Seeing that my last post ended on authors that I’ve given up on, I thought I’d do a more positive post today.
So here are four books that I graded A during 2006 (completely random selection off the top of my head, since I don’t currently have access to my bookshelf!).
Drop Dead Gorgeous (Linda Howard) – Sequel to “To Die For”, featuring ex-cheerleader Blair Mallory, who’s now preparing for her wedding. It’s written in first person and I love Blair’s voice, but completely accept that it’s a love-hate thing. You either get her or you don’t. I get her – in fact, I get her so much that despite an iffy start, the weak plot and some “he did what?!?” moments from Wyatt (the hero), this book still merits an A from me. I know some people want Siana’s (Blair’s sister) story next – as for me, I’m curious about Siana’s voice, but I don’t know if I’ll like her as much as I do Blair. Grade: A-
A Civil Campaign (Lois McMaster Bujold) – Part of the Vorkosigan series, this is when Miles finally gets his match. It’s subtitled “A Comedy of Biology and Manners”, which is absolutely spot-on. Out of all the Miles books, this is probably the one with the strongest romance thread. There are scenes in here that I re-read over and over again, because they’re just perfect! Warning: I would not recommend this for your first Miles book, because you’re (a) likely to be driven mad by the number of characters that pop up in this book and (b) not get the full impact without knowing the backstory of the secondary characters. Other Vorkosigan books I read during 2006 and would include in the A category are “Warrior’s Apprentice” (the first Miles book), “The Vor Game”, “Cetaganda” and “Memory”. Note: Ignore the covers. Really. They’re umm… traditional SF covers. Grade: A+ (yes, that’s how much I like it)
Dark Moon Defender (Sharon Shinn) – Third in Ms Shinn’s Twelve Houses series, this is fantasy and this is romance. Never mind the ongoing debate about whether these books should be shelved in Fantasy or Romance, this is one book that can be shelved in both. Without any complaints from readers. There’s a HEA, though because the book ends with a foreshadowing of war, there may be doubts whether it’s a forever-thing (but I trust Ms Shinn!). And I’m still not quite sure if the romance in the second book has been closed off properly. But the writing’s beautiful, the story draws you in, and it’s just everything a fantasy-cum-romance should be. I think it stands alone, but it would be worth reading the first two books beforehand because previous characters make appearances. I love the cover too, even though my sister and I spent ages debating whether Justin looked too young or not. Grade: A-
Temeraire (UK) / His Majesty’s Dragon (US) (Naomi Novik) – Probably the best debut novel I read during 2006. It’s not a romance at all, and the main relationship is between the protagonist and his dragon, but it completely works for me. It’s hard for me to put my finger on it – let’s face it, male
/female bonding with a dragon /horse/whatever and saving the world isn’t exactly a new plot device. Maybe it’s because Captain Laurence isn’t a child at the start of it – he’s a grown-up with a life of his own and existing responsibilities. All the way through, it’s clear that he’s sacrificing a lot, but equally, that he wouldn’t change a thing. Ms Novik brings her world to life – I never thought I would be fascinated with the Napoleonic Wars era, but there you go! As an aside, I wonder why is the US title different to the UK one? Grade: A