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:
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.
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.
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.
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):
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!
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.
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.
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!