My Reading List: Keepers and Stinkers of 2012

I absolutely love to read and can lose myself in a good book, even with my boys being their usual crazy selves all around me. I’m not ignoring them, btw- I’m setting an example that reading is a good thing.

Fluff books tend to be my faves- I just want to get lost in a good story. It doesn’t have to be considered a great literary work.  I’ll read whatever catches my eye in the library or bookstore, what I can get cheap on the Kindle, or what friends recommend. I like romance, mystery, some supernatural, and YA lit.

I’ve done a recap of my keepers and stinkers of 2009, again for 2010, and yet again for 2011– if you are looking for even more books to read. Books on each year’s list(including 2012) are listed by when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.


Favorite book of the year: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. While the ending doesn’t exactly leave me cheering, this book was full of twists and turns and left me thinking about it long after I was finished with it. I did read her other books and while I liked all, none were quite a “keeper.”

Had me immediately looking for more by the same author: The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain. Lots of twists in this plot, which starts with a letter left by a woman who committed suicide.

Dystopian YA lit to satisify that Hunger Games Itch: Matched trilogy(Matched, Crossed, and Reached) by Ally Condie. Okay, so I haven’t really found anything that sucks me in as much as Hunger Games does, but if you are looking for something along those lines, the Matched series is a good way to go.

Sequels worth reading: Dreamless(Starcrossed #2) by Josephine Angelini and Timepiece(Hourglass #2) by Myra McEntire. I had the first in each of these series on my keepers list last year and the second books didn’t disappoint. Both are YA: the Starcrossed series takes a dip into Greek Mythology- if the characters were modern-day while the Hourglass series has to do with time travel.

Best Romantic Series: Edilean by Jude Deveraux. I’ve been a long-time fan of hers and these books are just pure fun. Plus, I love how you get to visit with the same characters over and over, even though the main characters change in each book.


What was that? Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. This one dragged on and on for me. I kept waiting for a point or an explanation and none ever came.

Took me forever to read because I could not get into it: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. Three different generations of women, all telling their stories that are interwoven with each other, as they spend a summer together. Eh. I just couldn’t feel anything for the characters.

I know people love this book but I just can’t: 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I really don’t have a problem with reading smut. But I couldn’t like wimpy Anastasia Steele or ultra-controlling Christian. It read very abusive relationship to me- and I’m not talking about the sex.   This hilarious review over on goodreads sums it up and is totally worth the read. But hey, the author is laughing all the way to the bank so what does my opinion matter? Still- I couldn’t bring myself to read the other books in the trilogy.

 In 2012, I read 82 books and you can see all my ratings by friending me on Goodreads

What are the best and worst books you have read lately?


  1. says

    Could not stand 59 shades.  I have to read Gone Girl – I took it out of the library – twice!  And did not get around to reading it.  I need to try again.  Thank you for the suggestions and the thumbs down! 
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    • Shell says

      Yes- try it! And give it a chance- it seems a little predictable right at the beginning, but it gets so much better! 

  2. says

    Ugh, I could not make Gone Girl a keeper, it was so, so, so, I don’t know what you call it. I can’t NOT finish a book so I had to speed through that in 2 1/2 days just to GET IT OUT OF MY LIFE!!!!!
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    • Shell says

      Some people don’t like it b/c they don’t like the ending, but I loved how it kept me guessing. 

      • says

        Disturbing is the word I was looking for. You are right that it kept you guessing and was an easy read in the sense that it flowed nicely but I worry about an author that can come up with that kinda stuff. :)
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  3. says

    I have never read and of these books. Although i have the 50 shades trilogy downloaded thanks to a friend. As a person who also has some adult blogs I read and write I pretty much knew from those who are in the D/s world it was a piece of crap, which turned me off to them. I feel like if you are going to write about a lifestyle choice then you should definitely be well read on that choice before writing about it. She made money on the people, who like her, have fantasies and curiosities and allowed HER view of it take the lead. In fantasy world this can be good or bad. I think as women we all have this ideal of a man who ‘leads’ us, even though we are strong enough to lead ourselves. We are drawn to the dominants in fantasies because we want to be lusted after with passion and fury, not necessarily about the kind of Dom she was writing about.
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  4. says

    I enjoyed Gone Girl too. My fav book in 2012 was The End of Your Life Book Club. I adored it!

    I agree w/ 50 Shades – I read all 3 and they only got worse with each one. At least the first one had me slightly interested in the beginning.
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    • Shell says

      Will have to add your fave to my tbr list! 

      I couldn’t bring myself to read the other 2 50 shades books. 

    • Shell says

      I liked Safe Harbor though it reminded me of that movie with Julia Roberts where she runs from her abusive husband… Sleeping with the Enemy, I think. 

  5. says

    Shell, Shell, Shell…just when I thought I couldn’t love you more…you write this post. We have the same taste in books!!! I haven’t met anyone older than my niece that loves YA lit as much as me and here I see that you do, too. I am a YA romance addict and have a list a mile long of keepers. I would have Gone Girl on my keeper list, too. Love all the twists and how I kept trying to guess what was going to happen (I was pretty much wrong which is why I loved it) and I couldn’t stand 50 Shades. I just don’t get it. I am a Jude Devereux fan through and through. Her book Summerhouse was one of my all-time faves (you have to buy into it but I love the premise). LOVE this post!
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    • Shell says

      Oooh- we do have the same taste! I have Summerhouse on my keepers list from another year- and its sequel! :) 

    • Shell says

      I always have a book or at least my kindle app with me all the time- so when I’m waiting at my boys’ practices or any time I get a free minute- I can read. :) 

  6. says

    I’m going to check out the books on your keeper list for sure. 

    I refused to read 50 Shades. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And when friends have uttered the words: It’s the best book I’ve ever read. I cringe. Because it can’t possibly be the best book anyone has read. It just can’t.  But I guess, what the hell do I know – like you said, the author never has to write anything every again.  

    • Shell says

      No way- there is just no way that is the best book anyone has ever read. Nope. I refuse to believe it. Is that they ONLY book they ever read? 

  7. says

    I haven’t read much fiction in the last couple of years. I have a bad habit of being completely sucked in and not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Not good!

    I agree with Lisa on 50 Shades. No appeal whatsoever.

    I am reading a lot of non-fiction that is actually really good. 

    I ate up The War of Art and Turning Pro by Stephen Pressfield this year. I highly recommend them both.
    Right now, I am in the beginning of 4 Hour Chef. I had no desire to read it until I heard an interview with the author, and realized the book contains a lot about how we all learn and how we can learn in better and faster ways. So far, it is great! I also have started Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. It’s really good too, both for speaking and for writing.

    If you like YA fiction, I have a friend who wrote a 31 day series of recommendations, which are here:
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    • Shell says

      I do end up getting sucked in to books but I figure it’s the same as Hubs getting sucked into watching a football game. 

      Will check out out your friend’s post! 

  8. says

    I am currently reading “The Bloodletter’s Daughter” which is awesome! I’m also reading “Cephrael’s Hand” also very good. “Epic Mom” is a hilarious collection of antecdotes by two moms – I’m in that one too! And, yes I am reading four books at the same time – I am halfway into 11/22/63. So far they are all so good!!!
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  9. says

    Matched series is on my next to read list and so is Gone Girl. 

    I’m not into 50 Shades either.  My worst read this year was The Host by Stephanie Myer.  They are making it into a movie.  I consider that torture.  

    My best reads last year were The Great and Terrible Beauty Series.  

    If you like YA stuff you MUST MUST MUST read the Mara Dyer Trilogy (although the third book doesn’t come out until fall which means I’m in a state of “what the hell is happening?!?!  misery!).
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    • Shell says

      Oh yes- The Host was AWFUL. I did end up liking it towards the end, but it took something like 400 pages or so before I felt that way- that’s WAY too long to take to get into a book! 

      I will add the Mara Dyer Trilogy to my tbr list- thanks for the suggestion! 

    • Shell says

      I gave into the hype and figured I’d try 50 Shades. Ugh. I could have done without.

      Give Gone Girl a try. It starts out with a storyline that you think will be sort of predictable, but it has plenty of twists.

  10. says

    Adding the books by Josephine Angelini and Myra McEntire to my list for sure. I need to check out Gone Girl too. So many people I know love it. 
    As for 50 shades of Gray, I don’t need to know about even one of those shades. 😉 No desire to read those books what-so-ever. 
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    • Shell says

      I would start with the Starcrossed ones. I think you’ll love it. And Gone Girl, too- though it’s a totally differnt type of book! 

      You should read that 50 shades review I linked to- it’s hilarious! And tells you all you need to know about the book. 

  11. says

    82 books!  Wow that is impressive!  I totally get lost in books so actually try not to read too often.  I loved the Matched series too.  Totally love all the YA stuff as I am right there with you– if I am going to take the time to read i want it to be for entertainment. :)
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    • Shell says

      I had actually given up on Maine- I had checked it out from the library and just couldn’t get into it. But then a few months later, someone sent me a copy so I tried again and made it through- but I didn’t like it! 

  12. says

    I’m on the fence about Gone Girl.  I didn’t start liking it until about halfway through, but then “liking” it may be too strong.  Most of the time I wanted to throw the book at the wall, the characters were infuriating.

    Completely agree with The Midwife’s Confession.  I didn’t want to put that one down!  And one of the best books I read last year.

    Other favorites were The Flight of Gemma Hardy, In the Land of the Long White Cloud, The Soldier’s Wife, and Under the Dome.  

    I shall have to find you on Goodreads, it sounds like we have a lot of books in common!
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    • Shell says

      At the beginning of Gone Girl, I thought it was going to be predictable. I liked the twists though. Even though I can’t say I loved the ending, it was different than anything else I’ve read. 

      Will have to check out your faves! 

  13. says

    I pick books much the same way, and in fact just picked up The Midwife’s Confession this past weekend at the library! I haven’t started it yet but I can’t wait to now!

    You should try The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian. He’s one of my favorite authors and some of my favorites are The Double Bind (which I lent out and never got back) and Before You Know Kindness. 
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  14. says

    Thanks for the suggestions. I am going to write down a few of these. I just read “Before I Fall.” It’s a young adult novel, but I felt like it told a really good story. A high school girl is killed in a car accident after a party and she relives her last day seven times before she is able to make things right.
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  15. says

    I’m with you about the 50 Shades.  I read the first book and that was IT.  Here’s the thing:  I’m no prude.  I like reading sexy stuff just like the next person.  But wow, that kind of sex…it’s just not “nice”.  I mean, hitting is not nice.  Right?  Aren’t we taught that, in like, Kindergarten?  Preschool, even?  Love does not hit.  Making love should not involve hitting.  Spank, hit – whatever verbiage you want to use.  It just didn’t do it for me.  Seriously, Edward in Twilight turned me on more than that Christian dude.  What gets me the most is all the women now who are “in love” with Christian Grey.  Ugh,….really girls?  THAT is the kind of man you’d want?  raising your babies with you?  I’m sorry but I’m OUT on that trilogy.
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  16. says

    I liked Gone Girl too. I read The American Heiress: A Novel, which was a quick and easy read. I also found myself reading a lot of biographies last year, I guess living vicariously through them. I read Lady Blue Eyes: My Life With Frank by Barbara Sinatra, Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill, her former Secret Service agent and Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart, which I found myself laughing out loud at sometimes!
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  17. says

    I need to read Gone Girl and haven’t gotten around to it yet. And I may check out a couple of your other keepers too because it sounds like we have similar reading taste. Really this post is making me want to go through my reads for the year and do something similar – at least for my own records! 

    I skipped 50 Shades for many reasons, the main one being that as a writer, my husband was very offended that someone else could make piles of money basically off of another author’s creation since it was originally fan fiction.
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    • Shell says

      It’s really so awful. 

      I keep track of what I read on goodreads and picked a few of my highest rated on my 2012 shelf and lowest rated for this list. Easy. :) 

  18. says

    I am so with you on the amount of reading and wanting to get lost in it. I like a mix but “fluff”, for me, feels peaceful. No agenda other than to entertain. Also, I feel the same about the 50 Shades books and have read all three. Wish I could get some of that time back. I don’t know why but it just happened. Thanks for the book suggestions. 

    Oh, I read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and I liked it almost better than Gone Girl. However, I will say that it is even darker. 
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    • Shell says

      I liked Sharp Objects but thought Gone Girl was better- though it might be because I read GG first. 

  19. says

    I completely agree w/you about Imaginary Girls. Didn’t care for it at all, it was just so random and pointless! I’m still telling you to check out the Covenant series by Jennifer Armentrout Shell! Also try her adult books, Tempting the Best Man & Tempting the Player (under the pen name J. Lynn). I also loved Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, On Dublin Street by Samantha Young, Legend by Marie Lu, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Down to You by Michelle Leighton, and SO many more! But you can start with those, lol.
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  20. Shell says

    Wasn’t it so awful? I really have no clue what was going on with that book! 

    I’ve had Tempting the Best Man on my tbr list for a while at your suggestion- I just need to actually get it! :) 

  21. says

    I saw you share your link on facebook this morning and I just knew that you would have 50 Shades on here!  I hated that book and it took me forever just to force myself through it so that I could say I hated it!  Several people said, ‘well it gets REALLY good in the second one’.  I will pass haha
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  22. says

    I can’t believe you read 82 books last year! I have no idea how many I read – I have a really hard time keeping track and never have any idea of the title of the book I am reading. Makes it very hard to share the books I like : ) .
    I loved Gone Girl so much that I read Dark Places too. I didn’t like Dark Places as much because well it was really really dark. I did read 50 Shades and did like it. Though I do agree the writing was pretty much amateur. I just finished a book last night so I am going to download The Midwife’s Confession now. Oh and sometimes getting your book out is a nice way to avoid talking to some of those soccer moms! I definitely know those tricks!

    • Shell says

      I use goodreads to keep track of what I’m reading- sometimes I write short reviews, other times I just give the books a star rating and a date I finished. 

      I read Dark Places and Sharp Objects(her other one)- I did like both, but they just didn’t have that same appeal to me. 

      I think you’ll like Midwife’s Confession. 

      And yes- a book is a great way to avoid getting into the soccer mom drama! 

  23. says

    50 Shades was awful. This review you linked to was spot on! It saddens me that so many women loved this series. What a set back for women! Best book I’ve read recently is BLOOM by Kelle Hampton. Her memoir about have a baby w/ Down’s Syndrome. It’s so touching and beautiful and honest.
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  24. says

    Such a fab list, thanks so much Shell! 

    I LOVED Gone Girl~ all those twists kept me up late into the night! I downloaded Gillian Flynn’s other two books right away after finishing Gone Girl but thought they were super dark & not as good. I loved all 3 Matched books & just finished The Midwife’s Confession {thanks to your post} and thought it was excellent! 

    I read The Fault in Our Stars over the holidays and LOVED it. Best book I’ve read in a while! Another fave that I read earlier this year or last year is The Art of Racing in the Rain {told from the perspective of a dog}. I recommend it to everyone, even non-dog lovers! 

    Thanks for all the great recommendations, I might try out the other series you mentioned in the Keeper section! I’m a sucker for YA trilogys. Lol. 
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