Some easy choices, for the most part, in this edition of the Dust Cover Dust-Up!
The Winter Palace vs. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Winner: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal
The Winter Palace was fine historical fiction, but really nothing particularly special. I didn't mind reading it, I barely remember it. On the other hand, Jeanette Winterson's memoir is half memoir as usual, but then in the second half, it takes flight into something else entirely. Something else that's very special about mental health, breakdowns, and the stifling universality of adoption stories as they are told.
First Among Sequels vs. Burn Me Deadly
Winner: First Among Sequels
Two books that are later in series. Both series I quite enjoy. So, how to pick? Literary metafiction or noir fantasy? I liked both, while neither set my world on fire. I think, from the remove of most of a year away, there are a few things that stick more in my mind from Fforde than they did from Bledsoe, particularly the part about Thursday's youngest daughter.
Redshirts vs. Left Neglected
Easy choice in this particular battle. I didn't like Left Neglected very much, with an irritating main character and illness-exploring plot without anything new to say or reveal. I did like Scalzi's Redshirts, and his books are compulsively readable. I can't say this is my favourite book of his of all time, but when it's up against an "issue book," it wins, hands-down. Both hands. Right before a redshirt gets shot.
Dark Currents vs. The Computer Connection
Winner: The Computer Connection
Another easy one, although The Computer Connection isn't a patch on Bester's best work. It's a very weird little piece of science fiction. But still, this story of immortals fighting it out over the U.S. is a darn sight better than mediocre fantasy. I haven't been that impressed with Buroker's series, and that makes this an easy one.
Lean In vs. Tooth and Claw
Winner: Tooth and Claw
I did not know that I wanted to read a book about Victorian society but with dragons. I did not know that it was something I craved. Then I read Tooth and Claw, and lo and behold, I discovered that this was something I wanted to read very much. I was delighted by that book. In contrast, while Lean In has some good tips, most of it is all about the individual part of success, while acknowledging while simultaneously downplaying structural issues. It was bothersome. Plus, Facebook sounded like a truly nightmarish place to work.