This year I gave 5/5 stars to only eights books, which is almost half of 2011’s 14. Apparently not a very good year, but I’ve the feeling there’s more 4/5 and less “mehs”. I’ll only know for sure when I put together my usual geekish post with all the stats, facts & figures.

As last year and the year before, Dorothy Dunnett and Patrick O’Brian make a mark. These are my most reliable authors and I’m making both the House of Niccolo and the Aubrey/Maturin series last as much as possible, only to be picked up when a sure win is needed.

Two in list are re-reads, which really supports my decision to do more of those in 2012. Three are fantasy, three historical and, a big surprise for me, two are short-stories.

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Tigana de Guy Gavriel Kay (re-read, audio)

Probably my favorite stand-alone fantasy novel of all time and this time around the experience was enhanced by the voice of Simon Vance. It was as intricate, emotional and beautiful as I remembered.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (re-read, audio)

Another great re-read, also in audio version read by one of my favorite narrators, Davina Porter. The most fascinating thing about this experience was to compare what I focused on 15 years ago and now. Must re-read it again in another 15.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

One of the big surprises of the year. I was completely hooked by these stories about the employees of an English newspaper based in Rome. Thank you bookclub!

The King of Attolia (The Queen’s Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner

I was enjoying the series, but this one made me a card-carrying fan. The book is an ode to clever plotting and I loved every line of it.

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Tea with Mr. Rochester by Frances Towers

The surprise of the year. I can’t tell you how touched I was by this collection of short-stories. There’s a wonderful contrast between the small and enclosed places where the stories happen and the deep and mysterious inner lives of the characters. I’m surprised it’s not a more popular Persephone.

H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin #3) by Patrick O’Brian

Best of the series so far. Can it get better?!

Scales of Gold (House of Niccolo #4) and The Unicorn Hunt (House of Niccolo #5) by Dorothy Dunnett

If I had to choose the best of the best of 2012 it would have to be Scales of Gold. This adventure though deep Africa of the 15th century ticked all my boxes. The Unicorn Hunt was also very good, but possibly my least favorite of the series so far. It says something about DD that even the least good is still good enough to make it to the top list, right?

Honorable mentions

  • Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman (audio) – I’m still unsure if this is a 5/5 or not.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian FLynn
  • Polina by Bastien Vivers (graphic novel)
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (non-fiction, audio)
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

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