Welcome to Smugglivus 2009 – Day 18!
Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2009, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2010.
Today’s Guest: Sarah Rees Brennan, YA author who debuted this year (and knocked Ana’s socks off with her writing). To read Sarah’s article about her Inspirations and Influences, go here.
Please welcome Sarah and her list of favourite things of 2009 (plus a giveaway):
My Favourite Things of 2009
So here’s a thing people don’t talk about a lot: reading books by people you know.The first book you read by someone you know is simultaneously really exciting (because you’re happy their book is out! You love this person! You’re dying to read it!) and absolutely terrifying (If you don’t like it, perhaps you can move to Siberia and never ever check your email?).
The thing I never expected is that reading a book by someone you know is really reassuring. You know you’re going to get their humour: you know you find the same kind of things interesting. You’re absolutely certain that there is never going to be that Horrible Lurching Moment of Dismay when you realise the author’s value system is totally different from your own and now all the characters you love are tainted and you can never talk about the books again without going off on a weird rant that makes you look like you’ve been through a bad break-up.
‘I always knew the books were flawed (Oh we were never that serious), I still sometimes pick up their books in the shop (I drunk-dialled him last week), That character was really always the weak point in the series (I always knew that vile girl from the copy shop/his suspiciously clingy best friend Mitch would steal him away from me!), I guess I feel like other people should know how the series turns out before they waste their time (I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights).’ Book break-ups are hard to do!
But when you know someone’s mind and find out you love their writing (and that one’s a gamble…) then you can have a lot of fun. I made a lot of friends among fellow debut authors in 2009, and thus I had a lot of opportunities to find authors I trusted and books I love. (Some of them, of course, were written by total strangers. Who I will now be stalking incessantly in an attempt to get to their laptops – uh, I mean, enjoy their company.)
2009 BOOKS WHAT I LOVED
Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare
I have been reading a lot of romance this year, looking at what works in romance for me, enjoying rolling around with books that seem to really like the ladies (hating on the ladies, something I am very very tired of in books), and I’ve observed that some of the most recent historical fiction has an increased focus on the heroines. Which I love – how d’you invest in a romance without loving both of the main players? And Goddess of the Hunt has one of my very favourite heroines of the year – Lucy, who gets all dolled up in the morningtime to woo a suitor and looks ridiculous, who is self-confident and occasionally embarrasses herself and then picks herself up and goes again, Lucy who eats a crazy amount to keep up her levels of energy for new adventures. I loooove Lucy. The writing and the hero, also excellent, but Lucy made the book one of my favourites.
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
I loved the first book and when I found the sequel in a bookshop early, I performed a little spinny dance that caused one of the bookshop ladies to come and bond with me over the brilliance of this series. Derek and Chloe, I looooove them. I am also fond of Derek’s half-Asian sweet and good-lookin’ foster brother, though if he gets in the way of the romance, there will be consequences. Dark, snarly and hideous genius werewolf Derek! Tiny, blond and relentlessly sensible movie buff Chloe! If I had dolls of them, I would make them kiss all the time. (Quit looking at me like that.)
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell
Definitely one of my favourite books of the year – reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird. I have a deep weakness for the South, possibly due to imprinting on Gone with the Wind young, and I also have a deep love for sensible heroines, mysteries, dark secrets in the past, and everybody being to blame and yet not being unlikable.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margi Stohl
In a world of lots and lots of YA featuring withdrawn ladies who fall in love with magnificently beautiful supernatural dudes – not that I don’t love several examples of that YA, but a change is nice – a sweet, normal boy narrator, a deep South background that was exotic (to me at least) and beautifully realised, and a romance that is goofy and adorable and obviously deeply-felt.
Knife by R.J. Anderson (known as Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter in the US)
Knife is the most badass YA heroine I came across this year, and she’s only about five inches tall. She wields a letter opener with deadly accuracy, though! And she spies on the strange and terrible humans who live near her – including Paul, who is newly wheelchair-bound, blond, sensitive, and – ahem! – kind of a hotass. Two very different people coming together in a gorgeously written mystery.
2009 MOVIES WHAT I LOVED
Went in having slept through every Star Trek episode I’d ever been shown, only because I’d heard awesome things, still very wary about space and action. Five minutes in, I looooved it: I loved the cool, reticent Vulcan dude, I loved the rebel with the cause that was daddy issues, and I loved the girl who was cool, confident and very brilliant at something that wasn’t kicking ass but was cerebral – I wish to see more of that. And the subtle, tropes-inverting romance was wonderful. I can’t wait to see the next one.
Let The Right One In
Vampire movie of the year! I love creepy child vampires, I love romances where the girl is the supernatural one, I love supernatural stuff that’s edgy and not romanticised. I loved the cold horror and the analysis of how morals would degrade in the face of the necessity of killing – and how children have very different morality, anyway.
Um, I haven’t seen it. But I really want to, and Robert Downey Jnr plus hilarity plus a new and strange take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos – I expect to love it!
2010 BOOKS I CAN’T WAIT FOR
(These include books I haven’t read and am dying to read, books I have read and am dying to talk about, and so on!)
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Dude, how awesome was Forest of Hands and Teeth? Plus, everyone who has read it says it’s even better than the first book. I mean, I don’t know, personally. Because I haven’t read it. I guess Carrie Ryan hates me or something. But Carrie ‘Doesn’t Love Me’ Ryan is still pretty magnificent. I’m dying to read it. By the time March rolls around perhaps I will be a zombie already. Not that Carrie ‘Heartless Withholder’ Ryan cares.
Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
As I said earlier, I have been observing a trend I call the New Wave of Historical Romance, which I LOVE, and I think ‘Proof by Seduction‘ is one of the best examples I’ve read so far. The heroine is a scheming fortune teller, and we start out thinking oh well, she’ll repent of her ways, the handsome hero will teach her to love again, and then you realise that in fact Jenny is like a psychiatrist for her clients – she didn’t know that’s what they needed, and they didn’t either, and yet they all needed help – and that truth can be found in lying, cheating and gambling: and the proof is in the book.
The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
This is one of those I have read: I love Cassie’s other books, and how they’re funny, dramatic and romantic all at once, and I was excited and nervous to read her historical demonhunters. I think this is her best book yet – I expected to love the uber-gentleman super-zen Jem, but I did not expect how much I would love Will, who is tall, dark and Totally Insane, and I really did not expect that the Love of the Book for me would be Tessa, the heroine who loves books in a way that I think we can all identify with – passionate, consuming, relating real life to books and books to real life, and being all the better for it. Plus – demons and period clothes and a secret London and lots of delicious humour, what’s not to love?
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
My rule of trilogies is as follows ‘Book One: set up, Book Two: make out, Book Three: defeat evil.’ The first book was a symphony in punking the steam, dressing the cross and buckling the swash, and it set up (I hope) a romance that is my favourite of Scott’s books so far. Therefore I am extremely eager for the Make-Out Book. Also, I have received thrilling spoilers for this one. I know some stuff that happens. And you will be electrified! (Also, I am willing to sell these spoilers to the highest bidder. Okay, not really.)
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
I would kill to read this book. Seriously – no, seriously. All Kelley would have to do is send me an email, with a name in it. And I would understand her. I would go and commit murder, while Kelley constructed a perfect alibi for herself. Perhaps she could be doing a reading? And then later, I would receive my book. It would be completely worth it! I must know what happens next with the surly, shockingly not-hot werewolf Derek and the damsel-in-distress-who-occasionally-stabs-a-bitch Chloe. My suggestion is – making out! (To be fair… that’s usually my suggestion.)
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
I am expecting gorgeous writing, a genius mystery and a use of point of view that makes me really think. The King of Attolia is one of my favourite books ever, ever, and really… I don’t know what would happen if Megan Whalen Turner decided to get in on my murder offer for Kelley Armstrong and I opened the letter and it had the name of a loved one in it. Well I’m not saying I would do it. BUT IT WOULD BE A VERY HARD DECISION.
The White Cat by Holly Black
A world where magic was outlawed at the same time as Prohibition, and now magic is the province of crime and seven magical, criminal families. Cassel is the youngest son of a family of magical conmen: he has no magic, has a hard time not thinking like a criminal (though he tries) and he has far too many secrets. A family of attractive and potentially evil brothers and a very unusual romance, and a YA fantasy written like a noir detective novel. It’s so funny, so different, and I so can’t wait for other people to read it.
And, er, well, in 2010 my second book The Demon’s Covenant comes out, and I thought I might share an excerpt with y’all.
“It’s not some kind of tragically stupid love triangle. I’m not going to choose one guy out of two and settle down. It doesn’t have to be either of them for me, or have to be me for either of them. The world’s full of people, if you hadn’t noticed. I could ask any of a dozen guys out, and any of them could ask me out.” Mae took a deep breath. “I didn’t ask for your advice on my love life,” she said. “And it’s not necessary.”
“Glad to hear it,” Nick told her. “One last thing before I go.”
He leaned in closer, his hand held up to screen their faces as if he didn’t want anyone watching to even read his lips. His fingers were curled about half an inch from her cheek.
“I’m sure you’re right,” he said, his voice a whisper that seemed to curl in the air like smoke, to find a way in to her stomach and twist there, low. “I’m sure there are a dozen guys who will ask you out if McFarlane loses his chance. I just want you to know something.”
“What?” Mae asked, whispering because he was whispering, tilting up her face because he was leaning down, and for no other reason.
Nick looked down at her, his face obscuring the rest of the world, narrowing down her focus and stripping everything else away until she was left with cold black eyes instead of a summer sky.
“I never will,” he said.
2009 was a very special year for me in a lot of ways – chiefly that it was the year my first book was published. I’ll never be a debut author again! It was nervewracking, exciting, and humbling. I’ve loved the responses for my book – I hope more people will start reading with the release of the paperback and The Demon’s Covenant in 2010 – I carry gratitude, terror, happiness and a whole lot of booklove from 2009 to the next year, and the next!
To celebrate Smugglivus and the Year of My Debut, pray comment to win one of two Irish silver quillon dagger charms – my hero Nick’s favourite kind of knife. And happy Smugglivus to you all!
And a Happy Smugglivus to you Sarah!
Leave a comment to enter to win one of two Irish silver quillon dagger charms! The contest is open to everyone and will run till Saturday 26th 11:59pm (PST). Good luck!