What a loaded topic. Since I know so many authors that have produced a lot of content I read during the year, I considered not doing this list at all. I decided to just let it be though, and do what I do, and hope I don’t leave anyone out that I wanted to put in. You know, I don’t want to risk hurting anyone’s feelings. So, to alleviate that, I decided to post a list of all the books I’ve read this year first. (Skip below to see what I have to say about this)
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First thing I’d point out, now that the year is over and I have a chance to reflect, is that I didn't read that many books last year. Without knowing a great way to verify this, I'd wager this was the least I've read in more than a decade*. Too bad.
The second thing I'd point out is that I gave a lot of very good ratings to many of the books and stories listed here. I was disappointed in a few, but all in all, I had a good year reading. I still wish I'd read more, but I'm pretty happy with my selections. It was a really strong year for my personal enjoyment.
In fact, I think I gave something along the line of twenty 5 star reviews. That’s a lot of great books. I also get the feeling that if I were to make a new list I might be tempted to change things around a bit. I mean, this was the year that I discovered Brandon Sanderson, I’d put him at the top of any list I have of favorite authors, but when I came down to tallying up my favorite individual stories of the year, he didn't make the cut.
3) Desert Spear, By Peter V Brett: This is one fantastic novel. I was so thrilled when I got done reading that I spent 45 minutes or so doing some fan art. I was honored when the author saw it on my DeviantArt page and commented.
This is the sequel to The Warded Man from a few years earlier and is about as well done as a fantasy novel can be. I couldn't love it any more than I did. I’m so stoked for the third installment that comes out early in 2013. Brett writes a bit slower than many, so a new release from him is a big deal to me.
2) The Scariest Things You Can’t Imagine, By Briane Pagel: I had promised myself that I wouldn't put anyone I know on a list of things I like this year. I really did. To do that is to start ranking the works of people I know and like and am friends with, not what I want to do. But I did read a lot of small press or indie published books last year and the very least of them was still good. In fact, I can promise that if I expanded this list to a top 10, at least 3 other folks I know would have had their works listed. Actually, it might be more than that. Again, singling one person out gives me a bit of the ickies, but really, when I look back over the year, I’d be lying if I didn't mention this collection of short stories. I read a lot of short stories this year, I critiqued a ton for critters, I read many from magazines as 'research' as I wrote several short stories during 2012, but of them all, this was what blew me away.
1) Caliban's War, by James S.A. Corey. That's actually a pseudonym for two people, but I won't get into that. This was the most fun I've had reading a novel in a while. It struck the perfect blend of Star Trekish type of space opera, hard-ish scientific vigor, and all out adventure. I find it stunning that this is the second book in a trilogy, I almost quit reading the first installment half-way through because I couldn't get into it. It either got way better after the debut or I learned to appreciate it.
*Part of me is unsure of this. Several of the books I read were 800 - 1200 page epics. Total wordcount might not be too far off from previous years. But I'd have to start digging into details there, and I don't feel up to that right now.