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SALT LAKE CITY — It was another fabulous year for readers and authors. Here are my picks for the best books that were released this year. From soul-touching creative nonfiction to can’t-put-down historical fiction to a must-see graphic novel, be sure to put all of these on your must-read list.
1. “A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel” adapted by Hope Larson
If you are a fan of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic sci-fi read, then you must get this book. Expertly illustrated and adapted by Hope Larson, few books are so fun to read. Larson perfectly captures the feelings, emotions and message of the original story with gorgeous blue, black and white graphics. Meg’s story of traveling though time and space to save her father has never been this exciting.
2. “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman
Tom Sherbourne and his young wife Isabel are the keepers of the remote lighthouse at Janus Rock. Isabel wants nothing more than a house full of children, but after several miscarriages and one stillborn son, there seems to be no hope. Until one day a boat crashes on the rocks. Inside the boat are one dead man and one live baby.
This exquisite story of desperate choices and tragic consequences immediately grips your emotions and holds on through sorrow, joy, love, struggle and everything in between. So gorgeously and expertly written, you’ll never forget this story.
3. “When Women Were Birds: 55 Variations on Voice” by Terry Tempest Williams
Terry Tempest Williams, award-winning Utah author, inherited her mother's journals after she died at the age of 54 from cancer. When Terry opened the journals, each one was empty. In this breathtaking piece of creative nonfiction, she explores what it means to be a woman, a person and to have a voice. Rich in wisdom, insight and power.
(Content note: About six uses of the F-word and a description of a painting of female anatomy.)
4. “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan
Since the day she was born, Kami Glass has had a best friend, someone she can talk to about everything. The only problem is that Jared is a voice in her head. Then one day the legendary Lynburn family moves back to town, including two cousins, Ash and … Jared. When strange things start happening around town, Kami is determined to put her investigative reporter skills to work. What she uncovers is a mystery — old and dangerous.
This is a fabulous book with humor, mystery, supernatural twists and stellar characters.
5. “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adrianna Trigiani
Enza and Ciro first meet as teenagers in the majestic beauty of the Italian Alps. But after one night of heartfelt conversation and a first kiss, circumstances beyond their control pull them apart. They meet again, unexpectedly, far from their native home in the hustle of turn-of-the-century America, but still fate seems to want to keep them apart. Fate, however, is not strong enough to keep these star-crossed lovers apart forever. From the beauty of Italy, the drudgery of garment factories, the trenches of The Great War and the glamour of the Metropolitan Opera, this epic and beautifully written story of love and family should not be missed.
6. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
Hazel is terminal. She's known it since she was diagnosed with stage 4 thyroid cancer at age 13. Now at age 16, thanks to a miracle drug, she's been given some time to live a quiet life, but knows there are still fewer days ahead. The last thing she expects is to fall deeply in love. But when the handsome, intelligent, bold Augustus Waters appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's simple life takes a whole new direction.
This book is simply amazing. The story is so real and achieves that elusive goal of speaking about life, death and love in a way that is meaningful instead of pretentious. Bold, slightly irreverent and genius.
(Content note: A few uses of foul language and one “off-stage” sex scene between the two main teenage characters.)
7. “Big In Japan” by Jennifer Griffith
This book is incredibly fun, but also manages to tug at the heartstrings.
Buck Cooper is a six-foot-six, obese Texan who has spent his life as the butt of everyone’s jokes. All he’s ever wanted is to fit in and find love, but he struggles with both. Then fate takes him to Japan, the land of Sumo. In a country where being big can bring fortune and fame, opportunity finally comes knocking when Buck is thrown into the ring. But life in Sumo is anything but easy and he has to risk everything, even his life, to reach out and tackle the dreams he’s always wanted.
8. “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton
When Laurel Nicholson was 16 years old she witnessed a violent crime involving her mother. Now, 50 years later, a successful actress, Laurel comes home to be there as her mother passes on. As soon as she steps into the humble farmhouse of her childhood, Laurel remembers the long-buried secrets of the past. This time she is determined to discover the answers kept hidden for so many years.
This book is captivating, compelling and beautiful. Kate Morton is an expert at spinning a tale that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. A hard-to-put-down story of family, secrets and enduring love.
9. “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo
Alina Starkov never expected much from life. But when she and her best friend Mal are sent on a dangerous mission in the Fold, a fog of terrible darkness filled with flesh-eating beasts, everything changes. When their ship is attacked and Mal’s life is in danger, Alina unleashes a hidden power even she didn’t know she had.
Leigh Bardugo has written an amazing novel, rooted in Russian folklore, and completely unique. It’s captivating, magical and full of emotion. With unexpected plot turns, gorgeous settings, adventure and romance, this book is a must-read.
(Content note: One steamy kissing scene and some bloody violence.)
10. “After Hello” by Lisa Mangum
With inviting writing, a quick pace and a wonderful first-love story, this book is a pure delight to read. Utah author Lisa Mangum has a gift for subtle, but smoldering romance.
It's Sara's first trip to New York City. With her camera in hand, she is ready to capture every moment of the experience. As she stands on the busy streets of the city she watches a handsome guy step out from a bookstore and she impulsively takes his picture. From that one picture a whole day of adventure is born. Sam and Sara partner together to find an elusive piece of artwork and along the way discover the unexpected: love and themselves.
What are your favorite books of 2012? Join in the book chat on my Facebook page, facebook.com/AuthorTeriHarman
*About the Author: Teri Harman
*Teri Harman, author and book enthusiast, writes a biweekly column for ksl.com and also contributes book-related segments to Studio 5. Her debut novel, "Blood Moon," comes out June 22, 2013. Find her online at teriharman.com**