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14 December
The Critical Eye Viewpoints

Staff Picks: Best Books of 2012

We polled our staff in early December, asking our more than 200 book reviewers what their favorite books of 2012 were — regardless of having reviewed the book for us. Below is what they told us. We found it interesting that there were no duplicates, which tells you that there were so many great releases this year. On our list, you’ll find a little bit for everyone, from cookbooks to children’s books, to horror.

With Christmas nearing, we thought this would be a handy guide for your gift-giving.

Note: Books that we’ve reviewed link to the review.

23 Shades of Black By K.J.A. Wishnia

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Sacramento, Including Auburn, Folsom, and Davis (2nd ed) by Jane Huber

A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson

A Room with a Pew: Sleeping Our Way Through Spain’s Ancient Monasteries by Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt

A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie

Aloha, Mozart by Waimea Williams

Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation by Scott Farris

American Antislavery Writings by James G. Basker

Ancient Light by John Banville

And Blue Skies from Pain by Stina Leicht 

At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories By Kij Johnson

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Beyond Here Lies Nothing: The Concrete Grove Trilogy By Gary McMahon

Black Dahlia and White Rose by Joyce Carol Oates

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Calling Invisible Women: A Novel by Jeanne Ray

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Churchhill: The Power of Words by Winston Churchill and Martin Gilbert

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

College: What It Is and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco

Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson

Dragonborn by Toby Forward

Gone: A Novel by Cathi Hanauer

Grave Mercy by RL LaFevers

Healthy Foods A to Z by Stephanie Maze and Renee Comet

Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques; 101 Fast, Fun, and Fearless Projects: Dresses, Tunics, Scarves, Skirts, Accessories, Pillows, Curtains, and More by Nicole Blum, Debra Immergut

Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis

Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie by Beth M. Howard

Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris, by Marissa Moss

Neville by Norton Juster and G. Brian Karas

Nimpentoad by Josh Herz, Henry Herz, Harrison Herz, and Sean Eddingfield (Illustrator)

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer

Small adventures in Cooking by James Ramsden

So Far From Home: Russians in Early California by Glenn J. Farris

So Far to Run by Louise Geesedeh Barton

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Sources of Lights by Margaret McMullan

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

The Coldest War (The Milkweed Triptych, #2)

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America by Scott Weidensaul

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen by Stephen R. Brown

The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Tender Hour of Twilight by Richard Seaver

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, by Barbara Mariconda

Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story by Freddie Owens

When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Willa Bean’s Cloud Dreams by Kristi Valiant

Year Zero by Rob Reid

You Came Back: A Novel by Christopher Coake



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Ruins of Stone Hill


Favors and Lies


A Passing Curse


November 23, 2014
Sunday Morning Storytime with Christopher Smith
Starts: 11:00 am
Ends: November 23, 2014 - 12:00 pm
Location: Author Appearance - , “” Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Description: Sunday Morning Storytime with Christopher Smith at Book Passage, Corte Madera
Starting September 12!
Sundays • 11:00 am • Free
Summer is over and Christopher is back! Singer-songwriter Christopher Smith has been writing music and performing in the Bay Area for over 20 years. Smith writes well-crafted story songs that aim for the heart. Children of all ages—and adults—love him!

These events are free and take place at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, unless otherwise noted. For information or to reserve autographed books, call 415-927-0960 or go to
Maxine Louise Michel De Felice - May the Spirit Be Unbroken
Starts: 1:00 pm
Ends: November 23, 2014 - 2:00 pm
Location: Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
California Writers Club
Starts: 2:00 pm
Ends: November 23, 2014 - 4:00 pm
Location: Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Description: California Writers Club at Book Passage, Corte Madera
4th Sunday each month • 2:00-4:00 pm • $5 members/$10 non-members per meeting
The Marin branch of the California Writers Club meets monthly at Book Passage, except July, August and December, on the 4th Sunday of the month, unless it’s a holiday. 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Meetings may feature a guest speaker, a workshop, or a panel discussion, along with networking, encouragement, and writing news. CWC, a 501c educational corporation, is the nation’s oldest professional club for writers ... “educating writers of all levels of expertise in the craft of writing and in the marketing of their work.” All are welcome. Visit
Upcoming Meetings: Sun., June 26 • 2:00 pm • Topic: “Patience & Persistence: the Writer as Marathoner” • Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Four Ms. Bradwells, The Wednesday Sisters, and The Language of Light.
Kate Gale, Maxine Hong Kingston & Shelley Savren - An Evening of Poetry
Starts: 4:00 pm
Ends: November 23, 2014 - 5:00 pm
Location: Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
November 24, 2014
Booksigning - Actress Evangeline Lilly - The Squickerwonkers
Starts: 3:00 pm
Ends: November 24, 2014 - 4:00 pm
Location: Books Inc, The Marina: 2251 Chestnut St, San Francisco
Kid Lit Salon - Led by Lissa Rovetch, 4th Monday each Month, 7:00-9:00 pm, $120 per year
Starts: 7:00 pm
Ends: November 24, 2014 - 9:00 pm
Location: Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Description: Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Salon led by Lissa Rovetch.
4th Monday each month • 7:00-9:00 pm • $120 per year

The Bay Area is home to many children’s book writers and illustrators, and is an absolute hotbed of emerging talent. Book Passage is thrilled to host the Kid Lit Salon for both established and beginning children’s book writers and illustrators. Come socialize with like-minded, creative types in your field. Our evenings include a wildly diverse array of speakers, member updates, events, conferences, and insider tips. Writer and illustrator Lissa Rovetch is the illustrator of There Was a Man Who Loved a Rat and Other Vile Little Poems and author of Ook the Book and the Hot Dog and Bob book series.
Monika Trobits - Antebellum and Civil War San Francisco
Starts: 7:00 pm
Ends: November 24, 2014 - 8:00 pm
Location: Green Apple Books, 2nd floor: 506 Clement St, San Francisco
November 25, 2014
Katie Gilmartin - Blackmail, My Love
Starts: 7:00 pm
Ends: November 25, 2014 - 8:00 pm
Location: Green Apple Books, 2nd floor: 506 Clement St, San Francisco
Elin Hildebrand - Winter Street
Starts: 7:00 pm
Ends: November 25, 2014 - 8:00 pm
Location: Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera




Rush of Shadows