Our Favorite Books Published in 2012

December 31, 2012 2012, 5 star books, discussion post, Wendy, yearly favorites 92

the midnight garden 2012 books favorites best of 5 starsBetween the three of us here at The Midnight Garden, we read nearly 500 books in 2012. That is a lot of books to plow through!

But the hunt for YA book gems is always a fun one, and here are the ones we thought were the most exquisite published this year. Most of the links below lead to our reviews or to GoodReads.

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K.’s Favorite 2012 Books

I didn’t read as many books as I would’ve liked this year but I was still lucky enough to have found those precious few — the ones that tear at you, the ones that slice pieces off of your layers until you’re left raw and quivering and strangely renewed.

Let me preface by saying that this is in no particular order (well, not really). Each book has so much to offer that to measure one’s brilliance against the other is both difficult and unjust.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


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 Tonya’s Favorite 2012 Books

2012 was a busy year for me in my personal life, and now that I’m looking back, I can see it’s taken a toll on my reading and reviewing. In fact, I’m trying my hardest to read three more books before midnight on the 31st just to reach my GoodReads goal of 75! But for all that I’ve read less than in previous years, I have almost as many books on my 2012 Favorites shelf as I did in 2011. It was, apparently, a very good year for YA.

1. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
4. Amelia Anna is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
5. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

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Wendy’s Favorite 2012 Books

This has been an extraordinarily difficult year in many ways, but what keeps bringing me back to the community is that it’s also been amazing year for YA lit. I’ve been blown away by what I’ve read recently, and as always, I’m thankful that publishers are taking chances on tricky material and offbeat topics.

My 2012 favorites shelf includes fifty books that thrilled me and moved me, and ones I’d visit again and again. But it will come as no surprise to my friends that most of my 5 star reads for 2012 are books that made me cry.

Here are the stories that changed the way I look at life, in ways both minute and profound:

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand
Blackout (Newsflesh #3) by Mira Grant
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Someone once called me an emotion junkie, and I have no shame in admitting that wholeheartedly.

blackout the lost girl cameron post hallowed monstrous beauty shadow and bone wonder amelia anne seraphina throne of glass books

So how about you? What were your favorite books published in 2012? Did any of ours make your list?

Wendy signature teal






92 Responses to “Our Favorite Books Published in 2012”

  1. Allison

    Thank you for this awesome list! So many to read in 2013 now. My 2012 favorites are Everneath, The Way We Fall, Fracture, and What’s Left of Me.

  2. Rachel

    I’m dying to read The Lost Girl, Wendy. Even more so now that you have it listed in your favorites for 2012! And you know I LOVED Hallowed. :)

  3. Ariana

    Haven’t had the time however, I really wanted o read Unearthly and Shadows and bones! Now I’m even more motivated to get out and buy those books!

  4. Ina M.

    Glad to see Shadow and Bone on two of your lists, I’m still to read it (i.e. still trying to get my hands on it!) but I have a very strong gut feeling I’m going to love it when I do! I’ll probably give up soon and just order it :P Only, I *think* I like the US cover a bit better than the UK one (I’m not too sure, as the UK one is also stunning!), so trying to win it via a load of giveaways at the moment :P Days of Blood and Starlight is also on my TBR list, as I’m just finishing Daughter of Smoke and Bone and loving it ^_^

  5. Christina

    Oh wow, of all of these that I’ve read, I’ve loved all of them. Well, okay, the one exception is Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone, but the writing was pretty. I need to be reading the rest of these!

  6. Lyn Kaye

    You guys have listed some rel winners: The Lost Girl, Shadow and Bone, and Seraphina were such great books!!

  7. Vivien

    Oh dear. Bear with me.
    Blackout by Mira Grant
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
    The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
    Black Heart by Holly Black
    Insurgent by Veronica Roth
    Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
    Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
    Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore
    Tiger Lily by Jodi Anderson
    Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
    A Million Suns by Beth Revis

    And…that’s all I can remember lol.

  8. wdwebdev

    I have been in a reading slump since I read Quintana of Charyn. It’s like I was so looking forward to reading that book, that it just took all other desire to read anything else away. Mix in some personal drama and whammo…I haven’t read a single YA book since the end of September. I hope to get back on the horse soon! This year was hard for YA .. I loved Quintana, Seraphina and lots more. I’m looking over my 5 star books and I see, “Last Night I Sang to the Monster” which just sang to me. But I read some of what you three ladies read and I agree. Thanks for all your hard work on the blog!

  9. Vegan YA Nerds

    K – I’m happy to see Graffiti Moon on your list and I hope I like Unspoken when I get around to it.

    Tonya – I liked Amelia Anne, too, and I’m planning on reading My Life Next Door, soon!

    Wendy – you said ’emotion junkie’ and I thought ‘that is SO me!’ Most of my faves are books that made me cry and I just finished another today that had me sobbing for half the book *sigh* I’m ok with it!

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, I think only one of the books on my top seven list didn’t make me cry, but Monstrous Beauty was so brilliant otherwise (and still shook me emotionally) that I had to include it. :) I don’t like feeling manipulated, which is why I rarely respond as strongly to stories which are outright weepers, but I LOVE a good cry when it feels emotionally true.

  10. Sophia

    So many amazing titles on y’all’s lists! :D I’m extremely pleased to see The Lost Girl on yours, Wendy, as The Lost Girl is also one of my favorites of 2012. :) It was just so amazing, and I feel like it’s underrated. Also, Hallowed was just fabulous. It made me cry!

  11. A Canadian Girl

    Monstrous Beauty, Seraphina and Shadow and Bone were some of the books I loved in 2012 too. I’m hoping to read My Life Next Door, The Lost Girl and the Unearthly series this year.

    • Wendy Darling

      Ack! Please please read Unearthly and TLG…they are SO good. I’m wringing my hands that you haven’t experienced all the feeeeeelings yet, hah.

      I need to read MLND, too. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yes, Melliane–as you know, it’s Seanan Maguire’s pen name, so I think there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it!

  12. Bookworm1858

    Seraphina and Shadow and Bone were two of my favorites for the year but number one was Code Name Verity!

    Hope 2013 is your best year yet!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, Verity! I kept meaning to read that one, as so many people raved about it, but somehow I just never got around to it. Thanks for the reminder that I should probably try it again soon. Happy new year to you!

  13. Keertana

    Tiger Lily, DoBaS, Seraphina, The Lost Girl, Graffiti Moon…all of them are my favorites. TFiOS, Saving Francesca, and Wanderlove are also ones I just loved this past year, but either than those, your list pretty much sums it all up! :) I wish you all a wonderful year ahead, so Happy New Year! :D

  14. Jessica Lewenda

    Lovely list!

    Some fave books that I’ve read this year are most of Catherynne M. Valente’s books, most of David Mitchell’s books, and Seraphina. Sadly, I haven’t read too many books that were released this year, and apparently a lot of them seem pretty amazing (as your list seems to suggest!). Maybe in 2013, I’ll catch up.

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks Jess! :)

      I have to finish the first Fairyland book, that’s one I’m dreadfully behind on. I think we had a conversation about David Mitchell recently, too–CLOUD ATLAS has been recommended to me for years, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

      I think it’s been a great year for YA, but honestly, not reading them the year they’re out offers a certain freedom, too. You’re not so caught up in the hype and the pressure and such, hah. Cheers to more reading time for us all in 2013!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, see? I LIVE for the heartache, hah.

      Happy New Year to you, Maria! Thanks for leaving the link to your list, I’ll be by to visit it soon. :)

    • K.

      Oh, Maria. Hallowed was so painful to get through! So painful! But it was almost like a really tough journey we had to experience in order to be worthy of an incredible reward. I’m very much attached to the series and I can’t wait for that light at the end of the tunnel, and once I get there I know it’ll be what I need.

      Will check your list now and Happy New Year!

  15. Caroline M. Sugarman

    I actually have not read any of the books on these lists, but I just added several to my to-read list. Of the books I read this year, Gone Girl was my favorite published-in-2012 read. Highly recommended!

    • Wendy Darling

      Not a single one? :O I hope this terrible situation is remedied quickly, hee hee.

      I think I just said this to you on GoodReads, but I play on reading GONE GIRL soon. I’ve been hearing really amazing things about it, glad to hear it topped your list!

    • K.

      Caroline, I think this is a great list and I’m positive you’ll find among them really wonderful gems as all three of us have. Happy reading!

  16. Wendy Darling


    I’m so sorry, Tamara, I accidentally (and apparently, permanently) deleted your comment! Here it is in all its glory:

    Okay. Now I feel bad. I managed to read eighty books this year, but not one of these was on my list. I guess i have some catching up to do.

    Some of my faves for this year were The Raven Boys, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Everyday. :)

    Thanks so much! I have to dash out for our new year’s celebration, but I’ll be back later to respond. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Tamara, I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up too, to be honest–the problem is, THEY KEEP PUBLISHING AWESOME-SOUNDING BOOKS. Which is both a blessing and a curse.

      I really liked Raven Boys and Every Day, too! Still have to read Statistical, though. :)

  17. Danica Page

    I still need to read all of these books, but they look incredible. Thanks for sharing. My to-read list just got a little bigger.

  18. roro

    i loved Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
    Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

    and can;t wait for Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

    The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
    Wonder by R.J. Palacio

    gr8 post

    • Wendy Darling

      Ooo, I’m glad you agree on the first two, Roro–I have to read SERAPHINA myself, too. Hope you enjoy Cam and Wonder when you get around to them!

    • K.

      roro, I don’t think Serpahina will disappoint you. I hope you get to it real soon :)

  19. Ange

    I am completely taken with the Unwind series by Neal Schusterman – and UnWholly was a GREAT second novel. I feel like I’m still playing catch-up on all the great books of 2012! Some of the greatest recs I get are listed right here. Thanks!!

    • Wendy Darling

      I read UNWIND this year and loved it, Ange! I thought UNWHOLLY was a terrific follow0up as well. I can’t wait for the third book coming out next year–thank heaven we don’t have to wait seven years for the end of the story.

      And yay, thanks–I’m glad you’ve found our reviews and such helpful. Cheers to a really wonderful book year in 2013!

  20. Liviania

    UNSPOKEN and BLACK HEART would also be on my list, as well as FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS. But ya’ll picked out some great ones.

  21. Sana

    First off, I love the image with the little birdy in it, so pretty.

    Secondly, I definitely have to read a lot of these books because life gets in between my reading all the time it’s annoying. But really 50 favorites just from 2012? I have like 30 all round.

    And yes do read The Fault in Out Stars, it’s such an emotional book and yes, I’m also an emotion junkie and proud of it. =D

    Check out my End of Year Book Survey post.

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks, Sana! I’ve been playing around with making pretty buttons recently, so thanks for noticing. Come back tomorrow for another fun one, hint hint…

      I read a lot of books, so I do keep a “5 star list” (the seven books above for 2012), a separate “2012 faves” list to note the other books I really enjoyed but perhaps didn’t quite resonate as much emotionally with me, and of course, I have “favorite YA” and “favorites all time” lists, too! Um…yes, I’m kind of a shelving fiend.

      I will come by and check out your list in the next couple of days–thanks for leaving a link, and formatting it too! It’s so much easier to visit when people do that. :)

    • K.

      Oh, buttons. Is that what you call it? I’m such a newb. Le sigh. Anyway, I think readers are all emotion junkies on some level…

    • Wendy Darling

      That’s probably true. Although it’s always interesting to see how people react differently to the same material! Sometimes I think people are heartless, hah, although people probably think the same thing of me if I dislike a book they enjoy. Such is life.

  22. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    There are so many books on this list that I loved as well, and also so many that I can’t wait to pick up and read. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone was one that I found I really loved and was surprised because I had never heard of it and was just randomly gifted it one day from a fellow blogger. I recently bought My Life Next Door and can’t wait to read it. Oh and Wonder I just picked up as well, that one sounds great.

    I’ve been seeing quite a few of these “favorites of 2012” posts lately and I love the idea but absolutely fear the idea of putting my thoughts together and doing one myself. I really loved This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers, Easy by Tammara Webber and Before I fall by Lauren Oliver, I think I have narrowed those down as my top three. Thanks for sharing ladies!

    • Wendy Darling

      I really liked Amelia Anne as well (made my top 50 list)–it’s an interesting choice for YA, but I’m glad the publisher took a chance on such a weird little story. I totally get why some readers may not have enjoyed it as much, but I really liked it, too! And yay, WONDER!! And I liked EASY and TINAT as well. I have yet to read BIF, though. You have to be in the right mood, I think.

      I like doing the year-end posts and gauging what I’ve read and to compare notes with friends! I keep shelves throughout the year so it’s easy to compile, but I can see how choosing a top ten list might be tough. None of us quite got to ten 5-star books as you can see, though there were a lot of great books published overall.

    • K.

      This was a great idea, Wendy. I also love your little image cover there with the bird and the crown. Lovely!!

      It’s nice to have a compacted list of great recommended books from fellow readers. That way you get all the good book ideas at once.

    • Wendy Darling

      I LOVE your quivering slice description, K.–it describes all the books I listed so well, too. And yeah, I like our lists! I’m very fond of the birdie as well, he fits in with our gardeny theme and I rather liked the “crowning achievement” notion, hee hee.

  23. Monica

    I’ve read quite a few wonderful books as well this year. Some of my favorite are Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Fault in Our Stars,Shadow and Bone, Every Day, Looking for Alaska and most recently Pivot Point. So many, but I loved them all :D

    • Wendy Darling

      Ohh, I liked Every Day too! It made my “top 50” list, hah. I have a friend who also loved PIVOT POINT–she gave it 5 stars, which she doesn’t do too often, so I am on the lookout for that. :) Nice picks!

  24. Donna Smith

    Great list Wendy! I’ve been really hoping that The Lost Girl would be released as an audio book but that one is still at the top of my to-read list.

    2012 wasn’t the best reading year for me with so much personal stuff going of the 2012 releases I did read, my favorites were Shadow & Bone, The Immortal Rules, The Fault in Our Stars, and Life is but a Dream. Hopefully I’ll have more time for reading in 2013.

    • Wendy Darling

      DONNA! xo

      I hope THE LOST GIRL gets released on audio soon so you have a chance to read it–it’s such a tender, thoughtful book and I think it will stand the test of time.

      I was just saying to Karen above that it’s been a sporadic reading year for me too, but I am very grateful that there have been so many good books to make up for that. I still need to read TFIOS and LIBAD! And yes, hopefully we all get a chance to relax and enjoy more books in the coming year. Love to you! Coming over to visit you on your blog and such soon. :)

  25. Karen

    It seems that no matter how many books I read I’m still missing out on so many more good ones!

    From your lists I’ve only read Days of Blood and Starlight & Graffiti Moon – both were on my favorites of 2012 list as well.

    Happy New Year!

    • Wendy Darling

      That’s the thing–there’s never enough time to read all the books you want, no matter how hard you try! Like Tonya, I’ve been frantically trying to cram in as many books as possible in the last couple of months, particularly ones I thought might make my top 10 list. I took so many breaks this year, though, that it’s been hard–I didn’t even meet my GoodReads goal of 300 books. :( But hey, what we accomplished still isn’t half bad. :)

      Speaking of books I didn’t get a chance to read, I have to read both B&S and GRAFFITI MOON, Karen! Heh, there’s always next year. Happy 2013!!

  26. Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews)

    Loved Hallowed too! I can’t wait to find out how it all ends in Boundless! Gone Girl was my overall favourite read of 2012, but I had a lot of book loves! :) I’ve heard great things about The Lost Girl, so must get to that one soon!

    • Wendy Darling

      BOUNDLESS may kill us, Leanna. Or maybe half of us, depending on what team you’re on, hah.

      I still need to read GONE GIRL! I’ve only read the author’s first book, which I had more mixed feelings about, but the reviews for this one have been awesome. And yes, please check out TLG. It’s an extraordinary book.

    • K.

      “…depending on what team you’re on…”? What, may I ask, do you mean by this, Wendy? HUH?!?

    • Wendy Darling

      Hmph. You know exactly what I mean! But I keep saying this, and it’s really true–I think whichever choice Clara makes, I think Cynthia Hand is going to find a way to make it feel right to me. :) I have faith!

  27. Aneeqah

    500 books is a TON of books read, even between 3 people. It seems like all 3 of you found some fantastic gems. I really do need to pick up so many books on your lists, like The Lost Girl, Tiger Lily, and My Life Next Door. I think all of my top favorites for this year brought me to tears, so there’s no shame in being an emotional junkie Wendy! ;) It’s just that the books that bring you emotion are the ones that leave an imprint on you, and therefore are the best of the year. You don’t get that with more comical books, in my opinion.

    Fantastic lists ladies! Hopefully you’ll find even more amazing books in 2013. <3

    • Wendy Darling

      III know, the year-end totals are always a little frightening to look at! Did you publish a 2012 faves list, Aneeqah? I will have to check it out if so!

      the books that bring you emotion are the ones that leave an imprint on you, and therefore are the best of the year.

      I agree with this completely. Very well put.

    • K.

      Aneeqah, read Tiger Lily now. Make it a priority. You want emotion? Oh, it delivers it in bulks (I don’t know what that means…). And I’m ashamed to say that my contribution in that 500 is very miniscule :S

  28. Jasprit

    Oh this is an awesome list ladies! This year was definitely an excellent reading year! Throne of Glass definitely made it to my favourite list too! There are so many books on your lists that I can’t wait to read, Shadow and Bone, Monstrous Beauty and Unspoken. I hope next year will be a fun reading year for you too! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I really need to get off my butt and read TOG–if you and Tonya loved it, that’s a really good sign! And top ten lists are always so handy for end-of-the-year shopping, hah. :) Cheers to a book-filled 2013, Jasprit!

    • K.

      Jasprit, you have GOT to get going with those books!! I say leave Unspoken for last because…well, it’s just everything! Haha!

  29. Danica Page

    Wow! All of these sound great. I’ve only read Lost Girl. That one was very good.

    I really liked Under the Never Sky, Starters, and Pushing the Limits.

    • Wendy Darling

      You know, I bet if you liked THE LOST GIRL, you’d like WOLVES, too. :) Aren’t you lucky that UTNS and STARTERS both have sequels coming out soon! 2013 is shaping up to be an awesome year for YA lit as well. Very excited about that.

  30. rabbitsfortea

    2012 was an awesome year as it was the year that I really got into using GR, reading/following book blogs and exploring more reading options!

    Huge thank you to all of you guys for helping me find amazing books <3

    I share your love for Monstrous Beauty, Hallowed and Unspoken and I absolutely can’t wait to dive into the others that you guys have on your lists, especially Tell the Wolves I’m Home.

    Happy new year!

    XOXO Elaine

    • Wendy Darling

      Discovering GoodReads is a life-changing experience for most booklovers, I think. I’m so glad you got more involved this year, Elaine! Yay for kindred spirits.

      I’m glad to see more love for MB and Hallowed, and I know K. will be thrilled you loved Unspoken, too. YES please read Wolves, too. Um…it would probably help if I wrote my review, hah.

      Happy new year to you!!

    • K.

      Elaine, I love all the books you mentioned. I’m so glad we’ve been of some help to you. I still consider myself new to the reading community…and I’ve never been more glad for the internet, haha!

    • rabbitsfortea

      Me too, I’ve made a few really cool friends as well, yay.

      Haha, if you do write your review, I’m sure it will make me bump the book up higher on my list (;


      Yes, you guys have been awesome. And well, you could always appear more often here in the new year!

  31. Julie@My5monkeys

    Hallowed, shadow and Bone were my top faves along with seraphina too. Loved the pretty books pictures .

    There were some amazing books this year #shadownandbone

    • Wendy Darling

      Ooo, awesome that our lists overlap, Julie! I really need to read Seraphina–I’ve heard such wonderful things.

      Also, S&B made my big favorites list, too. I think it might be the only book that all three of us read and loved this year.

    • K.

      That’s another one I think you’ll love, Wendy. So glad S&B made it to your fave list!! And just in time, too ;)

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, I really owe it to you, K. A lot of my friends did not like it, but it was your breathless reaction that made me speed through it with the eye towards a potential 2012 favorite!

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, Tonya hasn’t read HALLOWED yet (the travesty!), but I am hoping it will make hers when she gets around to it, hah.

      And tell me about it! The waiting and the slow death goes on…

    • K.

      Ah, yes. Hallowed. I can’t believe Boundless is coming just around the corner. I am absolutely beside myself in anticipation…and fear.

  32. Melissa

    I share your undying love for Wonder, Wendy — that book topped my list of favourites for 2012! I also received The Lost Girl from my wonderful hubby for Christmas, and I’m excited to dive into that one, since I’ve heard such great things so far!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, I’m so glad you loved WONDER, Melissa! It was so touching and uplifting at the same time. :) I look forward to hearing what you think of THE LOST GIRL–that book made me cry buckets and buckets of tears. AND I WISH YOU THE SAME EXPERIENCE. :D