I'm still in wrap-up mode for 2012. Maybe it's because I just don't want to let go of a year where I finally managed to do all the challenges. At least all the ones I signed up for. But--whatever the reason, I've still got some end-of-year, list-type things up my sleeve. So, here are a few Best and Worst Categories that I've come up with from my year's reading.
The Train Wreck Book Award goes to....Strange Murders at Greystones by Elsie N. Wright. This is the book that was so awful but I just could not look away. I had to keep reading to see if it could get any worse....and it did. Chock full of stock cardboard characters, clichés, and things that go bump in the night.
The But I Said I Wanted A Pony Award goes to....The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom. Yep--Frank and his friend Bill the poet are the winners of the biggest disappointment award. I had loved Herbert's Dune books (mostly--I lost interest as the books went along and became tired sequels of tired sequels) and I thoroughly enjoyed his The White Plague. So I had every expectation of enjoying this one. Not so much.
On the flip side, The Oooh, You DID Get Me A Pony Award goes to ....The White Forest by Adam McOmber. This book was an unexpected delight. I knew Adam as a graduate of the MFA program that is part of the English Department where I work, but I had never read any of his writing. One of the best reads of the year.
The Just the Facts Award goes to....From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux. This biography of one of the true gentlemen of Hollywood earns the best non-fiction read of 2012.
The Poetry in Motion Award goes to...The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onon no Komachi & Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan trans by Jane Hirshfield w/Mariko Aratan. Lovely poems from Ancient Japan. The writing of these women speaks to the emotions and thoughts of women of any time period.
The Should Have Used It As a Doorstop (And It's Big Enough That I Could) Award goes to...11/22/63 by Stephen King. Sorry to disagree with the masses, but I just didn't think this one lived up to its hype.
The I Never Thought Red Was My Color, But Darn If I Don't Look Good In It Award goes to...The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. Seriously--I never thought I looked good in red. Never bought anything in that color. Then my mother-in-law (who has this knack) bought me a lovely red sweater and I got all sorts of compliments.... Elinor Lipman's book was like that. Not my usual reading fare, but I chose it from a list of suggested reads for the Getting Lost in a Comfortable Book Challenge--and loved it. A wonderful coming of age book.
The Fantastic Time Machine Award goes to....Bernadette Pajer for A Spark of Death and Fatal Induction This is an awesome new series starring Professor Benjamin Bradshaw and set in turn-of-the-century Seattle (from 19th to 20th, that is). Pajer sweeps us back in time and she does it with such deft simplicity that we don't even feel the whoosh of the years as we travel.
The With A Little Help From My Friends Award goes to...Such Friends Are Dangerous by Walter Tyrer. (title coincidence? maybe.) This book was suggested to me by my good friend John over at Pretty Sinister Books. And it certainly lived up to his recommendation. Kudos to Tyrer for providing a very entertaining story with well-drawn characters. I don't know if he was the first to provide this particular twist, but he certainly did it right.
The Whole Ball of Wax Award goes to.....Now, let me explain. Yes, I know if you look at my list of reviews for 2012 (or even my Best of Crime Fiction 2012 post) you will notice that I gave out higher star ratings for other books. True. But this award is for best book. Not best rating. Here's the difference: this is the book that once I looked back over ALL the books I read this year I realized made the biggest impact on me. Either for style or surprise or character or whatever. (What's that? Oh, the audience is getting restless and I should just name the book already? Ok.) The Award goes to....Nine Man's Murder by Eric Keith. This book wins for a number of reasons. First, chutzpah. Anyone who takes on the Dame Agatha theme from And Then There Were None and does it with such aplomb and success wins major points. And, harking back to Dame Agatha again, my bias for Golden Age mysteries is showing here, I LOVE that Keith was able to bring such a vintage feel to a modern storyline. And...even though I'd read a great review over at the Puzzle Doctor's site, I still was surprised by how good and how much fun it was. Well done, Eric! Looking forward to more.