We're getting near the end! Round Three. Now we're getting to the tough decisions, although there have been some doozies so far.
Railsea vs. Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do
Of course, I say that, and then the first match-up is one of the easiest imaginable. Ain't Nobody's Business has mostly survived this far by being slightly my favourite of two books I don't care a lot about. Railsea made me swoon. I keep saying that. It's not really a metaphor. There aren't many books that make me weak in the knees, but this was one. China Miéville, there is no question that this round is yours.
In The Night Garden vs. The Fall of Hyperion
Winner: In The Night Garden
This, on the other hand, was a very difficult choice. Two books I liked a whole hell of a lot. In the Night Garden might not have been my favourite Catherynne Valente book of the year, but through a quirk, that one has already been eliminated. And Dan Simmons' follow-up to last year's Dust Cover Dust-Up Winner, Fall of Hyperion, was less experimental, but so satisfying. And horrifying. Either choice is going to break my heart. But the sheer fairytale delight of storytelling is going to give it to In The Night Garden.
Wolf Hall vs. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Winner: Wolf Hall
Not an easy choice, but not a heartbreaker. Jeanette Winterson's memoir, in the second half, turns into something really great, but the first half is mostly set-up for that. Everyone should read it, no question. But if I'm stuck in an airport with a book, give me Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell as a companion. The writing style takes a bit of getting used to, but it was a thoroughly satisfying read.
Redshirts vs. Tooth and Claw
Winner: Tooth and Claw
I liked John Scalzi's Redshirts. It was fun, it was meta, and if it had too many codas, it also had a fun and entertaining story. But it can't match the sheer delight of realizing that, why, yes, I did want to read about Victorian dragons preying on poorer dragons, and the sexual politics of the colour of female dragons. This book is so strange, and it's exactly my kind of strange, and I loved it and you should probably read it.
Hexed vs. Red Seas Under Red Skies
Winner: Red Seas Under Red Skies
Not really a hard one. I liked Kevin Hearne's second outing of Atticus, ancient druid, but it was mostly just entertaining. On the other hand, Scott Lynch pulled me along on a thoroughly entertaining sea adventure, and then ripped my heart out and left it beating on the deck. Sorry if that's graphic. But it's pretty descriptive of how I felt as I read the end of the book, tears streaming down my face.