Monday, December 31, 2012

December reading roundup, favorite books of 2012, and the end-of-the-month "please give my books a home" plea

It's the last day of December so that means it's once again time to post my reading progress etc.  It's also the last day of 2012 which means it's time to post my favorite books of the year.

This month I spent more time on getting my books sorted and catalogued than I did reading, but I still managed to get in a few pleasant (and not so pleasant) hours having my nose in a book.  Australia was my target country for reading this month and here's how it went, with six books to show for my effort:

australian fiction
The Heat of the Sun, by David Rain
The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman
Document Z, by Andrew Croome
The Street Sweeper, by Elliot Perlman
australian crime fiction
Bad Debts, by Peter Temple
Black Tide, by Peter Temple

in other news,

thriller/suspense/escape reading
Thursday at Noon, by William Brown (US)


Time now for my favorite books of 2012

If you really want to know what I read this year, here's the linkOut of all of these books, there were a few that I've singled out as favorites for my own reasons, starting with
-- fiction  --
I know I started out the year saying that Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son would probably be #1 on my hit parade this year, but it got edged out of the top spot by Purgatory, written by Tomás Eloy Martínez. That one book has haunted me for the entire year.  Following that one, in no particular order, are the  novels I most admired this year:

Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka
Narcopolis, by Jeet Thayil
The Teleportation Accident, by Ned Beauman
The Lighthouse, by Alison Moore
The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson
The Polish Boxer, by Eduardo Halfon
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain
-- crime fiction -- 
My favorite crime fiction novel of the year is The Minotaur's Head, by Marek Krajewski.  I love the atmosphere this author creates in all of his books, and as I noted in my discussion of this book, Krajewski is a master of contrasting the "normal" world with  "another world of dark and hidden places full of sadists, lunatics and morally warped madmen given to brutal appetites."  Following Krajewski are
 The Expendable Man, by Dorothy B. Hughes
No Sale, by Patrick Conrad
Entanglement, by Zigmunt Miloszewski
The Crime of Julian Wells, by Thomas H. Cook

--weird fiction/fantasy/sci-fi--

Taking a first in the fantasy category is Sacre Bleu, by Christopher Moore.  While it sometimes verged into the inane, as I noted, what I didn't expect is an upended and off-kilter history of Impressionist art to go along with all of the rest of Moore's whimsical zaniness. After Sacre Bleu is

The Laundry Files Series, by Charles Stross: 
  • The Atrocity Archives
  • The Jennifer Morgue
  • The Fuller Memorandum
  • The Apocalypse Codex 
-- nonfiction -- 
Enemies:  A History of the FBI, by Tim Weiner turned out to be my favorite nonfiction read this year.  It's an eye-opening, well-researched and intelligently-constructed  history of the FBI in  its role as a "secret intelligence service." The book examines how the Bureau has long been operating outside of the rule of law -- "the foundation on which America was built", and offers its readers a look at the ongoing struggle and the fine line between national security and civil liberty.

And now, the  other book-related stuff:
1) The book group read  Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain, which we liked as a group and which we discovered has pretty much nothing to do with the old movie starring Joan Crawford.  January's book is Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. That discussion should be intriguing!
  2) Added to the Amazon wishlist this month (as usual, a lot of obscure titles):
   crime fiction:
The Missing File, by D.A. Mishani
Happy Birthday, Turk!, by Jakob Arjouni
More Beer, by Jakob Arjouni
House of Evidence, by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson
The Golden Calf, by Helene Tursten

     general fiction:
The Blind Man's Garden, by Nadeem Aslam 
Constance, by Patrick McGrath
Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi 
 Stalin's Barber, by Paul M. Levitt
Spilt Milk, by Chico Buarque 

 3) Books bought this month
Gulag: A History, by Anne Appelbaum 
Wyllard's Weird, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
4) Currently reading: 
Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy, by Douglas Smith (and so far, it's really good)

****5) Books I'm giving away this month (sorry, to US readers only  -- absolutely 100% totally free, I'll pay postage to whoever will give them a home)******* 

If you want one, some or even all of these books, be the first to leave a comment with the titles of the book(s) you want and a method of contacting you.  In November's giveaway, only two people gave me a home address and got their books; for the others I didn't even get an email  -- so I have the books still sitting here taking up valuable space. They're going to be re-offered next month  if I don't hear from the parties involved.

 1. The Heat of the Sun, by David Rain
2. Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain
3.  Waiting for Sunrise, by William Boyd
4. Eight Girls Taking Pictures, by Whitney Otto
5. You Deserve Nothing, by Alexander Maksik
6. A Partial History of Lost Causes, by Jennifer DuBois
that's it.  Peace, health and prosperity are my New Year's wishes to all.  


  1. The Orphan Masters Son was on my best of 2012 list too. Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year to you, too! I loved that book so much.

  2. I have just found your blog here through your post on Goodreads for this giveaway. I would love ANY or ALL of these! They will fit into some challenges I am doing on

    My email address:

    Please contact me!

    1. They're yours! You just made me very happy. All books are coming your way. THANK YOU!!

  3. HI Nancy! I saw your post on goodreads about the books available. I would love Eight Girls Taking Pictures. I am in Canada though and would love to perhaps swap with you. Here's my email singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com I'll send you a message on goodreads as well so you can check my swap shelf. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your interest, but the person posting ahead of you took the whole bunch! I did make a note on goodreads about her taking them all. I will be doing this giveaway thing more frequently and I'll definitely include Canada. I'm sorry, really.


I don't care what you say about what I write, but do be nice. Thanks!