Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Best Books for 2012

I never understood why the "best of" lists come out in late December or early the following year. What people really want to know is: "What were the best books for the past twelve months so I know what to order over Thanksgiving when the real buying season begins." Well, here you go.

Best I Read in 2012
First off, order my books so I don't have to be a door greeter at Walmart for four months next year to pay property taxes because businesses don't hire former technical writers past a certain age.

Secondly, I've only been given one of these books by the author. In fact, most of these books have been blindly picked from various sources to the surprise and delight (and sometimes consternation) of the authors. I will admit to downloading some "free" books.

Thirdly, I've blogged my rating methodology. I've climbed on Amazon to the 11,082 ranked reviewer. I'm still not entirely sure what that means, but it feels good. My wife was unimpressed until I pointed out that there are more than 12,000,000 ranked reviewers on Amazon. So, I must be writing reviews that people like to read. And, I try to keep my reviews honest--no gimme "5" ratings. And not every book with a "5" is a perfect book. Get over yourselves. There are no perfect books, just books that someone thinks are at the top of their class. And when I do review, I take into account the genre in which the book resides. It would be foolish of me to downgrade a YA book because it lacked the intensity of a King novel. And I don't only read mysteries.

Fourthly, I've met my goal of a book per week although some have not been self-published, which was the other half of the goal, and yes, a few were short story collections. There were not 52 reviews. I struggled mightily with several books that were such a mess that I didn't bother to finish or review them. In hindsight, maybe I should have slapped a "1" or "2" on the book, but you know, sometimes you just have to be ready to read that particular book. For example, I love the movies. I have now seen all but two movies in the AFI100, but yet it took me over thirty years before I saw "The Godfather" trilogy even though I knew intuitively they were great movies. Go figure.

So, in no particular order, the "5" rated, best of the best books for 2012 are:

* Red, Green, or Murder (Posadas County #10) by Steven F. Havill - unmasking murder.
* The Might T by Everett Powers - sometimes even bad guys have a real point to make.
* Just Like That by Les Edgerton - gritty, tough, and real.
* Child of my Heart by Shelia Rudesill - heartbreaking and uplifting.
* Little Mountain by Bob Sanchez - classic internal and external struggle for justice.

The best book I read this year: Little Mountain. Other fine books from 2012 to consider:

* Storm Surge (a Jonie Waters mystery) by Tamara Ward - stay out of the water.
* Bigfoot Hunters by Rick Gualtieri - stay out of the woods.
* Murder Deja Vu by Polly Iyer - stay out of the way.
* Wind Over Troubled Waters - Book One by Edith Parzefall and Francene Stanley - stay out of trouble.

What did I learn? Most self-published "stories" are as good as those stories championed by agents and published by publishers; however, self-published books were rarely as polished in production value, as well edited (though overall quality is down), nor as tight plot-wise as those put out by major publishers. Self-published authors, in general, are still too impatient and too self-reliant (Rick raises his hand) with getting their books out there, and there are still some self-published authors that don't want to hear that message. Being a self-published author, I DO understand the frustration with that message. Several "3" rated books just needed to be beaten like a dirty rug a few more times to truly shine. I'm only beginning to understand the time lag necessary between writing, editing, revising, and publishing. I have no idea what the timeline is to becoming independently wealthy from writing.

Now, what are you waiting for? Buy, read, and eat turkey.


Guilie said...

Cool list, Rick! I haven't read any of them, and although I'm saving my book-money for San Francisco in February, I'll keep these in mind. And VERY cool lesson you share. I've read few self-pubs, and I'm wary of them for the very reason you mention: the rushed editing. You're right, though: a lot of what's traditionally published could've used a tad more proofreading. I found a couple of typos and two instances of continuancy errors in Stephen King's 11/22/63. Go figure :)

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Rick, for your endorsement! It means a lot to me. BTW, I'm reading your novel ALL OF OUR SECRETS and loving it. Terrific writing!

Rick Bylina said...'s a "hot" list. :-)

Les...Yeah, I've read several of Clyde's books too. Oy vey! Glad you are enjoying ALL OF OUR SECRETS.

Shelia Bolt Rudesill said...


I'm honored. And speechless.


Bob Sanchez said...

Rick, thank you for honoring me in this way. I am thrilled.

Robin Cain said...

Great post, Rick. Thanks for the tips. Will get all the books you mentioned! Congrats, authors!

K.W. McCabe said...

Congrats Bob and all you who made the list! Rick- you're doing awesome work :-) Keep it up!

Shaunda said...

What a great idea. You've inspired me to create a similar post in the future. Thank you so much for sharing your "Best of" list. It's refreshing to have a list of titles other than the same ones that occupy the big ones like the NYT Bestsellers. I look forward to sampling your suggestions.

Rick Bylina said...

Shaunda...Glad I could inspire. Never let anyone know what I was up to until it happened.

K.W....I try.

Robin...You're going to make many writers happy.

Les...YW and Thanks.

Francene Stanley said...

I am not a robot. I'm the real Francene Stanley. The woman lucky enough to have met up with Edith Parzefall on the Internet Writers Workshop, formed a link and written a series of four books with her, the first of which is mentioned above. Thank you for the honor of a mention.

Anonymous said...

All new books to me. Looking forward to trying them. Thanks for sharing!!