Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Author

Smugglivus 2010 Guest Author: Karen Healey

Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 6

Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors, bloggers and publishers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2010, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2011.

Who: Karen Healey, a New Zealander living in Australia whose spirit animal is the velociraptorbearshark. She blogs at her livejournal about Awesome thinks such as books, Vampire Diaries and more. Her first YA book, Guardian of the Dead featuring an INCREDIBLE heroine is one of our favorite YA novels of 2010. Speaking of female characters, check our her post for this year’s YAAM: On Awesome Female Characters.

Recent Work: The aforementioned Guardian of the Dead reviewed HERE by us. She has an upcoming book called The Shattering and we simply cannot wait.

Please give it up to Karen!

I am weird when it comes to new things.

Either I am desperate for the new thing. I hear about it, and I long for it, and I devour it as soon as it arrives (see: Hellcats). When it comes to books, I am often to be found outside my publishers’ windows, staring in with mournful eyes, making little beggy hands, until someone gives me ARCs just to get me to go away.

Or I stay unaware of the new thing until someone beats me over the skull with it. I’m a YA urban fantasy author who didn’t read Twilight until 2008, y’all. 2008.

This year has been a good one for discovering “new” things (or having their discovery thrust upon me), and in case you are anything like me in the new things department, I thought I would share these discoveries with you.

Best “New” Author: E. Lockhart

E(mily) Lockhart has written approximately a zillion wonderful feminist YA books, some with a magical realism twist (Fly On the Wall), some with spygirl adventures (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks) but mostly awesome contemporary greatness (The Ruby Oliver series, Dramarama).

Her books are always insightful, always witty, always beautifully characterized and sharply written. If you, like me, are behind the times, then I can only encourage you to get with them immediately. Start with The Boyfriend List. I think it unlikely you’ll be disappointed.

Best “New” Book Series: The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire.

Now, granted, I’m not that late to the party, since the first book came out in 2009 and the second and third in 2010. But enough people read and adored the series in that period to vote Seanan McGuire the Campbell Award for best debut author recipient at this year’s Hugo Awards, an honour she thoroughly deserved.

Faerie changeling and San Francisco private detective Sir Toby Daye has had a bad couple of decades. First she spent fourteen years as a goldfish in the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park. When the spell finally broke, she had lost her human family to time. Now, she has knightly duties to fulfil, her enemies keep trying to kill her, and worst of all, everyone around her seems to think she’s some sort of hero.

Why, she’s not a hero! She’s just someone who jumps into life-threatening situations while she stretches her considerable resources to save anyone in trouble!

Bonus awesome slow-growing romance with my favourite trope of people who are very fond of each other being snarky to hide their fondness:

TOBY: I just cannot work out why Tybalt, King of Cats, keeps turning up and saving my life as I dive headfirst into danger.
TYBALT: You can’t? Uh, it’s because I find you SO ANNOYING.
TOBY: Well, you are ALSO ANNOYING. How come you didn’t speak to me for a month?
Tybalt: You cared?

Best “New” TV Show: The Vampire Diaries.

Bless Sarah Rees Brennan, y’all. I watched the first three episodes when the show first aired last year and bowed out, bored. But she would not give up on me. “You have to love your demon baby until it loves you back,” she argued. “There are many awesome ladies! There are brothers who hate-love-hate-love each other! Karen, watch just one more episode.”

So, after a year of this, I watched the fourth episode. Then I mainlined the Season One box set, ahem, acquired Season Two to date, and then watched them all again.

There are SO MANY awesome ladies! And the plot, so full of twistiness. The show does have flaws – it would be terrific if they could keep more than one character of colour around without either killing or scaring them off, for example – but the friendships between young women, the complex family dynamics and Nina Dobrev playing two characters at once are all super great.

Best “New” Musician: Lily Allen

I don’t listen to the radio, and I don’t watch music videos except at the gym, so my record with “new” music is even more shameful. A couple of months ago, I was wrestling with my dissertation when a friend played something on her laptop and I caught the lyric, “I am a weapon of massive consumption”.

My head came up. “What? Who?” I demanded.

“Oh, Karen,” my friend said pityingly. “You’ve never heard of Lily Allen?”

That song was “The Fear”. The official music video is here; warning for cussing, if that bothers you. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, Ms Allen has one song, dedicated variously to the British National Party and George W Bush, that makes extensive use of my favourite swear word.

Gorgeous voice, catchy pop rhythms, smart lyrics, and songs critiquing pop society and homophobic and racist politicians? I’m in! You know, months after she’s gone on musical hiatus.

But as I said, with me, new things are either way slow or much anticipated. Here are some genuinely new and upcoming things I want to give you a headsup on this Smugglivus.

He Will Have His Way.

The Finn Brothers wrote, like, a good half of my internal soundtrack. Neil and Tim, by themselves, together, in Crowded House and Split Enz, make amazing music. And now there is a dudely follow up to She Will Have Her Way, the album where their music was covered by New Zealand and Australian female artists.

It came out in November, and it’s lovely.

Cris Beam’s heartfelt YA story about identity and self-expression, I am J, is about FTM trans photographer kid J, his family, his friends, and his loves. It comes out March 2011.

And N.K. Jemisin‘s incredible Inheritance Trilogy will come to a spectacular conclusion next year with The Kingdom of Gods. Catch up with this amazing series, before your friends have time to give you pitying looks.

“Oh, [name goes here],” they will say. “You’ve never heard of N.K. Jemisin?”

And then you will feel the shame that is rightfully my lot.

Thank you Karen and a happy Smugglivus to you!


  • Karen
    December 6, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Well I love E. Lockhart and Seanan McGuire, so I clearly should look into all her other suggestions. I don’t know if I could get my husband to watch Vampire Diaries with me though…

  • Nicole
    December 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Question, if anyone knows, did the E. Lockhart book, The boyfriend list have a different cover at one point?

    It sounds so familiar, like I have it or have started to read it at one point.

  • Mia
    December 6, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I am the exact same way with new things. I’m just so far behind already that it’s hard to catch up. However, I just read my first E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and it’s one of my favorite books of 2010. I loved it. The only way I would ever go back to high school is if I could be or be best friends with Frankie. I am going to have to look up the Ruby series next.

  • Karen
    December 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Nicole – there is another cover, mostly white with a bright green frog on it.

  • Nicole
    December 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Karen- Thank you, that’s it. I have the book with that cover 😀 :D.

    *moves book nearer to the top of the to finish list*

  • Audrey
    December 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    “You have to love your demon baby until it loves you back,” she argued.

    i snorted.

    and i really need to start reading teh Ruby Oliver series 🙂 great guest post!

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