Kristen's 12 Favorite Books of 2012

I love reading. This year I read 55 books according to Goodreads. I picked out some of my favorites, twelve to be exact, to share with you, along with my favorite book of the year. Most of the books are best sellers in their respective genres, but hopefully you find a new book to read. Also, read to the bottom for a chance to win a copy of my favorite book of 2012! Note: Some of the books listed below I reviewed in my monthly book review posts.

My Favorite Book of 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is about two magicians, Celia and Marco, who are dueling through the arena of a circus. But, Celia and Marco fall for each other during the game which has to end with a winner. The imagery is absolutely stunning in this book and Morgenstern switches point of view throughout the book, along with the timeline so pay attention as you read. But, somehow she brings it all together with an incredible ending.

General Fiction Picks:

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach - The Art of Fielding follows a young shortstop, Henry, through his college career. Henry is destined to be a major league player until he makes a big mistake one game which destroys his confidence. Although the backdrop to this novel is baseball, the novel is centered on character development and relationships. The book is very well written. The only downside is its length.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman - The Magician King is the sequel to Grossman's The Magicians. I was curious to see where Grossman would take Quentin, the protagonist, and the story of Fillory after a shaky start in the first novel. In the sequel, the characters grew up and matured and I liked Quentin much more. I found the Magician King flowed much better than the first and I flew through the second half of the book, anxious to see what would happen next. If you like fantasy (Game of Thrones, LOTR, etc), this series is worth a read.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - I jumped on the George R.R. Martin bandwagon due to the success of the HBO series. I read the book before seeing the first season and I loved it. A Game of Thrones is a great fantasy epic filled with sex, violence, and power plays, but it's a ton of fun to read. There are many characters and plot lines to follow, but I didn't have a tough time following along. Martin keeps you guessing and you never know who he will kill off next. The second in the series is next on my to read list.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - The plot revolves around a married couple- Amy and Nick. On their 5 year anniversary, Amy goes missing. The plot follows the search to find Amy. Quickly, the suspicions turn to Nick. But the story is much more complicated and Flynn surprises readers every step of the way. Gone Girl is well-written and a great read, but the book is very dark and twisted. If you don’t mind dark and twisted, definitely pick this up.

The Redeemer (Harry Hole Series) by Jo Nesbo - This is the fourth and my favorite book in the Harry Hole crime thriller series by Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian author. The Redeemer has a perfect mix of clues, twists, and turns to keep you guessing on who hired the hit man and why. I also enjoyed this book because we see growth of Harry’s character. Harry learns he can fight his alcoholism and survive. If you like Steig Larsson’s writing, pick up this series and start with the first book: The Redbreast.

Young Adult Picks:

Divergent by Veronica Roth - Divergent is the first of a dystopian young adult trilogy. The novel has all the elements of a great story- intriguing characters, suspense, mystery and conflict. Roth’s novel isn’t perfect though. At times, I disliked the main character Tris. I wanted more backstory to the factions and more character development for the secondary characters. But, I finished the book wanting more. And for me, that means the story was a great one.

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard - I read the book after seeing the first two seasons of the television show (not sure I should admit that). I definitely liked the book better than the television show. Pretty Little Liars has an element of mystery that kept me reading and it’s a very quick read. Plus, the book tackles teen issues such as bullying, lying, homosexuality, drugs, and cutting. It’s worth a read if you are interested in the contemporary young adult genre.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - If you haven't read this series yet, it's worth the hype. The first book in the series, The Hunger Games, is my favorite, but the whole trilogy is great. And the movie is pretty good too.


Faith Based Books:

The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans - I followed Rachel Held Evans on and off for the past few years through her blog. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. Her story of living biblically is laced with humor as she attempts activities outside her comfort zone. But, behind the humor and funny stories, Rachel Held Evans tells the stories of women in the Bible, celebrates women of all types, and finds truth in her year of biblical womanhood.

Love Does by Bob Goff - Bob Goff's book is a refreshing read about faith and following Jesus. This book's style and message reminded me greatly of Donald Miller who is a good friend of Goff's and helped him write this book. These similarities are a good thing and I flew through the book and finished feeling refreshed. Goff mixes the interesting stories from his life that shaped him to be different and follow Jesus in a radical way. I recommend this book for both believers and seekers.

Heroes & Monsters by Josh Riebock - I picked up Riebock's book on a kindle daily deal for $1.99. I had not heard of Riebock but Heroes and Monsters looked like a memoir I would enjoy. By the end, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the memoir. Heroes and Monsters deals with regular issues that we all face and wrestle with such as love, grief, depression and faith. Riebock separates Heroes and Monsters from other faith based memoirs with his unique voice and narration. It reminded me of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers because of the openness and honesty throughout. I look forward to reading more by the young author in the future.

The End of 2012 Giveaway

What was your favorite book of 2012? Why?

Leave me a comment on this post for a chance to win a free book! One lucky commenter will win a copy of the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (paperback or ebook version - winner's choice). Spread the word and happy commenting!