2012 Books in Review

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Books read in 2012!

  1. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
    — Considering I have never given 5 stars before, you can imagine how much I loved this book.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually laughed out loud and then cried during one book before.  This is definitely chick lit, but that doesn’t make me love it any less.  My mom has been on me for months to read it and I should have stopped all other reading and focused on this.  Don’t be fooled about this being just another WWII book, as it’s most certainly nothing like that.  It’s about a mother’s unwavering love (there’s nothing quite the same) and her two daughters, as they try to explore their stoic Russian mother’s past.  The depth of the fairy tale is so distant and tortuous that you keep wishing it wasn’t real.  In disbelief that someone could endure that kind of pain and then continue forward.  But it is.  I finished the story wondering if I would be able to display the same amount of courage and selflessness that I read about.  And honestly, I hope I never have to find out.  Pick this up and prepare for a gripping read; you won’t regret it.
  2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    — BOOOOOOORING.  That’s right.  A global best seller and I thought it was awfully boring.  Is it a children’s book?  Because that’s surely how it is written.  Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good YA novel.. um, hello?  HARRY POTTER?! HUNGER GAMES?! TWILIGHT?! (yes, that  may be the first time I’ve pronounced my love for Twilight in print), but this was terrible terrible terrible.  So, I clearly don’t get the hype.  And at only 176 pages, this business should have held my attention.  The boy, if really as young as he’s described, is far too mature and serious for a child.  His thoughts are filled with life-altering introspection and not enough impulse.  Even in his misfortunes, I was annoyed at the description of the scenarios and his responses.  I suppose “everyone should read this”, but if you want my opinion, your time would be better spent doing anything else.  ANYTHING.  ELSE.  Of course, I did finish it, because my type-A tendencies still get the best of me and I wanted to be able to intelligently describe my disinterest in the story at book club tonight, but I won’t recommend you to the same torture.  I’m sad to say I’m now one of the 23 million people who purchased this book… and I can’t imagine I’m the only one that wishes I could take that back.  SKIP IT.
  3. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
    — Although all three novels were filled with terrible writing and comical narrative, they still provided just the right amount of entertainment needed for easy and relaxing vacation reading.  That said, I don’t feel the need to write a full review on each, but will tell you that they were just what all chic lit is meant to be: romantic, saucy, shocking, and unrealistic – but that’s perfect for the beach.
  4. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
  5. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
  6. Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee
    — It was cute, romantic, and predictable.  Jackpot for chic lit on vacation.
  7. Night Road by Kristin Hannah
    — First impression, this book kept my interest.  It took me almost a month to read between being so busy and tired and just not making time, that I wondered if I would ever finish.  But when I did have time, I picked it up instead of the newest catalog or magazine and kept on reading out of sheer need to “know what happened” (also, I can’t NOT finish a book…).  The thoughts of a high school girl brought me tumbling back into being 16 and feeling and wondering everything Lexi and Mia did at one time or another.  And as a Type-A personality, I can only imagine I’ll want to control the worlds of my children just as much as Jude did.  Making stupid decisions that seemed smart at the time and having to live with their consequences, is what I think every teen and parents goes through.  It was especially fun to read about it now, when I feel I have a much better view of the world and its bigger priorities.  As The Huffington Post states above, I can already see how I may think back to this story in ten years and feel hints of similarity and maybe chose a different path because I’ve seen it from different views now.  Kristin Hannah does it again, as she did with Winter Garden (read more about that one here), making me feel so attached to the characters that I fall into their lives and end up feeling what they feel.  Kristin Hannah, you’ve got to STOP making me cry when I’m reading!!  So if you like novels that make you feel the way only a Nicholas Sparks and now Kristin Hannah can do, pick this one up!
  8. Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected–A Memoir by Kelle Hampton
    — I’ve spoken about the inspiring blog, Enjoying The Small Things, before, so when Kelle Hampton announced on her blog that she was writing a book, I didn’t hesitate and pre-ordered it that day.  From reading her blog daily, I was already prepared for his grippingly honest and real accounts on life.  Kelle refuses to hold emotions back, even if they may stir up a negative or condescending reaction.  And that’s what I love about her.  She doesn’t pretend to be the world’s unruly definition of “perfect” and have only thoughts of rainbows and unicorns.  No, some days are a struggle, but in her new-found perspective she amazingly transform them into beauty.  To say I was enthralled by her memoir would be an understatement.  I read it in 2 days.  And it would have been 2 hours had I not had to do this thing called work.  Even though I knew the story of Nella’s entrance into the world and have seen her gorgeous face every week on Kelle’s blog, I drank in every word and photo as if it could be my own story someday.  And that translates to the fact that for the majority of my reading, I was also crying.  I could feel her pain that was so accurately described and I think that anyone in any situation has felt that terrifying gut-wrenching pain before.  This book isn’t just about Kelle’s journey of acceptance and new world view, but really about taking anything in life that isn’t as you imagined and learning to see the other side.  The beautiful and rich side.  The side that makes you feel grateful.  Because as one of her many manta, and maybe mine now too, what will we do with “our one wild and precious life” (original quote by Mary Oliver)?  Will we hide behind it with worry and fear living in our minds, or will we embrace it and love it instead.  I choose to love it.
  9. Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
    — All the hype and excitement; ruined.  I had heard great things!  NY Times Best Seller, blah blah blah… the last 50 pages ruined all of the work that the author had done in the first 380.  I will say that her ability to take on the voice of both Nick and Amy, separately, was pretty astonishing, but I’m still riling about the wrap-up and overall ending of the book.  It took me only a weekend to get through, as you want to keep going, but only because you have to get to the next chapter to see what would happen to the OTHER character.  It’s a nasty writer-trick to get you reading “just one more chapter” every time.  I didn’t think the story was very creative and honestly, aside from me not predicting that the ending would be terrible, the rest was pretty predictable and boring.  I, of course, won’t spoil it for you, but know you’ll be disappointed.  Worst part, I think this book ruined this author for me, for good.  Gillian Flynn, you could have done so much better.
  10. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
    — With no intricate detail left to wonder, this book takes you away to your furthest imagination where magic can capture your every emotion.  And even with some predictable plot twists, the story keeps your interest throughout.  I also wish that this was a real circus, because I would go every night to discover a new tent or avenue that is not able to be explained and pushes what you think the rules and boundaries are of life.  I especially loved each character in the story in their own way for adding an eccentric poke, but with real emotion behind it.  I could even read this book again to relive such a unique story and smell the atmosphere of the circus once again.  Truly a one-of-a-kind story to whisk you away from the couch and into a life you aren’t sure you ever want to leave.  I will absolutely read more by this author, who takes detailed writing to an entirely new level.  It’s a perfect escape into the magic you enjoyed as a child, but without the guilt because you’re now an adult.
  11. through 20.  Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Parenting magazine, Baby Bargains, various mom blogs, Oh Baby the Places You’ll Go, The Baby Name Wizard, Mayo Clinic – Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn, and multitudes of emails from family and friends with wise advice.

2013 may prove the need to discontinue this blog post as I imagine my reading time will significantly decrease come March, but we’ll see.  For past posts, click here for 2011 and 2010.

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