The Wenches' Top Ten Books of 2012
You have to end the year with a Top Ten list, right? Well, we decided to follow tradition and share with you our Top Ten Books of 2012. These are not a countdown, but just a list of our favorites. It was a great year for
book addicts fans of literature! We are confident that 2013 will bring just as much delight to our book-loving hearts, and we cannot wait to continue with old friends, wrap up the series that brought us all together, and discover new addictions treasures.
But first...The Saucy Wenches' Top Ten Books of 2012:
Biting Cold by Chloe NeillThis was my most anticipated book of the year. I was counting down the days until I could get my hands on this baby, possibly to an obnoxious degree. But the fact is, Ethan was back, and he and Merit were together. She had realized exactly what he meant to her in the months she was without him, and I could.not.wait to see that translate to their relationship. And, as usual, Ms. Neill did not let us down. Ethan made us swoon (repeatedly), Merit kicked some ass and got to show Ethan how powerful she had become while he was gone, growing into the powers he suspected she would have. We met new, highly entertaining sups, wrapped up storylines, and Cadogan House took a big step. All-in-all, Biting Cold was a great book, totally worth the wait. And now it's only 31 days until House Rules. But who's counting?
Chasing Magic by Stacia KaneThe Downside Ghosts series was my best find of 2012. Goodreads had recommended them to me earlier in the year, but it took me a few months to finally get around to them. And once I did I was completely consumed. These books are amazing, and I highly recommend checking them out. Chasing Magic was a wonderful continuation of Chess's story, and most importantly, we finally saw Chess accept something good in her life. We saw the evolution of some thorny storylines and the resolution of others, and some surprising problems popped up that will plague Chess in future installments. The mystery was riveting, as always, and we saw a bit of the origin of Chess's addiction, which allows us to empathize with her even more. I was worried for some time because we hadn't heard anything about future Downside books, but Stacia Kane recently confirmed that there will be more novels, and we're still waiting for Terrible's novella from his point-of-view. Chasing Magic made me even more curious about Terrible's formative years, and I'm convinced that he has magic, he just doesn't know it yet. I simply loved this satisfying addition to an amazing series.
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
Deadlocked is the twelfth book in the popular Southern Vampire Mysteries. With one book left to go, the Wenches are on pins and needles dying to know how it is all going to end. Deadlocked returned to the tried-and-true recipe where Sookie has a mystery to solve: Who is trying to frame Eric for murder? With her usual determination to fight for those she loves, Sookie is again in the thick of the action. Our favourite characters are all there to enjoy the ride. Charlaine uses this book to wrap up many storylines. The suitors are clearly cut down to two – Eric and Sam. (The Wenches are backing Eric 99.9%.) The Fae and Cluviel Dor situations are resolved. All the characters are evolving, and it is heartening to see the progress that favourite characters such as Tara, Jason, and Sam have made over the course of the series, although Sam’s bad luck with women continues. The reader starts to get the sense that when all is done and dusted after the final book, Dead Ever After, we are going to be very satisfied as to how we leave the characters. Eric and Sookie’s relationship has hit a speed bump. This happens in all relationships, so at this point it is nothing to worry about. Eric is going to have to make a choice soon between Sookie and Freyda. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. Personally, Deadlocked was my favourite book in 2012, and it is a wonderful addition to the series. Counting down until May 2013 and the release of Dead Ever After.
Fever Moon by Karen Marie MoningAs a fan of graphic novels, I was excited about this when I heard of it. As a Fever fan, I was ready to accept ANY scraps of Mac & Barrons that Ms. Moning threw at me. I was more than ready for a peek into the illustrated world of Fever, and curious as to whether it would be close to how I had imagined it. Let me say, it wasn't quite how I had pictured it in terms of the characters, but I was ready for the "graphic novel" versions of the characters (read: characters on steroids), so that didn't put me off in the least. The Fear Dorcha was KMM at her scary monster best! That woman does the stuff of nightmares like few others, and I found myself immersed in the best possible one from the very first panel. We got all the things we love about Fever: Mac trying to outsmart Barrons, their epic sexual tension and banter, Mac's love and loyalty to others like Dani, Barrons's beast form (yes!), and another opportunity for Barrons to rid Mac of a Fae's name on her tongue (can I get an amen?). Like in the series, I sighed and swooned at glimpses of Barrons's real feelings for Mac, and hers for him; I relished each and every word and picture and character. It was a great, fun read – definitely one I wouldn't have missed for the world. And one I'm very glad I saved up for!
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
Andrea has been begging for her own book ever since her first appearance in Magic Burns. She was such a strong character, she simply needed to have her own novel, and here it is.
As expected, Ilona didn't disapoint with the mythology. What I appreciate most in this series is that her characters aren't struck by Cupid's arrow from the very beginning. They struggle and grow to that point, and for Andrea it was particularly difficult. Her whole existence is in shambles after the events in Magic Bleeds. She had such a messed-up childhood and difficult life, that when she discovers it is possible to be loved and comes to trust someone, it's just too much for her. Raphael is all alpha male and had his chance with her, but they had both shot it all to hell. Gunmetal Magic is action-packed, funny, and weepy, all at the same time. I loved watching Andrea and Raphael finally pulling their heads out of their butts.
Iced by Karen Marie Moning
I had mixed emotions about this book. On the one hand, I was DYING to return to Dublin and find out what had transpired since we left everyone adjusting to the scary new reality of life AWC (after walls crashed). On the other hand, I dreaded reading an entire book told from Dani’s point of view (or more specifically, in Dani’s annoying, overly exuberant, adolescent voice). But I completely trusted Ms. Moning’s brilliance, and she definitely delivered. Not only was Dani smart, savvy, witty, earnest, and endearing, but Barrons’ bad-ass “men” were by turns intriguing, infuriating, and loads of fun. The story picked up where we left off at the end of Shadowfever. Ryodan was running Chester’s, whose clientele had swelled to include Seelie and Unseelie. Kat, newly appointed leader of the sidhe-seers, was trying to cope with Cruce being imprisoned in the abbey by the Unseelie King. Christian MacKeltar was suffering the heartbreaking aftereffects of being fed Unseelie by Mac. And everyone needed Dani’s assistance, with or without her consent. This book introduced new mysteries, unexpected twists, and exciting possibilities for the future. When the book was released, Ms. Moning announced that it was a continuation of the Fever series rather than a separate series, which made me blissfully happy. She also challenged herself to make Ryodan so compelling that we would forget all about Barrons. As if!!! I would not go so far as to say she accomplished that, or that she ever will, no matter how remarkable these characters turn out to be. But she is certainly off to a terrific start, and I look forward to whatever she dishes up. After all, comparing sexy alpha males is never a burden for the Wenches. Knock yourself out, Ms. Moning!!! Please!!! I can’t wait!!!
Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward
Lover Reborn was highly anticipated because this would be Tohrment’s HEA. Tohr had been through hell and back with the death of his beloved, Wellsie. Since we had almost no preamble to Tohr’s expected romance with No’One, soon to be renamed Autumn by Tohr himself, I just didn’t know what to expect from this book. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I grew to care for Tohr and Autumn’s romance! They were sizzling hot (another surprise!), and oh, how they made me cry over and over again. We also got to know the Band of Bastards a bit better. We saw Layla start to fall for Xcor, and both Xcor and Throe are interested in her! John Matthew and Xhex had a rough patch in their relationship, but they are learning a lot from each other and are going to be just fine. Finally, Qhuinn and Blay started communicating again. By the end of the book, Qhuinn finally has decided that he’s going to stop being a coward and go after the man that he loves: “As Blay started to straighten, like a message had been received, Qhuinn thought, 'That’s right, buddy. Our future has come.'”
Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost
We first met Jeaniene Frost's Vlad Tepesh in At Grave's End. Yes, that Vlad. Vladislav Basarab Dracul. In the Night Huntress books, Vlad is depicted the way one imagines the man – Prince of Wallachia, military commander, ruler of a land constantly invaded by the Ottomans – might have been, rather than as a character based on the existing mythology. Many of us fell in love with Vlad when he called Cat out on the whole vampire vs. humanity thing (and incidentally saved her life in the process), and our admiration of him deepened as their friendship developed. Imagine the Wenches' delight when Vlad was given not only his own book, but an entire trilogy devoted to him! The trilogy begins with Once Burned, where Vlad and Leila, a psychic who channels electricity and whose mere touch is lethal, must work together to find the vampires who are out to harm the two of them. I was impressed with the level of historical detail that Frost worked into the book, including facts about Vlad that are not common knowledge. (I wanted to go find a history book when I was done reading.) Also, the fandom was curious how Frost was going to create a heroine who could hold her own against Vlad; he has a strong presence that not everyone in the Night Huntress world takes a liking to. And Vlad prefers it that way, cultivates it, even. But Leila – I'll just say that in my opinion Leila could carry a book on her own. Together Vlad and Leila are like, well, electricity and fire. Twice Tempted is the second book in the Night Prince trilogy, and is due to be released on March 26, 2013.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
The second volume of Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy, Shadow of Night, continues the story of Diana Bishop, a reluctant witch and historian, who is desperately trying to solve the mystery of Ashmole 782, a mysterious, long-lost alchemical manuscript that may well explain the mysteries of vampires, witches, and daemons. In this installment, Diana and her handsome, geneticist, vampire husband, Matthew Clairmont, go back in time to Elizabethan England and encounter old and new friends...and enemies (cue suspenseful, creepy music). The earlier version of Matthew had been part of an esoteric club called the School of Night, which included Sir Walter Raleigh and Christopher Marlowe. Some of my favorite new characters in this book include Diana's ally and teacher, the witch Goody Alsop, and London street urchins, Annie and Jack. Because this is the middle book of the trilogy, there is a great deal of set up for the final book, in which all will be revealed (I hope!). I will be rereading A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night before Book 3 comes out. Unfortunately, there is no release date for that yet, because Deborah Harkness is still working on it. A trip to her website informed me that Warner Brothers has secured the film rights to the All Souls trilogy. Well respected playright, David Auburn, has been hired to adapt A Discovery of Witches for the big screen.
Stars and Stripes by Abigail Roux
I love this series so much, I had an EXTREMELY difficult time picking which of the two books (that were released this year) was my favorite. I even polled the other Wenches, and they couldn't decide either! But finally, I had to go with the most recent book, Stars and Stripes. Although the mystery aspect of the story was a little weaker than some of the earlier books, this was still jam packed with suspense, intrigue, Ty's jokes and Zane's puns, and, most importantly, smoking hot sex! The story starts out with Ty and Zane living happily together. Then Ty gets an emergency call from his family. So off they rush to West Virginia, where, as usual, hi-jinks ensue. Then Zane gets an emergency call from his family in Texas and flies off to them, leaving Ty behind. Zane's father has been shot on his ranch. Finding out who shot him and why is the main mystery of the book. Ty, of course, can't stay away, especially after being told not to come. So the boys dance a precarious dance trying to keep their relationship a secret from Zane's family and the conservative folks of small-town Texas. As always, there are plenty of banter and jokes between the boys and, occasionally, other characters as well. And I had a blast watching Ty try to adapt to life on a ranch and go toe to toe with Zane's insufferable mother. As usual, there is plenty of sex sprinkled throughout the book, but my personal favorite scenes are a furtive bathroom encounter in a bar and one in which is Ty wearing only a cowboy hat. There are also two huge steps forward in their relationship, and a third (almost) step that nearly killed me and Ms. Roux's other minions. These left me desperate for the next book, but until then I could read this one over and over and over.