Welcome to Smugglivus 2011! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2011, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2012.
Who: Angie, of Angieville, one of our favourite blogs. Over the years Angie has been an incessant source of awesome reviews and one of our main book-enablers. There is no accounting for the amount of books we’ve read because Angie recommended them and because of that, we have invited her to open this year’s festivities.
Ladies and gents, please give a warm welcome to Angie!
When Ana and Thea asked me if I’d like to be the official Smugglivus Kick-starter this year, I told them that was really nice of them and all, but I’m awfully busy this time of year and so I’d have to think about it and get back to them . . .
Like I had to think about it for a second. I immediately said, “YES!” and set about compiling my annual awards list of the best and brightest books, characters, kisses, and covers of 2011. So without further ado:
Best Instant Comfort Read: Sarah Addison Allen for The Peach Keeper
I would characterize myself as a fan with a capital F of Ms. Allen’s books, and I swallowed this puppy down in a single sitting. Five pages in and it was already a keeper. Her magical prose swirls through your veins like cream in a coffee cup.
Best Galaxy Far, Far Away: Sara Creasy for Children of Scarabaeus
The truly elaborate and organic world building blew me away and kept me engrossed from beginning to end. Scarabaeus itself is the thing of nightmares and I can’t wait to revisit it (from the safe distance of my cozy chair) very soon.
Best Debut Performance by a Heroine in a Leading Role: Kate “Puck” Connolly for The Scorpio Races
You may have heard me wax rhapsodic about this one already. Well, one of the biggest reasons is Puck Connolly. Her bone-deep love for her home and her unflinching determination to finish what she starts immediately won my devotion.
Best Debut Performance by a Hero in a Leading Role: Sean Kendrick for The Scorpio Races
And Sean Kendrick is the other big reason. He takes reserved to a heretofore unexplored level. But when he does step outside his comfort zone and utter actual syllables, they’re . . . well . . . devastatingly perfect. I have so many favorites, but my favorite of favorites is this one, “The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.” Or wait! Maybe, “It’s late for that, Puck.” Or it could be–well, you see where I’m going with this . . .
Best Performance by an Antihero in a Tall, Dark, and Brooding Role: Vaughn for Unsticky
Yeah, yeah. So this one is a bit of a cheat seeing as how Unsticky was published (in the UK) in 2009. But if anyone ever deserved this award, it is VAUGHN. He still kind of scares me, truth be told. And he’s so gray he’s difficult to see at times. But he is so, so worth your time.
Best Performance by a Hero in a Ridiculously Charming Role: Cricket Bell for Lola and the Boy Next Door
She did it again. I’ll admit to entertaining the notion that Stephanie Perkins had emptied her Nice Guy arsenal last year with the creation of Ètienne St. Clair. I was delighted to be proved wrong when she trotted out Mr. Cricket Bell this year. Sky-high hair, disarming charm, he has my heart in his pocket, and I have no doubt it’s in very safe keeping there.
Best Performance by a Villain: Warner for Shatter Me
My Warner feelings are all over the place. But this I know to be true–He is 100% Grade A
Hot Psychotic. And Shatter Me would be nothing without him. His smile is laced with dynamite, and he’s the reason I’ll be coming back for more.
Best Packaging: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for I’ll Be There
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I just don’t know how any self-respecting book lover can see this book and not have to buy it immediately. This was the first new book I read after having my baby, and it is just as sweet and beautiful as it looks. I still pick it up occasionally just to stroke its lovely cover.
Best Kiss *and* Declaration: Alan and Sin for The Demon’s Surrender
She made the first move. Yes, she did. But he said it best. Yes, he did. Together they made me cry. Why? Because they’re two liars who found each other. She is fierce. And he looks on tempests and is never shaken. Aaaaaand SWOON.
Best Series Finale: Sarah Rees Brennan for The Demon’s Surrender
That’s right. Because it was wicked fun and entertaining to the last word. And because of the Ryves brothers. Truth? In two worlds, there is nothing I love half as much.
Best Character Transformation: Mandy/Jill for How to Save a Life
Because they surprised me. And themselves. And each other. I didn’t want to like Mandy and I liked Jill right off the bat, but Sara Zarr still took them both in directions I didn’t expect. It stretched my reading muscles getting to know these two. Just the way it should be.
Best Author Pimping: Sabrina from About Happy Books
For her note perfect squeeing about the utterly fab Sarra Manning. See my feelings re: Vaughn above. I read her reviews and ordered the books (all the way from the UK) that very day. I surfaced awhile later just a very big fan. Thanks, Sabrina! Way to bookpush with the best of them.
Last of all, my 2012 Must Be Mine List (in order of publication):
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
The third Alpha and Omega novel. Anna and Charles are sweet and different from Mercy and the gang. I’m always happy to spend time with them.
Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend by Sarra Manning
Latest adult foray from one of my favorite finds of the year.
The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn
She’s written an urban fantasy! She’s written an urban fantasy! Callooh, callay!
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Post-apocalyptic retelling of Persuasion. ‘Nuff said.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Companion book to both Graceling and Fire. Katsa and Po will be there! I may hyperventilate.
And no covers yet on these lovelies, but they will be mine just the same:
Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins
I’ve fallen in love with Ms. Higgins’ work this year. Her new one is due out in April and word is it takes us back to the same town that Maggie and Malone live in in Catch of the Day. Squee!
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
Andrea’s book! I’m ridiculously excited to see Andrea and Raphael circle each other at length.
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Will it come out in 2012? Won’t it? I’m slapping it on here anyway, because you know what? It just might.
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
The first in a crossover YA/Adult series from Ms. Marillier. Set in ancient Scotland. That’s kind of all I need to know.
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
The companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. It’s hard to wrap my brain around what kind of cuteness Ms. Perkins has in store for us the third time around.
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
First in a YA gothic romance trilogy (yes, please). Murder, manors, imaginary boys, oh my!
Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb
This long-awaited sequel to the fabulous A Certain Slant of Light is going to rock my world. I can just tell. It’s Billy and Jenny’s story as narrated by Helen and Jenny. Brilliant.
Phew! On that note, I’d better dash before I wear out my welcome. It’s been grand kicking off the Smugglivus season. Happy reading, guys!
Thank you Angie!
And we hereby declare Smugglivus 2011 officially open!
ChachicDecember 1, 2011 at 1:45 am
Yay Angie, the ultimate book pusher! Excellent Smugglivus post, as always. I agree with some of her choices – The Peach Keeper, The Scorpio Races, Unsticky – and I have to pick up and read the others. Yes to both Puck and Sean! “The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.” and “It’s late for that, Puck.” are perfect lines.
Also looking forward to Bitterblue, Gunmetal Magic and Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend. 😀
JodieDecember 1, 2011 at 3:09 am
BevvyDecember 1, 2011 at 5:21 am
*squeel!* Katsa and Po! I’m excited for bitterblue. I love her character ^-^
ElizabethDecember 1, 2011 at 5:46 am
OMG Smugglivus is going to be even better than I hoped!
rhapsodyinbooksDecember 1, 2011 at 6:36 am
Totally with you on the great line from The Scorpio Races, “It’s late for that, Puck.” There are similar sort of lines from the hero in another Irish mythology book, Tyger Tyger.
TinaDecember 1, 2011 at 7:04 am
Definitely curious about Sarra Manning now. I’ve only read one Sarah Addison Allen this year (Garden Spells) and I loved it. I hope to get her other books this Christmas!
I also have Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life and I am also very excited to read that!
I’m also looking forward to Bitterblue (finally!), Isla, and the new Kristan Higgins seems interesting but I have to read her other books first. 🙂
HollyDecember 1, 2011 at 7:59 am
Ooh, I didn’t know about Under the Light! Count me excited for that one. And all the others, particularly the Manning, Peterfreund, Marillier, and Cashore. I really hope Bridge of Clay comes out too.
CarlaDecember 1, 2011 at 8:08 am
you know – when i am going on a book buying binge, I spend a good few hours scouring angie’s past reviews and posts and base what I am going to buy off her recommendations. I feel like a stalker when i do it but omg do i always love the books i buy? HECK YES I DO.
Alexa @ Alexa Loves BooksDecember 1, 2011 at 8:20 am
What a great post! I haven’t read a lot of these books yet, but you can be sure I’m adding them to my TBR!
PamDecember 1, 2011 at 9:08 am
Great lists. I really want Diana’s new book that cover is stunning.Awesome way to kick off the festivities.
janicuDecember 1, 2011 at 9:13 am
“Her magical prose swirls through your veins like cream in a coffee cup.” — where do you come up with this stuff? I love it.
I think at least one of my favorites and books I’m looking forward to next year overlaps with yours. *rubs hands*.
Rachel NeumeierDecember 1, 2011 at 9:53 am
There’s a sequel to A Certain Slant of Light? 😀 I had no idea! I’ll be counting the days till that one hits the shelves . . .
MistiDecember 1, 2011 at 9:56 am
And my TBR pile just went crazy! So many good books to read. There is just not enough time in the day! I’ve read so many great books that Angie has recommended. Love, love loved, the Demon’s Surrender
LindaDecember 1, 2011 at 10:17 am
Angie’s awesome as usual. Love her blog! She makes me want every single book on that list! 😀
heatherDecember 1, 2011 at 10:21 am
Oh, Angie, you’ve just added a number of books to my TBR pile. Also – I am geekily excited to see there’s going to be a sequel to “A Certain Slant of Light.” Loved that book…so beautiful.
ChristineDecember 1, 2011 at 10:36 am
Angie, Angie, Angie! Do you have ANY idea what you singlehandedly do to my book wish list and TBR pile?! Ana and Thea do a find job, as well, but I think your tastes are even closer in tune to mine. Thanks for all the book recs!
KB/KT GrantDecember 1, 2011 at 11:14 am
Angie, you and I are Warner psycho fanatics! We need buttons. LOL
capillyaDecember 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm
Yay Angie! And you are so right about Sabrina, I guess I’d missed her Sara Manning gushing, I didn’t know about her until you and Chachic started chatting up Unsticky! I SO loved reading all of your awards. I haven’t read Demon’s Lexicon but I sure want to now!
melissa @ 1lbrDecember 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm
Oh blast! I can never read Angie’s “best of” lists without adding to the horrific TBR pile. She has a way of convincing me to read nearly anything 🙂
ShelleyraeDecember 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm
What a fabulous list of books! Thanks for sharing!
Shelleyrae @ Book’d out
JoLeeDecember 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm
I look forward to Angie’s best list every year.
MargDecember 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm
Totally agree with Sarah Addison Allen being a comfort read, although this book wasn’t my favourite of hers. Lola was a fantastic read and I can’t wait for Isla to come out – definitely one of my most anticipated reads for next year as is Bitterblue!
NaDecember 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm
Welcome Angie! I like this “best” list and some of them are really creative. The Peach Keeper does sound like it would be a great comfort read. I”ve been eyeing it for awhile now. Maybe I’ll pick it up when I do need comfort.
Simone St. JamesDecember 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm
What a great list! Oh, man, the Scorpio Races. Hands down the best book I read this year.
MichelleDecember 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm
Love the as always Angie! I’ve got to read Scorpio Races tho… *plots*
StephanieDecember 1, 2011 at 7:13 pm
Fair Game is a must read for me. I love Charles and Anna!
SandyDecember 1, 2011 at 11:06 pm
I see I’m not the only one who loves Angie’s blog. She has this wonderful way of swaying you and making you want to read whatever she recommends IMMEDIATELY. 😀
Anyway, this was a great post and a great kick-off for Smugglivus!
AngieDecember 2, 2011 at 11:05 am
Way to make a girl feel welcome, you guys! Wow. Your comments made my day.
I’m all giddy to see fellow love for THE SCORPIO RACES–truly the best book I read this year. Michelle, read it, read it, read it!
And the anticipation for BITTERBLUE and DARKNESS is definitely going to be worth it. Those two never disappoint.
Happy to give the heads up on UNDER THE LIGHT, too. I just knew there would be other fans of the first book totally stoked to hear about a second. I mean, how awesome is that last scene with Billy & Jenny? It’s possibly my favorite scene in the book. And now we get more from them?! It’s awesome and that’s all there is to it.
Carla, LOL. Stalk away, girly. Stalk away.
Janice, you crack me up.
Katie, *gasp* we TOTALLY need buttons. *plots*
AngieDecember 2, 2011 at 11:06 am
Capillya, UNSTICKY (and Vaughn) await you. Tick tock . . . 😀
MichelleDecember 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm
Oh how I love this list. Some great books on here that I’ve had the opportunity to read. Also, some books I’m interested to get to read. I’m super excited for Bitterblue!
SandyG265December 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm
Great list Angie. Some good books to look foward to.