What is the best book you read all last year?

I haven’t seen any new releases from my writer friends this week–yes, that’s unusual! So I thought I’d talk about another favorite of mine – actually two.

Many years, I’d be hard-pressed to answer the question, “What’s the best book you’ve read all year?” Sometimes, there are too many good ones to make a choice. Other years, nothing has stood out. 2012 was one of those where I read tons of good stuff, but one book–actually, two– stood out: Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood by Holly Lisle, and its sequel, Warpaint.

HTCB-Ebook-387x600How can I sum up what made these books so great? All I can think of is, they were just more… everything. In one of her blogs, writing workshops, or maybe her email newsletter, Holly stated that one of her goals with this series was to create scarier vampires. And boy did she! Yes, these are vampire books, but not your typical horror fare. Oh yes, they’re that too, but they’re also science fiction – in fact, that’s the primary genre they’re shelved under. But they’re also mystery, thriller, suspense, and there’s even a little romance in Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood, the first of what’s planned to be a ten-book series, I believe.

They are about a kick-ass, independent starship captain, Cadence Drake. And if you think she looks rather comic book-ish with her curvy figure and exotic features, well, there’s a reason for that – she’s genetically engineered to look that way, and she uses it to advantage (and not in the way you’d expect). She has a special talent for locating missing things, and when she’s hired to find a missing starship, how hard could that be? Especially when said starship is one of only 27 made of a new model that would be very conspicuous in any spaceport?

Of course, it turns out not to be so easy, and on the way, Cady and her friend Badger run into all sorts of nasties, as well as unexpected allies. Which is where the more horrific vampires come in. If you want vampires that are sparkly, hot romantic leads then this is not the book for you – they’re definitely the bad guys here.

WARPAINT-FLAT-387x600But again, there’s more. More worlds to explore, each with unique cultures derived from recognizable, Earth subcultures. (I totally want to live on the planet called Up Yours!). And yes, there’s a bit of humor – just enough! And while these books are classified as space opera, they’re not buried in tech, and what’s there is believable and understandable. We see it through Cady’s eyes and learn more about her in the process. There were some epic space battles, again, just enough to satisfy the expectations of space opera while not boring other readers along for the ride.

And these aren’t mere entertainment either, although they can certainly be read and enjoyed solely on that level. There’s plenty of thought, theme, and ideas that make the reader think, and this is, I think, what makes these books so special. They are not pedantic or a soap box for the author, although for those of us who’ve taken writing workshops from Holly, they’re probably more visible.

So it’s probably all these things combined that made Hunting and Warpaint a couple of those books that you read until the e-reader conks you on the head because you’ve fallen asleep, and then you think about it the whole next day while at work, and can’t wait to get on the treadmill so you can read again (or maybe that last part is just me LOL). According to her blog, Holly plans to release the third installment in the series later this year, and I for one can’t wait.

This is the bar I reach for in writing my own books. I’m getting closer, but I’ve still a long way to go.

Both of these books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, Apple’s iTunes, and on Holly’s site, along with a bunch of other good stuff.

ROW80Logo175Quick ROW80 update: I’ve pretty much finished the print formatting for Hangar 18: Legacy, which is the form I do my final proofread in. I’m also about 1/3 of the way through on the proofread, so on track so far this week! I have also done 2 workouts, so that is also on track.

What about you – what was the best book you read all last year? (Or books, if you can’t narrow it down to one?) Or maybe you’d like to share one you read years ago, that still sticks with you? If you’re doing ROW80, how is your week going so far? Please share – I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

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