Not all of these books were published in 2012. This is my list of favorite reads.

Map of TimeThe Map of TimeFelix J. Palma
Palma is one of the greatest authors I have ever read. I know that seems a bit far reaching and possibly even naiive, I feel a bit childish saying it, but the truth cannot be denied. The story plays out over three acts, that interlace together with similar themes and the same characters, but the main character changes in each act. H.G. Wells is present throughout the book playing an important role to all the characters and plots.

Truly this book is a testament to H.G. Wells, science fiction and the Victorian world. The Victorians were fascinated by the changes occurring around them. Factories with mechanization sprung up and their imaginations ran with it. Wells’s “Time Machine” couldn’t have been printed at a better time. The public never read anything like it. Stuffy upper class men and women discussed the possibilities of time travel over tea and biscuits or brandy and cigars. Palma discusses the change in consciousness that occurred with the spontaneous arrival of “scientific romances,” how the imaginations of a whole generation went in directions give us the fantastic science fiction novels we have today.

WickedWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory McGuire
I know I’m late jumping on the bandwagon with this one. It was a happy accident that I ended up reading the series.

I love Elphaba! Her life is so full of misunderstandings and confusion. She never quite knows what’s going on or how to deal with it. The characters surrounding her range from talking Animals to evil head mistresses to preachers  and nuns to dwarves with mysterious motives to the Great and Good Glinda herself. I worried it wasn’t going to make sense with the original Wizard of Oz and I was mistaken. It works perfectly with Baum’s world of Oz. Whereas the original was written for children from a child’s POV, “Wicked” is the world of Oz from a grown up’s eyes It’s darker and more intense. We learn about the politics of the land and it is fascinating.

Casual VacancyCasual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling
A lot of people are disappointed in this book. I am hearing horrible things from a large range of people and I have to those people I sadly shake my head. It’s true “Casual Vacancy” doesn’t really have a “plot” as some would think of it. This is not a fast paced murder mystery or a mystery at all. It’s very British, I think. The humor is dark and very dry.

There are about 20 characters in all and the POV shifts constantly between them all. This was confusing at first, but Rowling is so amazing at character development that shortly after starting the book, I grew used to each character’s individual voice.

The way these characters are toward each other and how they react to the events surrounding them is how real people react. Rowling lets the people be people. They think and do the things most of us never admit to think and doing. It is occasionally uncomfortable to read.

I hate to even mention Harry Potter in connection with this book as they are totally different, but I want say that I love HP and have read them multiple times. I banished all expectations when I read Casual Vacancy. I knew it was going to be something completely different and so it was. I let myself be ok with that and I’m so glad I did. I will read anything Rowling writes. She is a brilliant writer. I know the content of Vacancy was occasionally very dark and uncomfortable, but when reading a spectacular writer it is not necessarily the content, but the execution and overall reason for the content.

Notable Mentions:

Gone by Michael Grant
Lord of the Flies meets young adult dystopian fiction. It was really interesting and I would like to read the rest of the series.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
It’s hard to read a book where you don’t like the main character by a writer that at times is sub par, but I persevered because I had been reading the series since high school and I found likeable characters to latch onto. I have a love/hate relationship with Paolini, but I do think the series is worth the read. The world is well executed.

Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja
This book is totally unlike anything I have ever read. It’s in two parts and I was tempted to give up the first part. I fell in love with a couple of the characters, though, and couldn’t help finishing it. I’m so glad I did. The second part was much more my cup of tea. The entire  thing is fabulously written and I would read Kathe Koja again.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I have to admit I loved this trilogy. I think although I disliked Katniss and often wanted to punch her in the face, the story was well done. I read some of another series by Collins for younger readers, Gregor the Overlander, I enjoyed them as well. She is a great writer. Both series have similar themes of war. I find a lot of truth in her approach.

Eyes of Lightning by Erin Keyser Horn
A local author I really enjoyed. See my full review here.

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