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: Victoria Schwab, debut YA author, writer of fantasy stories with a fairytale-ish bend.
Recent Work: The Near Witch one of Ana’s notable reads of 2011 (reviewed HERE).
Please give a warm welcome to Victoria!
I’m the reader who likes many books, but loves few. The downside is that when it comes my turn to do a guest post, I angst out about which books to choose. The upside is that I love to gush about those rare gems that I LOVE.
This past year was a bit odd, in that the vast majority of the books I read either came out before 2011 (I’d gotten behind due to writing and edits and publication prep) or wouldn’t come out until 2012. But of the five books I’ve chosen, four did come out this year, and the fifth came out in 2010. And they cover QUITE a spectrum.
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys
This is one of those books that makes me eat my words. A year ago, if you asked me what kind of books I liked, I would say something along the lines of “Magical. Not historical. Not too depressing. Escapism. Maybe monsters.” And then I became friendly with Ruta, who lived in Nashville (where I lived until a few weeks ago), and she was so sweet and wonderful that I felt obligated to read her book. I was traveling in the UK when I saw it in paperback and bought it, thinking I would have to force myself to read it, since the premise–a Lithuanian girl dragged from her house and sent to a prison camp–was sooooo not my cup of tea. Let me say this: I was in London–one of my favorite cities–for all of ONE day, and I spent every single moment of it with this book open in my hand. I could not stop reading. The story was at times harrowing, at others haunting, at rare intervals hopeful. The prose was perfect, and the compulsion to know what would happen an incredible force. The end of the book knocked the air from my lungs, and almost a year later, I haven’t fully got it back.
LEGEND by Marie Lu
This was another book I actually didn’t think I would like, but for very different reasons. When I picked it up as an ARC this summer, I was already tired of the dystopian trend. I understand its appeal, but because the commonality in dystopians is the world as compared to a character type, I find it hard to be truly surprised and thus entertained, not being a fan of familiarity. I like my books new and strange and different. BUT I’m also a big fan of action and spies and fugitives and things with kick-ass characters of both the male and female persuasion, so I decided to give LEGEND a shot. And I was REALLY pleasantly surprised. I found the book “unputdownable” but many not-so-good books have readability on their side, so that’s the never the thing to tip a book from like to love in my opinion. It certainly didn’t hurt though. The two main characters, Day and June, one the city’s most wanted and the other the city’s military prodigy, were captivating, well-written, and strong. The plot got my attention, Day and June held it, and the world didn’t stand in the way. All in all, a HIGHLY enjoyable read.
IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma
I’d read Nova’s first book, Dani Noir, a wonderful MG, when it came out, and loved her way with words, so when I heard about IG, I knew I’d pick it up. Add to that an AMAZING cover, and a dash of magical realism, and I was game. And Nova did not disappoint. She expertly wove an un-trustable world, full of un-trustable thing. In that world she put a pair of fascinating sisters; the voice of the younger–the narrator–was wonderful, and the personality of the older one through her eyes was magic. There is such an oddness to this book, and I love it for that. I love that I have never read anything like it, which as we all know, is becoming harder to say in YA. And most of all, I love that I do not think I WILL ever read anything like it.
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor
I should start by saying this: We all have Do-No-Wrong author, one whose work we adore to the point where we can no longer be objective about the parts that make up the whole of their projects, the cogs in their clocks. Laini Taylor is, for me, that author. I fall into the language-is-as-important-as-plot camp, and Laini’s way with words is among my favorite. She captivated me with Lips Touch, and when I got to borrow an ARC of DOSAB while abroad, I already knew I would love it. Even though it was an angel book, and angel books and I have issues, I knew. It has monsters, and other worlds, and doors, and travel (oh the details of Prague and Morocco!), and everything I love, and on top of that, Laini Taylor’s incredible pen. I could try to find the shortcomings, because they ARE there, but the point is, with this book, I didn’t care. I loved it.
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan
I know I’m a little behind on reading this one, as it came out last year and the two authors are, you know, kind of a big deal. But refer back to my stated tastes, which definitely applied in 2010 (magical, monsters, no realism). There was another thing keeping me back. I’m a proud nerdfighter, but I listened to two of John Green’s novels on audiobook while driving across country in the summer of 2009, and I was…conflicted. I loved the voice, loved the language and the details, but was…not a fan of the plots. It might have been where I was at in life, or where I was at physically (alone in a car for three weeks) but I didn’t enjoy them, and that kept me from picking this up. I am SO glad I got over that and decided to give this book a chance. It was impeccable. It was funny, and brilliant, and touching, and satisfying in a way that might just bump it to the top of this year’s reads.
So, what am I looking forward to for 2012??
First, two books I’ve been lucky enough to read early, and LOVE.
BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood.
SO good. Like, fistbump-the-air good.
A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis.
I toured a bit with Beth in August, and when I saw she had an ARC of the sequel to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, I stole it. I’m so happy I did.
And now, three I cannot wait to get my hands on!
CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS by Claire Legrand.
Have you read Claire’s blog? Go read Claire’s blog.
INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows.
I’ve seen so much about this one, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen. So glad this one comes out in a couple months because I reallllly want to read it.
QUEEN OF GLASS by Sarah Maas.
I’ve been waiting to read this for years. That’s not me being dramatic, the book got pushed back. Also, my housemate works for Bloomsbury and won’t shut up about how amazing this is, so yeah.
Thank you, Victoria!