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Vampire Book Club’s Best Books of 2012

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Vampire Book Club's Best Books of 2012We’re doing things slightly differently this year. This is the first year where we have associate reviewers at VBC. As such, it didn’t feel quite right to only include my top 10. So, you’ll find my 10 picks for the absolute best books of 2012 and below that a top 5 list from Jo and Candace, respectively. Plus, of course, we have your winner for the reader’s choice best book. (See the Best Of lists from 2011 and 2010.)

I advise making this your shopping list. I’ll vouch for any book on my top 10 list as bringing the things I really love: deep characterization, clever plot and spry writing.

CHELSEA’S TOP 10

BOOKS OF 2012

SHADOW BOUND (UNBOUND #2)
Author: Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent has never been one to shy away from dark places. Shadow Bound is far from an exception there. It’s dark, gut wrenching and amazing. You will cry reading this book. There will be more than one time when you’ll need to look away from the pages. As a matter of fact, you’ll be near the end of the book and think, “There is no way these two can end up together.” But it is a romance and there is a happily-ever-after. One that is organic and fits just right for the characters. Shadow Bound will get into your head and stay with you, as only the best books can.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Shadow Bound
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane // VBC Best Books 2012ONCE BURNED (NIGHT PRINCE #1)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

Once Burned took me by surprise. Well, maybe that’s not quite accurate. I expected Jeaniene Frost to bring the awesome. Vlad took me by surprised. I didn’t expect to fall head-over-heels for the vampire, but his chemistry with heroine Leila was overwhelming and consuming and real. Brilliant romance from beginning to end.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Once Burned and Jeaniene’s guest post on the other ‘super’ in superheroes
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

SACRIFICIAL MAGIC (DOWNSIDE GHOSTS #4)
Author: Stacia Kane

We had two excellent Downside Ghosts books release this year (the second being the fantastic Chasing Magic). What pushed Sacrificial Magic onto the list wasn’t the character named after me (though, let’s be clear, I’m not actually like that Chelsea), but the brilliant character transition. Watching Chess learn how to exist in a relationship was uncomfortable at times, because she was uncomfortable. Like so many of Stacia Kane’s works, this book will push your buttons. She knows how to make you cry, to make you consider throwing the book then hug it moments later. Darkness, joy and clever plotting make this one a big win with me.

Get more: Read the VBC reviews of Sacrificial Magic and Chasing Magic
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

THE IMMORTAL RULES (BLOOD EDEN #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules was my favorite vampire book this year. It’s a fresh story and brings in the kind of conflicts that make a reader emotionally invest in a novel. The emotional journey of a young woman accepting her new reality as a monster and fighting to retain her humanity is done with power, care and blinding honesty. Kagawa writes Allie’s journey in such a way, you’ll imagine yourself fighting to keep the Hunger at bay and longing for someone human to still trust you.

Get more: Read the VBC review of The Immortal Rules
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

ALL THINGS WICKED (DARK MISSION #3)
Author: Karina Cooper

We had two new Dark Mission novels in 2012, and while both were good All Things Wicked managed to do the unthinkable and make me fall head-over-heels for Caleb. Now, if you haven’t read the previous Dark Mission novels (you should, starting with Blood of the Wicked), Caleb is made out to be a very bad guy. And it’s not all smoke and mirrors. The guy has done some despicable things. However, the emotional journey in All Things Wicked gives us insight and allows us to fall for him as Juliet does. Also, epic sex scenes, my friends. Epic.

Get more: Read VBC reviews of All Things Wicked and Sacrifice the Wicked and a Q&A with Karina
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

The City's Son by Tom Pollock (Skyscraper Throne #1) // VBC Best Books 2012THE CITY’S SON (SKYSCRAPER THRONE #1)
Author: Tom Pollock

I’m a sucker for a well-developed world. Tom Pollock’s The City’s Son does that and then some. Not only am I transported to the world he’s built, but each new character is brought to vibrant life. What’s better is he turns oil and tar and refuse into something beautiful. The story will generate questions of who to trust. While the independent spirit in The City’s Son will resonate with a young adult audience, I’ll call this a must-read for those who appreciate seeing the city as a character.

Get more: Read the VBC review of The City’s Son
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

A SLIVER OF SHADOW (ABBY SINCLAIR #2)
Author: Allison Pang

The second Abby Sinclair book turned me to Team Talivar. A new hero? I wasn’t sure going in, but after finishing the book I was in love. The book isn’t just about a wounded faery prince, though. It’s about the struggle for power and by the end you’ll love heroine Abby even more. It’s snarky, sexy and action-packed. A definite must-read.

Get more: Read the VBC review of A Sliver of Shadow
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE (SHAEDE ASSASSIN #2)
Author: Amanda Bonilla

I love books that are an emotional challenge. The ones where by the end of the book the main character has truly grown. Blood Before Sunrise is one of those books. There are moments when you’ll grip your book and pretend to be shaking some sense into Darian. Don’t expect easy answers in this novel, but I can promise one hell of a journey with lush descriptions. Even when Darian is making poor decisions, I want to be her friend.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Blood Before Sunrise and Amanda’s guest post on character frustration
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

Blood on the Bayou by Stacey Jay // VBC Best Books 2012BLOOD ON THE BAYOU (ANNABELLE LEE #2)
Author: Stacey Jay

Blood on the Bayou’s Annabelle Lee has some serious problems. In addition to murderous faeries and big-time relationship complications, her trust issues are out of control. Annabelle loses faith in others while they gain implicit trust in her. And then she has to reconcile it.

Stacey Jay’s precise execution of Annabelle’s trust issues makes Blood on the Bayou a brilliant read. Plus, there are sexy Southern men without their shirts on and high-speed chases, possible drug-running and faerie craziness.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Blood on the Bayou
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

FULL BLOODED (JESSICA MCCLAIN #1)
Author: Amanda Carlson

I’ve been known to have a hard time getting into wolf point-of-view in werewolf novels. Amanda Carlson does it so well that I found myself looking forward to the scenes with Jessica’s wolf. Yep. That good.

Quick writing and a heroine women will love make Full Blooded a delight to read. Jessica McClain manages to be one of the boys and fiercely independent. She’s at times girly, at others positively feral. The dynamic is engaging. It doesn’t hurt that our Jessica might have a thing for a guy that should be sooooooo off limits. And readers will love him.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Full Blooded
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

JO’S TOP 5 BOOKS OF 2012

FIRELIGHT (DARKEST LONDON #1)
Author: Kristen Callihan

This is the first historical paranormal romance I’d ever picked up and it blew my socks off. Supernatural mystery mixed with swoon worthy romance set in a fog filled, gothic Victorian London, simply brilliant.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Firelight
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

FULL BLOODED (JESSICA MCCLAIN #1)
Author: Amanda Carlson

This was one of my most anticipated new releases of 2012 and it didn’t disappoint. Kick-ass tale of just how complicated life can get when you’re the only female werewolf.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT (RHIANNON’S LAW #3)
Author: J.A. Saare

I’m a total sucker for authors that take risks in their series, and this one was a jaw dropper. Brutal at times but always lightened by Rhiannon’s snarky one liners, it’s an emotional roller coaster!

Get more: Read the VBC review of The Ripple Effect
Purchase: Amazon

POISON PRINCESS (THE ARCANA CHRONICLES #1)
Author: Kresley Cole

Paranormal dystopian YA that’s crammed full of all the things that make Kresley Cole books awesome! Action-packed, dark yet witty and sizzling character dynamics.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Poison Princess
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

TRICKED (IRON DRUID CHRONICLES #4)
Author: Kevin Hearne

I’m a newcomer to this fantastic series and I’ve fallen hard. Tricked is the best one yet, laugh-out-loud dialogue, geeky references that make my soul sing and more then one perilous situation for our favorite Druid.

Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

CANDACE’S TOP 5 BOOKS OF 2012

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost // VBC Best Books 2012ONCE BURNED (NIGHT PRINCE #1)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

We get a shower scene (Frost has a flair for those), a cross continental vampire-style flight to save the heroine and trademark humor from Bones. We saw pieces of Vlad’s memories, the dedication of those in and around his Romanian home for their former prince and a touching amount of consideration from “the bloody Showhound.”

LOTHAIRE (IMMORTALS AFTER DARK #12)
Author: Kresley Cole

Oh, Lothaire, you self-righteous, smug, egotistical bastard. You had me from hello. Cole’s writing was genius. Elizabeth is from a backwoods community in the south and the humor is strictly regionally oriented. I’m from North Carolina and I was in hysterics laughing at the humor. The real question here is can a man be redeemed who has spent so long making people hate him? More importantly, can he redeem himself to his bride, whoever she may be? The journey to get there and what we find at the end makes this book one of the year’s best.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Lothaire
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT (MIDNIGHT BREED #10)
Author: Lara Adrian

Chase fell apart at the seams, threw himself to the wolves to protect his friends and came dangerously close to giving into a dangerous vampire addiction, until Tavia came into the picture. Tavia fought demons of her own and had a pretty bad induction into the world of vampires and wasn’t quite so sure about Chase. At the end of Darker After Midnight, the Breed world was completely restructured and new lines were drawn. Our beloved warriors had a new home, new members of the family and new battles to face.

Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

ORACLE’S MOON (ELDER RACES #4)
Author: Thea Harrison

Otherworldly sexiness with a smoldering presence, Khalil was the very thing that Grace needed to bring calm to her newly chaotic world. With the death of her sister and brother-in-law, Grace was now the caregiver to their children as well as the Oracle. All the Wyr consult the Oracle, and it is up to a Djinn prince to keep her safe. Harrison did something I doubted could be done with Khalil, she created a Wyr hotter than Tiago.

Get more: Read the VBC review of Oracle’s Moon
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

ROGUE RIDER (LORDS OF DELIVERANCE #4)
Author: Larissa Ione

Larissa Ione gave us Lethal Rider in May, which was outstanding in its own right, but Reseph was patient. He had no choice but to sit back and allow Pestilence to bring hell fire and demonic plagues all over the world while he waited for his turn. Boy, oh boy, did he get it. Fans who wanted his story will be highly pleased with the heroine, Jillian. She’s the one creature who could make the Horseman formerly known as Pestilence know love. We’ve got a huge reveal, decent showings by Reseph’s family, Eidolon on the edge of losing his cool and Wraith delivering his classic wit and one-liners. This one was well worth the wait.

Get more: Read VBC reviews of Lethal Rider and Rogue Rider
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

VBC READERS’ CHOICE BEST BOOK OF 2012

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona AndrewsGUNMETAL MAGIC (KATE DANIELS #5.5)
Author: Ilona Andrews

It was a close race, but VBC readers said they loved Andrea’s story set in the Kate Daniels world the most this year. As Candace said in her review: “Gunmetal Magic is about Andrea learning to accept her place in the Pack. With a few gentle (or not so gentle) shoves in the right direction from Aunt B, Kate, Curran, a young shifter named Ascanio and a volhv named Roman, she may just finally overcome a lifetime of hesitancy.”

Get more: Read the VBC review of Gunmetal Magic
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon

15 Responses to “Vampire Book Club’s Best Books of 2012”

  1. Angela says:

    Great list and thanks to your site I’m hooked on most of the series. I just parked some of the ‘newer’ ones (Carlson & Pollock) until at least book 2 comes closer.

    I’d only would have added Diana Rowland (either demons or zombies series) if it was my top list for 2012.

    I’ll need to check out Karina Cooper and Stacey Jay soon.

    • I’m behind on Diana’s series. I have EVEN WHITE TRASH ZOMBIES GET THE BLUES on my physical TBR, though. I’m sure it is fantastic.

      If it helps in deciding between Karina Cooper and Stacey Jay, Karina is romance primarily and Stacey is urban fantasy primarily. Both are awesome.

  2. Carol says:

    I loved Blood on the Bayou also. Stacey Jay had mentioned in a blog once that the future of that series wasn’t so good and we might not see any more Annabelle :-(.

  3. Sacrificial Magic, Full Blooded, Firelight, Gunmetal Magic are all on my list(s) too.

  4. Krista says:

    LOVED Sacrificial Magic and Chasing Magic!

  5. Nicole says:

    Great lists. Def some of my faves are up on several. :) Good job, ladies! And congrats to Ilona and Gordon. LOVED Gunmetal Magic. Purple shag carpet is all I can say ;)

  6. Vicki Wilson says:

    Great lists! A lot of my favorites are on there

  7. Norma says:

    My favorites: Lothaire, Sacrificial Magic, Chasing Magic, ICED, Once Burned

  8. Amy M says:

    Good list. Once burned, sacrificial magic, gunmetal magic, the ripple effect, and shadow bound were all books I read this year too. All great books this year. I’m glad to see Gunmetal Magic made the reader’s choice. Based on this list I really want to check out Full Blooded.

  9. smith, sue says:

    Find it pretty unbelievable J.R. Ward was not in your lineup.
    Best get started reading…….you’re falling behind on some incredable
    narration.

  10. Julie says:

    Hi. I’m new to this website (thanks to Ilona Andrews whose books I love), and I’m not sure what books are allowed. I’ve only read Once Burned and Gunmetal Magic. (I loved both.) But, I would have added a Patricia Briggs and maybe a Jennifer Estep book to my favorites list. (M J Scott, Maria V Snyder, and Shannon Mayer are keeping me interested and reading them too.)

    I’m definitely getting some great ideas for books to read here. Thank you.

  11. Rashelle says:

    I was also very surprised that BDB was not on the list. This series is what got me started with the vampire stories. I absolutely LOVE these books and was immediately addicted. I have yet to find any other series compare.

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