Favorites of 2012, in no particular order

2012 is almost behind us (thank every star in the sky!), so I thought it was an apt time to do a list of favorite things from the past year.  Here are some books, movies, and music I recommend (in no particular order)…

Books

Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams.  This nonfiction gem is part travelogue, part history, part humor, and 100% delightful.  The book follows the efforts of the author to retrace the steps of the “discoverer” of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham III. His journey takes him on strange paths, both real (through jungle, mountains, and beyond) and historical. My favorite nonfiction this year.

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson.  This YA fantasy is about an American teenager who discovers her Norwegian heritage on a summer trip to visit her preternaturally young grandmother.  With a likeable protagonist, beautiful setting, and realistic romance, this one pretty much captivated me from the start.  The book jacket sums the story up better than I ever could: “Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly epic coming-of-age.”

City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore.  A noir fantasy set in modern day Los Angeles, City of the Lost takes the recent zombie craze in an unexpected (and awesome) direction.  Ride along with the book’s antihero as he struggles to find out why he’s suddenly gone from alive to undead and how he can fix his problem before he eats another hooker.  Yup, you read that right.  Funny, but (obviously) dark too.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  This is probably one of the best things I read all year.  Vividly imagined, beautifully written, and utterly gripping, Daughter of Smoke and Bone tells the story of a devil who fell in love with an angel.  What more can you ask for?  Read this one right away.

Necromancer Chronicles by Amanda Downum.  This trilogy includes The Drowning City, Kingdoms of Dust, and The Bone Palace.  All follow the (mis)adventures of necromancer Isyllt Iskaldur.  Dark, brooding, unexpected, and beautiful.  Best fantasy I’ve read in a long time.

Movies

I saw very few movies in 2012 that I liked well enough to recommend, let alone remember long enough to want to put them on this list.  In fact, there are just two:

Safety Not Guaranteed.  This little charmer tells the story of a depressed, cynical magazine intern who goes undercover to do a story on a man who has put out an ad seeking a companion with whom he can travel through time.  It sounds predictable to suggest that, as a consequence, her life will never be the same…and this movie is anything but.  Safety Not Guaranteed made me happier than I can say.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.  So, yes, this movie is about the end of the world, which seems depressing.  And to claim I didn’t cry would be the fattest of lies.  Still, I wouldn’t call a movie about two unhappy people discovereing that life is worth living (even if they won’t live for long) a downer.  Loved this one, a lot.

Music

I “discovered” a few new bands this year, much to my delight.  Some of these you all probably know, but maybe some are new to you too.  Hope you enjoy them.

fun.  Their first album, Some Nights, is full of great, anthem-y songs, like this one: Carry On.  I had a kind of rough year, and fun.’s music always makes me feel happy.

Brandie Carlile  Her latest album (Bear Creek) is lovely, singer-songwriter stuff.  She has a pretty, throaty voice that’s both soothing and moving.

Of Monsters and Men.  This Icelandic band sounds just like you might imagine a group of hipsters from Iceland would (read: kooky and twee).  Here’s a video of them performing one of their bigger hits Little Talks.

And, that’s it!  What stuff did you LOVE in 2012?  Please share your favorites in the comments!

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