Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 2!
Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors, bloggers and publishers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2010, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2011.
Who: Harry Markov of the excellent speculative fiction review blog Temple Library Reviews where he writes reviews as well as posting interesting features like Reviewer Time (where he interviews other bloggers) and Beyond the Wordcount (where he talks to authors and gives a behind-the-scene look to books). He is also an Official Honorary Book Smuggler as he joined the team this year reviewing Paranormal Romance for our feature A Dude Reads PNR.
Please give it up to the Dude with his top 3 reads of 2010:
It’s the end of the year? Already? Nah, that can’t be true… *checks calendar* Crap! You are most definitely right on target with this one. What the heck was I doing this year? Did the feline overlords conquer Earth, yet? *listens to the invisible man whispering something in my ear* Oh, that is scheduled for 2012. Death by kittehs. Mwa-ha-ha.
Since I don’t really exist [I’m an elaborate scheme devised by The Book Smugglers] I can’t tell you how my year has been so far. So I will lie. Yes, I will lie. I slew mutant penguins, played banjo for the Queen and received critical acclaim for my role as Prince Siegfried in the ballet Swan Lake. I guess the tights won the crowd over.
In reality 2010 has been a pretty decent year. I did plan on reading six books minimum per month, which I guess is something only the original Book Smugglers can do. Nothing of that sort happened. My reading habits fluctuated, while my TBR pile kept a very steady constant. It said Excelsior and blasted off into space. Yes, it’s that long. My small place in the corner of the web, Temple Library Reviews, passed the mandatory 100,000 visits mark [I’m a real boy now… Wait, wrong movie] and I’ve been indoctrinated as a Book Smuggler [blessed be thy bootleg ninja techniques]. At the moment I’m in the middle of social suicide by committing to seven different websites for reviews and articles. In the meantime, been working hard to produce a novel – I discovered I hate editing, but I won NaNo so that has to count – and generally living in a fantasy world.
Man, I guess I did heaps this year. Sorry to bore you. I know what you are here for. The book porn. It’s the book porn you’re after and by the gods [the Book Smuggling ones that is] I shall give that delicious top something list you are all hot and bothered for. I did prepare a longish list [15 titles or so], but then again I’m in love with the majority of the titles I read, so it’s a challenge to rank books. I’m a firm believer that one cannot rank books from different genre in a descending or ascending rank list, because books are special and brilliant in a multitude of ways. So in a non-specific order:
I decided that Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren will become my most cherished read of the year. First, the cover is green. Then the island’s name is Botanica. Third, there is a lot about plant life inside this novel. When I snatched it I read it in the course of two months, because I did not want it to end, ever. I know, very unproductive, but most enjoyable. I still haven’t written the review yet [long overdue, I know] because I can’t find the right words to express myself. It’s a singular novel, really. Its prose is simple, yet powerful. It’s genre ambiguous and bridges between fantasy and science fiction without effort. However, what spoke to the geek in me was the huge focus on anthropology. Warren explores humanity, culture and how the environment changes the latter. The island of Botanica hosts one main culture with core beliefs and traditions, yet every settlement carries its distinct oddities and interpretations of the basic elements such as the role of the Tree and the Myth of Creation. Powerful in a very subtle manner.
Blake Charlton is the new kid on the fantasy block. His debut Spellwright had us all talking for at least three months. Admittedly, he did not reinvent the wheel. Spellwright is nostalgic in a good way. The heroes are morally spotless. The villains are the embodiment of all that is wrong in the world. Good vs. Evil, Old School battle. Charlton brought vitality to this trope and I gobbled Spellwright with giddy joy. Imagine the pure, distilled innocence of an anime high school student laughing. Yes, that was me [minus the high school uniform skirt]. What utterly bewitched me was Charlton’s magic system. Languages have magical power. Wizards are linguists. Words glow in the dark. Sentences attack. People, it’s a world, in which your linguistics diploma actually gets respect and prestige. What is there not to like? As a reader I am partial towards original world concepts and upon reading an execution of an idea such as this, it’s bound to have a lasting impression on me. Mind you, ‘words have power’ is not that new or revolutionary, but Charlton took it one step further, suspended my disbelief and still served me an adventurous tale.
Last, but not least, I have picked A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files. This book picked some TNT, struck the match and stuffed it in my skull. It blew my mind. Her prose is pure creative opium and aphrodisiac. You must have more and more. At the same time, you see what else can be done with the English language. I melted into a puddle reading this. Files knows her craft and if someone could entrance a human with a book, then that would be her. But it’s not all prose with me. For instance, A Book of Tongues’ cast has spellcasters with manifestations of their talents in a unique way [kind of like the X-Men, but with magic]. There are journeys to hell, cities turned to salt and Aztec/Mayan gods that wrestle for dominance. What won me over completely [I do worship Files as a deity now] was the bold homosexual relationship factor. Files has filled her book with loads of gay sex and even though there’s raunch, it’s so authentic [given that the story takes place in an America after the Civil War] that it never ever crosses into pornography or erotica. The wild sex is where it’s supposed to be and acts only as a masterful tool for furthering the character and plot development.
This has been my top three reads for 2010. I hope you enjoyed my list and that you will go and read these books. I know 2010 is not over yet, but here’s to a very happy 2011 with lots of new books to read.
Thank you Harry and a Happy Smugglivus to you!