The Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2012

heart-bookHi everyone!  I thought that since you all have heard so much about my own personal goals and favorite reads of 2012, it was about time that you heard from the rest of the staff.  I’ve asked them to send me their top reads of 2012, and I’ve posted them below.  I think it’s interesting to see what different readers choose as their favorites, and it’s always a great springboard for opening a discussion too!  So, without further adieu, here’s the Reflections of a Book Addict staff favorites of 2012!

Todd:

  1. Timeline by Michael Crichton
  2. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  3. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  4. A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
  5. H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius
  6. Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
  7. The Sounding by Carrie Salo

Adam:

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
  3. Pantheons by E.J. Dabel
  4. Albino by E.J. Dabel
  5. Deal With the Devil by J. Gunnar Grey

Christine:

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. Issues 1-6 of Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  4. The Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
  5. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  6. Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Jess:

  1. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
  2. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  3. Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton

What do you think?  Leave us a comment below!

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Armchair BEA: Day 2 – The Favorites!

For the second day of Armchair BEA posts, we’ve been tasked with describing our favorite reads of this year.  Instead of just picking one book and talking about it myself, both Todd and I have picked two of our favorite reads of the year and will share them with you!  Hopefully this will inspire you to seek out new and exciting reads for the remainder of the year.  So, without further ado, here they are:

Todd:  I’d have to say that my favorite book this year is H10N1 by M. R. Cornelius.  Yes, you could say that it was a shoo in because it’s a post-apocalyptic thriller, but I think it’s more than just that.  One of the best parts of novels in this genre is that they are as much a reflection of the people around us as they are a description of the actual apocalyptic event.  Yes, I know the whole genre is pretty popular right now with the likes of The Walking Dead and Resident Evil on TV and the big screen, but I’ve always liked these kinds of books, as they showcase the good and the bad that comes out of a dire situation.  Cornelius definitely achieved that in her work, and it was a thrill ride from start to finish.  I’m definitely glad I gave this one a shot, it was a blast to read.  You can read my full review here!

In second place by a very, very slight margin is the second book in the Across the Universe trilogy, A Million Suns by Beth Revis.  Although I’ve just finished it recently, it’s definitely an amazing follow-up to Across the Universe.  In it, we follow Elder as he attempts to lead the ship through a new host of trials and tribulations following the death of its previous leader, Eldest.  Not only does Revis’ writing show amazing technical detail that is a staple of any good sci-fi novel, but the interpersonal connections she weaves between Elder and his main interest, Amy, are great.  It’s a great coming-of-age novel that explores the difficulties of leadership, and the obstacles one must overcome in being different than everyone else.  Hopefully I can finish my review quickly and post it up for everyone to read!

Kim:  Although it was quite a task to pick just two books that would take the top spot so far this year, I’ve finally managed to do so.  First up is the fifth book in the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander, Dangerous to Know.  Lady Emily’s character is fleshed out much more in this book, as she and Colin must deal with her miscarriage.  Although she was already a strong female character, this tragedy gave her some depth that made her all the more believable and relatable.  We all must get through difficult patches in our lives, so to see Lady Emily boldly carry on and eventually overcome this situation was inspiring.  Alexander did a great job in creating such a wonderful character, and along with the other characters in the novel presented an exciting story that I couldn’t put down!  You can read my full review here.

Seeing as Todd has ranked his two books after choosing them, I’d have to say that I’m saving the best of my two for last.  Orchid House by Lucinda Riley is a stunning tale of love and loss.  As I stated in my review, I was amazed that this is Riley’s debut novel, as her writing is as seamless and fluid as the most veteran writers out there.  The way in which she crosses time and geography in this work is astounding.  Covering three generations and three countries, Riley treats us to a rich world that drew me in from the very beginning.  I’m always a sucker for great character development, but this went above and beyond, teaching us that life is a precious gift that can be taken from us at any time.  Couple this with the amazing backdrop of Riley’s fantastic plot and you have a sure winner.  I don’t give out more than 5 stars often, but this definitely deserved it!  Read my full review here.

Well, that’s it for our favorite reviews of the year so far!  Check back tomorrow for the third day of Armchair BEA posting.

Until then, happy reading!

Todd’s Review of H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius

When Kim first asked me to review H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius, I was definitely excited.  Not only was it a book that was a post-apocalyptic thriller, which is right up my alley, but it was also about a deadly strain of the influenza virus.  For those of you who don’t know, I work for a company that researches influenza and is producing a seasonal and pandemic vaccine.  So, not only was I excited to read this book for its genre, but I was also excited because it’s about a subject near and dear to my heart.

The novel begins with the pandemic already in full swing with a fraction of the population alive and holed up in safe areas, attempting to sort the remaining survivors into safe camps and study those infected by the virus.  Dr. Taeya Sanchez is an epidemiologist who currently works at the Army Medical Center in New York, one of a few government-run medical centers left in the country that exists to treat and sort the incoming population into appropriate safe zones, or if necessary, facilitate their disposal if infected.  A problem arises when Dr. Sanchez voices her opinions over the mass euthanization of infected individuals to the facility’s director, and her credentials are revoked.  Fearing that she will be soon fired and left to fend for herself, she prepares to leave the facility, stocked with supplies and medicine, when she runs into Rick DeAngelo.  Rick is one of the facility’s drivers, and convinces her to leave with him in an armored van that he normally pilots for the facility.  Although Sanchez is not the biggest fan of Rick based on her observations of his attitude and demeanor towards her previously, she decides to take him up on the offer and escape with him.  What follows is a tale packed with action and adventure as the pair wind their way towards a farm in Arkansas and then on to a bio-containment dome in Arizona.  Will they be able to find help?  Will they learn to trust each other and put their differences aside?  Will a cure be discovered?

As I’ve said before, the scariest and most intriguing part of post-apocalyptic fiction is the interactions between the survivors.  More than the external threat, whether it’s zombies or a virus or a disease, is the threat of human nature.  When pushed to the limit, there is no telling what lows people will sink to in order to survive.  This is just as true in H10N1, as Sanchez and Rick must fight off attacks from other survivors as they make their way across the country.  Preconceived notions make Rick almost shoot a pregnant woman, and they fend off attacks from gangs hell-bent on attacking them to steal their supplies and vehicle.  These events go to show that the heightened emotions of the situation can make even the most calm and collected individual a completely different person.  Additionally, there isn’t a lot of scientific information about this particular strain of virus (and that’s ok!) because the real threat comes from those around the main characters.  It’s very interesting how survival mechanisms take away most senses of right and wrong in order to protect the individual.  The key is to not let these take over, and to remain human in the face of the horrors that surround everyone.  In doing so Sanchez and Rick maintain their cool and are better off than those frantically trying to survive based on instinct alone.  While I would have liked a little more scientific information about the specific disease (what can I say, I’m a nerd…), the book was a fantastic read from start to finish.  Cornelius really knows how to tell a story, and multiple times I felt as if I were in that van with Sanchez and Rick rolling across America in search of a safe haven.  She really knows how to set the story, the character development is solid, and the plot is well-developed.  I applaud this, her first publication, as a great success, and can only hope to read what else she has in store.  If you’re a fan of Contagion or The Walking Dead, this will be perfect.  Go grab a copy!

5 out of 5 Stars

H10N1 by M. R. Cornelius
iUniverse (2011)
Paperback: 322 pages
ISBN: 9781450295659

Special thanks to M.R. Cornelius for sending me my review copy!