Monday, December 31, 2012

My favorite books of 2012

Since I learned how to crochet in October, I've spent much less time reading and more time with my yarn creations!  Of the 93 books I read in 2012, these were my favorites.

1.  The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman - as normal, my favorite book of the year was historical fiction.  Two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews were trapped on the mountain of Masada by Roman forces and ultimately, massacred.  This book tells the story of four, strong Jewish women who came to Masada for different reasons and meet as dovekeepers on the mountain.  Fabulous characters and a spell-binding story makes this a must-read.

2.  The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker - This is now a Target book club selection (and I have yet to find one of their books I didn't enjoy), but I bought it on sale for my Kindle early in the year (one of only 2 books I bought this year - I love our library!).  I was immediately fascinated by the story of a young woman searching for her missing father in his native Burma and with her father's story.  Amazing writing! 

3.  The Faith Club by Rany Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner - The subtitle says it all - A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - Three Women Search for Understanding.  I not only gained knowledge about the Muslim and Jewish faiths through the exploration of these three women, I also gained a much better understanding of my own Christian faith.

4.  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.  The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite books.  Kingsolver's new book reminded me of the reasons I loved Poisonwood - beautiful prose, fascinating characters.  Young wife and mother Dellarobia Turnbow is on her way up the mountain behind her home in Tennessee to have an affair in the woods when she discovers what she believes to be a massive fire.  The fire was actually millions of monarch butterflies wintering in Tennessee rather than their normal winter grounds in Mexico.  What has caused this change and will the butterflies survive?

5.  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I read this book on the beach during our vacation to the Virgin Islands - I'm missing the beautiful blue water right now!  Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a foster and adoptive parent who wrote the most accurate portrayal of the fears, desires, and challenges faced by a child who ages out of foster care.  While fictional, this could be the story of any number of children I have worked with over the years. 

6.  Frontier Manhattan by Kevin Olson.  This book should be required reading for anyone living in the Little Apple!  I learned so much about the founding of our town and the players whose names still dominate the landscape of Manhattan.  I am proud to live in a town founded by abolitionists to help ensure Kansas became a free state.

7.  The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty.  Another book on my list with a Kanas connection and another work of historical fiction.  It's 1922 and Louise Brooks, future silent movie star, leaves Wichita at age 15 to attend a prestigious New York dance school.  She is accompanied by 36-year-old empty-nester Cora Carlisle, who is to serve as Louise's chaperone.  Cora has her own reasons for wanting to go to New York City. 

8. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan.  Set in an unknown future date, the American criminal justice system has become so overburdened that criminals are chromed with viruses to denote their crime by the color of their skin and released into society.  The laws passed by the far Right have made abortion a crime worthy of chroming, as Hannah discovers when she wakes to find her skin red. 

9.  The Racketeer by John Grisham.  While I always enjoy Grisham's books, this one had a twist that pushed it onto my top 10 list for the year! 

10. Criminal by Karin Slaughter.  I have never read anything by Slaughter, who has been writing books with the same protagonist (medical examiner Sara Linton) for many years.  This book focuses on Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Will Trent with Linton playing a supporting role.  I read Slaughter's first three books featuring Linton, but definitely liked Criminal the best.

From the acknowledgements in Criminal, I discovered another crime writer - NYC Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Sex Crimes unit, Linda Fairstein.  Fairstein's first book, Final Jeopardy, was published in 1997 and features a protagonist based on Fairstein's own professional life.  I've read four of her books now, starting at the beginning of the series, and would recommend them to anyone who likes crime fiction!