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: Susan Jane Bigelow, author of SCIFI and UF novels (Superheroes!).
Recent Work: Broken, the first in the Extrahuman Union series and one of Ana’s Notable Reads of 2011
Please give it up for Susan Jane, everybody!
Thanks so much to the Book Smugglers for letting me take part in Smugglivus this year!
2011 has been my year of not reading nearly enough. I’m married to a person who usually devours 400+ books per year, so I’m used to feeling like a slacker in the reading department, but this year I’ve been so busy with writing fiction and politics that I haven’t had as much time as I’d have liked. I feel like I’ve fallen hopelessly behind, and new amazing stuff just keeps coming out!
However, I did get some satisfying reading done despite everything else I’ve been busy with. Whenever I get stuck on my writing, I find there’s nothing better than diving into a good book to jumpstart my own creativity. I’ll often find myself reading a paragraph and then stop, stare into space, and race off to my computer to write an idea down.
Here’s some of what I absolutely loved this year:
After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
I can’t get enough superhero writing, and I absolutely adored Carrie Vaughn’s story of the non-powered daughter of a superhero husband-wife team. At its heart this book isn’t about saving the world so much as it’s about family and growing up. The writing and story pulled me right in, and the ending brought tears to my eyes. It’s also full of nerdy references for us superhero fans. At one point I actually said out loud, Oh my God! That guy’s like the BATMAN of this world! So, so cool. More superhero literature, please!
Dragonbreath – Lair of the Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon
Ursula Vernon may be best known for artwork featuring adorably anthropomorphized fruit, but she also writes the engaging children’s series Dragonbreath, among others. There are now five of these short, quirky and funny books with this year’s addition of Lair of the Bat Monster, in which Danny Dragonbreath has to save his best friend Wendell from a giant mama bat. There are great illustrations, tons of witty banter and running jokes about bus systems. It’s pretty much perfect.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
I love graphic novels, and this was one the best I’ve seen since Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. Rich, expressive illustrations and a sharp, compelling story combine to make this story of a lonely girl and the ghost she finds at the bottom of a well unforgettable. Great graphic novels like this make me wish I’d been born with a scrap of artistic talent. Alas.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
I went through a phase this year where I read everything by the incredibly talented Aimee Bender that I could get my hands on. Her writing is … well… maybe the best way to describe it is that her writing is to mine like an angelic choir would be to the sound of an iguana throwing up. Her books are beautifully crafted, gorgeously written, and often contain a striking element of magical realism. This particular book is about a young woman who can taste the emotions of the people who prepare her food. It’s amazing.
The Snow Queen’s Shadow by Jim Hines
I’ve been under the spell of Jim Hines’s Princess series from the beginning, and I couldn’t wait for this, the last of the four. In this book, Hines tosses a grenade right into the middle of his established formula and forces everyone to move on and grow beyond who they’d been. I loved it, and I admired the guts it took to mess with what had been such a winning character dynamic. It’s a hard book for fans of the characters, I think, but there’s so much here about coming to terms with the past, grief, change and death that it’s well worth the read. I admire Hines’s skill in bringing a series to a final, satisfying close.
Bonus 2011 Embarrassing Television Habit
I became completely obsessed with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. My publisher picked up on this and randomly sent me a Pony coloring book and some old-school Pony temporary tattoos. This is the beauty of working with a small press, folks.
2012: The Year in Susan
I’ve got lots going on in 2012! The second book in the Extrahumans series, Fly Into Fire, will be out on January 24th! This is the story of Sky Ranger as he fights to save his friends, escape his Reformist past and lead what’s left of his people to freedom. I hope people who read Broken will give it a try!
And, just in case you can’t get enough of the adventures of the Extrahumans, the third book in the series, The Spark, is also on the way (no cover yet)! We’re hoping it’ll come out in November, 2012, though nothing is firm at this time. So stay tuned!