Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Authors

On this date last year, I published a post titled 2008 - The Year in Books in which I listed every book I'd read during the year, along with capsule reviews. I'd intended to do the same this year, but when my Mac's hard drive died a few months ago, it took me a few weeks to recover the document I'd created to track my reading list ...then it was out of date and I was too lazy to keep it up...and...well...I only have a list accurate through the beginning of October. Bummer.

So, in the absence of my "what I read in 2009" list, I thought I'd take a different approach and shamelessly plagiarize an idea from The Mistress of the Dark, a lady who - like me - is an avid reader. This past Tuesday she posted a list of her favorite authors "so," she writes, "you will remember that I do love reading."

I love reading, too, and so - thank you, Andrea - here is a partial list of Bilbo's current favorite authors...

Bernard Cornwell - Mr Cornwell writes historical novels that are masterpieces of descriptive writing. He's written several series, including the Sharpe novels, which follow the adventures of an English soldier during the Napoleonic Wars. This year he published Agincourt, which looked at the famous battle through the eyes of an English archer. You'll be glad you weren't there. If you like historical fiction, this is the author for you.

John Dunning - An author who shares my love of old-time radio, and who writes intricately-plotted, exciting mysteries. His "Bookman" series follows the adventures of a retired-detective-turned-old-book-dealer...and the stories are both marvelous mysteries and interesting looks into the world of publishing and book collecting. Last month I read his novel Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime (for the third time), which is one of his best - a crackling good mystery set in a radio station during World War II. Intricately interweaves radio production and the search for a vicious killer with a motivation you won't see coming.

Wilbur Smith - If you like hairy-chested he-man adventures, well-plotted and set in a wide range of meticulously researched historical settings, Wilbur Smith is your guy. His bad guys are really bad (if sometimes almost cartoonish), his heroes are strong and lantern-jawed, and nobody can write awful sex scenes and describe naked bodies like he can. Most of his books are set in Africa, which he describes as lovingly as only a person who has lived his life there can. His most recent novel is Assegai, a thriller set during World War I and involving a complex German plot to tie the British down in a war in Africa. If you want a great story of the search for a lost Egyptian tomb, try The Seventh Scroll. His books are brain candy, but exciting and fun.

Harry Turtledove - the master of the alternative history novel. He's known for The Worldwar series, which imagines the Second World War interrupted by an invasion of lizard-like aliens from distant space, and for The Great War series, which imagines World Wars I and II as fought between the United States and it's allies and the Confederate States (who won the Civil War) and it's allies. This year, he published The Man with the Iron Heart, which imagines what might have happened if a defeated Germany had carried on an Iraq-style insurgency after World War II. Also recommended is his offbeat novel Household Gods (co-written with Judith Tarr), which imagines the life of a Los Angeles lawyer, dissatisfied with her life, who wakes up one morning to discover that she's living in a provincial town ruled by the Roman Empire. Great author, lots of fun to read...although some of his descriptive language tends to be overused.

Carlos Ruis Zafon - his two novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, are moody, descriptive, stories set in Barcelona that are part mystery, part ghost story. Strongly recommended.

Rennie Airth - I discovered him this year and am hopelessly hooked. His series of novels featuring English police detective John Madden are brilliantly written and meticulously plotted, and his ability to depict England and a cast of characters that change and evolve over the years is marvelous. I strongly recommend all three of the Madden stories: River of Darkness, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, and The Dead of Winter.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - they've written many books together, and each has written several on his own. None of them are great literature, but they're all exciting page-turners that are fun-to-read brain candy. Try the Special Agent Pendergast novels (there are nine so far, with a new one coming in May), Thunderhead, and Riptide. Lincoln Child's solo novel Deep Storm is a great thriller with a plot element I've written about before.

Anne Rice - this is the only place where my favorite author list intersects with Andrea's, and it's really only because of one of her many novels: The Witching Hour. This is an amazing book...very long, but engrossing, thrilling, and full of plot twists and wonderfully-drawn characters. Plus it's downright frightening in some places - every bit as good as Stephen King when he resists the urge to wildly overwrite (which isn't often). I don't think she's ever written anything else as good.

Okay, that's enough for now. There are lots of other authors I like, but they will have to wait for a second installment of the, it's time for breakfast.

If you're going out to celebrate tonight, please don't drink and regular readership is holding steady at about 40 people, and I can't afford to lose any of you. Party hard, but be safe and come back to visit in the new year.

Have a good day. Read more. More thoughts tomorrow.


P.S. - Amanda had her baby! Check out the news here. Congratulations, Amanda and Richard!



Leslie David said...

We agree on Preston & Child--love the books with Agent Pendergast. Have you read any of Douglas Preston's brother's (Michael Preston) books? He writes biohazard thrillers. Do you read Steve Berry, Matt Reilly, or Katherine Neville? You might like their books. I also like Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme books--they made a movie out of "The Bone Collector". Anne Rice? I'll have to check the book out--I read one of her witch books and found it boring. You do know that she also wrote erotica--the movie, "Exit go Eden," was based on her novel. You might blush if you read the Beauty trilogy--it's definitely S&M. These days she's writing Christian fiction.

John said...

Having friends over to our house tonight...safer that way. Looking forward to more inspiring rants from Bilbo in 2010!

Aine Butler-Smith said...

This is a great idea, I might steal it for next year! Thanks for sharing. Turtledove sounds intriguing, I'm going to have to check him out, I love to look at things from an alternative perspective, and usually 'alternative' is the key word for me. Have been a long time Ann Rice fan, I read the "Witching Hour" and some of her erotica in addition to all of her vampire series, I'm more of a fan of the vampires.
Thanks for your advice for New Year's, will be spending it with my husband while we babysit our grandson, whom we love to hang out with, so it will be fun.

Mike said...

My favorite author is Bilbo the blogger.

BTW, my Christmas present hasn't shown up yet.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Take a look at the trilogy by Swedish author Steig Larsson, the first being 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'. He died after they were published, but now are sold in millions. The film of the first book will come out in 3 months.

Bilbo said...

Leslie - I'm with you on the Jeffrey Deaver stories, and have read some of Katherine Neville's. I've also read the Beauty series from Anne Rice...interesting if you want a detour into S&M fiction.

John - have fun, and don't worry - I'll not run out of rants any time soon!

Aine - I'm sure you'll enjoy the Turtledove stories if you're into alternative reality fiction. I met Harry Turtledove at the Library of Congress Book Fair two years ago, and he was a very nice man. Told me I was the first person to tell him that "Household Gods" was a favorite read!

Mike - you have good taste in authors. Unfortunately, you have a lousy postman who appears to have misplaced your expensive, one-of-a-kind gift. Wish I'd insured it...

Jean-Luc - We have the Stig Larsson trilogy, but I haven't read any of them wife has. They're on my list for the coming year.

KKTSews said...

Read the Stig Larsson books (didn't realize 3rd was out). Also, try "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet".
Happy Reading

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I really recommend Anne's 2 books on the early life of Christ. They were wonderful.

Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!