Elizabeth’s Year End Review for 2012

First and foremost, yes, I realize that it’s officially mid-January.  I should also warn that a few of my favorites from last year were not actually published in 2012.  Is that wrong?  When you’re a Hoarder, time means little when there’s a good read beckoning.

I have been deliberating on what format to use for my ‘best of’ and ‘worst of’ for last year’s reading, and have decided to share the following:  My Top 5 Books, My Top 5 Audiobooks, and the 5 Titles That I Wish I Had Passed On For Something Better.

Nice.  That last heading really rolls off the tongue.

2012: My Top 5 Books  (Please click covers for full reviews.)




Alif the Unseen

Set This House In Order






John Irving: In One Person (2012)  I loved this book so much that after I finished it, and gave our copy to my fellow Hoarders, I ran out and bought another copy so that I would always have it on my shelf.  I can’t say enough about this incredible novel; only that it has been awarded my top read of all 2012.  It was sincere to the breaking point, with some of the most memorable characters that I’ve ever encountered.  I’ve not forgotten one of them.  This would be the mark of an excellent read, no?  I could swoon about this magnificent book for hours, but instead, I’ll ask that you just click the cover.

Katherine Boo: Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012)  As beautifully written as it is important. Katherine Boo’s first-hand observations of the slums of Mumbai aren’t for the squeamish, but they are for anyone with a heart.  This book will enlighten you, and will make you cherish your good fortune.  The people of Boo’s book will reach out to you from the pages, and you won’t ever forget their message.  If you haven’t read this extraordinary book yet, please do.

Katherine Applegate: The One And Only Ivan (2012)  Yes, it’s a kid’s novel.  Yes, there are even a few illustrations.  I challenge you, however, to find a novel with as profound a message.  Or, a lesson to be learned via such an endearing story.  This is a book to read more than once; a book to read with your children and your grandchildren.  Read it.  It’s beyond wonderful.

G. Willow Wilson: Alif The Unseen (2012)  Looks odd to see such a title on a Hoarder’s best list, doesn’t it?  But I would be remiss if I did not mention this terrific and fast-paced read by G. Willow Wilson.  The novel surprised me greatly, and captured my imagination and my interest right from the start.  Even if technology, fantasy or revolution are not your typical genres, I can promise that Alif The Unseen will still grab your undivided attention.  It’s wildly clever, has fascinating characters, and is extremely well written. Try it!

Matt Ruff: Set This House in Order (2003)  Matt Ruff’s novel is brilliant.  It’s one of the most inventive stories I’ve ever encountered, and even manages to be laugh-out-loud funny at several key moments.  A protagonist who has Multiple Personality Disorder, who keeps his “souls” organized in a house in his head? And he’s been asked to help another person, also with MPD, but that person has no idea that she has it? Yes, please.

2012: My Top 5 AudioBooks  (Please click covers for full reviews.)

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Jennifer Worth: Call The Midwife (originally published in 2002, but the audiobook was released in 2012 due to the popularity of the series “Call The Midwife” on PBS)

Audiobook Narrator: Nicola Barber  (5-star narration!)

Adored this audiobook.  Would drive in out-of-the-way circles in my car so I would not have to turn it off. Pair a post-war setting in London’s East End slums with a charming midwife by the name of Jennifer, and you have a memoir that will leave an indelible mark.  The midwives were lovely, and the Nuns of St. Raymund’s Nonnatus House warmed the heart.  Author Jennifer Worth put as much affection and energy into the description of the patients as she did her main characters.  It was lovely in every way, and I have added her remaining memoirs to my to-read list!

Hilary Mantel: Bring Up The Bodies (2012)

Audiobook Narrator: Simon Vance (5-star narration!)

Of course, the winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize made my top list!  This audiobook was a masterful account of the demise of Anne Boleyn, through the eyes of the calculating Thomas Cromwell.  Mantel breathes new life into the plight of Cromwell, and recounts tales of the Tudor Court as if she had been witnessing the conversations first hand.  It was no surprise that Mantel captured the Booker Prize, as this was a brilliant and meticulously researched novel.  Anxious for her next installment!

Lydia Netzer: Shine Shine Shine (2012)

Audiobook Narrator: Joshilyn Jackson (5-star narration!)

I started this audiobook with almost no expectations, and finished the last CD with a full heart and a megaphone to tell the world that I was giving it 4.5 stars!  Sunny, Maxon and Bubber are three characters that you simply must meet.  They will quickly prove to be unlike anyone else you have ever encountered in a book, and each one will steal your love in a different way.  This novel gives new meaning to “be true to yourself.”  A must-read.

Yann Martel: Life of Pi (originally published in 2001; movie released in 2012)

Audiobook Narrator: Jeff Woodman (5 stars!)

Yes.  I was very late to the Pi party.  Too late.  Shame on me for taking so long to delve into this life-affirming novel, which helps you appreciate the beauty of the world while simultaneously bolstering your faith.  This novel was a remarkable accomplishment, and still is.  I’m so happy that I experienced the world of Pi.  I’m a better person because of it.

Helen Simonson: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (2010)

Audiobook Narrator: Peter Altschuler (5 very enthusiastic stars!)

Sheer delight from beginning to end, and Mr. Altschuler breathed so much life into the characters of this novel that I now feel a void since completing the story.  This novel is every bit as charming and wonderful as you have heard, and the Major will forever be in my category of favorites.  Please do yourself the favor of making a cup of tea, and snuggling up with this lovely novel.

The 5 Titles That I Wish I Had Passed On For Something Better

Admit it.  You looked here first.

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Steven Raichlen: Island Apart (2012)

You see, there was this hermit.  He lived alone, this hermit.  And there was this woman, a well-to-do woman….. and she falls in love with this hermit.  They both love the finer things in life, like haute cuisine and rare bottles of wine.  Plus, there’s this hermit.  Did I mention the hermit?  Plenty of name brands too. Oh…. and this hermit.  Are you sensing a theme?  Because I came close to driving off the road to get away from… the hermit.

Julian Fellowes: Past Imperfect (2008)

Julian Fellowes, scribe of the beloved Downton Abbey wrote it?  Sign me up!  Get me some tea!

Wait…. this is….. not good.

Not good at all.

Good Lord — the Julian Fellowes wrote this?  Could there be more than one?

Ok….. I hear that his novel Snobs is quite good….. will give that a try next.

Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi: The Monster of Florence (2008)

How these authors managed to turn an unsolved crime-spree into a colossal yawn perplexes me.  While the first half of the book was actually decent, the second half focused its attention on freedom of the press, and the authors’ plights.  The novel wound up being more about Preston and Spezi than about the murder victims of so many years ago.  It left me cold.

Matt Ruff: The Mirage (2012)

After gobbling up Matt Ruff’s Bad Monkeys (2007) and Set This House in Order (2003), I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into his new release.  The Mirage, a twist on history, and that horrific day the Twin Towers fell, should have been a terrific page-burner.  Alas, the harder I tried to like it, the more frustrated I became when I could not connect to a single character in the book.  I will read more of Ruff’s work in the future, but this novel was a disappointment.

Ira Levin: Rosemary’s Baby (1967)

Perhaps it was the year it was written.  Perhaps I should have read the book before being creeped out by the movie.  Perhaps Rosemary’s character really wasn’t as dizzy and easily manipulated as she came across.  Perhaps Mia Farrow’s narration was too much for the inside of a car.  Whatever the reason, I did not enjoy this audiobook.  It also might mark the first (and only?) time that you’ll hear this Hoarder recommend a movie over a book.  That should tell you something.

On to 2013!

Jackie’s 2012 Top 5 Audio Books

Even though I am not done my last 5 reviews of 2012 (SLACKER!) ’tis the season for “Best Ofs” so here it goes… my top 5 Audio Books listened to in 2012. Click on the image for the Literary Hoarders review and see below for a quick summary.

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Shine Shine Shine – Joshilyn Jackson’s voice was PERFECT for all of the fantastically quirky characters of this WONDERFUL debut novel by Lydia Netzer. Maxon and Sunny are the Romeo and Juliette of our time!! GO ROBOTS!

In The Pleasure Groove – Life, Death and Duran Duran – I’m sorry! I’m sorry!! But John Taylor HIMSELF narrates it!! How can I not LOVE IT?? A “must listen” for Durannies everywhere!

The Orphan Master’s Son – A fascinating story that takes place in North Korea. 3 different narrators made the story absolutely come to life and it is one I will not soon forget! If you have a desire to read this one I highly recommend the audio– it will not disappoint!

Rules of Civility – One of the first I listened to in 2012 that is still so fresh in my mind because of its greatness! I was absolutely transported to the 1930’s by Rebecca Lowman’s narration! Katey Content is still one heck of a gal in my eyes!

A Land More Kind Than Home – A heartbreaking and well told story made even better because of the narration! I agree with Penny 100% on this one!

Honorary Mentions

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Unbroken – The story is just so unbelievable! Louis Zamporini is a true-life hero like no other!

Gold – Amelia Fox’s narration MADE this book for me! I fell for all the clichés and cheesiness hook, line and sinker!

City of Women – Wanted to pound the s**t out of self-righteous Sigred but the narration was undeniably FANTASTIC! Click the image for Penny’s review.


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The Marriage Plot – GHASTLY narration and pathetic characters that 100% ruined this one for me. BLECK!

Seriously… I’m Kidding – Oh Ellen! I love you but this was a RIP OFF!

As Small As An Elephant – I am not done this review yet but the winey-ness of this narration would rival Luke Skywalker from the first Star Wars movie (which is actually the 4th Star Wars as my nephews often point out LOL).

A Game of Thrones – Finding out that the same narrator does all 5 books made me stop at this one. TOO MANY VOICES!

Looking forward to another great year of listening pleasure in 2013! Definitely more fun than talk radio and over played pop songs! Thanks to Audiobook Jukebox and the Windsor Public Library for some FANTASTIC audio books in 2012!


Penny’s 2012 Top 5 Audio Books

‘Tis the season for the “Best of…Lists” and numerous have been flying around of late. I’m certain I’m late to this game, but, for my “Best of” series, I thought I would focus on my “Favourite Audio Books Read in 2012”.

This year was definitely the YOAB (Year of Audio Book) for us here at the Literary Hoarders. 2012 truly demonstrated our growing fascination and obsession with this format! Our public library has a wealth of them and thanks to the suggestion from fellow LH Jackie, Elizabeth and I quickly searched for and devoured many books in this format this year. I think I can truly say that they became a requirement for the daily commute to work!  We also owe a great big thank you to Audiobook Jukebox for allowing us the fabulous opportunity to become Solid Gold Reviewers! That was a true treat!

Below is a pictorial snapshot of my Top 5 that I read this year. If you click on the image it will take you to the review written for it.

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Now, I would be remiss if I did not include these 3 other audio books as well, because I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed these ones too! Each of the narrators in these stories were wonderful and delightful and did great justice to the stories. Kyra Sedgewick read Sea Glass, and I could have had her read to me all the live long day!

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But as much as you have a Best of, I’m also going to add what I considered to be the Worst of, as they should get a mention too! Both of these made me cringe and suffer and want to drive my car off the road. The narrator is SO vitally important in establishing everything for these stories, and these are the ones that just did not live up to expectation and probably ruined what might otherwise have been fine stories.

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I know that 2013 will not see us slowing down in reading audio books at all and I’m looking forward to adding some new gems to my Best of…lists!

The Literary Hoarders, In Review 2012

Below please find the Literary Hoarders’ Annual Report for 2012. It has some amazing facts for our First Full Year of Blogging. Thank you so very much for stopping by, commenting and reading. It is tremendously appreciated and we hope to gather around for more reading fun in 2013!! From all of us here at Literary Hoarders, we wish you a Happy New Year and hope it is, as always, one filled with reading pleasures!!

(Thank you WordPress.com for pulling this together for us! What fabulous monkeys you have !!)

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 26,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.