Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best and Worst of 2012: Books

Siobhan's Top Ten Books of 2012

1. The Word of Promise Audio Bible: Audiobooks are usually considered to be in the literature category, so, that's why this is on the list.  I listen to and read the Bible daily, and this audio version has helped me immensely in my study of God's Word.  Featuring a large cast of well-known actors, movie-quality music and sound effects, and a word for word presentation of the New King James Version, this is easily the best audio Bible I've ever heard.
2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: Non-fiction isn't really my bag, but my author-friend Sibella Giorello recommended this to me, so, I decided to try it out.  When I did, I was actually quite surprised; it has to be the best non-fiction work I've read--other than the Bible, of course--since the amazing autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., I read in high school.
3. The Sierra Jensen series by Robin Jones Gunn: Judge me if you want, but I like teen-centric, female-fronted stories, especially when they're clean-cut; why do you think I'm such a fan of iCarly, VICTORiOUS, That's So Raven, and House of Anubis? When I picked this up at the library, I had my doubts, but I liked it so much that I practically blew through the last ten volumes in the twelve-book series in a month's time.
4. Illusion by Frank Peretti: One of Christian fiction's patriarchs, Frank Peretti's novel This Present Darkness was selling like hotcakes before Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins left anyone behind.  Until the publication of Illusion, Mr. Peretti had taken a bit of a sabbatical from writing, but his latest shows that he is still at the top of his game.  A gripping, convoluted, and fabulous read.
5. Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury: As someone with mild autism, this story really touched me.  The protagonist, whose was so severely autistic that he couldn't even talk, found a friend who helped him break out of his shell, and that made all the difference.  It made me thankful for all the true friends I've made over the years, some of whom might be reading this.
6. Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl: I rarely watch cable news, so I had no idea who Ms. Wiehl was before picking up this book.  Still, it proved to be an exhilarating read with plenty of twists and turns.  The sequel though great, wasn't as good, but there are a few more books in the series that I have yet to read.
7. Star Trek: Nightshade by Laurell K. Hamilton: Those of you reading this who work at or frequent libraries and/or bookstores probably know that Laurell K. Hamilton is best-known for her tales of vampires and other supernatural evil.  When I saw that she had written a Star Trek novel, I was a bit doubtful; yet, not only was the writing spectacular, but it avoided the offensive pitfalls--overuse of profanity and sexual innuendos--that often plague Trek novels.  If only she had written some more!
8. The Savannah Series by Denise Hildreth (Jones): Savannah Grace Phillips is officially my literary crush.  Seriously, she is a spunky, no-nonsense heroine who has many great qualities, but also her own set of flaws.  She also loves to write--she works for a newspaper--and loves to read, and has an addiction to Coca-Colas from McDonald's.  The final book in the trilogy wasn't as good, but I loved the first two.
9. The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers: I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by this series at first.  Though the story was riveting and the writing was amazing, the violence seemed a bit intense.  Still, as I stuck with it, it ended up getting better and better; I'm glad I took Rebecca St. James' recommendation in a June 2001 issue of CCM Magazine.
10. The Bowers Files series by Steven James: I randomly bought the first two Bowers novels at a thrift store, knowing only that they were Christian fiction.  Upon opening the first one, The Pawn, I was swept into a web of thrilling mystery and suspense that just would not let me go.  The last book, The Queen, was easily the worst, but it was still halfway decent.  According to Christianbook.com, Mr. James has a new book in the series out; I have yet to get my hands on it, but I'm sure it'll be great.

Siobhan's Six WORST Books of 2012

1. The Cheetah Girls: No. 1: Wishing on a Star by Deborah Gregory: This series may have been made into a set of Disney Channel Original Movies, but the first book alone was an utter travesty, and that's coming from someone who usually likes "young adult" literature.  The writing and content were altogether terrible.
2. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: Supposedly a quasi-Christian novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany had too much offensive content, especially in the language department, to be enjoyable, and its length made it a chore to get through.  Popular opinion on this one is totally off, I feel.
3. Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse by Troy Denning: The last in the Fate of the Jedi series, Apocalypse should have been great.  However, the whole story was far-fetched, even for Lucas' works, and Mr. Denning's usual poor writing simply caused this one to be ruined.  Whatever happened to the days of the Thrawn and X-Wing books?
4. The Omega Code by Paul Crouch: Between the strange formatting, the terrible story, and sub-par writing, this is nowhere close to being a masterpiece of Christian fiction; in fact, it makes people of my faith look bad.  One wonders why anyone would want to make this--and its sequel!--into a movie.
5. Where Love Endures by Noreen Riols: Just like Apocalypse, this is the finale in a series; instead of a space opera, it ends the historical saga The House of Annanbrae, but not in a good way.  Plot threads are completely left hanging, to the point where I flipped back to see if any pages were missing in my library copy, and none were.  It was a wonderful series up to that point; why did Ms. Riols have to ruin it?
6. The Spear of Tyranny by Grant Jeffery and Angela Hunt: Another series finale, this one ends an end-times thriller that started off crackingly good, but Spear of Tyranny made it finish with a whimper.  Between the gratuitous violence, the awkward dialogue--seriously, a woman calling her spouse "husband"? Who does that?--and pretty much everything else, Mr. Jeffery and Mrs. Hunt really "jumped the shark" with this one.

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