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Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

2012 was a year. That's really the best thing I can say about it. Even just focusing on the blog, I had a major hiatus in September, and dropped back to a once-a-week posting schedule that I didn't even manage to meet every single week. I did keep up my reviews, and I met my reading goal, so there were 125 book reviews posted to this blog in 2012, plus commentaries on books I like and overall remarks about beginner mistakes I keep running into. My blog hits also increased; I was getting over 2500 hits per month, a couple of months, and I topped 3000 a couple of times. I was pretty pleased about that.

I thought I'd recap with the books I liked best, and then tell you about which posts drew the most traffic. Please note that these are the best books I read in 2012, not that were published this year.

Best Humor: This goes to Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, though just barely. I did really like American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson, which only loses because it snuck up on me and didn't have quite as many laugh-out-loud moments. Let's Pretend This Never Happened made me helpless with laughter by page 5.

Best Nonfiction: In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood made me think about my reading choices in a whole new way. I like books that expand my mind. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris was excellent, but not in Margaret Atwood's league.

Best Reread: This was a year for rereading books, apparently. I found comfort in seven old friends, but my favorite was The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore. (For good measure, here's the review I wrote of it in 2011.) I guess it says something about me that this won out over Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Best Romance: Hands down, Ashes and Wine by Taryn Elliott. Heartfelt, warm, and unflinching. It's about finding love in the midst of grief, and you can only be forgiven for not picking it up if you don't have an ereader. I'm not just saying that because she's a friend.

Best Classic: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It seems like such a simple tale about childhood games and nostalgia, but it turns into a tale of loss and what it means to grow up, and it broke my heart. I liked the Jane Austen books I read this year, but none hit me quite so hard, emotionally, as Dandelion Wine.

Best Kids' Book: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente, no question. Honorable mention goes to A Circle of Cats by Charles de Lint, which was also excellent.

Best Serial Installment: I'm Starved for You by Margaret Atwood. Much as I enjoyed the InCryptid extras (No Place Like Home and One Hell of a Ride by Seanan McGuire), Margaret Atwood is hard to beat.

Best Latest in a Series: I was immensely pleased with Ashes of Honor, the latest in the Toby Daye books by Seanan McGuire. It made the wait worth it. Seriously, if you haven't started this series yet, you have until next September to catch up before the next one comes out.

Best Mystery: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley. I just love these books. Which you might already know.

Best Book Club Book: Technically, I did a read-along for 11/22/63 by Stephen King, but that's close enough to a book club for my tastes.

Best Historical Fiction: Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia captures the feel of pulp novels, while delivering an excellent heroine and an engaging story. Loved it.

Best Series Conclusion: Blackout by Mira Grant. Wraps it up in a satisfying way I wouldn't have guessed in a million years. This series is full of surprises, and is required reading for zombie lovers.

Best Post-Apocalyptic: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. It's basically the same timeline as Oryx and Crake, but from a different perspective. And that perspective expands the world exponentially.

Best Mindf***: The Hollow City by Dan Wells. Told through the perspective of a man with schizophrenia, and not Hollywood schizophrenia. He hears voices, talks to people who aren't there, and suffers from delusions. That makes it hard to tell what's real and what isn't in the narrative, and yet it's obvious by the end what's really going on.

Best First in a Series: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire. So good, it made me declare I have a favorite author (that being the ever-entertaining Ms. McGuire). The book reads like the author was just having a blast writing it. I don't know if she was, but I haven't stopped telling people they should read it.

As for the posts that got the most traffic:

  • Most people wanted to learn how to use hyphens. Or maybe just what they were; a lot of search queries were "-" or "what is a hyphen" or "what is a dash."
  • Next, people wanted to know about being a pantster. The answer always seemed self-evident to me; you become a pantster by stumbling into this writing thing, and bumbling your way through it. Maybe they heeded my advice about trying to be organized. One can only hope.
  • After that, people were interested to read about my new project. The one I abandoned. Moving on . . .
  • I'm sure my interview with Seanan McGuire was helped along by the giveaway I attached to it, but still, I was happy with the post, and glad a lot of people read it.
  • I have no idea why so many people were interested to read my review of Fluke by Christopher Moore.
  • Nor can I explain the hits on Home Improvement: Undead Edition, except that the post seems like something of a magnet for spam.
  • My post on parts 1—3 of 11/22/63 drew a lot of hits, most of whom were searching for information on the yellow card man. Understandable.
  • My review of In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood actually spiked above my hyphen post hits for a couple of days, which was remarkable. None of the other posts on this list managed that.
  • Lots and lots of people wanted to know how to write romance and sex. I hope my post helped.
  • My post about the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones drew some interest. I hope some readers found a new series to love out of it.
And, that's the best I can wring out of 2012 for you. Everyone have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and I'll see you in 2013.