Best Books I Read in 2012

The following is a compilation of the books I read and liked best in 2012.

Ghost Walk by Heather Graham (♦♦♦♦): Though I found the ending implausible the rest of the story is compelling and engaging, the characters very well outlined. The legends of New Orleans are as quaint as the city itself. I felt the urge to book a trip!

Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag (♦♦♦♦): The characters are utterly human, multidimensional. I liked the banter going on at the Sheriff’s Office: it was funny and distracted at times from the gritty plot. The story was magnetic, compulsively readable, true detective’s work in the pure sense of the phrase.

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose (♦♦♦♦): I liked this book very much. It flows and draws you in like a pleasant dream. It is marvelously narrated, described effortlessly and beautifully. The literary images are well constructed and evoke memories from the reader. I did like the premises of the book: it is about family legends and tragedies, broken dreams, forgotten life paths, soul mates and reincarnation at the center of it all, brought about by an ancient fragrance.

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (♦♦♦½): I liked this book more than my rating reflects. The mystery was engaging, and when tragedies began to happen so swiftly I began to wonder how the story would end. I’m glad it was an open ending and that its protagonist had as much of a closure as could be achieved under the circumstances.

The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦½): This last installment in the Gabriel Allon series is several things but boring is not one of them, not by a long shot. In The Fallen Angel, Daniel Silva takes us on a historical ride through time and faith, exposing us to the roots of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. I find this installment Silva’s most fictitious to date, but he has managed to give us a glimpse, and I must say an apocalyptic one, about the implications that a nuclear-armed Iran would have in the Middle East and the world.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (♦♦♦♦½): Lavishly described, The Night Circus is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. It is whimsical, mesmerizing. The Night Circus is a blend of illusionism, fantastic feats of imagination, and mystery at the core of it all. It is a perfect concoction of the beautiful and the strange making it a magical and enthralling reading experience.

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf (♦♦♦♦½): One Breath Away is engrossing to the point of keeping you awake at night in more ways than one. I found myself having nightmares about the fire and a gunman the night I started reading this book. In a no-non sense style, Heather Gudenkauf reveals the ways big and small that victims of violence and their relatives are impacted… One Breath Away is as intense and vivid as a bad dream.

The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦): This book is the first in the Gabriel Allon series and it already starts on a high note, amidst the Middle East Peace Talks from the Clinton administration. I didn’t like that the story starts almost nine years after Gabriel lost his family in a tragic event; I would have preferred to know Gabriel from the beginning not the seasoned yet haunted veteran, but this event is a key piece in the story because Gabriel comes face to face again with Tariq, his son’s killer.

Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag (♦♦♦♦): I liked this book, but I had trouble digesting the story. The parts about the killer and his fantasies are so grotesque, so distressing, that I almost gave up the book on page 100. Then the story focused on the investigation, on cops humor, on the rekindling of a love affair, on developing the characters further and those elements where keys to make me want to keep reading.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay (♦♦♦♦♦): After I finished Sarah’s Key all I said was, wow! Sarah’s Key is haunting, harrowing. The book delivers two parallel accounts: one detailing the fate, or rather doom, of the Starzinski family and especially of Sarah, and how knowing Sarah’s fate impacts the life of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist who has lived in Paris for half her life not knowing about the events surrounding the Jewish roundup at Vel’ d’Hiv in the summer of 1943.

The English Assassin by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦½): The English Assassin is a great follow up to The Kill Artist. This second installment in the saga is a pure adrenaline ride. Temporarily away from Middle East politics, Silva chooses to focus on the dirty secrets of the old guard of Swiss bankers and the convenient alliance that Switzerland formed with Nazi Germany for mutual benefit…Heart pounding suspense and endless twists are the norm in this book.

Ape House by Sara Gruen (♦♦♦♦): I really liked Ape House because there is a little of everything in it; though that may seem disparate, Sara Gruen manages to glue it together with a masterful touch. I found this book educational—particularly in the passages describing Bonobos’ behavior—, funny, and thoroughly fascinating… If you like animals and feel strongly towards animal causes and their rights, then you shouldn’t miss Ape House.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (♦♦♦♦): I really liked this book. First and foremost it is a work of fiction, but it is so well developed that isn’t difficult for the reader to imagine the details that make up daily life for most characters in this book. It is deeply engrossing, utterly fascinating, a literary page turner. Tracy Chevalier recounts what it takes to feed and maintain a friendship based on shared interests, but she also explores the ease with which a friendship can be destroyed when jealousy and fame intrude.

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