Books of 2012

While I didn't get through as many of the year's new releases as I'd hoped to, here are a few of the 2012 books that I really enjoyed.

Sharps, by K.J. Parker

SharpsPolitically-tinged fantasy with a twisty plot centered around dueling? Yes, please. The story is about a group of troubled fencers who are sent on a diplomatic mission. They face strange customs and sudden dangers as a team, despite the fact that they trust each other only slightly more than their enemies. Complex characters and a blend of action and intrigue make this an entertaining read.

Jane, by Robin Maxwell

JaneTarzan of the Apes is a classic for a reason, but it's also 100 years old. Maxwell's retelling, rather than giving us a dully faithful switch in perspective, turns Jane into a woman truly worthy of starring in her own story. The result may feel a bit anachronistic, but the greatest adventurers always defy convention. It's a nice update for a character first created before women could vote in the US.

Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)In the crowd of YA genre novels, Unspoken stands out. The characters are sharp and funny without seeming older than they're supposed to be, and their backstory unfolds in a natural way. The heroine is easy to like, partly because she doesn't drop her friends or interests at the first hint of romance. There's a good mix of tension and lighter moments, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire

Discount Armageddon (InCryptid, #1)I'm obsessively in love with the October Daye books, so this was a must read. Verity Price, like Toby, lives and fights among supernatural creatures, but as a ballroom dancing cryptozoologist, she does it backwards in high heels. The best word to describe this book is fun, and it's impossible to keep a smile off your face while the talking mice who worship Verity's family celebrate her every action.

The Elements of Expression, by Arthur Plotnik

The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into WordsThis is an update of a book first released in 1996. It manages to be both instructive and highly readable, though I went through it pretty slowly thanks to a constant urge to copy bits and pieces down into the list of fun words I keep in my writing notebook. Everyone who writes or speaks or just likes language should read it.

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