Best of 2003

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Wed Dec 31 18:48:21 EST 2003

...although I'm not actually calling my list the Best (or Worst) this 
year.  Partly because I'm feeling more than usually indecisive about 
my choices and categories, partly because I've been out-of-step in 
opinion too often this (academic) year, and don't have the energy to 
defend anything if challenged.  So I'll opt for fuzzy categories like 
'favourite' instead.

Over-all Favourite:  nothing really stuck out for me this year, but 
probably _The Curse of Chalion_, Lois McMaster Bujold.  I didn't 
think this the most amazing book I'd ever read, but I was crazy about 
the Five Gods, and loved the characters.  (In fact, I noted that the 
book reminded me in places of  _The Queen of Attolia_, _Falcon_ and 
_Element of Fire_.  Good combination for me!)

Most Moving:  Barbara Kingsolver's _The Poisonwood Bible_ .   Becca 
made me read this, moving it to the top of the forcing her mother to 
read tragic books that she'd normally slither out from list, beating 
_The Doomsday Book_ down to second place.  I like Barbara Kingsolver 
a lot, but I would almost definitely have slithered out when the 
first mention of one of the girls dying came.  (Not a spoiler, as 
it's right in the beginning.)  The story was almost unbearably sad 
(both at a personal and global level), but I was glad to have made it 

Most Satisfying, Just Rightest Read: _The Fetch of Mardy Watt_, 
Charles Butler.  Yeah - I got to read it before publication! 
Course, that means the cover quotes by DWJ and Susan Cooper weren't 
there to tell me how great it was, but luckily I could decide that 
for myself.  :-)

Most 'Improved' Serial/Series: _The Well of Lost Plots_, Jasper 
Fforde.  (Sorry, Melissa - hope it's out soon in the States.)  I 
really enjoyed the first two, but could easily have seen the jokes 
starting to stale (for me, not everyone, of course).  But instead I 
thought this was both funnier and deeper at the same time.  The bits 
I kept insisting on reading aloud to Becca were luckily funny enough 
that she loved it, instead of wanting to kill me!

Favourite Been Meaning to Read for Years Now: _84 Charing Cross 
Road_, Helene Hanff.  Just great.  Also the perfect BookCrossing 
book, which was fun too - my copy is no longer mine, but will 
hopefully keep travelling the world as long as it stays together.

The I Seem Farthest from the Opinions of Others On This Book: 
_Paladin of Souls_, Bujold again.  Yes, I loved it, got totally 
engrossed, was pleased that it was about Ista, *loved* The Bastard, 
but I was also infuriated by the style at times.  Especially when she 
was describing dy Cabon (that doesn't sound right, but I can't 
remember if it is or not now - the 'fat' character), which she seemed 
to do incessantly.  I was fed to the teeth with the pudgy remarks, 
and the ample girth comments, and the bit about bowing - or trying to 
bow - over his belly, but what sent me right round the twist was the 
use of 'suety' *twice* to describe his face.  I also felt he was 
pretty much wasted as a character, which was very frustrating, as he 
could have been so cool.  Anyway, only Becca has agreed with me on 
this, most of the reviews I've read have claimed it's even better 
than Chalion, and thus the award category.

Most Gob-Smacking Final Line - or Thank Heavens There's a Sequel 
Coming: _The Oracle_, Catherine Fisher.

That's coming soon, the sequel to _The Wizard Hunters_ in the summer, 
I think, the sequel to _The Thief_ and _Queen of Attolia_, so there's 
lots to look forward to in 2004!


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