Thursday, January 11, 2007

Best and Worst of 2006: Installment Two

Next up, books! Note that the books included here are from those I read in 2006, not from those published in 2006. I'm not that up to date on my reading material. Also a warning: I didn't get much time to read for fun this year. Even when I was riding the subway to work in the summer, I spent most of my time reading The Economist. So this list is short. *Sniff*

The Best:
1) Daughter of Fortune and Zorro, both by Isabelle Allende. Allende has an amazing voice. She carefully crafts a detailed world for her characters, but doesn't let the environment overpower the story and plot (unlike some talented authors...I'm looking at you, Tom Clancy!). Both of these books examine the immigrant experience with breathtaking honesty and poignancy.

2) Jane and His Lordship's Legacy by Stephanie Barron. Barron's Jane Austen mysteries is one of the best historical mystery series I have ever read. Although early installments were a little obvious (as in you could spot the villain well before the reveal) and mired in their attempts at historical scholarship (Barron frames the books as lost letters and manuscripts by Jane Austen herself), Barron has managed to get past the gimmicks and write engaging stories. This entry is the best of those I have read (I haven't yet gotten to the newest book, which was just released), a fitting end to the Jane/Lord Trowbridge relationship. I'm just not sure where we go from here, as Jane died relatively young, and the series is now nearing the last years of her life.

3) Cavalcade by Walter Satterthwaite. This is the third mystery in the Phil Beaumont and Jane Turner series. In it Jane and Phil investigate an assassination attempt on Hitler. It's a really weird book, but Satterthwaite makes his characters accessible and really tries to take the darkness of his subject matter seriously. But not too seriously. If you want to check out this series, I would recommend starting from the beginning, though (with Escapade). The previous two entries were stronger.

Honorable mentions to Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding and North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris. Just some chick-lit goodness.

The Worst:
1) The Edwardian mystery series by Marion Chesney. These mysteries are on crack. Chesney just likes to jump from one situation to the next, without any explanation, and then suddenly reveal the murderer in a cliched final reveal scene. Skip these.

2) Yet again, all the books I didn't get to read this year. Damn you, lack of free time!

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