Dec 28 2012 2:30pm

Ring in with Romance!: Best of 2012, Day 2

Seraphina by Rachel HartmanMay old friends be forgot? We don't think so! We're celebrating our favorite reads with five days of the Best of 2012. We asked our bloggers for their favorite recommendations of 2012, with one stipulation, they had to be new to them and not necessarily new to 2012. We know we got a few recommendations to add to our to be read piles and it's a great way to feed those readers you hopefully got for Christmas!

Don't miss out on the shopping list for these great recommendations once you finish reading, and check out the recommendations from Day One, Day ThreeDay Four, and Day Fivetoo! Click here to view the Day Two shopping list.


Rachel Hyland:

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
If there is any facet of the Fantasy genre I have never understood the fascination with, it is dragons. (Also, King Arthur.) But Rachel Hartman’s debut YA novel gives us such very different dragons, all dwelling in such a wonderfully-imagined, fully-realized world, that even my level of perplexed disinterest is easily overcome by her sheer cleverness. Told with an enchanting combination of outcast angst and amiable wit by our first person, titular narrator, we are immersed in political machinations, societal tension, complex familial relationships and yes, romance, and from the very first page the story just does not let up, or let go. Highly, highly recommended.

Tarnished by Karina Cooper
In my First Look on this subject in these very pages, I likened Tarnished to early Anita Blake, “all stirred together with Gail Carriger, Mary Shelley, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Stacia Kane and more than a few ingredients all Cooper’s own.” Our heroine, Cherry St. Croix, is a drug addicted bounty hunter living a double life in a wondrously original Steampunk London, spending half her time as a (vaguely) eligible heiress among the upper classes and the other in the city’s far less salubrious surrounds. She tangles with crime lords and investigates brutal slayings and wavers between two tempting gentlemen, at least one of whom is utterly unsuitable—essentially, she’s a dark Urban Fantasy heroine in a corset, and with access to much anachronistic technology. Such fun!

Heartburn by Nora Ephron
And here we delve into the depths of the TBR pile, with the When Harry Met Sally scribe’s first novel. Published in 1982, and later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson (which I have to see, like, immediately), it is a crackling, fast-paced and revealing autobiographical account of the disintegration of Ephron’s second marriage. It is a novel filled with insight, despair, humor, romance, reality and—of all things—recipes; it is one I cannot believe it took me so long to read (I finally got to it, as a silent tribute, upon the author’s death this past June) and one I simply will never forget. A sample quote: “I married him against all evidence. I married him believing that marriage doesn't work, that love dies, that passion fades, and in so doing I became the kind of romantic only a cynic is truly capable of being.” Sheer genius.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. JamesJanet Webb:

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
My fave book of 2012 was Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. And of course I loved the other two books of the trilogy as well, but Fifty Shades knocked my sox off. The plot was so different. Everything felt fresh. I know, what's fresh about a billionaire and a fresh out of college heroine, but James turned the tropes upside down. The intensity of the love story captivated me. The humor, particularly in their emails and texts, made their relationship feel fresh and other words, James broke some new ground with the back-and-forth intensity of the love between Christian and Ana.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, so many friends of mine, who haven't ever read romance before, loved Fifty Shades. And that allowed me to convince them they haven't seen nothing yet—after Fifty Shades, there were hundreds of books that they might enjoy. So far so good. So Fifty Shades was a breakthrough book that's allowing me to share my passion for romance with a whole new group of readers. A rising tide indeed.

The Fault in our Stars by John GreenKate Nagy:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My favorite read for 2012 was, hands down, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. No billionaires, no vampires, no handcuffs, just two ordinary kids faced with an impossible situation who meet their circumstances with hope, humor, and grace. Everyone should read this remarkable book (but have a big box of Kleenex handy).


Christopher Morgan:

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks
The Way of Shadows, Book 1 by Brent WeeksOk, so, technically this is three books, but since the story arc spans all three I'm counting this as one. The book was recommended to me by the incomparable Megan Frampton and was easily the best thing I've read all year. My primary genre is SciFi/Fantasy, heavier on the fantasy, as many may already know, and it is such a great feeling when you can pick up something that captures you so much. No matter what your genre is, we are all aware of the timings and tropes that are typical, and we all know what great a feeling it is for someone to come along and play with those timings and tropes in such a way that it reminds you why you love the genre in the first place. That was this series for me. Brent Weeks is now an auto buy for me.

Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews
I initially read this one for one of my Gateway Experiment articles and is easily one of my favorite romances, coming just behind Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase. The book had a setting and characters that reminded me oh so fondly of my own home and family. I found myself really absorbed into the story and I have since gone out and bought other Ilona Anderws. I haven't quite gotten to the Kate Daniels series yet, despite all the great things I've heard. I really just wanted to find out what Kaldar's story was. 

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
So many Weekes in the year, who knew? I picked this one up because the author is one of the lead writers behind the single best game I played this year, Mass Effect 3. And any man that can make me tear up over a bunch of pixels (there is no Vakarian without Shephard after all) deserves more attention in my book. The Palace Job is essentially a heist novel in a fantasy universe. It's just as fun as Ocean's Eleven, complete with dry wit, incredibly savy and competent protagonist, and a plan that just can't go wrong. Like I said before, it's always a great feeling when you find an author that can play with the expectations of Genre in a way that reminds just why you love reading. Weekes did an amazing job AND every character got their HEA. I highly recommend it, just got to forgive a few goofs in ebook formatting, but well worth it.

See the recommendations from Day One, Day Three, Day Four, and Day Fivetoo!!

Click here for the Day Two shopping list and get reading!

Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.

Kate Nagy is Editor at Large of Geek Speak Magazine.

Christopher Morgan lives in New York City, and may not be a romance virgin anymore...but he’ll always remember his first.

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