A Very Fantastical Librarian Smugglivus

Welcome to Smugglivus 2017! Throughout this month, we will have guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2017, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2018, and more.

Today’s Smugglivus guest is Mieneke Van der Salm, blogger and editor at A Fantastical Librarian, and a good friend of this here blog.

Please give a warm welcome to Mieneke, everybody!


Hello friends! I cannot believe it is already time for another Smugglivus. Time has simultaneously flown by and it has been approximately 10.785 years since my last Smugglivus post. Because seriously, what a year it has been.

My year has been swallowed by following political shenanigans across the pond, major house renovations, dealing with the accompanying increased anxiety, and just regular life. So I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts, knitting my heart out, and watching some Netflix, but compared to previous years I didn’t read as much. However, I did read some amazing books this year, had a fantastic time in Helsinki with Ana and Thea (I even got to hold a Hugo!), I saw some great series and learned a lot about myself and the world.

If I could only recommend you one book this year it would be N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky.

Jemisin won Hugo’s for the previous two books in this series and she had better slam dunk that hat-trick, because this book, friends, this book ripped out my heart, made me cry in public and still had me feeling hopeful by the end. Jemisin keeps getting better and better and just GAH, go read everything she has ever written, but start with The Broken Earth series.

Me while reading The Broken Earth trilogy

The other author who you need to read all of their work ASAP is Stephanie Burgis. I discovered her writing for adults last year and then moved on to her MG Kat Incorrigible series and it was catnip. Then I read her novella Snowspelled and it was brilliant.

I have her latest middle grade book The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart sitting on my shelf and I fully intend to give it to myself as a Christmas treat. Burgis creates rich, abundant worlds and includes oodles of wit and snark into her characters and dialogue. There is often a bit of a Regency feel to the settings, so if that is your thing you should not miss this.

My favourite debut this year came from Melissa Caruso, whose The Tethered Mage was everything I love about fantasy bundled into one.

There were political shenanigans, there was impossible romance, there was social commentary and adventure. Also, one of the main characters was a bookish nerd, so naturally I <3 her. I loved the world Caruso created and her characters and I can’t wait for the next one!

Lastly a recommendation for a book I haven’t actually finished yet, but the bit I’ve read so far is fabulous.

Fonda Lee’s Jade City is a gorgeously written, Asia-inspired secondary world, urban fantasy and features awesome PoC protagonists whose family is basically the head of one of two competing crime families in the city of Janloon. I look forward to seeing how this book will play out and immersing myself deeper into its world.

On to television shows. Firstly, Mindhunter on Netflix. Based on the book of the same title, this series focuses on the origins of what is now commonly known as the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. While, there were definitely valid critiques to be given on the way the series treats its female characters (seriously, Holden’s girlfriend deserved better) I totally enjoyed this one and couldn’t stop watching. Also it stars Jonathan Groff aka Groffsauce and he is awesome.

While I’ve heard people say that The Handmaid’s Tale was the better Margaret Atwood adaptation, I enjoyed Alias Grace a lot.

I haven’t seen The Handmaid’s Tale, so the comparison didn’t get in my way and I absolutely fell in love with the unreliable narration we get through Grace. I also loved the open ending, in the sense that the viewer has to make up their own mind about which version of Grace’s tale is true. I also adored the fact that there were a lot of quilting and crafting metaphors included in the narrative, because apparently this is now my jam.

And speaking of jam and all things sweet, the reality show I tore through with my seven-year-old, which was both entertaining and inspiring was Zumbo’s Just Desserts. Emma and I had a blast watching and it was fun to see her interpret some of the interactions and remarks by the contestants. There was one douchecanoe, who thought he couldn’t be beat by a girl and she was horrified and called him a bully. I was so proud. Also she went to the library and got a kid’s baking recipes book, so she could bake desserts of her own. For myself, I loved the creativity involved in the creating of these desserts and there were some fabulous contestants there that I adored. Just Desserts was exactly the thing I needed to get my mind of things.

Lastly, a podcast recommendation, the Hellbent Podcast, which is both political and feminist. I love the time I spend with Devon and Sarah each week. Not only do they cover all of the political news in US through a feminist lens, they have great interviews with people like Sarah Kendzior, Brittany Packnett, and Carlos Maza. They also have a gratitude check each episode in which they highlight things they (and their readers) are grateful for, which is always uplifting.

To end in that spirit, here’s my own Book Smuggler Gratitude Check: I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made in this community and for the support they give me. I’m grateful for all the amazing books I get to read. And I’m grateful that I once again can be part of the awesome that is Smugglivus.

Happy Smugglivus, Happy New Year and let’s all hope 2018 will treat us kinder than 2017 has done!

Mieneke van der Salm is the editor of A Fantastical Librarian.
She works as an information specialist at a university library in the Netherlands. In her free time she aims to create and read her own library at home and, together with her husband, raise two little geek girls.
In July 2014 she was nominated for a World Fantasy Special Award: Non-professional.


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    December 10, 2017 at 8:50 am

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  • Zachariah
    December 11, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Oooh, Zumbo’s Just Desserts might be just what I’ll need once I run out of The Great British Bake Off.

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