Brought to you by OBS reviewer Vicki


As I begin to prepare for the end of the year I often tend to come down with a severe case of Nostalgiaitis. I have always been a bit of a reflector, which has its pros and cons. I guess this is the curse of the book reviewer though!

I’ve read some really great books this year, visited some amazing worlds and met so many different characters – it is incredibly difficult to choose books for a list of favourites especially a list that attempts to round off the year! What you will read below is a list of the books that took me by surprise, the books that lived up to the hype, the books that I had incorrect preconceptions about and the books that fell into my lap and became loves of my life. After much inner debate I have discovered that always favour the books that knock me off kilter and make me re-evaluate, which is eventually what lead me to the specific nature of this list.

So, please join me as I revisit some of my most surprising insta-faves of 2012.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Ever since her debut with Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins has been a hot commodity in Young Adult Contemporary Romance; it was no surprise that the hype surrounding her follow-up companion novel: Lola and the Boy Next Door, was enough to make the thickest-skinned author break out in hives. Thankfully, the hype was not misplaced; Perkins delivered a brilliant novel that surpassed the popularity of her debut. Lola and the Boy Next Door is as adorable as the name makes it sound. The reader gets all of the sass and heart that was present in Anna and the French Kiss with an extra dose of swoon and a whole heap of please-hurry-up-and-kiss-otherwise-there-is-a-distinct-possibility-that-I-might-spontaneously-combust.

The greatest thing about Stephanie Perkins is that she has one of the broadest (and strangest) readerships for what we can easily dismiss as ‘chick-lit’. Even the biggest ‘chick-lit’ naysayers are championing her. ‘Why?’ you ask? Perkins writes reality. Seriously, it is like she lives in your head; picks out your long buried teenage insecurities, which serves to unite you with the female lead from the get-go. Then she makes you feel awesome about those insecurities by making them irrelevant. And then the girl gets the guy; goosebumps galore! Perkins’s skill means that you become her characters, therefore completely drawing you in- her stories become instrumental to ones’ sanity.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is on my list because I really didn’t think Perkins could top Anna and St. Clair, but she did!

Lola and Cricket Forever!

What’s next?

Perkins will release the third and final companion novel: Isla and the Happily Ever After, in 2013.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

John Green has a massive fan base; I think he’ll always be popular. I’ve never really bought into the whole Nerdfighter thing, but I have been aware of it. I discovered John Green through reading David Levithan first and, to be honest; although I really liked Looking for Alaska I thought his other books were a little bit pretentious. Even Looking for Alaska has a little bit of the Dawson’s Creek curse. You know, older teenagers aren’t dumb but they really shouldn’t spew the thesaurus – or maybe they should… who am I to say? Whatever, I used to love Dawson’s Creek so it is neither here nor there.

So John Green is always going to have devoted readers but the popularity of The Fault in Our Stars broadened his readership tremendously, I believe it is the first Green book that has garnered so much interest. And it really was a great book.

The Fault in Our Stars is on my list for the simple fact that it was the first book to make me snotsob in a very long time.

What’s next?

The Exclusive Limited Edition of The Fault in Our Stars is available for pre-order now and is released on January 3rd 2013 in the US. The Fault in Our Stars was also named number 1 in Time’s Top Fiction Book of 2012. The movie rights to The Fault in Our Stars were purchased by Fox 2000 with Wyck Godfrey (The Twilight Saga) producing.

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

Susan Ee kind of popped out of nowhere! All of a sudden the interwebz were a’buzz with gifs of people passing out and things exploding and stuff. Turns out they were reviews for Angelfall. Sometimes books can suffer after the first lot of ‘READ NOW OR DIE’ reviews come flooding in – some readers will intentionally read and review to rip a book apart. Yet, the majority seemed to be enthralled by Ee’s world.

And the best thing about this ‘little engine that could’ is that Ee self-published Angelfall. I was flabbergasted when I discovered this because I, like so many others, had not had very good experiences with self-published fiction. Ee certainly raised the bar. The book later got picked up by Feral Dream.

To quote my own review of Angelfall: ‘[it was] everything I wanted it to be and everything I didn’t know I wanted it to be.’

Angelfall is on my list because Susan Ee is a role model for self-published authors everywhere. Angelfall was the underdog and it’s always cathartic to back the underdog!

What’s next?

The multipicture movie rights for Ee’s Penryn and the End of Days series have been purchased by Good Universe with Sam Raimi producing. Susan Ee plans to publish the, as yet unnamed, sequel in 2013.

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa

I was not a fan of Julie Kagawa before The Immortal Rules, I did not care much for her Iron Fey series and I know that’s a bold thing to say because the Iron Fey series is really popular; it just wasn’t for me.

So I was a bit reluctant to read The Immortal Rules but, oh, I am so glad I did! This book was awesome from start to finish. Kagawa’s choice to go with vampires may have been a little too well-timed yet she managed to reinvent the genre for me. And for something that has been lumped into the Young Adult category; it’s hella gruesome! I love reading about journeys, which is probably why I gravitate towards the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genres and Kagawa gets the dynamic of the journey, coupled with the supernatural, just right!

The Immortal Rules was extremely entertaining, gripping and suspenseful. Kagawa is on my list for making vampires cool again!

What’s next?

Kagawa has published a prequel novella named ‘Til the World Ends (Blood of Eden #0.5) and publication of the sequel The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) is set for 2013.

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street #1) by Samantha Young

There seems to be a little bit of stigma around authors writing outside of their genre, which is ridiculous! Samantha Young had established herself as a semi-popular Young Adult author and released her first Adult Romance this year. I always have the utmost respect for writers who go outside of their comfort zones and challenge readers.

On Dublin Street is not the most original story and there are some questionable messages in there but I loved it. This was probably due to the fact that I live in Edinburgh and On Dublin Street is set here. Side note: I live about 4 minutes away from Dublin Street. Firstly, I love reading about the city in literature. Secondly, I love Edinburgh and Samantha Young clearly loves Edinburgh. I felt an immediate connection with her because of this, which cemented my love of this book from the outset.

On Dublin Street is on my list because Young made the transition from Young Adult to Adult Romance so perfectly seamless.

What’s next?

The expected release of the sequel to On Dublin Street is mid-2013. Young continues to write in the Young Adult and Adult Romance categories – big up the hybrid-authors!

Obsidian/Onyx/Opal (Lux #1, 2 & 3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This year I jumped on the Jennifer L. Armentrout bandwagon. I went into Obsidian fully aware that it had been hyped and fully aware that I would probably be disappointed. Was it hyped? Yes. Was I disappointed? No. Strangely enough, even though there were some very silly and very recognisable elements of the Obsidian I was really entertained. And after finishing I immediately wanted to read the next instalment. Although these books are about aliens and all the classic tropes that come with an alien story there is very little sci-fi.

Reading these books was like revisiting my teenage years of watching Roswell. For those of you in the know, the dynamic between Katy and Daemon is like Max/Liz and Michael/Maria rolled into one pairing. Really the best of both worlds! (Pun intended.) I think my attachment to these books is based purely on the fact that Armentrout makes me feel younger. It’s true, reading is a cure all!

The Lux series is on my list because Armentrout makes aliens sexy and understands her audience more than other Young Adult authors.

What’s next?

The fourth instalment of the Lux series: Origin will be published in the summer of 2013 with a 2014 release date expected for the fifth instalment.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

I adored this book and in my opinion I have saved the best for last. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is an angsty coming-of-age story with robots. I have a love/hate relationship with angst and this book tore me apart from the inside out, but I loved every second of it.

Cassandra Rose Clarke explores the relationship between science and the inexplicable, namely: love. And by focusing on two people who are affected deeply by this situation she is able to turn this plot point into something so profound that I can’t quite get my head around it, even now.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is on my list because it is definitely my favourite book of 2012 and I did not expect that at all.

What’s next?

There is no sequel planned for The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. Clarke has recently published The Assassin’s Curse and the sequel The Pirate’s Wish is expected for release in 2013. Clarke has also just participated in NaNoWriMo.

Honourable mentions:

  • Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1) by Veronica Rossi
  • More by T.M. Franklin