[DWJ] best books 2006

Roslyn rosgross at bigpond.net.au
Sun Dec 31 01:00:46 EST 2006

I seem to have read fewer YA books than usual this year, and more of other
kinds of books. There's no particular reason for this, but as I have a pile
of new YA books that I intend to read in the coming months, so the situation
will be remedied soon!
Most Surprisingly Good Book of 2006

_Love Walked In_ by Marisa de los Santos. I expected this is to a fluffy,
fun chick-lit book, but it turned out to be much more than that. I read this
last February, so my memory of the details isn't so good, but it absolutely
charmed and moved me. If it's chick-lit, it's extraordinarily intelligent,
beautifully written chick-lit. Not to say that chick-lit can't be any of
those things, but I think the book transcends the usual boundaries of what
would normally regarded as chick-lit. And of course it could be argued that
such boundaries are useless anyway, but I won't get into that now. Anyway,
when I discovered that the author was also a published poet, I wasn't

The story is about a romance between the narrator and a man who is just like
Cary Grant (so yes, it is based on the romance or chick-lit genre) and
deepens into what that romance really implies, and into a story about the
daughter of the lover and then a story about family and love in general. It
getsn quite serious without being weighty or losing its funny It's lots of
fun, because the narrator is a classic flim fan and drops heaps of
references to old films and actors (and music and books, though less of
those than films). Anyway, I l oved it.

Most Satisying End to a Series

I haven't read _The Gate of Gods_ yet, so that can't be a contender for this
category for me yet! For me, the book that most satisfactorily ended a
series was _Ptolemy's Eye_ by Jonathan Stroud. The resolution was totally
unpredicatable, not to mention sad, but that didn't ruin it for me.

Best Fantasy Novel

_Corbenic_ by Catherine Fisher, thanks to Hallie! This is so beautifully
constructed and written, I'm in awe.

Other Terrific Books I Read in 2006

_Pinhoe Egg_, DWJ. Not my favourite of hers, but still enjoyed it.
_Od Magic_ and _Solstice Wood_, by Patricia McKillip. I loved both of these,
though not quite as much as I loved _Alphabet of Thorn_.
_Inside Job_, by Connie Willis. Vintage Willis. Loved it.
_Anansi Boys_ by Neil Gaiman. Much better than _American Gods_. Funny and
intelligent and wise.
_Child of a Rainless Year_ by Jane Lindskold, thanks to Melissa! Adding my
voice to everyone who's praised this book on the list.
_Shadow of the Wind_ by Ruiz Zafon. Gothic, over the top and delightful.
__Never Let Me Go_, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Can't say I actually enjoyed it,
because it's chilling and creepy, and written in such a way that it kind of
lacks colour. But a brilliant book.

Most Disappointing Book I Read in 2006
_A Princess of Roumania_ by Paul Park. Based on reviews I'd read and
everything else about it, I was sure I'd love this book. And I'm still naïve
enough to believe that a book that has rave comments on the blurb by Ursula
le Guin, Karen Joy Fowler and John Crowley must be as good as it sounds.
But, although it's based on an idea that's really brilliant, and has at
least two intriguing characters, I found it so bloated and padded out and
filled with unneccessary plot tangents (not to mention a heroine who didn't
really grab me), that it was a bit of a struggle to finish it. I found the
prose fairly dull (except in a few bits that involved the two interesing
characters) and even clunky/incomprehensible at times.

These problems seem emerge from the fact that it's the first of four (I
think) and that it seems to have been padded out to fill a big book. It
needed a good, thorough edit. I will probably read the next book, but I'll
either borrow it from the library or buy it really cheaply. And I won't have
such high expectations this time!

Because I didn't make a list last year, I thought I'd just list the books
that made an impression on me in 2005:

_Alphabet of Thorn_ by McKillip. Brilliant. One of her very best.
_Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell_ by Susannah Clarke. I'm one of those who
thought it was terrific.
_The Goose Girl_ by Shannon Hale (thanks to Melissa again). I did read _Enna
Burning_ in 2006, but although I thought it was very good, I didn't enjoy it
as much as TGG.
_The Historian_ by Elizabeth Kostova.
_Magic or Madness_ by Junstine Larbalestier. I particularly enjoyed the
alternating narratives in Australian and American English.
_The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray_ by Chris Wooding. Weird, gothic.
_Friends, Lovers, Chocolate_ by Alexander McCall Smith. The second in his
Isabel Dalhousie series. Better than the first (_The Sunday Philosophy
Club_), I felt. I like the way Isabel is developing. I also read the last
few in the Ladies' Detective series, and enjoyed them all (except for the
most recent, which I haven't read yet).
_The Safe-Changer's Secret_ by Sharon Shinn. Shinn hardly ever disappoints
I was really, really ambivalent about _Fortune's Rocks_ by Anita Shreve.
(Read it because my book club was reading it.) On the one hand I found it to
be a very powerful book, but on the other, it annoyed the hell out of me.

Currently reading:

_Magic Lessons_ by Justine Larbelestier, sequel to _Magic and Madness_. 

A happy new year to everyone!




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