djonn: (Peter Iredale)
[personal profile] djonn

The week has slipped away entirely too fast; in an effort to catch up with the rest of the pack, we'll do two days at once this round.

Day 3 - The best book I've read in the past year

Ouch.  Singling out one title for this kind of tag is always a challenge for me, partly because my definition of "best" tends toward the relativistic (that is, I keep wanting to ask "best at what?").  Also, unlike some folks, I haven't historically kept a running written list, and I read voraciously enough that I can't always recall just when I've perused what book.  If I were going for a traditional awards-list sort of "best", I might retreat to mentioning Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, which I reread this past winter for a book group.  That book is among my favorite Christmas-based fantasy tales, and is also one of the best executions of the traditional artifact-gathering/coming of age plot one is likely to find. 

But what tends to impress me more nowadays -- given that I read as much as I do -- is a book that manages to surprise me in a good way, throwing me a curveball that I haven't predicted, but one that's clearly been foreshadowed once one looks backward at the plot and character arcs.  And in that case, the book to mention here is Feed by Mira Grant (aka [ profile] seanan_mcguire), which pulled not one but two beautifully engineered Evil Plot Twists out of its hat in the last third, both ruthlessly logical yet expertly kept out of sight till the crucial narrative moments.  Feed is already getting considerable positive buzz from a number of quarters, and it's well deserved; Grant/McGuire could very well walk off with the John W. Campbell Award at Worldcon a few weeks from now.

Day 4 - My all-time favorite literary series

There are a number of series I enjoy reading and keeping up with.  In SF, there are David Weber's Honor Harrington books; in mystery, three I particularly like are Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody novels (though my favorite Peters protagonist is librarian and author Jacqueline Kirby), Laurie King's "Mary Russell" books, and Andrew Greeley's Blackie Ryan stories.  I'm also partial to Mercedes Lackey's "urban elf" fantasies (some collaborative), which for me hold up better to rereading than her Valdemar books).  I hasten to note that this is not an exhaustive list, though I am not as widely read across the genres as I once was.  Over time, though, the majority of these have gradually lost a little of their luster -- each new volume is still a pleasure to read, but some of the original sparkle has worn away.

One of the very few series that hasn't succumbed to this kind of gradual fading, and that holds up no matter when or at what point I dip into it again, is the "Young Wizards" sequence by Diane Duane, beginning with So You Want To Be A Wizard and most recently updated with A Wizard of Mars.  Once I score a new "Young Wizards" book, it's a given that I'll read it at least twice in succession, because they're just that much fun -- and that skillfully textured.

A second candidate: the Mageworlds series by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald, beginning in publication order with The Price of the Stars.  It's been longer since I've looked at these (and I'm overdue to go back for a reread), but for my money there's no more purely archetypical space opera out there than these books -- there are firefights, sword fights, intrigue, space adventure, secret lairs, diabolical plot twists, reluctant romance, and characters that are both larger-than-life and realistically nuanced at one and the same time.

If I had to choose between, we're not going to go there, any more than I'd commit to only having one favorite flavor of ice cream.  I get two favorite series, and that's that.

The Once & Future Meme (aka the Index of Days):

Day 1
- alg's post / my postA series that ended too soon (and/or a series that should have ended sooner)
Day 2alg's post / my post • A book/series more people should be reading/talking about
Day 3 - alg's postThe best book I've read in the past year
Day 4
- alg's postMy all-time favorite literary series
Day 5
- A book/series I just can't stand
Day 6 - My all-time favorite stand-alone book
Day 7 - The plot device that most often derails books I'd otherwise enjoy
Day 8A book everyone really ought to read at least once
Day 9 - My all-time favorite single scene from a book
Day 10A book I didn't expect to like, but ended up really enjoying
Day 11 - A book that disappointed me
Day 12 - A book/series I've reread more than five times
Day 13A favorite childhood book (OR a current favorite YA/kids' book)
Day 14 - My all-time favorite literary character
Day 15 - The book I read when I need a teddy bear and/or a hug
Day 16A favorite poem/poetry collection
Day 17A favorite short story/collection of stories
Day 18A favorite opening scene
Day 19 - A favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 - A favorite literary kiss
Day 21 - A favorite literary romance/romantic/sexual relationship (any gender/role)
Day 22 - A favorite literary non-romantic/non-sexual relationship
Day 23 - The most annoying character I've ever encountered in a book
Day 24 - A favorite quote from a novel
Day 25 - Five books from my "to be read" shelf
Day 26 - "My mind very carefully boggled", aka "what WAS the author thinking?"
Day 27 - "All right, I have to read this": the plot element/idea/gimmick that gets me every time
Day 28 - The first book/series that really hooked me
Day 29 - "Alas, poor Yorick": my favorite death scene
Day 30 - A book I'm reading right now

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