out from taking care of everyone else to take care of yourself, too.
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones
Iíll close out my list with another noteworthy installment in one of my favorite series. With each new Charley Davidson paranormal mystery, author Darynda Jones seems to pack in more storylines, more laughs, and more adventure. While thereís definitely a lot going on in these novels (which I always listen to on CD), Jones juggles it all remarkably well, making this fourth installment in the series another fun-filled adventure that will keep readers entertained during those long, boring road trips.
The I Canít Believe I Missed This One the First Time Around Award:
Ranchero by Rick Gavin
Technically, Ranchero was a 2011 release. I read the paperback edition when it came out in 2012óand it turned out to be my favorite read of the year. Itís smart and funny and absolutely out-thereówhich is why you can bet that I wonít be a year late in reading author Rick Gavinís next book.
Best Lunch Break E-book:
The Ice Carousel by Amy Hahn
With its serene setting and its delightful romance, author Amy Hahnís magical short wintery fairy tale is everything youíd want from a short lunch-time read. Itís short and sweet. Itís warm and cozy. And itís beautifully written. I hope to find more from this talented author in the coming year.
Best Kidsí Book:
A Christmas Carol (BabyLit) by Jennifer Adams
Now that Iím a mom, Iím constantly on the lookout for kidsí books that will entertain both me and my little one. Though I fell in love with a number of old favorites this year, my favorite new release was the BabyLit version of A Christmas Carol. Its bold, colorful illustrations make it appealing for kids, while its clever references to classic literature make it fun for lit-geeky moms like me.
Well, thatís it for another year spent buried in a book. Your faithful readers here at N&W.com have already started working on this yearís top-10 listsóso be sure to stick with us throughout the year as we search for the books that are worth your precious free time.