Temeraire by Naomi Novik
Summary: The story is set during an alternate history version of the Napoleonic Wars, in which dragons not only exist but are used as a staple of aerial warfare in Asia and Europe. The dragons of the story are portrayed as sentient and intelligent, capable of logical thought and human speech. The series centers primarily on events involving Temeraire (the titular dragon) and his handler, Will Laurence. The first book of the series centers on how Laurence, formerly a Captain in the British Royal Navy, becomes Temeraire's handler, and their early training in preparation for battles against Napoleon's aerial fleet.
THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD. The main highlight was the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. Although he became a dragon hanger grudgingly, Laurence soon settles into the role of parent to Temeraire, who is pretty much a giant precocious baby. THEY READ BEDTIME STORIES TOGETHER. And then go off and fight the French.
The Dragon choosing its rider thing is similar to Anne McCaffery's The Dragons of Pern, but I liked Novik's dragons better. She writes their voices perfectly; there were so many moments when I wanted to laugh or cry.