Seumas Gallacher went and did it again – he has graciously honored me by tagging me for an Alternative Booker Award. Personally, I think this is a ploy to get a peep at my personal bookshelves, but… at least as far as books go, I’m a bit of an exhibitionist, so he’s in luck. The idea is to mention five of your favorite books – preferably without going all literati and pretentious – and then tag 5 other bloggers with this delightful award. Now, choosing only five books is going to be completely impossible for me, so bear with me, you’ll just have to cope with several series!
My newest favorite series on my ‘keepers’ list is by Sean T. Poindexter, and because it’s new and I haven’t mentioned it before I’m going to natter on about it, because I tend to be a little enthusiastic about finding a new favorite. The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles – thus far I’ve read books 1 and 2 – The Shadow of Tiamat and The Will of the Darkest respectively, are simply wonderful. I would seriously go all fan girl on this poor fellow, so it’s probably good that he’s far, far away. No, I don’t go in for going fan girl because an author is ‘cute’ (although… he is kinda cute), I go fan girl for authors who can write a damned good story. Nothing’s sexier than brains, good vocabulary, and creativity. I’ve already started pestering the poor man about when book 3 is coming out and was treated to the news that there’s a spin-off series coming along as well, which delights the hell out of me. Brains, vocabulary, creativity, and productivity too? What? Oh. You want to know what the books are about? Silly you.
The books center around Megan, a young woman who is entirely average – which I love. She’s fairly pretty but not fall-all-over-yourself gorgeous. She’s got a job she cares about that she’s actually qualified to hold… That’s a pet peeve of mine – characters with jobs their degree wouldn’t qualify them to get. She’s not rich. She doesn’t drive a faboo car. She has realistic insecurities about her appearance but doesn’t hate herself. She thinks her roommate is prettier – or at least hotter – than she is. She’s had past relationships that were lousy, and past experiences that were awful, but she’s not completely destroyed by them. She has a boss she thinks is cute but she hasn’t asked him out. She has a friend who is a complete bitch (oh, come on, we all have at least one). In short, she’s ordinary. I love that because that lets the reader identify with the character even when she’s thrown into extraordinary circumstances.
One of those extraordinary circumstances is hitting a motorcyclist with her car. She’s banged up, but he ought to be dead – and isn’t harmed in the least. He’s rich as Croesus, tall, dark, handsome… and a dragon. What I love about Garrett is that for all those wonderful things he isn’t the least bit charming. He isn’t ‘smooth’ with words, and he doesn’t know how to express his feelings. For me, that’s just about perfect – I, for one, can’t stand a hero who is “perfect” and romantic and all that. Love, in my opinion, isn’t about smooth talk, flowers, candlelight, and dancing. I find “romance” a silly thing for the most part. Love is about how you really feel – and how you continue to feel – when ‘the chips are down’. If your love doesn’t survive all hell breaking loose in your lives it wasn’t really love to start with.
Now, I’m not going to spoil the story for you, except to say that loving a dragon may very well be the definition of all hell breaking loose. Meg is targeted by vampires, as is Garrett, and Meg’s considerably more special than she appears to be. I will say that the plot is exceptionally well done; the ‘minor’ characters and their sub-plots are absolutely essential to the story and Mr. Poindexter develops their characters extremely well. The sex scenes are hot without being disgusting and tawdry or heavily laden with purple prose and ridiculous euphemisms. Better yet, they’re accurate for sex with a… um… well-endowed fellow. I’m sorry, folks, this may be blush-inducing, but unrealistic sex scenes in which the man is well-endowed and they go ‘all night’ are insanely stupid – there’s some wear and tear involved and you’re going to be walking funny and sore as hell the next day, plainly put. The fight scenes are dead-on accurate in choreography and physics (given that there are dragons involved, of course). That’s another pet peeve of mine – fight scenes that just couldn’t possibly work that way make me skim and roll my eyes at an author’s lack of research.
Next on my list is David Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean series. I adore epic fantasy and these series are an excellent example of how it should be done. Of course, Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series is also exceptionally well-done epic fantasy. For both authors, however, I really only like these series and I’ve never been able to get “into” their other work.
I love funny fantasy, so competing for the ‘funny’ slot are Piers Anthony’s Xanth series and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Of the two series, Discworld is considerably cleaner – I begin to worry that Mr. Anthony’s just a touch pervy. Mr. Anthony has, of course, produced several other series, most of which are even more ‘questionable’ than Xanth; sex is fine by me, pedophilia isn’t, so I’m not going to recommend any of his other series.
I love science fiction, particularly space opera, and again I have competing favorite series. Lois McMaster-Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden Universe are my picks, and both have gotten Hugo nominations for the 2012 installments of their series – at least on my ballot. Yes, I get to vote on the Hugos this year. Much as I love Lois’s Vorkosigans, I really can’t get into her other books like Spirit Ring; they’re just not as well done and not as engaging.
My last category of absolute keepers are “my” authors. I’m probably biased, but I think that Justin Macumber (A Minor Magic), Lindsey Loucks (Grave Winner), Shawna Romkey (Speak of the Devil), Cindy Young-Turner (Thief of Hope and Journey to Hope), Jody A. Kessler (Death Lies Between Us), Diane M. Haynes (Rift Healer and Sirocco), Rusty Fischer (Reanimation Reform School among others), Denna Holm (Soul of a Warrior), and Wendy Russo (January Black) are putting out some of the best new books out there. Better yet, most of those books are either going to be series or already part of a series, which means there’s more to read! 🙂 Now, you may over-rate my bias here and think that I love them just because I’ve edited some of their work, but the truth of the matter is – that makes me that much more certain that these are really good books! Think about it; I’ve read these books several times over and I absolutely adore them and will read them again and again. That says something, right?
And, because it’s my blog, I’m also going to mention that I adore Neil Gaiman, David Weber, Larry Correia, and Eric Flint. Just because I can. 🙂 I read a lot, okay?
The five people I’m tagging with Alternative Booker Awards of their own – mostly because I want a peep at their bookshelves:
Just can’t wait to see their favorite books!