When you are having fun and you love what you are doing, you don’t feel that time is passing. It’s been officially 4 years of Book Smuggling but we feel like we’ve barely started. We keep having new ideas, we are as excited about new books and about reading as we have always been, and we love blogging and reviewing so much we will probably keep going on forever and ever (or until an exploding Tardis destroys the entire universe. Or you know, something similarly apocalyptic happens).
Meanwhile, we celebrate! In true Smugglerific fashion, here’s a look at the highs (and lows!) of 2011, that made the year so memorable.
- In terms of reading, the year starts off really well with both Ana and Thea finding new authors to completely fall in love with. Thea reads Cold Magic (her first Kate Elliot book) and Ana discovers the awesomeness of both Connie Willis and Diana Wynne Jones
- Thea has the first of many frustrating SciFi experiences in 2011. Her review of Black Hole Sun David Macinnis Gill is less than favorable
- The Bitch Media Fiasco and ensuing shitstorm hits the Internets, and we find ourselves unwillingly dragged into the mess. It all starts when Bitch Magazine publishes a list of 100 YA Novels for the Feminist Reader. The list is challenged by a few vocal commenters, and the magazine decides to take three titles off their list – after admitting that some of the books listed had not been read prior to their inclusion. The shitstorm officially begins when some outraged YA authors voice their anger at the removal of these titles, and we Book Smugglers somehow find ourselves in the middle of the discussion. We learn that Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, one of Bitch Media’s redacted titles, was removed from the list after a commenter linked to our highly critical, now infamous review of the book (a review we had written nearly half a year earlier to the whole brouhaha, no less!). We spend over a week replying to comments and fending off misinformed attacks that misquoted our review and role in the whole debacle. In short, it is a very ugly week and one of the most stressful events in our blogging career.
- On the bright side, Ana is able to recover from the stress by visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. Words cannot describe the awesome
- While she is away, Thea stages a coup-de-blog and organises a Nebula Award Readathon
- In an effort to be more smartphone-friendly, we launch the Web-App Enabled Version of the Book Smugglers
- In our first Smugglers’ Ponderings of the year, we examine hype and make a list of recommended yet criminally under-represented books
- On March 23, The Great Breakdown of 2011 happens when our crappy server, without any advance notice whatsoever, suspends our account because our blog is getting too much traffic. It is ironic how such awesome news can be the cause of such mayhem and headache! The site is down for 3 days (gaah), our readers freak out, Thea nearly loses her mind (and countless hours of sleep) migrating our posts, images, comments, and assorted web assets to a new server, and Ana collapses in hysterics as our stats plummet due to site downtime. On March 26, we are back on track!
- Our happiness at being up and running again is curtailed as the world receives the news that the wonderful Diana Wynne Jones passed away on March 26. RIP Diana Wynne Jones.
- Ana reads Chime by Franny Billingsley, her favourite book of 2011.
- Game of Thrones comes to HBO and in the midst of all the excitement and expectation we come to learn that the show is really only for boys according to a patronising review on the New York Times that leaves us simultaneously pissed off and amused.
- Publisher Headline invites us, as well as a bunch of other cool bloggers, to participate in a round robin-style short story to celebrate the release of Neil Gaiman’s Stories. The fact that we are even in the same sentence as Neil Gaiman is enough to make us hyperventilate. And Then What Happened is released in early April.
- We review the excellent Vintage: a Ghost Story by Steve Berman as our contribution to the Gay in YA Blogathon, a month-long event that celebrates LGBT in YA
- We join the Diversity in YA effort (organised by Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon to bring attention to MG and YA books featuring people of color, LGBT characters, and any other diverse characters) with a thoughtful guest post from Francisco Stork on writing with responsibility.
- It is a good month for reading. Thea reads Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, her second favourite book of 2011…
- And we reach another milestone in our blogging career as for the first time ever we BOTH give the same book a 10. The book is the fabulous, amazing, superlative The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
- We attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in NY for the second year in a row. The awesome people we meet, the awesome books we get and seeing each other again are well worth the physical pain and Javits-related stress.
- At BEA, we attend the Infamous Disney Dinner – and we don’t realize how big of a deal this invite is. We arrive underdressed at a super posh restaurant (Tom Coliccio!), are greeted with champagne, have a moment of sheer panic when we are separated at the event due to deviously smart pre-planned seating arrangements. We giggle like maniacs when we find ourselves dining with the likes of Rick Riordan, Eoin Colfer, and Cinda Williams Chima. We come to the conclusion it is the most absurd and magical night of our lives. We can only hope to be invited again this year!
- We celebrate our week at BEA by having dedicating a whole week to reviewing some of the many (very many!) titles we received and by posting a Smugglers’ Ponderings post about the BBC and the relationship between bloggers and publishers.
- We celebrate the Summer of Spandex and the awesome Superhero movies out this year: Thor, Captain America, X-Men First Class and oh yeah, The One We Wish We Could Forget, Green Lantern.
- We post a list of recommended LGBT reading in celebration of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month
- Our hearts break as we say goodbye to the Harry Potter franchise as the last movie hits the screen. We weep as we remember all that made us love the Harry Potter movies and books in Harry Potter and the Book Smugglers
- We unveil our brand new Book Smugglers site redesign this month! (It is not nearly as stressful to implement as server transferring, Thea is very happy to report.)
- Ana attends the coolest book-related event EVER as she is whisked away to Alnwick Castle in the North of England (where Harry Potter was filmed), takes part in a two-day event visiting the locations featured in the Poison Diaries books and has tea with the Duchess of Northumberland in the Castle’s State Dinning Room. Seriously, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Meanwhile in NY, Thea turns a beautiful shade of green.
- We join the Tumblr revolution: Book Smugglerific becomes our popgeekery home on the webs
- On the heels of all the enticing Middle Grade fiction we picked up at BEA, we have our very first Middle Grade Appreciation Week this month (August 1 – 6). The biggest surprise is how much we love Aliens on Vacation Clete Barrett Smith (completely unexpected, though we did get to meet the very kind Clete at BEA and at the aforementioned Disney dinner).
- Thea reads A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, her favorite book of 2011.
- We learn that one of Thea’s favorite book series’, the Monstrumologist books by Rick Yancey, is being dropped its publisher, Simon & Schuster. Thea (and many other pissed off fans) expresses her fury on Twitter (expletives might have been used) and immediately joins the online campaign to save the series. To everybody’s delight, the books are saved!
- The annual Nerds Heart YA tournament is in its final glorious showdown, and we Smugglers are given the honor of judging the final matchup. It is tough deciding between the equally excellent Five Flavours of Dumb by Antony John and What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson. Ultimately we announce What Momma Left Me as the winner.
- For the second year in a row, we win the coveted title of Best Speculative Fiction Book Blog for Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011! Cross-atlantic highfives are exchanged.
- We celebrate another HUGE milestone as our hit counter reaches the 2 million page views! (And we are well under way to the 3 million mark)
- Ana reviews Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett and that event marks the beginning of her new reading obsession: Historical YA.
- Speaking of obsession, Ana finds out what it means to fall in love with Matt Smith’s Doctor Who (after much prodding by Thea). Her universe will never be the same again now that there is a Tardis and a River Song flying around in it.
- Thea goes to the NY Comic Con. On top of attending awesome panels, getting loads of cool books, she also gets to meet Tamora Pierce and interview – in person – Kim Harrison and Kristen Painter. It is Ana’s turn to have a lovely green complexion
- Our annual Halloween Week is back in full force. We have tons of reviews and daily guest posts, and Thea gets Ana to submit to her yearly Halloween Torture by making her read Edgar Allan Poe for the first time
- We are proud to introduce a new addition to the Book Smugglers! Our movie reviewing Smuggler, Lavanya Narasimhan, kick starts her contribution to the blog with a review of the movie Water for Elephants and an interview with Sara Gruen
- We commence with our official month-long, year-end celebration of books, Smugglivus 2011. This year we broke ALL THE RECORDS with guest authors (27), bloggers (32), publishers (1), reviews, giveaways, our top 10 lists and our now traditional Feats of Strength and Airing of Grievances
2012 Resolutions and Goals
We have quite a few resolutions to try to keep in the coming year, too!
- We want to launch and maintain a monthly newsletter
- We firmly VOW to keep a better track of new releases (especially Ana) and will try to bring more timely reviews
- We will of course continue our weeklong features (Halloween Week, another MG week, and so on)
- We solemnly vow to bring back our What She Said feature (at least on a monthly basis)
- We will encourage more tumblr posting and more Movie-Smuggler reviews from our newest Smuggler, Lavanya
Please note that we do reserve the right to change our minds about all of the above.
And with that we declare Smugglivus officially finished! Thank you so much to all of our guests (authors, publishers and bloggers) who made it all possible.
And as usual, we remain…
~ Ana and Thea, your friendly neighborhood Book Smugglers