Friday, December 28, 2012

Favorite Reads of 2012

It's that time of year again! I love sharing some of my favorite reads each year, and hearing about yours, as well. =) This year saw me expanding my reading horizons a little bit more...and I discovered some absolute gems!

Now, last year I only mentioned my favorites that were published that year, but this year I'm listing my 10 favorite books that I read in 2012, starting with #10:

This story has its cheesy moments, but I still adored it! I love historical romances set in the American West, and this one won me over with its humor and fun plot twists and sweet romance (with an utterly heart-warming ending, might I add!). What's more, the silliness of certain situations doesn't permeate the whole story - it has just the right balance of hilarity and seriousness, which I really enjoyed! You can read my full review HERE.

  Mitchell's She Walks in Beauty made its way onto my "Favorite Books of 2010" list, and it's little wonder that another of her books ended up on this year's list. Her stories are beautifully written and wonderfully thought-provoking. The Messenger is full of turmoil and uncertainty - and growth. You can read my full review HERE.

Sundin also made another of my "favorites" list (2011) with Blue Skies Tomorrow. She is so talented at crafting stories that incorporate detailed research, great characterization, and wonderful symbolism! I especially connected with the hero and heroine in With Every Letter, and even though this story doesn't have as much action, I loved the plot. You can read my full review HERE.

A beautiful cover and an interesting blurb had me eager to read this - and I was enchanted by it! From my review: "It's an exquisite story with wonderful characters that addresses courage, true wealth, and the distinctions between justice, mercy, and grace." You can read my full review HERE.

Fast-paced this isn't, but the story is so grand and moving that it blew me away. Towards the end of the book I was emotionally engaged at a very high and frustrating level... Definitely a powerful Titanic and WWI read! You can read my full review HERE. (I also have to mention that her other 2012 release, Band of Sisters, is also magnificently written and powerful. You can read my full review HERE.)

This slot is actually for all three of the "Phantom Island" books released so far, as I read all three of them in 2012 and they all go together. What a truly delightful discovery this series was for me! I read author Cory Oakes' review of the first book, Windchaser, on Goodreads, and it prompted me to contact Krissi Dallas to see if I could review her books. Little did I know that I was starting such an amazing and awesome adventure (and meeting a new, dear author friend)! These books really engaged me, and I had a hard time stopping once I got started reading each one. You can read my review of Windchaser HERE, Windfall HERE, and Watercrossing HERE.

This book snuck onto this list at the last moment, as I waited to read it until Christmastime. I didn't write a full review, but here's what I noted about the book on Goodreads and Shelfari: "Incredibly good pacing, fascinating setting, wonderful characters... A story that intrigued me, surprised me, and impressed me in many different ways. Enthralling!" So many dark twists and turns, but also surprising tenderness. 

The empathy. That is what really stunned me about this book - how deeply I felt for the heroine and how much her story moved me. I was really crying towards the end! You can read my full review HERE. (I also want to mention that I really loved Camden's early 2012 release, The Rose of Winslow Street. You can read my full review of that book HERE.)

The "Tales of Goldstone Wood" series is so beautiful, and Starflower is my favorite so far. Such a powerful theme and such a great adventure with some absolutely wonderful characters (especially Eanrin!). You can read my full review HERE. (I also loved Moonblood, which was released earlier in 2012 - both that one and Starflower made me cry!)

 #1 Entwined 

 The imagery. The imagination. The heart. I didn't write a full review for this book, but here's what I noted on Goodreads and Shelfari: "Fascinating, moving, intense, enchanting, unexpected story about love and grief, family and understanding. Wonderful characterization and descriptions. A beautiful story from cover to cover!"

~ ~ ~ 

And there you have it! We all have different tastes, but I hope you are blessed by these stories like I have been if you ever pick them up (or perhaps you've already enjoyed them!). I'd love to hear your favorite reads of 2012! And if we're not already friends on Goodreads or Shelfari, feel free to connect with me at one (or both!) of those places, so we can continue to compare and share great reads. =)


Rel Mollet said...

Hey Amber girl! Loved reading your list, especially your additional comments - so fascinating to know why you chose them. Some will make my list....still working on mine as you know. Culling is proving difficult! I think I will have a great genre range in mine ~ you certainly have an historical bent, my friend :)

Hugs xo

Rel Mollet said...

Ugh! Greater genre range, that should read :)

Amber Holcomb said...


Aww, I love that - "Amber girl"! Makes me think of Anne of Green Gables when Diana's great-aunt calls Anne, "Anne girl." :) ((Hugs))

I'm glad you enjoyed reading the list, and I'm eager to see which ones made yours! And you are quite right - looking back over my list, they are all either historical romance or "historical" fantasy, LOL! Guess my list is a bit skewed, hehe... ;) We all know Amber's favorite genre!

Anyway, I feel like I should add that I did read other genres this past year: I read some YA (a few made it onto this list), some Amish, some contemporary romance, a tiny bit of non-fiction (not including class reading from my last semester), and some Terry Pratchett. ;) I found The Hunger Games series compelling - just not "favorites," you know? If my list were longer, I might have included Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt; I loved that contemporary romance! And The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson was also really good. :)

Excited to see your favorites, Rel! Thank you so much for stopping by!


Amber Holcomb said...

Oops! I actually do have a non-"historical-type" book on my list! The "Phantom Island" series is YA contemporary fantasy. :)


Julie said...

Great list Amber! I'll be sharing mine soon :) I have only read one book on your!

Rissi said...

...I am ashamed to admit this, Amber but most of these are still on my TBR pile! YIKES! Makes me think I should include a short section of books I still want to read from 2012 in my list. *sigh* Hope that I get around to these ASAP.

Great list! Love that so many do this. :)

Bluerose said...

I am loving the fact that you're reading so many YA books! You've been giving me lots more reading ideas. (Since I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, I can now take better advantage of getting to read some of them, too)! ;D

I've only read 2 on your list so far, but I'm wanting to read most of them.

Sarah Sundin said...

Thank you, Amber! I'm so honored that With Every Letter is on your list! And in such fine company :)

Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you! Looking forward to seeing your list! :)

I think you'd really enjoy the YA I've listed on here - Entwined, The Dark Unwinding, and the "Phantom Island" series. They're all fabulous!!


Amber Holcomb said...


Too many books, not enough time - I completely understand! I'm sure there's a lot of books you read this year that I didn't read! I should start reading more of the books that have been sitting on my TBR stacks for far too long...

Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and I can't wait to see your list! It's definitely fun that so many book bloggers compare favorites at the end of the year. :)


Amber Holcomb said...


Me, too!! ;) Seriously, I've really enjoyed discovering the awesomeness of the YA genre this year - I love it! Hoping to read some more in the new year. :)

And yay for a new Kindle! It opens up a new world of temptations, though, let me tell ya... All those cheaply priced books, and it's so hard to stop getting more, LOL! I hope you get to enjoy many more great reads in 2013 because of it. :)


Amber Holcomb said...


I loved With Every Letter - it really struck a chord with me! Please keep writing such fabulous books! :)


Unknown said...

Wow...I have apparently missed some great books this year! Goes to show that it doesn't pay to take such a long break from reading like I have. :(

On a happier note, I actually just started Bees in the Butterfly Garden. Only about 3 chapters into it, and it's starting off a little slow for my taste, but you and one other gal have given it high I'll persevere! :)

Amber Holcomb said...


Ah, I'm sorry you didn't have as much time for reading this year. :( But I'm loving your jewelry business, and I hope you can enjoy some great reads in 2013! :)

Yes, some of those historicals do have slower starts or a more gentle pace...but I do hope you feel as satisfied as I did when you finish Bees in the Butterfly Garden! I think it has such an interesting premise, and I love how it all plays out. :) Happy reading!


Ella said...

Those books look really good;I even added some of them to my Shelfari shelf.
Have a great day!

Unknown said...

Hi Amber!

How have you been? Glad to see your list! I guess with so many great books this year it must have been a struggle to pick out a top ten. Can't wait to see what the new year brings. ;)

I hope you had a Merry Christmas.


Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Aw, I'm touched to see STARFLOWER listed in such a company! Many blessings to you, Amber, and here's to a coming New Year of much readerliness! :)

Anne Elisabeth

Casey said...

Great list! You can truly see a reader's taste in great books by their lists, don't you think? I really enjoyed several of those titles as well!

Amber Holcomb said...


That's great! I hope you love the books as much as I did! :) Happy reading, and I hope you have a great day, too!


Amber Holcomb said...


I've been doing well, enjoying the season with family and friends. :) Thank you for asking! How have you been?? I hope your Christmas was lovely, too!

And yes, there were a lot of great reads to choose from this year, and it was a bit difficult to narrow it down! It's a blessing to have read so many wonderful books! :)


Amber Holcomb said...


Of course! Starflower is a beautiful book! :)

Blessings to you, as well, and I second that wish for the new year!!


Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you! It really is fun to see what books each person chooses to put on their list - it does offer a certain insight, doesn't it? (Like how much I love historical romance, apparently, LOL!)

I enjoyed seeing your list, as well! I read 8 from your list (I haven't read To Whisper Her Name or A Sweethaven Summer), and those 8 were really good! I especially enjoyed Veil of Pearls and Short-Straw Bride, and Love's Reckoning and Wildflowers from Winter were fabulous, as well!


Tales of Whimsy said...

What an awesome list!

Amber Holcomb said...


I'm happy you think so! :) It's always fun to put the "favorites" lists together!

Thanks for stopping by!


Unknown said...

Hi Amber! I loved reading your list, and why each one was a favorite! I've read a couple of those, and they're among my favorites, as well -- Promise Me This and With Every Letter.

I hadn't thought of posting my favorites, but perhaps I shall do that. You've inspired me. : )

Hope you're having a great day!

Amber Holcomb said...


Aw, thank you! :) Promise Me This and With Every Letter are excellent historical reads, aren't they?

I'd love to see a list of your favorites if you find time to compile one! It's definitely fun to see everyone's lists this time of year!

I've spent WAY too much time on the computer today, but it was nice to get some blogging stuff done. :) And church was great! Hope you had a great day, too!


Unknown said...

The Messenger. Against the Tide. Entwined.

Soooooooooooooo good. :)

Amber Holcomb said...


Yes!!! Glad you agree! :)

Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping by!


Joanne Bischof said...

I read Promise Me This and really, really liked it. Reading With Every Letter right now and I know it's going to be a great read. I have not read a lot of these and want to! Happy New Year, Amber!

Amber Holcomb said...


Wasn't Promise Me This so emotionally intense? And I think you'll love With Every Letter! :)

Happy New Year to you, as well, and thank you so much for stopping by!


Ganise said...

Thanks for sharing, Amber! Have read Camden's and Gohkle's and given both 5 stars! Love in Disguise and With Every Letter are on my TBR pile. Honestly, the others look quite interesting too.


Lydia said...

Loved your short summaries for each book. You really captured the spirit of each of them (at least the ones I have read too). Happy New Year!

Amber Holcomb said...


My pleasure! :) Those two books are quite powerful, aren't they? So glad you loved them, too!

I hope you enjoy Love in Disguise and With Every Letter as much as I did! I'm guessing you're a fellow fan of Christian historical romance, in which case I think you'd also really enjoy The Messenger and Bees in the Butterfly Garden! And if you read any fantasy or YA books on occasion, I truly loved those other books on my list and consider them fabulous reads, as well!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


Amber Holcomb said...


Aw, thank you so much! :) I enjoyed checking out your favorites list, as well! A happy and blessed New Year to you, too!