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I enjoy reading, though I don't have enough time during the
school year to do much of it. My favorite author is Anne
McCaffrey (as several unfortunate souls who have gotten
me started on her during a conversation have learned). My
favorite series of books of her's was the Planet Pirates
one (consisting of Sassinak, The Death of Sleep, and
Generation Warriors. I don't count the Dinosaur
Planet books, though they are related). Sassinak was
a kick ass character, period. The Death of Sleep was,
IMO, pretty funny despite all the crap that Lunzie had to
go through. I liked her outlook on life.
Since I'm on the subject... < grins > I also really liked her To Ride Pegasus and Pegasus in Flight, which led into the Rowen series. My favorite book from those four is Damia's Children. The whole concept of psychics and the mind having a physical, manifestable power has always fascinated me. I used to read all the books I could find that discussed psychic phenomena in a real world sense. These books also helped to form my love for stories that revolved around characters with extrodinary abilities, but still living in a realistic setting.
'But', you gasp, 'so far you have left out Pern!'
Yes, but I wanted to get my absolute favorites out of the way first ;) The first Pern book I read was All the Weyrs of Pern. (Those who are familiar with the series know that this isn't the book to be starting with. Blame that on my friend, Jordan, for saying that it didn't matter...) I enjoyed the first two Harper Hall books, and gagged on the third Piemur book. Out of them all, The White Dragon is the one I reread the most often. I didn't go for the settlers or sixth pass books in the time line. I read them once to say that I did, and then moved on to better things.
It was for First Fall that I had my one and only book review printed in the local newspaper. (Hey, I was pretty proud of myself for that). The most prized book I own (and I do have some impressive items such as turn of the century hardbacks of the Wizard of Oz books) is a first edition paperback of Dragonflight.
Some of her books that get looked over the most (but would probably be the direction I went if I made it as a writer) are her short story collections. Get off the Unicorn shows wonderfully how short stories can often lead to bigger things. Stories relating to the Rowan series, Freedom's Choice, and Pern books are represented. The Girl who heard Dragons also featured a short Pern story. The only short story out of that book that I didn't like (and that was because it scared me, not because it wasn't a good story) was Velvet Fields. That story was chilling to me, others may disagree, but I've digressed from the rant.
I also liked the Petaybee Trilogy books. Or, more specifically, I really liked the The Powers That Be. The other two were okay, but not quite my cup o' tea. < shrugs >
Books of her's that didn't make it with me: The afore mentioned Freedom's Choice. I don't know why, but every time I try reading it I get bored about 100 pages in and go off to other things. The Crystal Singer series rubbed me the wrong way. I could stand the first book by overlooking Killashandra's holier-then-thou attitude. I couldn't keep on overlooking it for the following two books. < gag > I wanted to beat her to a bloody pulp with my keyboard by the third book. That was not a happy reading experience.
I'll spare you my book by book thoughts on her writing and stories.
Mercades Lackey is another favorite of mine. I absolutely loved her Heralds of Valdemar series. I saw a lot of myself in the character of Talia (a lot). When rereading this series, I often find myself reading the first book intently, and then skipping around the second and third books. < shrugs >
The Last Herald-Mage books were okay IMO. Again, I found myself skipping around the books to the parts that I liked the most. By the Sword was okay. I see it as a sort of fantasy version of Sassinak that didn't quite make the cut for me. I started out liking The Mage Winds and totally got lost after about 50 pages. (A lesson in naming conventions could be learned from this series.. everything was so close I couldn't keep track of who or what was doing this or that).
The character of Elspeth reminds me a lot of Chibi-usa. She is a character that I have never cared for, not even in the early books. She was annoying. She was a brat. Shoe her out the palace gate and maybe she will go away. Admittedly, I can stand her more in the later books, but I'm still not fond of her.
Right now I am in The Mage Storm series. I've read Storm Warning, but it was a couple of years ago. I would need to reread it before I can finish the series. Sad to say, I literally have to books sitting here on my shelves, but not the time to read them.
IMO, Lackey is a great author for setting scene, while McCaffrey is a master of character. I would have loved to have read a book by the two of them playing off of these strengths. They did one book together, but a romping fantasy like both of them are capable of would be truly grand.
Other books that I've enjoyed: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. This book, wow, what can I say? Read it! It has a great deal of depth and is an engrossing story. Forget making Huckleberry Finn required reading in schools, this book should be required reading! The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is another deep book that has a lesson to be learned while being an entertaining read.
I would also recommend Fallen Heroes by Daffyd ab Hugh. It is a Deep Space Nine book, but don't let that discourage you. As with the previous two recommendations, there is a moral to the story and left me in 'thought provocative mode' after reading it. A warning though, this is the most graphic (in terms of violence and blood) book I have read since Night. Not one for those with a queasy stomach (and somehow I made it though..)
Lord of the Flies is a good book. It is required reading in many school districts. The symbolism in it is staggering. Having someone to discuss the book with while and after reading it helps a lot, let me tell you..
Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club was another good story that made its way to the big screen. The movie wasn't as good as the book (it never is, though...) One of my Chinese friends had given it to me to read. After reading it, I understood where she was coming from a bit better. Shoeless Joe was a good book and the movie based off of it, Field of Dreams, is among my favorites.
Recently, I was introduced to the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. If it's any indication of how I took to it, I bought all but 2 of the books while I was on vacation. Honor is a strong female character. Plus, I'm a sucker for a good space opera.
Another good space opera that I've recently rediscovered is the Mage Worlds series by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald. The first book in the series was The Gathering Flame, which is probably for the best since it's the first one time wise. The fifth book is a bit weak, but everything else is excellent.
If you tried to pick out trends in the types of books I like, you would notice that most all of them feature a strong female main character. (Or one that is in the process of learning to be strong). That is why I like McCaffrey and Lackey so much, those are the types of women they portray. Also, I have a soft spot for 'coming home' stories. (Stories were the main character finds the place where they have 'always belonged').
I like sci-fi and fantasy, but with a heavier emphasis on character interaction then the actual sci-fi or fantasy elements. Dragons are nifty and all, but I care about what is happening to Jaxom more then I do Ruth. If the author has a sly wit, then more power to them. Peter David has written some wonderfully funny Star Trek novels. (Q-in-law was a hoot!)