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Topic: What are your Best Reads of 2012?

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Subject: What are your Best Reads of 2012?
Date Posted: 12/18/2012 10:29 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Well this year was a strange one for me, about the time my kid flew the nest for warmer climes.  I just stopped reading!  Not completely stopped but from 5 books a week to 2 in a month.

When I went back to see what I loved, I realized that I loved whole series much more that single books. I don’t think these will surprise anyone as I raved about them, but just to remind anyone that hasn’t read these books, they are all very good, to great.

Lucinda Brant.  I have read 5 of the 6 books she has published. They are more in the romance genre, but they are really well written and her research is more than solid.
Salt Bride
Noble Satyr
Midnight Marriage
Deadly Affair
Deadly Engagement

Robert McCammon, is another author that was new to me.  Jeanne recommendations figured in 2 of my favorite finds this year.
Speaks the Night Bird
The Queen of Bedlam
Mister Slaughter
The Providence Rider

Imogen Robertson, is another Jeanne recommended author, she in fact sent me the first book in the Westerman and Crowther series. Thanks Jeanne you have great taste in books.
Instruments of Darkness
Anatomy of Murder
Island of Bones
Circle of Shadows

The next author is Caro Peacock, I stumble onto these and I am so glad I did.  Talk about being drawn into a series, she really puts you on the streets of London.

These are the American titles.
A Foreign Affair
A Dangerous Affair
A Family Affair
When the Devil Drives
Keeping Bad Company

Honorable mention goes to, our Angus, Jeri Westerson, Nancy Bilyeau, and Elizabeth Loupas.


Coming in May from Caro Peacock The Path of the Wicked, in January Tim Ashby’s Time Fall,  also in January Ruth Downie’s Semper Fidelis and in February Carol Carr’s India Black and The Shadows of Anarchy. I am sure these will figure into my 2013 best list.  Also I believe Elizabeth Chadwick’s first book in her series about Eleanor of Aquitaine will be out this summer, and Diana Gabaldon’s Written in my Own Heart’s Blood is supposed to be out in the fall, but I am not holding my breath.  

So here is to 2013!

Last Edited on: 12/18/12 10:30 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/18/2012 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
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A few standouts for me:

India Black by Carole Carr
Bound by Sally Gunning
Confessions of Catherine di Medici by CW Gortner
The Messenger by Siri Mitchell

Honorable Mention to the entire Hugh de Singleton series by Mel Starr and Revenger by Rory Clements

I spent the last quarter of the year reading only series books to catch up on a few.  Looking back over it, those books were really low on the list of favorites for the year.  So while I feel quite accomplished in being caught on those, I don't feel like I read very many truly good books this year.  Like Jerelyn, real life took over this year with the kitchen remodel and the Wedding of the Century so I will probably finish the year with only about 35 or 36 books, compared to 53 last year and over 80 the year before.  I hope to be back up around the 50 mark again on 2013.  That's a good balanced number for me. I hope to get better at reading what I want to read, not what I feel like I HAVE to read....like series that I'm not interested in any more but I still feel like I have to finish them!

Date Posted: 12/18/2012 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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Books I absolutely loved:

  • Doc by Russell
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Stone
  • Code Name Verity by Wein

Books I really, really liked:

  • Bring Up the Bodies by Mantel
  • The Gods of Gotham by Faye
  • Half Broke Horses by Walls
  • Elizabeth I by George
  • My Losing Season by Conroy (non-HF)
  • The Tennis Partner by Verghese (non-HF)

Books I really liked:

  • Invisible Bridge by Orringer
  • The Last Queen by Gortner
  • Devil's Den by Ashby
  • The Stolen Crown by Higginbotham
  • Gillespie and I by Harris
  • The House at Tyneford by Solomons
  • My Name is Mary Sutter by Oliveira

Series that I read and highly recommend:

  • Cornwell's Uhtred series
  • Novik's Temeraire series
  • Westerson's Crispin Guest series
  • P.B. Ryan's Gilded Age series
  • Parker's Silver Rush series

Last Edited on: 1/14/13 1:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/18/2012 3:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Love this topic!  I’ve read 60 books this year and was reading at a great pace until December came along.  I haven’t finished a single book this month.  I read lots of contemporary fiction and nonfiction as well as historical fiction but I’ll only list favorite HFs here. 

Top Shelf (5 stars)   

The Sand-Reckoner by Gillian Bradshaw

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Moloka’I by Alan Brennert

The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

 Second Shelf (4+ stars)

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Anatomy of a Murder by Imogen Robertson

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Iron Branch by Kelby Ouchley

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

 Bound by Sally Gunning

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Devil’s Den by Timothy Ashby

A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

I want to tackle some heavy weights in 2013 – all of the Lymond chronicles and Rutherford’s Princes of Ireland and Rebels of Ireland to get ready for our trip to Ireland next summer.

Date Posted: 12/18/2012 4:40 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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Letty and others have certainly turned me onto some great series too. Letty recommended the Hugh de Singleton series to me by Mel starr (which I really get a kick out of) and Ruth Downies's series as well as Will Thomas' (but I think I read those last year).

Some standouts in my mind are;

Doc (of course) by Mary Doria Russell

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Warlord (of course) by Angus

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

Invisible Bridge by Orringer

Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (recommended by Letty)

Solitary House (aka Tom-All-Alone's) by Lynn Shepherd (recommended by hro)

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley (not really one of my genres but I loved it)

The Yard by Alex Grecian

As far as series go:

Imogen Robertson's, of course

Ann Parker's (recommended by Kelly P)

Cora Harrison's Burren Mysteries

C S Harris

Caro Peacock

Rory Clements

Upcoming releases:

The Black Country by Alex Grecian in 6/2013

What Darkness Brings by C S Harris in 3/2013

A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd in 8/2013

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau in 3/2013

Grail Knight by Angus in 8/2013

Actually, there have been many books that I've enjoyed this past year - hard to narrow it down in a list!


Date Posted: 12/18/2012 4:53 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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I think I've had a good reading year this year - both in terms of how much I read & the quality & caliber therein.


  • Doc - Mary Doria Russell (So fun to see this on several 'top of the top' lists!)
  • The Vizard Mask - Diana Norman
  • Endless Forest - Sara Donati
  • Genghis - Conn Iggulden
  • The Whiskey Rebels - David Liss
  • The House at Tyneford - Natasha Solomons


  • A Murder of Crows - P.F. Chisholm
  • Daughter of Lir - Diana Norman
  • Lords of the Bow - Conn Iggulden
  • Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks
  • The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom
  • The Flower Reader - Elizabeth Loupas
  • Needle in the Blood - Sara Bower
  • The Crown - Nancy Bilyeau
  • The Wolves of Andover - Kathleen Kent
  • The Heretic's Daughter - Kathleen Kent


  • Running Vixen - Elizabeth Chadwick
  • Leopard Unleashed - Elizabeth Chadwick
  • Henry & Clara - Thomas Mallon
  • The Spies of Warsaw - Alan Furst
  • The Turning of Anne Merrick - Christine Blevins
  • The de Lacy Inheritance - Elizabeth Ashworth
  • Bound - Sally Gunning

Favorite Series

  • Angus Donald - Robin Hood series
  • Ann Parker - Silver Rush mysteries
  • P.B. Ryan - Nell Sweeney mysteries
  • C.S. Harris - Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries


Last Edited on: 12/18/12 4:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/18/2012 7:45 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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This year I have had the pleasure of reading more really great books than I can recall in a long time.  Some of my top picks are:

Best of the Best

Doc by Russell

Moloka'i by Brennert

The Assyrian by Guild

Devil's Den by Ashby

Boudica:  Dreaming the Hound by Scott

Really Really Good

Exit the Actress by Parmar

The Blood Star by Guild

The Demon's Parchment by Westerson

Khan:  Empire of Silver by Iggulden

Exceptional Series

The Crispin Guest series by Westerson

The India Black series by Carr

The Boudica "Dreaming" series by Scott

The Assyrian books by Guild




Date Posted: 12/18/2012 10:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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I had a pretty good reading year, too.  I had some stretches of brain candy, but a lot of really good books.


Absolutely the best of the best:

Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett

Blood Feud by Rosemary Sutcliff

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


The Crystal Cave, Hollow Hills, Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart

The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter

The Morning Gift by Diana Norman

The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

Fire Along the Sky, Queen of Swords by Sara Donati 

Hood, Scarlet, Tuck by Stephen Lawhead

Serpent in the Thorns, Demon Parchment, Blood Lance by Jeri Westerson




Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 12/19/2012 7:41 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
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Looks like I need to move Doc up on my reading list.

Some of my favorites


-All of Melvin Starr's Hugh de Singleton books

-Iron Ties by Ann Parker

-India Black by Carol Carr

-Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

-Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dree

-To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick

-Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson

-Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergen (YA, time travel)

-Mr Churchill's Secretary

Lots more to read for 2013

Date Posted: 12/19/2012 7:52 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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@Deb, so glad you enjoyed The Tennis Partner. I enjoyed it almost as much as Cutting for Stone.

@Kelly, what's the dif between outstanding and wonderful? LOL.

I had a number of 5-star reads this year, but only a few in the HF category:

  • As Meat Loves Salt, which was a third reading for me
  • Catherine the Great by Massie (actually, a biography)
  • The Skin Map by Lawhead
  • A Clash of Kings (part of an epic historical fantasy)
  • The Red Door by Todd

Other awesome reads in other categories that I would highly recommend are:

  • Iron House (thriller) by John Hart
  • The Last Child (thriller) by John Hart - this won an Edgar Award
  • The Misleading Mind by Cayton (non-fiction, buddist philosophy)
  • Spinning Out by David Stahler (YA on mental illness that develops during teenhood)
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (YA on terminal illness)
  • I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan (YA on growing up gay)
  • Cutting for Stone by Verghese (literary, coming of age)
  • The Tennis Partner by Verghese (non-fiction, male adult friendship with a drug addict)


Last Edited on: 12/19/12 7:53 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/19/2012 11:09 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Genie ... usually about a half a star!



Date Posted: 12/19/2012 12:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Wow....a few titles just keep popping up on so many lists.....I'm moving Molokai up on my TBR!


In looking over my list, I see that I read a lot more than I thought outside of HF this year. Haven't decided if that's good or bad, though. I think what it means is that I didn't like most of what I read for the HF Challenge.


In HF, I loved:

--Sunflowers by Sheramy Brundrick

--The Physician and Shaman by Noah Gordon


Far and away the best books otherwise that I read this year are:

--Little Bee by Chris Cleave

--Room by Emma Donoghue

--Surviving the Killing Fields by Haing Nor (NF about the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia)

--Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (SciFi which I NEVER read but did for my IRL book group and just adored this little book)

--Fifth Avenue, 5AM by Sam Wasson (NF about how Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly character in Breakfast at Tiffany's heralded the advent of today's modern career woman)


Date Posted: 12/19/2012 2:08 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,438
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I'm another one who places Doc and Moloka'i at the very top of my favorites.  Others I really enoyed are:


Death of Kings (I can never get enough of Uhtred)

Queen Hereafter

Patrick, Son of Ireland (I've yet to read a book by Lawhead that I didn't enjoy)

Needle in the Blood (changed my mind about Bishop Odo)

City of Promise

The Forest Laird

Between Shades of Gray

First Man in Rome (Kelly insisted I would like this, and in spite of the confusing Roman names, I did )

    Favorite series I continue to read and always enjoy: Valerie Anand's Bridges Over Time, Winston Graham's Poldark, Cornwell's Sharpe's series and the Morland Dynasty  books by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.  I read 3 or 4 of these every year, so I should finish the series in about 2018.  Good Grief!




Last Edited on: 12/19/12 2:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/19/2012 2:40 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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I think the most stand out read for me this year was Omamori by Richard McGill, plus the first five of the Angelique books that I got through. The rest are more in the honorable mention four star category:

The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock

The Rich are Different Susan Howatch

Crown of Desire Marjorie deBoer (don't let that cover scare you)

The Glitter and the Gold by Michael Dyne

The Magnificent Ambersons Booth Tarkington

The Flower Reader Elizabeth Loupas

Her Highness the Traitor Susan Higginbotham

Yankee Stranger Elswyth Thane

Follow the River by James Alexander Thom

High marks in the romance reading, Jo Goodman's western romances (Never Love a Lawman, Marry Me and The Last Renegade), as well as Kaki Warner's Blood Sky trilogy and Lorraine Heath's westerns.


The Sea of Love Sorcha Mac-something or other

The House on the Fjord Rosalind Laker

To Seduce an Earl Lori Brighton (1860s setting and they find a storage room with the sword of Csar Nicholas II !!!)

Shadow Queen Rebecca Dean





Date Posted: 12/19/2012 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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My favorites of 2012:

The Snow Child
The Road
The Dog Stars
A Discovery of Witches

To add a twist to the thread - books I hated in 2012:

Outlander (ducking quickly)
The Light Between the Oceans

Date Posted: 12/19/2012 4:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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LOL Donna!


Date Posted: 12/19/2012 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 3,132
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Great to see all the good recommendtions!  Glad to see that so many of you enjoyed Moloka'i by Brennert as much as I did last year.   I put these on my TBR for next year:  Doc by Mary Doria Russell, The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau, The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax, and Invisible Bridge by Orringer, most of which I have.  For series, I am reading three Imogen Robertson books recommended by Jeanne.

My best HF reads (5 star rating):

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse:  A Novel by Louise Erdrich, The Zoo Keeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, Mudbound by Hilary Jordan, and Mr. Churchill's Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery #1) by Susan Ellen McNeal.

Many of my HF reads were 4 stars but I had a number of fantasy that rated 5 stars, too, a contempory and a classic or two.  If anyone is interested I will share those as well.

Last Edited on: 12/20/12 2:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 25
Date Posted: 12/20/2012 8:29 AM ET
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@Donna, Seriously? Did my tomato even come close to nabbing you? wink

I enjoy reading everyone's lists.

Date Posted: 12/20/2012 9:08 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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LOL @ Genie...

Date Posted: 12/21/2012 12:10 AM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2010
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The past couple of months have been a bust as far as reading goes, I got too overwhelmed with personal problems to get half as much read as I usually do. Looking forward to getting more read in 2013!

Books I absolutely loved:

  • Code Name Verity by Wein
  • Moloka'i by Brennert
  • Instruments of Darkness by Robertson
  • Island of Bones by Robertson
  • Doc by Russell

Books I really, really liked:

  • Daughter of Lir by Norman
  • A Foreign Affair by Peacock
  • Anatomy of Murder by Robertson
  • The House at Tyneford by Solomons
  • Lady of the English by Chadwick

Books I liked:

  • Grave Mercy by LaFevers
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by Carnarvon
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
  • The Coroner's Lunch by Cotterill
  • My Name is Mary Sutter by Oliveira
  • Lady of the Butterflies by Mountain

Series that I read and recommend:

  • Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger -- not for everyone (and definitely not geared towards the HF crowd at all), but absolutely hilarious! I read them back to back and will gladly read anything else this author puts out. 
  • The Agency series by YS Lee -- YA set in Victorian England involving an all-female investigative unit based out of a boarding school. Not up to par compared with adult HF of historical mystery, but an entertaining light read nonetheless.
Date Posted: 12/24/2012 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 1,900
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Best reads HF:

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Katherine by Anya Seton

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson

The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

The Forest Laird by Jack Whyte

The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen


Honorable Mentions:

The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

Wilderness by Lance Weller

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal


Non HF Best Reads:

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

The Street Sweeper by Eliot Perlman

Last Edited on: 12/24/12 6:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/25/2012 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
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FYI....at REK's most excellent suggestion, this thread has been added to our Table of Contents under "Other Useful Stuff". So in July when you are thinking "What was the name of that book that everyone loved last year?"  And "Doc" just won't pop into your head...you'll have quick access to the lists!  Thanks, REK!

Date Posted: 12/31/2012 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2010
Posts: 2,139
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Well, I only managed to read 21 books this year (less than half of my previous lowest year). There were only a few 5 star books in the list - Pride and Prejudice, The Crystal Cave, and the Fire and Ice series books I read this year by George R.R. Martin.


Date Posted: 1/1/2013 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Hmm, looks like Doc is a book I need to look for at the library next time!

My top reads for 2012:

The Genghis series by Iggulden (my son and I were enthralled)

Why Read Moby Dick - Nathaniel Philbrick

Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri (I love her writing)

Death of Kings - Cornwell


Subject: My top HF reads in 2012 (in order)
Date Posted: 1/2/2013 2:54 AM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
Posts: 260
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5-star reads (Top-notch! These are books I would re-read):

4.5-star reads (Really, really liked):

  • The Tenderness of Wolves by Penney
  • Doc by Russell
  • Nervous Conditions by Dangarembga
  • Abundance by Naslund
  • Excalibur by Cornwell

4-star reads (Liked a lot):




Last Edited on: 4/11/13 2:21 AM ET - Total times edited: 3