Tag Archives: best of 2012

My Top 10 New Zealand Books for Kids & Teens in 2012

We have so many great authors and illustrators in New Zealand and I love shouting about them.  There have been a bumper crop of books from NZ authors and illustrators this year and there are strong contenders for the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  Some of these books have been included in my other Top 10 of 2012 lists but I wanted to do a separate list to highlight these spectacular NZ books.

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My Top 10 Young Adult Fiction of 2012

I’ve read so many amazing young adult novels this year!  Out of all the books I read throughout the year, young adult novels dominated, and it was so difficult to choose just 10 favourites for this list.  Here is my Top 10 Young Adult Fiction of 2012.  You can read my reviews of each book here on the blog.

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My Top 10 Middle Grade Fiction of 2012

There have been so many middle grade fiction books published this year, both here in New Zealand and overseas.  It was difficult to pick my absolute favourites but here they are, my Top 10 Middle Grade Fiction of 2012.  If you want to know more about these books you can read my reviews here on the blog.

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My Top 10 Picture Books of 2012

It’s that time of the year when we all start to think about our favourite books that we’ve read during the year.  Throughout this week I’ll be posting my lists of my Top 10 Picture Books, Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, and New Zealand Books of 2012.  Here are my Top 10 Picture Books of 2012 (if you want to know more about the books you can read my reviews of most books on the blog).

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The Cybils 2012 – Vote for your favourite books now!

The Cybils are awards given each year by bloggers for the year’s best children’s and young adult titles. I’m lucky enough this year to be a round 2 judge for the Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy category, which means I get to help choose the top book in this category for 2012.  It’s a really exciting opportunity and I’m looking forward to reading all the shortlisted books when they’re announced on 1 January 2013.

You can get involved by voting for your favourite in each category – Book Apps, Easy Readers/Short Chapter Books, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Fiction, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Non-Fiction: Middle Grade and Young Adult, Poetry, and Young Adult Fiction.  You can vote from today until 15 October and any English or bilingual books published in the U.S. or Canada between Oct. 16, 2011 and Oct. 15, 2012 are eligible.

Anyone can vote and all you have to do to vote is go to www.cybils.com and fill out the form.

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Revived by Cat Patrick

One of the things that excites me the most as a reader is finding new authors, especially ones that blow you away with their originality.  Cat Patrick is an exciting new author I discovered last year when I read her debut YA book, Forgotten (read my review here).  Forgotten is one of those books that sticks in your mind long after you’ve read it because it’s totally original and stands out.  Cat’s latest book, Revived, is just as amazing as Forgotten and hooked me in from the blurb.

Daisy has died five times.

She’s a test subject for a government super-drug called Revive, which brings people back from the dead.

Each time she is revived, Daisy has to move cities and change her identity to avoid suspicion.  Daisy has always got a thrill out of cheating death, but her latest move has come with unexpected complications: a new best friend, and a very cute crush.

As Daisy’s attachment to her new home grows, she discovers secrets that could tear her world apart.  And the more she learns, the more she feels like a pawn in a sinister game.

When the stakes are life and death, someone’s going to get hurt.

I had high hopes for Revived after loving Forgotten and it totally lived up to them, and more.  It’s difficult to try and put Cat’s books into a category or genre because they’re mostly a real-life story, but with a touch of science fiction thrown in.  Daisy first died in a bus crash when she was four, after which she got taken into the Revived program and now lives with two agents who pretend to be her parents.  Her and the other ‘bus kids’ have to undergo regular testing to make sure they are healthy and to ensure the drug is doing its job.

I thought that the background and structure of the organisation behind Revive that Cat created was really clever.  At the top there’s God who makes all the decisions and is in charge, then there are the agents who work for God called Disciples, and at the bottom are the Converts, those ‘bus kids’ who are part of the program and are given Revive to bring them back to life.  God thinks that he can do whatever he want and that nobody will stop him, which raises some interesting ethical questions in the story.

Another thing that I really liked in Revived, and also in Forgotten, is that Cat creates relatable male characters that aren’t douche-bags.  You won’t find any love triangles with moody, mysterious guys in Cat’s books.  The love interest in Revived is Matt, a normal, average guy who is friendly and loyal.  The relationship between Daisy and Matt progresses naturally throughout the story and they have their share of ups and downs.  There isn’t smoldering passion because there isn’t the need for it in the story and it would seem wrong between Cat’s characters.  Any teenagers who want to know what love feels like should read Cat’s books.

There’s something in Revived for everyone – mystery, suspense, romance and a touch of science fiction.  Get your hands on Revived and discover the amazing writing of Cat Patrick.

5 out of 5 stars

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BZRK by Michael Grant

I often find myself reading books that are quite similar to one another.  I go through stages where I might read a lot of dystopian fiction or horror and they can end up blurring into each other.  But every now and again I read something that is completely different from everything I’ve read before.  It’s those books that stick in my mind and I remember years later.  I still remember being completely unsettled by The Speed of the Dark by Alex Shearer, which I read probably 10 years ago.  When Michael Grant made the claim on Twitter that BZRK is ‘unlike anything you’ve read before’ I believed him because he never fails to deliver an original story.

First of all, I’m not going to tell you much about the story as I think part of the experience of BZRK is figuring out what the hell is going on.  The story follows Sadie and Noah as they are recruited by a global organization called BZRK.  They are at war with another organization called the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation or AFGC.  Each side believes that they are right and that they are saving humanity.  The war is being fought where no-one can see – inside the human body.

BZRK is disturbing, creepy, action-packed and totally addictive.  Like the biots in the story, BZRK will get inside your head and you’ll constantly want to get back to reading it (that is if you don’t read it all in one go).  No-one writes quite like Michael Grant.  He’s given us a glance inside his dark and disturbing mind with the Gone series (which is one of my favourite series) but BZRK takes it to another level.  Trust me, you will never look at the human body quite the same again after reading this book.  BZRK has the right mix of action, violence, creepiness, and fast-paced writing that makes it a great guys read.  You should hand this book to any teenage male who is a reluctant reader and I guarantee it will hook them in and make them want to pick up anything by Michael Grant.  I will eagerly await the second book in this new series, but in the mean time, I’ll be reading the 5th book in the Gone series, Fear which is due out in April.

5 out of 5 stars

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A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Beth Revis’ debut book, Across the Universe was one of my favourite books of 2011, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel, A Million Suns.  Being the impatient reader that I am, I couldn’t wait 2 whole months for it to be released in New Zealand so I bought a signed copy from Beth’s local bookstore, Fireside Books and Gifts.  It was definitely worth the wait to find out what happened next on board Godspeed.

I’m not going to say much about the story as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.  At the end of Across the Universe we were left reeling from Elder’s shocking confession and A Million Suns gets straight back into the story.  If you already thought Godspeed was filled with mysteries and lies, then you better think again because everything in Across the Universe was only the tip of the iceberg.  Elder has to take up the leadership of his people and it’s not long before he discovers a terrible truth about the ship.  Amy also uncovers a mystery that Orion left behind for her, a mystery that will give them the answers they need.  If this wasn’t enough to deal with, some of the passengers on the ship start causing trouble and chaos erupts.

I enjoyed A Million Suns even more than Across the Universe.  Beth Revis builds on the world she created in the first book, amps up the action, and deepens the mystery even more.  I really liked the ways that Amy and Elder’s characters developed in this book.  Elder has to deal with the pressure of being the leader of the ship as well as coming to terms with his feelings for Amy, and Amy seems more gutsy.  Elder is determined not to turn into Orion or Eldest, but has to work out how to lead the ship on his terms.  In some ways this series reminds me of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy, particularly in the personalities of Elder and Amy and the development of their characters.  I keep wondering if this is what Viola’s life might have been like before she crashed on New Earth.

There’s plenty of action and mystery in A Million Suns to keep you reading furiously and find out how it ends.  I loved the end of this book and REALLY can’t wait to find out what happens in the final book, Shades of Earth, coming in January 2013.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Every now and again a book comes along that gets completely under your skin.  You get so emotionally invested in the characters that when you’re not reading their story you’re thinking about them and their situation, and hoping that things will all work out for them.  Even when you’ve finished the story you can imagine what they might be doing next and wondering what their life might be like months and years down the track.  I found myself completely wrapped up in the story of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters in John Green’s latest masterpiece, The Fault in Our Stars.

The narrator of the story is Hazel Grace, a 16-year-old girl living with cancer.  When her mother decides that Hazel is depressed she sends her to a Support Group run in her local church.  At first she hates the experience and loathes having to tell others about her condition and listen to others tell about theirs.  But then she meets Augustus Waters, a friend of Isaac who attends the Support Group.  Augustus is also living with cancer and has lost a leg to the disease, and Hazel finds herself intrigued by him.   They start to hang out together, reading each others favourite books and sharing their experiences.  Hazel has always wanted to know why her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten, ended the way that it did and after Augustus’s correspondence with the author they are invited to Denmark to meet him.  It’s the trip of a lifetime and one that they’ll never forget.

The Fault in Our Stars is a heart-breaking, brilliant story that will have one laughing one minute and crying the next.  It’s the sort of story that makes you want to stop after each chapter and digest what you’ve just read.  There is so much in this book about making the most of our lives, living your dreams, and leaving our mark on the world.  I loved the relationship between Hazel and Augustus, and some of their conversations were hilarious.  Isaac was one of my favourite characters because of his humour and the ways that he coped with life.  Ever since I read John Green’s second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, a few years ago I’ve eagerly awaited his next book.  He’s one of those authors that make me feel like he’s written the story just for me.  I have this real connection to his characters because I see parts of them in myself.  I think it’s partly because of the first person narration of his books, which is something I love because you can get right inside the character’s head.  Hazel and Augustus are two characters that will take up permanent residence in my head and their story is one I won’t forget.

5 out of 5 stars

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