Final 2012 Reads...

Do you know what's one of the best bits of having a nice, long Christmas vacation? Having the freedom and utter lack of guilt about laying around and reading all day.

Which I did.

A lot.

Though I had my leanest year - reading-wise - in a long time, I did try to make up for lost time there at the end, plowing through several books before the clock struck twelve on December 31.

And not a one was some deep, symbolic tome...nope, just dishy, escapist fun!

Let's see....

Crossed by Ally Condie

This is the second in the young adult trilogy, begun with Matched. In this, Cassia has headed to the Outer Provinces to follow her heart - to try and find Ky. The novel details her - and Ky's - adventures as they try to find one another, outwit the rest of the population, and the people who help them along the way. I enjoyed it enough, but didn't find myself dying to turn the page, in fact often skimming, which is unusual for me. Maybe in light of other YA trilogies out there, this wasn't isn't the best match for me....

The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh

I listened to this Regency romance, and thoroughly enjoyed it, as Balogh is such a deft writer. A chance encounter in a pub, a taste for flashy dresses and bonnets, an ill-fated carriage race, a haughty earl, a best friend and lots of reluctant encounters make up this great romance. Balogh focuses on story and character, rather than the more bawdy aspects of other Regencies, making this a pleasant listen. :-)

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

This is a modern-day take on The Age of Innocence, which I must admit, I vaguely know but have never read. Instead of being set in the late 19th century, this is instead a novel set in a modern day, tight-knit Jewish suburb in London. Adam is finally engaged to his longtime girlfriend Rachel, but when her tempestuous cousin Ellie arrives on the scene, Adam begins to doubt everything he wants out of life. I started off strong with this title, but got so bogged down in the Jewish culture, stilted language and lack of empathy for the characters that I ended up skimming to the end. Note to self: skip Edith Wharton if this is the representation...

'Twas the Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries

I actually really loved this (full length) Christmas novel! Christmas novels are often short on character and plot, but this one had both in spades! In this Regency romance, the Earl of Devonmont is ordered home by his mother's lady in waiting, saying his mother is quite ill. When he arrives, she is not a bit ill, and this kicks off a novel filled with secrets, long-abandoned hurts, a slow blossoming romance, some great verbal sparring, and just a touch of Christmas. I really enjoyed this easy-to-read novel, Jeffries' first hardback book. Highly recommended!

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

I actually picked up this advanced reader copy at ALA, and found it when I was packing to go home for break. This is a great young adult novel, and felt much in the vain of Perfect Chemistry - a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and a girl who should have her life mapped out both find themselves in school counseling, then matched together for tutoring. This leads to a star crossed, slow building romance, but rather than just being a straight romance, this novel really delves into a lot of issues, hidden secrets and teenage rebellion and confusion. Well executed characters and a well written romance make this novel highly recommended!

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

Apparently I had a whole Regency romance theme going for Christmas reading, since this is another one! I really love what I've read of James in the past, and this one is another winner!   Theodora and James (heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook) have been longtime friends, but when a marriage is arranged between them, they find that perhaps they care more than they thought about each other. But through a series of missteps, they are broken apart, and James leaves London, and Theo is left with the title of the Ugly Duchess. James has wide-sweeping plots and such great characters that I get totally swept into the time period and the agony of the characters - and she is one with a bit of bawd to keep it interesting. ;-) I'm off to find another James novel to read - this was another good one (though I think When Beauty Tamed the Beast is still my favorite)!

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