Whispers Underground vs. Steve Jobs
Winner: Whispers Underground
Whispers Underground is probably my least favourite Peter Grant book so far, but it was still a lot of fun. Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs was interesting, and I'm glad I read it, but it isn't a book that I would ever retain affection for after reading. Peter, ah, Peter, even when you're not at your best and the back cover mentions a subplot that never materializes, you're still too much fun to pass up in these early rounds.
Range of Ghosts vs. The Osiris Ritual
Winner: Range of Ghosts
As I said in the review, about the only thing I didn't like about Range of Ghosts was the title, which I have forgotten more times this year than I can possibly count. But while the title is forgettable, the great characters, the setting, the writing, everything else made this a greatly enjoyable book to read. Set in a version of the Steppes, this is fantasy as I've never quite seen it. And there are more wonderful and interesting female characters than you can shake a stick at. If you'd want to. In comparison, while I liked The Osiris Ritual more than the first in the series, the steampunk London just can't stack up to Bear's world.
How The Light Gets In vs. Dandelion Wine
Winner: How The Light Gets In
This choice is ripping my heart out. They shouldn't be this difficult this early on, and against other books, I'd expect to see both far into this arbitrary competition I set up my own self, and am now being punished by. Bradbury's book made me taste summer, but Louise Penny broke my heart and then put it back together again. I sobbed for a good portion of the end of this book. And it all centers around a duck. Because it is the superlatively good culmination of a mystery that has been building for books and books, and does it while staying true to the material while giving some truly shocking surprises. And because it hurt so much. Louise Penny. Sorry, Ray Bradbury.
Worth Dying For vs. Packing For Mars
Winner: Packing for Mars
Really? Dandelion Wine would have won in a heartbeat against either of these, but I will stay true to my own rules. At any rate, of the two, while I like Lee Child's Jack Reacher books, they tend to be solid instead of stunning. And Mary Roach's shtick is always amusing. It wins because this one's about space, and that definitely gives it the edge. Also, where else are you going to find a book that ferrets out whether or not the first chimpanzees in space masturbated up there?
Republic of Thieves vs. Brothers in Arms
Winner: Republic of Thieves
This may not be fair, but I've just read so many Bujold books this year that the individual ones are probably at a disadvantage. They're all great books, and Brothers in Arms is no exception. But it wasn't one of the real standouts among the Miles books I plowed through at high speed. On the other hand, Republic of Thieves was probably my least favourite of the Locke Lamora books so far. That's not really saying much, as I have loved all three. But of the two in this battle, it has to go to Locke and the appearance, at long last, of Sabetha.