This is a nearly impossible question; there were way too many incredible books this year, three of which really stand out as bests in my mind. I'm trying to choose one favorite, and I think it might have to be Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road, which I just finally read this month. Bonus points to anyone who can guess the two runners-up. (Hint: one is YA and the other is regular adult fiction.)
2. Book you were excited about and thought you'd love more, but didn't?
Ah, books that don't live up to expectations are always a bit sad. This year the book that stands out as a disappointment is In Zanesville, by Jo Ann Beard. Numerous people had recommended this one to me yet the whole way through I kept thinking wait, this is it? For me, it was nothing special.
3. Most pleasantly surprising book of the year?
Again I have to mention Fangirl, by Ken Baker. I just was not expecting it to be so good or to suck me in so fully. For a couple of weeks I was absolutely obsessed with this one.
4. Book you recommended the most in 2012?
Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, for sure. I'm not sure how many people actually took that recommendation, but I did get both of my parents to read it (and they both loved it), so that counts for something.
5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
Does it count as a series if only the first book is out so far? If so, it's got to be the Ever-Expanding Universe series by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal, which starts with the awesomely funny Mothership. And since there's no series I read more than one book of this year, I'll just also say that the second book in Beth Revis' Across the Universe series (A Million Suns) completely blew me away.
6. Favorite new authors discovered in 2012?
Well, I was awful at reading debut novels this year, but I did manage to discover a few new (or at least new-to-me) authors. The first is Liane Moriarty, who wrote the incredible What Alice Forgot and is (I think) Jaclyn Moriarty's sister. I keep looking for her other books but can't seem to find them -- maybe they're a bit scarce in the US? And the second is Morgan Matson, who I got to meet at ALA and who wrote Second Chance Summer; it was such a solid contemporary YA novel that I can't wait to read more from her (starting with her debut, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour).
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Well, while adult fiction is not my primary genre, I read enough of it that don't consider it out of my comfort zone -- for that I have to go to the book that was truly a new experience for me: Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, the first strictly murder mystery I've probably ever read.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Beth Revis' A Million Suns, which had me hanging upside down off the couch reading all afternoon, not wanting to set the book aside for anything. I was so floored by how great this one was, especially since I was a bit lukewarm about the first in the series.
9. Book you read in 2012 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
Love and Other Perishable Items, by Laura Buzo. I read this as an ARC and had some mixed feelings on it (even though I sort of loved it), but I really want to buy a finished copy, reread, and see where my feelings and thoughts are after reading it a second time. See if what bothered me the first time around bothers me more or less.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
Once again I have to choose Love and Other Perishable Items. I mean, just look at it! (That said, Carrie Pilby is a good second place choice.)
11. Most memorable character from 2012?
I'm not sure I can choose. There's Tiger Lily, Carrie Pilby, Elvie Nara, Juliette Ferrars, and they're all so memorable and so great. And of course Felton Reinstein is back in Nothing Special. If forced to choose, though, I'd probably have to go with Tiger Lily's Tiger Lily -- I did name my new iPod after her. But really there were so many truly great characters this year (as there often are) that I feel a little bad choosing only one.
12. Most beautifully written book you read in 2012?
It's a little weird to call this harsh, dark little book "beautiful," but the writing definitely is. Adios, Nirvana, by Conrad Wesselhoeft. It's literary-leaning, wonderfully atmospheric, and so well written.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
Once again there were three books this year that were huge for me in terms of impact. Walk Two Moons was one of the most beautiful books I've ever read and I can't imagine anyone reading that book and coming away untouched. Jellicoe Road was deeply personal to me because of the relationships in it, especially the group of five. But in terms of books that really made me think and make decisions I have to go with Liane Moriarty's What Alice Forgot, which made me think even more than I already was about the sort of person I am, the sort of person I want to be, and how I want my life to go. It made me realize how easy it can be, sometimes, to slip away from yourself and the person you thought you were and change into someone else entirely. It sent a little shock through my system and really did impact me in a way that most books don't.
14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2012 to finally read?
There are two books, but the one I really can't believe I didn't read until now is Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons. It's a middle grade novel that I didn't get around to until I was twenty-two, and I honestly can't imagine it being any more brilliant if I'd read it at twelve or thirteen. (The other book I can't believe I just now read is, of course, Jellicoe Road.)
15. Favorite passage or quote from a book you read in 2012?
I actually managed to find one quote that kind of does stand out from the rest. It's not the most beautiful or honest or profound or funniest, but it's a cute few lines that make me smile even though it's about something sad. From The Fault In Our Stars, Hazel talking about the oxygen tank she had to sleep with:
I kept thinking that it sounded like a dragon breathing in time with me, like I had this pet dragon who was cuddled up next to me and cared enough about me to time his breaths to mine. (The Fault In Our Stars, pg. 119-120)
16. Shortest and longest books you read in 2012?
Longest - The Help, by Kathryn Stockett comes in at 534 pages, and it weirdly didn't feel too long.
Shortest - Everything On A Waffle, by Polly Horvath comes in at 150 pages. I'm not positive it's the shortest I read this year, but I'm pretty sure.
17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling, dying to talk to somebody about it? (This can be an epic revelation, a shocking twist, whatever...)
Alright, I'm trying to be wary of spoilers here and not give too much away, but there were a couple of scenes/events that had me spinning. The first is the revelation about Kai in For Darkness Shows the Stars -- I so had no idea how to feel or what to think about that one and right now I can't even decide where I landed n the issue. The second is what happened in Sisterhood Everlasting. I feel betrayed, guys. BETRAYED.
18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2012?
There were quite a few couples whose love stories I fell for this year, but in the end I have to go with the five from Jellicoe Road. Despite how sad their stories were from start to finish they're definitely my favorite relationship from a book I read this year.
19. Favorite book you read in 2012 from an author you'd read previously?
Alright, this is kind of a confusing question but I think I get it and there were really too many great books from authors I was already acquainted with this year. Tiger Lily, Jellicoe Road, Walk Two Moons. And that's not even mentioning the books I read by favorite authors like Sarah Ockler, Sara Zarr, Robin Palmer, and Nina LaCour. I just can't choose.
20. Best book that you read based solely on a recommend from someone else?
Again it's The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Becca, thank you for talking me into this one; I never would have read it otherwise and it's so worth reading.
1. Book you didn't get to in 2012 but is a high priority for serious now in 2013?
There are so many, but I'm going to have to go with Trish Doller's Something Like Normal. Big apologies for not having read it yet even though it's been on my radar since before she even had a book deal for it. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH ME? (I think I have this fear like, what if I don't like it? and then it's just easier to not read it at all. You know?)
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2013?
Well, now that I know Mothership's sequel is set to come out I'll go with that one -- A Stranger Thing. (It would be on my list of can't-wait 2013 reads, but when I made the list I didn't know it was set for 2013. Wahoo!)
3. One thing you want to accomplish/do in your reading/blogging life in 2013?
I'd like to find a way to blog more, unlike these last few months.