The Best Books of 2006


This article was supposed to have been posted a couple of weeks ago and I take full responsibility.

As has been said before one of the great things about Bookspotcentral is the diversity of the group. We read a broad range of books and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis Review

Michael McGill is a burned-out private detective and self-described “shit magnet” who is enlisted by the White House Chief of Staff to retrieve the Constitution of the United States, not the one taught about in history class but the REAL Constitution. The one with invisible amendments held in secret and meant to be used in a time of moral crisis to return the country back to more traditional values.

warren ellis

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Enter Richard Kadrey’s Dominion – Butcher Bird Review

The Butcher Bird was dropped, impaled on the never to read pile its first time around, not for future consumption — just out of spite — and forgotten rather quickly and not unthankfully so. Even while sporting some blurbage from Cyberpunk don William Gibson and capo Pat Cadigan, my worst fears seemed to becoming reality in the first few chapters, namely, another fringe ultra hip wannabee, smart ass protagonist — complete with the job as a tattoo artist and oh yeah…his sidekick is of course a quip-ready, lesbian version of himself — who together find out reality isn’t what it seems.

richard kadrey

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Neal Asher Interview and The Skinner Review

Combining large-scale space opera, intense, visceral action, and occasional elements of horror, Neal Asher is one of the most exciting authors to come out of the United Kingdom in recent years. Born in England in 1961, Asher spent many years writing stories for British small-press magazines. In 2001 his first novel, Gridlinked, was published by by MacMillan in the UK, and by Tor in the United States. His “Polity” future history, the setting of books such as Gridlinked, The Skinner, and Hilldiggers, is one of the most intriguing settings in science fiction today. He has also written stand-alone stories, such as his novel Cowl. His next novel, The Shadow of the Scorpion, will be published by Night Shade Books in May 2008.

neal asher

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Napoleon’s Pyramids by William Dietrich Review

The initial appearance of the pulp hero in the newspapers, radio shows and cinema of 1920s America was a reassuring affirmation of rugged American individualism in a world that, in the wake of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, seemed suddenly large and uncertain. America’s gradual acceptance of an increasingly multicultural world can be seen in the pulp revivals that followed.

William Dietrich

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Academ’s Fury by Jim Butcher – Review

There are a few sentences in the Prologue of Jim Butcher’s Academ’s Fury that in some ways reveal all that you need to know about the book:

The steady, smoldering throb from his left knee was of little more concern to him than the aching of his tired feet or the stretching soreness of weary muscles in his shoulders and arms after a day of hard drilling. He ignored them, his face as plain and remote as the worn hilt of the sword at his belt.

Butcher’s writing is descriptive and flows well, and his characterizations deftly evoke at least a modicum of sympathy. The story and characters themselves however are a rather tired and worn assemblage of epic fantasy clichés that disrupt the book’s imaginative impact, and the quick-moving pace covers up some rather silly plot holes in much the same way as the quick-moving prose covers up questions such as how exactly a sword worn at the belt can be “remote.”

Academ's Fury

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Warrior and Witch by Marie Brennan – Review

From its cover one might suspect Marie Brennan’s Warrior and Witch to be a fantasy-romance hybrid, but there is actually very little romance in this tale of magic, politics and cultural change. Also misleading about the cover is its failure to note that this is a sequel to Brennan’s previous novel Doppelganger (the story, and this review, contain spoilers for that book). The omission of lineage is unfortunate because Warrior and Witch is not the best introduction to Brennan’s work, nor is it as good a story as she is capable of.

Marie Brennan

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To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman Review

Laura Lippman, author of the popular Tess Monaghan series, takes a break to explore a stand alone novel. In To the Power of Three she takes an old mystery novel concept, the locked room mystery and updates it, using it to explore upper middle class suburbia in northern Baltimore County.

 Laura Lippman

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The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford Review

For 2005, THE GIRL IN THE GLASS won the Edgar award for Best Paperback Original from the Mystery Writers of America. You might think a crime-writing award a strange one for Jeffrey Ford to receive if you’ve principally considered him an author of the fantastic, but this tale, overlayed with fantastic illusion, is about the darkest acts of human arrogance.

Jeffrey Ford

You can also read an interview with Jeffrey Ford.

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The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess Review

With textual help from some well-known names, but primarily from the inspiration of classic Anglo-Saxon storysongs, Charles Vess has created a unique form of graphic novel. Recently reprinted in softcover, THE BOOK OF BALLADS is a gorgeous pictorial songbook, meriting exuberant praise and permanent shelf space for its artwork even above the rich story content. I warn you now that this review is lengthy, but there are thirteen different ballads, and this title deserves the attention.

Charles Vess

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Witness To Myself by Seymour Shubin Review

Seymour Shubin’s WITNESS TO MYSELF is not the typical fare usually found beneath the lurid cover of a Hard Case Crime paperback. For one thing, the protagonist is a decent fellow, unlike the usual noir lead who, at his most charitable, pitches a fifth of whiskey at his victim’s head as a peace offering of anesthetic for broken fingers.

Seymour Shubin

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The Wizard Lord by Lawrence Watt-Evans Review

Lawrence Watt-Evans begins his latest sword and sorcery series with THE WIZARD LORD, Volume One of The Annals of the Chosen. In the land of Barokan, magic is everpresent. The ler are the spirits within every living and nonliving thing; they’re in the air itself. To cooperate peacefully, people have had to learn to satisfy their local ler’s requirements which vary widely and are administered by the priestly class. Wizards, on the other hand, can conjure wild ler, and a fascinating arrangement has developed between them and human society over the centuries.

 Lawrence Watt-Evans

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Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake Review

If you haven’t yet read Titus Groan, then for all your life, the infant heir to castle Gormenghast has waited for you. Certainly for most of your life anyway, since Book One in Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy was first published in 1946. In its day, Titus Groan wasn’t relegated to the fantasy shelves as it might be now, but was a sensation and critically celebrated- as it well deserves- next to other great novels.

Mervyn Peake

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Temeraire, Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon Charms – Review

If you have become as jaded as I have become regarding fantastic fiction, even certain title choices causes you to avoid or at the very least postpone when you get to a novel, a blasé conditioning one goes through after one has been reading fantasy for an extended period of time, it is both an admittedly unfortunate and short-sighted habit, however has the strange quality of also being an effective way to avoid slush. One of these words is ‘Dragon’, which to my estimation hasn’t been a part of a novel worth reading’s title since Michael Swanwick’s Iron Dragon’s Daughter and prior to that John M. Ford’s excellent The Dragon Waiting: A Masque of History.

naomi novik

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Patricia McKillip’s Od Magic Review

The genre that today is labeled “fantasy” on the shelves of your local bookseller and library (or the links of your favored e-tailer) is made up of many different literary traditions. There are the mythological and the swashbuckling, the gothic and the fable, the folk tale and the fairy tale. It is to this last group that Od Magic most clearly belongs.

patricia mckillip

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Tolkien and the Great War Review

Innumerable commentators, critics, fans and, lately, even film-makers have suggested that Tolkien’s oeuvre was deeply affected by his experiences in the Great War (1914-18) and particularly at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 (when he served as a signals officer with the Lancashire Fusiliers). And now John Garth, a newspaper journalist and Tolkien fan determined to investigate the matter, has written a focused biographical studying of J.R.R’s wartime experiences.

jrr tolkien

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The Briar King Review – Keyes To Your Epic Reading Desire?

Switching it up this time to a review of the first book in what may turn out to be one of the more worthwhile epic fantasy series being written at the moment, The Kingdom of Thorn and Bone by Greg Keyes.

briar king
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Synergy! Sharing Favorite Scary Stories with Carrie Vaughn, Charlie Huston, Jimmy Palmiotti & More!

Synergy is back! If you haven’t seen this column before, the basic idea is that we put the same question to a variety of professionals (and sometimes amateurs) who interest us to create a plateful of amuse bouche interviews. This time around we took the question straight to some of the hottest names in horror, comics, urban fantasy, and more.

The question? What was your favorite scary story as a kid? The answer could be anything from an urban legend to “vampires” to a specific book or movie or comic. Anything at all…as long as it was something especially striking to you….

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Susanna Clarke’s Magical Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Review

In my opinion, simply stated, with no reservation what so ever, the best novel published in 2004. The best Fantasy novel? Well, yes, but also, the best fictional novel, bar none. Susanna Clarke’s debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, is so impressive that it immediately bypasses comparisons to the bulk of contemporary fantasy mired in mediocrity and should be included in discussions pertaining to other recent efforts in fantasy that have rightfully elicited conversations and accolades of modern classics like of China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

susanna clarke

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