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I’ve read (and listened to) a lot of great books this year. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose Bernard Cornwell’s, Lords of the North, the third book in his Saxon series.

Here’s the book blurb:
The Lords of the North begins soon after the events described in The Pale Horseman. Uhtred, having helped Alfred secure Wessex as an independent Saxon kingdom, returns north in an attempt to find his stepsister. Instead he discovers chaos, civil war and treachery in Northumbria. He takes the side of Guthred, once a slave and now a man who would be king, and in return expects Guthred's help in capturing Dunholm, the lair of the dark Viking lord, Kjartan. There is [fencing, fighting,] betrayal, romance [possibly true love] and war, and all of it, as usual, based on real events.

I’ve always liked historical fiction and there’s something about the way Mr. Cornwell contrives to make his poor characters suffer (usually by making them long for something they can never get) that I find irresistible, as anyone who’s enjoyed his Sharpe or Starbuck Chronicles novels will agree.

I'm sure there are those who don't care for his work, and I'm the first to admit that Mr. Cornwell loves his adverbs, but so what? The man writes compelling stories that keep you coming back for more, and that should be good enough for everyone, don't you think?

The next Uhtred novel, The Burning Land, comes out in the US next month.

I’m already excited about reading it. I thoroughly recommend the whole series.

How about you?

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?


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Dec. 16th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
Well, my reading level once again fell way behind my purchasing level this year. I'm actually bouncing back and forth between a few books.

I'm reading Inda by Sherwood Smith. It's the first of a 4 book story (all 4 are out, the first 3 in paperback). Sherwood is one of the absolute best at worldbuilding and the Inda story takes place in the same universe as many of her other books. She dances around the timeline of her invented history, so these take place many hundreds of years prior to or after some of her other books.

I'm early on in the first book and so far it follows the younger sons and daughters of well-to-do families who have arrived to begin their military training. The development of the characters and the emergence of glimpses of the adults they will become as the story continues is really done well. Excellent stuff.

Another book (one I read straight through in one sitting) was Jim C. Hines' The Stepsister Scheme. It delves back into the older darker version of fairy tales (in particular, Cinderella) and picks up about a month after Cinderella ends. Overall, the plot was entertaining and the writing is excellent, mixing action, drama, humor and interesting modes of travel.

But, I have to say the best book I've read this year is The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. It just kicks ass from beginning to end. I will be reading books 2 and 3 in the very near future.

As for Bernard Cromwell, he's an author I really want to get around to reading. I've yet to encounter anyone who disliked his books. I'm especially interested in Azincourt. That will probably be where I start.
Dec. 16th, 2009 09:30 am (UTC)
I plan to read The Stepsister Scheme next year.

I've come across a couple of people online who dislike Bernard Cornwell's stuff, but the way their reasons for slamming his books were so daft eg; he makes stuff up - seriously, that's what they said, and so bitter-sounding that I have to assume they're A: the same person B: jealous C: a little bit potty :)
Dec. 16th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
for once this year it is easy for me to give an answer to this question.

Absolutely True Story of a Part time indian by Sherman Alexie. A totally incredible read.
Dec. 16th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
Oh, I have to read that one! It's been flying off the shelves and I haven't been able to get hold of it yet.
Dec. 16th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
I got mine right when it came out - then I sent it around to freinds who couldn't get it - my whole family read it (right after we read Graveyard book - leading to many discussions about who would win a head to head compition.)

Then I got it signed and gave it to dad.

I have to say (and I think I've read all but one peice of Prose by Mr. Alexie) that unlike some of his other works, this is a definite everyone should read. (the reason I may not recomend some of his ohter stuff is that it can be angry - it can be emotionaly difficult - but at the same time it is generaly briliant and worth the pain)
Dec. 16th, 2009 09:33 am (UTC)
Ooh, I've not heard of that one. I'll have to check it out.

Thanks for sharing :)
Dec. 16th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
If you shop at B+N or Borders you will probably find it crammed in the bottom corner of the YA section - spine out.

Unless I've been by and in that case you will find it in the *Huge* area they reserve for "if you liked Twilight you will love this" (after all it is about a teen age Native American boy) and at eye level frount cover out (and of course still where it belongs)

Hey it made me cry and laugh and cry adn laugh at the same time.

My dad said it was just like his school experince (dad is mixed race)

I do feel like it is kinda getting overlooked - and I think that is becasue of the author.
Dec. 16th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
That's a really hard question! It's not a new book, but new to me - Corbenic, by Catherine Fisher. Michelle Paver's Ghost Hunter was also good, but too violent for me, and I admired Zeitoun, by Dave Egggers, in spite of some infelicitous language (the man constantly confuses the verbs "to lay" and "to lie", and this drives me up the wall. Still it's an essential read, I would say.) Finally, a really brilliant teen novel was Francisco Storck's Marcelo in the Real World.
Dec. 16th, 2009 10:17 am (UTC)
'That's a really hard question!'

I'd take that as a sign that there are a lot of good books out there :)
Dec. 16th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC)
Okay, here we go. I had to go back through the list that I keep on my LJ page and eliminate everything after In Legend Born, as I'd read all of that before the end of last year. I don't think I can go lower than five, in spite of threats otherwise. ;-)

In no particular order:

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy)
The Black Ship by Diana Pharaoh Francis (18th/19th Century Fantasy)
Cast in Fury by Michelle Sagara (Urban Fantasy)
Mistress in the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Mystery/Historical)
The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher (Epic Fantasy)

I don't think I read a bad or so-so novel all year; the worst I could probably say of any of my list was "it's good." Rosemary and Rue and The Stepsister Scheme are probably annoyed at me for not making the list, but they were on the last cut. If I could go back to the entire list, I'd have put in one of the Green Rider novels, but that was read in 2008.

I also don't like to review or recommend novels in general as I don't know what sort of novel you like. I'm easygoing as far as writing is concerned, and I can tolerate a lot that would drive other people batty. (The switching between first and third person in The Name of the Wind comes to mind; I thought it was handled well, but other people would be driven nuts by it.) The exception to that dictum was when I read Wizard's First Rule over a decade ago, wherein I kept saying to myself "I can write better than this, and I'm not a writer!"
Dec. 16th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
Although I realise it's a purely subjective opinion, I'm interested in what people have enjoyed reading this year.

Thanks for sharing :)
Dec. 16th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
See, to me, Michelle Sagara is fantasy. Urban Fantasy is supposed to take place on earth and her stories are sure not on earth! Not that they aren't a fabulous read and all...
Dec. 16th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
I swear you guys make up these genres as you go along :)
Dec. 16th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
Based on what I've been told and read:

Fantasy - takes place in a new world, has it's own technology though usually not including things as advanced such as computers, and has magic

Urban Fantasy - takes place in our world in a time close to today (whether slightly behind or ahead), has magic

Then you get writers like Michelle Sagara, Alex Bledsoe, and Gail Carriger who sit there and screw with the 'know' set of 'rules' and start making new and unique things. Is quite fun!
Dec. 16th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
There are just too many pigeon holes for my simple brain to cope with. Why can't we just have fiction and non-fiction? :(
(no subject) - mela_lyn - Dec. 16th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Dec. 16th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mela_lyn - Dec. 16th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Dec. 16th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Dec. 16th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
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