Stairs to Ventureadlaxre

Honourable Mentions of 2012

Books read and to be published in 2013

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Fantasy-steampunk with slight elements of magic, which may grow into a main theme in the next book. This really seems like a stand-alone, I had to look up whether there would be more or not. Another one of those books where the girl pretends to be a guy, but it’s damn well done.

Books read and published in 2012

Adaption by Malinda Lo

Well written YA with quite a different plot to anything else I’ve read recently. Deals with same-sex relationships in a very, very good way – something that should be more prevalent in YA in general. Dystopian, and seemingly realistic also. Terrorism, young love, and ‘I can’t believe that just happened’ plot lines.

The Army of Dr Moreau (Sherlock Holmes) by Guy Adams

Yes, it’s another Sherlock Holmes book but this one really seems like it’s written by our beloved ACD. A clash of many other classics such as The Island of Dr. Moreau and A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, with crisp writing, quick-witted and amusing dialogue.

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Historical-fantasy with a clash of fairytales. A tale within a tale within a tale, that all link up in the end. Fanatically written, a hard slog to get through that’s intriguing, fascinating, and very much worth your time.

Fated by Benedict Jacka

Set in London, urban-fantasy. We meet Alex Verus, a mage who’s mostly ignored by his kind, as his powers aren’t that varied; he can’t teleport himself and can’t control fire, but what he can do is foresee the future. His magic is handled damn well, making him seem not a gary-sue, but able to achieve much in a believable way.

John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk

A historical fiction set in 1625 and beyond, following the life of John Sandall. It begins when he’s a child, soon to be on the run as a small, religious town accesses his mother of witchcraft. She dies during the winter, and John is sent to a manor to work in the kitchens. From there, John becomes one of the greatest cooks of the time, impressing even the King. A wonderful tale.

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

A fun romp that tells the story of Loch on a quest for revenge, and with her she takes her best friend, an illusionist, a unicorn, a death priestess (who used to be a love priestess), a talking warhammer (who used to be a king), a cracker, a gymnast, and an unsuspecting lad with a certain birthmark. What could possibly go wrong?

Pure by Julianna Baggott

A futuristic dystopian, told through multiple points of view in a beautiful yet slightly disturbing way. It tells the tale of a world after The Detonations. A Dome was created, but not everyone was allowed in. Those who were left outside are marked by permanent burns and disfigurations; fused with plastic, metal – whatever they were too close to when the Detonations went off. Slow to start, but gets damn good.

The Return Man by V. M. Zito

A dystopian adventure set in America in the year 2018. Zombies have taken claim to half of America, leaving the East safe and a stronghold. No one, not even though ‘un-infected’ are allowed in. We meet Henry Marco, a man who has remained out in the Evacuated States instead of obeying the call to retreat – he makes his living by taking requests from the grieving to track down their loved ones and serve their second death. Fantastically done.

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

A mix of a psychological thriller dystopian that will leave you with a fear of salt. Or more specifically, fear of yourself when you crave salt. It starts when a seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires, but quickly continues to many more acts of murder and grievous bodily harm – always committed by a child. Freaky, well done, and stays with you.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

A girl who’s always been able to speak to a boy in her head, someone she thinks is her invisible friend. However, one day they bump into each other. A lovely read, with a kick-ass, strong female lead. A plot-line that could have been done so poorly yet surprisingly engaging and enjoyable.

Books read in 2012 (yet published earlier)

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I’m still confused as to the title seeing as his sister-in-law’s name is Katherine, but anyhoo, a very enjoyable book that’s easily read in a day, but not as engaging as The Fault in our Stars. Probably because I’m not really into maths or fastfood.

The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

Bit odd, yet very lovely at the same time. Slow start, and slow parts through the book, but perhaps there to make you focus on the words – which are beautiful. Shaw’s way with words is simply beautiful. The book is as the title says, and it somehow makes it seem realistic.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Couldn’t put this book down, however, I failed to see or feel Alaska’s awesome – something that would have been part of her charisma – and I wish that had been conveyed. Really worth a read, just like everything John Green writes.

Naked in Death by J. D. Robb

Yes, the author also writes by the name but this is surprisingly good. It’s very easy reading, female cop who gets lots of hot sex, but what makes this book awesome is the futuristic science blended within. Who doesn’t want the perfect shower? Perfect temp, perfect force, yes, please!

Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

Very different to anything I’ve read recently or at all. Historical fiction set in Ireland in the 1970s – very brutal, wars of the people and the church, but with paranormal entities thrown in. Another book that makes you glad that life is better now, for some.

Paper Towns by John Green

Another book by John Green from the point of view of a male who practically worships the ground a female (bitchy and unworthy) walks on. He does a fantastic job at viewpoint, in seeing the main character how others would see him while he remains oblivious – I just wish the female had a few more redeeming qualities. It needs to be said though – there’s not much really wrong with her, only with the main characters perception of her, which is cleverly done. I couldn’t put this book down either.

Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

I have to admit, I’m damn surprised how much I enjoyed this. Another book that does same-sex relationships very well. Werewolves and generic engineering down well.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Basically Pride and Prejudice with magic, incredibly detailed, beautifully written magic.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

An odd short book, where you’re not really sure what happened before the story began – the author leaves it up to your own decision. Fairly dark, fairly engrossing. A dark family a town hates, but is too scared of to do much to – most of the time, at least.

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Stairs to Ventureadlaxre

Best Books of 2012

Books read and to be published in 2013

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

A coming of age story set in the unspecified future of America that captured my interested as soon as it spoke of the destruction of Australia and how we were replaced by AI computers until we were able to repopulate once again, along with the rest of the world.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius (edited) by John Joseph Adams

A fantastic collection about superheroes and villains and those around them in a variety of ways. With authors such as Mira Grant and Mary Robinette Kowal, and cover art by Ben Templesmith, it’s a struggle to find anything lacking. Highly recommended for the high quality within!

Books read and published in 2012

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

A dystopian novella set in 2013, 2014 and 2035, telling the story from three split times (as one could probably guess from the title) of the world almost destroyed by a combination of things. What grabs you about this book is how plausible it all could be – it’s all so very well written, and sticks in your mind long after you’ve read it.

Blackout by Mira Grant

Last in the ‘Newsflesh’ series, this continued to be a fast-paced, epic and as ever surprising end to the fantastic series. Out of all zombie novels currently available, this stands to be the very best in my humble opinion, a series that’s too hard to categorise – science-fiction? Political thriller? Medical? Mystery? Whatever it is, it is sure to become a classic.

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

The book that we were all waiting for, then to discover it was… well, not entirely what we were expecting, even after the synopsis was released. A harsh look upon society that isn’t exactly nice to read, but probably needs more exposure. A book that makes us thankful for what we do have, it’s cleverly woven together to show the ties we have with friends, family, at work and where we live, and how these can all deflect and reflect from each other. A hard, worthy read.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

This is split into two worlds, one in Cambridge, England, and one in the fantasy Kingdom of Cello – it’s beautifully written, not strictly fantasy, nor simply mystery or literature – this is a mix of lovely and sad, biter and sweet, crazy and utterly sane and clever, intelligent and demands to be shared.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Another book I’ve been waiting for thanks to the first book in the series. It starts with the line: ‘Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching.’ and continues with beautiful description and dialogue throughout. One of the few books where the second in the series is as capturing as the first.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

About a Forger, someone who can use magic to recreate or edit any item or person as long as she knows its history. Using it on humans though is strictly forbidden, something she only does on herself usually… but when she’s captured while trying to steal the emperor’s sceptre, they offer her another option rather than death. She is to create a new soul for the emperor who, after an attack, is very close to death.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

A moving story that deals with cancer in teenagers brutally well, in more ways than one. Though the characters are hipsters to an almost painful level, the wit and intelligence Green brings to YA is a blessing. It’s an important message that one doesn’t need to live a long life, for it to be meaningful and brilliant.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

About a man whose unique mental condition allows him to imagine a slew of ‘imaginary friends’, who happen to have a wide range of skills that he can therefore access, since they are after all, only in his head.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

A memoir by the blogger The Bloggess, who is certainly on a very special, lovely kind of crack. Her work can’t help but be shared – you laugh out loud even (or especially) when it’s not appropriate, and you can’t help but adore her and everything she does.

The Painter’s Apprentice by Charlotte Betts

Just as wonderful as her first book, ‘The Apothecary’s Daughter’ (and connects on to the end, but not a series as such), it was impossible to put down even though I started it late at night – I had to read into the early hours of the morning! It’s about a girl who can’t imagine leaving her childhood home – a comforting hostel for those who would otherwise be shafted into Bedlam – she especially enjoys the company of a painter by the name of Johannes. As she has quite the talent for painting, all she has ever wanted is to develop her talent to be the very best it could ever be, and if that means never going through the distraction of marriage and a family, so be it.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

My introduction to Scalzi (who runs one of the most interesting blogs I’ve yet come across), this is a comedic science fiction tale involving time travel and a hefty dose of crack. Even those who’ve never watched Star Trek (or maybe just the latest set of movies staring Chris Pine etc and nothing else) will get a kick out of this book.

Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts

The third and final in the ‘Creature Court’ series, a fantastic end that makes you cry over the fact it’s over, as well as what happens to the characters! A very fitting end, realistic and meaningful. This series begins with ‘Power and Majesty’, and honestly – each book is as good as the other, which isn’t always the way of a trilogy. Highly recommended Australian author.

Shadow and Bone (also known as The Gathering Dark) by Leigh Bardugo

I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would, thanks to how build up it was. Overall this book is a mixture of the cliché and familiar, yet surprising and thought-provoking, as we read about almost typical boarding-school bitchyness with makeovers and balls, done somehow in a non-annoying way. This book manages to provide guilty pleasures in beautiful prose, using these plot lines in a way that aids the character and plot development.

To Spin a Darker Stair (edited) by Tehani Wessely

Two stories by two authors, dark retellings of fairytales which draw you in only to kick your heart around.

Tales of the Far West (edited) by Gareth-Michael Skarka

Yes, purchased because it features my ever-favourite Scott Lynch, this is an anthology based in the same world with stories that could tie in together – mentions of Twin Eagle Security mentioned in more than one story and so on, which was fantastically nifty to read.

Books read in 2012 (yet published earlier)

Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The first book I read of Sanderson’s that wasn’t Mistborn, where I was blown away by his range. Wax and Wayne are in my top five set of characters of all times, and the wit and fun in this book just makes me grin to even think about it.

American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson

A memoir by the brilliance that is Craig Ferguson, we see his pretty-dang awful childhood and find even more reasons to love this man.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. It’s fantastic to have a well-rounded book, one that has a well developed plot, believable characters, beautiful description and above all else – a well written novel.

The Calling (Luther) by Neil Cross

Written by the show’s writer, this book is really creepy and so, so wrong in parts, yet it’s brilliant. It does have animals being hurt which I can’t deal with that well (but humans are fine, apparently) and can’t recommend this book enough to those who love the show. It ends right as the show begins, and gives you a very detailed window into the characters.

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

So I’ll review the series as a whole, and just say that I utterly adore it all to bits. Though the ending broke my heart a little bit.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is the perfect book for gamers and geeks alike. It’s the year 2044, and there’s a competition to win an ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world – a competition that’s been going on for so long that no one really expects to find it anymore. Until Wade does.

The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

a modern (well, set in 1971 and after) fairytale set in America, involving the family Feierabend and their uncanny life of luck. This book made me wish there was more of it, because I felt a certain kind of sadness when it was over, and still felt the need to pick it up and continue reading it for the rest of the day, and a few days after that.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

It’s Brandon Sanderson – do I need to say more? You read one book of his and then have to get your hands on everything else. This book is so thick that I have a version that’s printed in two parts – and each is still thicker than most fantasy is! And every damn chapter is wonderful.