Welcome to Smugglivus – Day 24!
Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2009, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2010.
Today’s Guest: The lovely Sarah Kuhn, one of the good, hardworking folks behind the geektastic blog Alert Nerd. Sarah also happens to be an author – her debut novel One Con Glory was released this year (and both of us Smugglers LOVED it).
Please give a warm welcome to Sarah!
So I’m looking back on my year of reading (reflecting, if you will – just imagine me gazing pensively out the window at some generic body of water while CW-approved power ballads tinkle away in the background). It’s been a pretty fantastic twelve months: I’ve greeted many newly-published works with open arms, but I’ve also discovered a lot of swoon-worthy stuff from previous years.
In other words…I have tons of unhealthy new obsessions to take me into 2010! Yay! Ring the gong and prepare the fannish-bordering-on-inappropriate message board postings!
I’ve decided that the only proper way to really look back on this year is to give out awards. Or maybe I should say “awards” since the recipients don’t actually get anything except a mention here and my undying devotion.
Best New-to-Me Book: Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr
I devoured Melissa Marr’s first tome of urban fairy courts on a road trip – reclined back in the passenger seat, fingertips gripping the book so hard, I thought I was going to bend it in half. My addiction was instant and undeniable; as soon as we docked at our first destination, I tore out of the car and to the nearest book store so I could buy the next one. I love that this series is so lushly, unabashedly romantic, but also gives us teen girl characters who demonstrate their considerable strength in complex, perfectly believable ways. No idealized damsels here, folks.
Best Actually New Book: Going Bovine, Libba Bray
Look, I basically love everything Libba Bray does, whether she’s penning her kick-ass Gemma Doyle trilogy or donning a cow suit for promotional purposes. So it was kind of a given that I’d love this, but goddamn…“love” might not be strong enough a word? Bray’s heady mix of mad cow-afflicted teen, sugar-addict angel, and hypochondriac dwarf is hilarious and acerbic and deeply, deeply witty…but it will also totally break your heart. Like, it will sneak up on you in the middle of the page and rip your poor heart out of your chest and stomp all over it until you’re bawling your head off. I mean all this as the highest of compliments
Best New-to-Me Heroine: Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson from Moon Called, Patricia Briggs
I have Thea to thank for this one. When you read as much urban fantasy/paranormal romance as I do, the heroines occasionally start to blend together. Like, “Oh, this chick, she’s really strong or whatever and she can do some way frakkin’ cool supernatural thing and she rocks a leather jacket and every guy she meets is totally into her, but…hey, she’s just a regular girl. You know.” Mercy – mechanic, shapechanger, actual regular girl – is a thoroughly distinctive breath of fresh air. She’s believably flawed, but she knows who she is and doesn’t angst all over the place about her supernatural lot in life. From page one, her voice is fully-realized and totally easy to relate to.
Best Actually New Heroine: Calliope Reaper-Jones from Death’s Daughter, Amber Benson
Here’s another voice that grabbed me from the very first paragraph. Cally – who actually is Death’s Daughter, thank you very much – instantly engages you with her motormouthed inner monologue. It’s kind of like getting on a speeding train – a hilarious, quippy, delightfully boy-crazy speeding train – without knowing exactly where you’re going. And yet, to misquote Liz Lemon, you really want to go to there. Or I sure did, anyway.
Returning Series That Continues to Kick My Ass: WVMP Radio, Jeri Smith-Ready
The first WVMP Radio book, Wicked Game, was probably my favorite read of 2008: undead DJs, awesome ex-con-artist protagonist, startlingly unique take on the vamp mythos (no voluminous black leather dusters involved!). Also, sex that’s actually…um, sexy. I was a little worried that Smith-Ready’s follow-up, Bad to the Bone, couldn’t possibly get under my skin in the same way. Foolish worries! Bad to the Bone is stuffed with twisty underworld intrigue, amazingly realistic relationship issues, and perfectly-placed touches of humor. Oh, and more sexy sex. Third book cannot get here quickly enough.
Coupling I Would Most Like To Write Fanfic About (If I Actually Wrote Fanfic): Mercy Smith/Riley Kincaid, Branded by Fire, Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series is another Awesome Thing I found out about thanks to Thea and Ana. And while I enjoy that each book focuses on a new pairing (and we get little updates on previous pairings, since it’s all set in the same world)…I really would not object at all if every book from now on was about Mercy and Riley. Over the course of Branded by Fire, these two strong, excessively stubborn personalities are pushed together, hate each other, have great sex, and eventually fall in love. The sex happens first, but the way Singh develops their relationship from a deeply emotional standpoint is what really got me.
Love Interest I Most Want To [REDACTED]: David the Djinn, Weather Warden series, Rachel Caine
Ah, David. What can you say about David, really? My brain transforms itself into a mush-like substance just thinking about it…him. Whatever. Daaaaaaviiiiiiiid.
Most Heart-Attack-Inducing Cliffhanger: Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
OH MY GOD. SERIOUSLY.
Most Anticipated Reads:
(2009) Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
This gorgeously-designed doorstopper of a book is tempting me so hard from its perch on my overloaded bookshelf. The only reason I haven’t cracked it yet is I’m in the middle of like five other books I should finish first. Right? Right?! Anyway, this Southern Gothic tale of magic sounds beautiful and atmospheric and supernaturally romantic and lots of people I respect have said it’s the best thing ever. In other words: crack for Sarah.
(2010) Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey
I have long admired Karen Healey’s writing – she’s one of the smartest, funniest, most insightful (I almost typed “insightfulest,” which shows you why, perhaps, I am always blown away by people with such obviously big brains) comic book bloggers around. She often makes me think of elements within four-color fandom that never would’ve occurred to me, or looks at said elements in a way that has me shrieking “right onnnnnnnnnnnnn” at my computer screen. Healey’s debut novel is full of (to quote her website) “M?ori mythology, magic, theatre, earthquakes, monsters, boarding school, tae kwon do, and the other horrors of a Christchurch winter.” Don’t you wish you could read this right now? Where is my freakin’ time machine?
Next on Smugglivus: Jeff of Alert Nerd