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: Kenda, of Lurv a la Mode. Blogger and reviewer of UF, Fantasy and Romance, a talented designer (seriously, she’s designed ALL of our awesome event posters including this year’s awesome dino poster) and a good friend.
Give it up for the lovely Kenda, folks!
Howdy, party peoples! Here we all are again, cruising down the River of Awesomeness that is Smugglivus. I debated for a little while how to compose my own contribution to the festivities, and I came up with the idea to show you all what surprised me most in 2011. The good and the bad. Oooooooh snap.
1.The Hunger Games
I loved the first book. I wasn’t sure I’d like it at all with all the hype. It was thrilling and I couldn’t stop thinking about it after forcing myself to stop at night and go to bed, which, I may as well have stayed up to read for I got no sleep. The others in the series, however, I wish I’d never bought. Meh to them.
I also find, much to my disappointment, the more I see revealed of the movie, the less I want to watch it. There’s something off about the visuals so far for the movie that clash with my impressions garnered from the book. Dontcha just hate that?
2.The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
What a festering cesspool of disappointment this one was for me – which was a huge surprise. I DNFed the doorstopper of a book. And this after book one, The Name of the Wind, was so breathtakingly wonderful for me in 2010. At least I can say that Rothfuss’ work is blessedly free of a central political-intrigue-driven plot – what the heck is up with so much fantasy being all about the political intrigue? Anyway, I’m still interested in the final book in this series; it’s just more a passing interest now.
I blame the never-ending forest chapters.
3.Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman
I only have one point to make with you, awesome series that is, blessedly, only two books long: your heroine rocks the pants off the YA genre; she is strong and powerful in so many ways, and not necessarily in ways that shout power as one usually thinks of it. This was such a wonderful surprise for me this year.
4.Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
I have such mixed feeling about this one. There were times I loved this book – Rob, John, young Arya and her “Needle” – I could even like Queen Cersie with her oh-so-wrong ways. The scope of the world – SO HUGE! Yet so wonderfully given. Loved that.
There was just some that was painful to read, and Ned Stark led that cavalry charge. God what a poor sop of a man. He never stood a chance with his nobleness and determination to do the right thing. Even his children play dirtier than he does.
I did catch the series on HBO, though, and I’ll be back for more. Oh yeah, baby. But I’m stuck in book two right now and can’t drum up the interest in it. I must finish before the HBO series season two airs! Cuz, you know, winter’s coming and all that.
5.Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
Urban fantasy is quite a saturated market; it’s just grown more and more in popularity and this tends to make it harder to find the gems. McGuire’s work, however, continues to excel. Her Toby Daye heroine, the worldbuilding of the series, the continuing character development – it’s all so much more than awesome. We only really ever hope that authors will keep surprising us and delivering the goods, but McGuire does so without fail every time for me.
6.Cold Fire by Kate Elliott
Book one, Cold Magic,ranked as my top most wonderful read last year, and it’s very possible Cold Fire could follow in those footsteps! It was a tad slow in the first chapter, but from there it took off and I mean it soared, baby. While we all love the books to keep delivering, as I said above, there’s something almost euphoric when a book we loved with every fiber of our being gets complimented as equally with a sequel or next in a series. The Spiritwalker series is one of the most unique epic fantasy reads I’ve ever had the luck to just happen to choose to read. In a literal sea of books battering at the shore to be read, I’m sincerely glad I found these.
7.The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
The publisher sent me this one and I have to admit that its traditionally urban fantasy cover caught my eye. Not that I’m that much of a fan of it, but I suppose it proves, for me at least, that those kinds of covers do catch the eye and all. Anyway, I wasn’t really expecting at the same time to be wowed by this book. It’s not really urban fantasy, it’s not really fantasy, and it’s not wholly romance – but it combines facets of all three. And it manages to do so incredibly well. The worldbuilding is just about top notch fantasy-done. The characterization is a focused part of the book – you will feel as if you’ve learned who these people are and what makes them tick. The romance was some of the better done I’ve encountered in books like these. In fact, it’s so well done that I didn’t mind what’s usually a dreaded trope to me – the love triangle. Top that all off with the fact that the book is witty and fun and this made for a surprisingly great read.
8.The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper
This is probably my biggest surprise in the latter half of the year.Steampunk seemed to have risen quickly in popularity over the past year and at the same time become mired down with a lot of same-old-same-old-ness.How many times can they do steampunk and zombies? In fact, why did zombies become one of the main elements in today’s resurging steampunk genre? I’m still not sure other than straight zombie fiction becoming so popular as well that the two seemed to go hand-in-hand. Despite this, know that some zombies and a dirigible do not a steampunk book make.
Be that as it may, color me shocked to find a steampunk book, with zombies no less, that I thoroughly enjoyed. While there were a couple of issues for me, for the most part I loved this fun, adventurous book. The steampunk aspects are intricately tied into the entire book – it’s no passing backdrop here. The characters are well-done and developed and it’s a great start to a new series. I’m very much looking forward to more. And I feel like I want more people to read this one.
And that’s a (somewhat) shortened look at how my reading year went! Here’s what I can’t wait to get my greedy grubby paws on in 2012 (with very short reasons why):
1.Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland
Hot demons, hot demon smexing and more moral ambiguity than you can shake a handgun at! Good. Times. Always good times.
2.A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison
You didn’t think I forgot about my main girl, Rachel Morgan, did you? This series is quickly nearing The End. No amount of appletinis or cheesecake will console me when that time comes! Thank goodness it’s not in 2012. Rock on and kick ass, Rachel.
3.Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Mcguire has a new series coming in March! It’s about cryptozoology! It sounds AMAYZANG.
4.Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors by Molly Harper
Simply some of the funniest, most enjoyable vampire romances ever written. And WE CAN HAS MOAR!
Of course there is plenty more I can’t wait to sink my toofs into, but that gives you an idea. It’s been a weird year of Not Enough Reading, but it’s been filled, thankfully, with just enough to keep me sane. I finally bowed to the relentless tide that is the Kindle and bought a Kindle Fire, which I named Honey Child. Currently I’m using it to seekritly drool over, I mean read Harlequin Blaze titles of the completely fluffy and rowwrr-worthy variety, but I christened it by reading Silent Blade and Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews. PUBLISHERS, this is a plea from the depths of the reading community: Make full-length novels set in this short story series’ world a Thing We Can Buy in the Near Future! Many of us want more of Andrews’ awesome futuristic romance. I know you’ll get right on that.
Quick Shamless Plug! I’m doing a Year of the Fantasy Classic reading challenge in 2012 – NOBODY laugh cuz you all know how flighty I am when it comes to sticking with reading challenges.
There’s no real set number of books you’d have to read, but my personal goal will be at least five since I’m allotting an entire year for it. I’ll be reading such titles as A Wrinkle in Time, Dune (some feel it has both scifi and fantasy elements, as do I), The Hobbit, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Golden Compass, Watership Down and hopefully more. Those that want to participate don’t have to have a blog to do so, but if you do, reviews or thoughts on the books you’ve chosen would be fun to read. If you don’t have an internet home, you’re welcome to post what you’ve been reading on the blog page I set up for the challenge.
Ana and Thea, thanks so much for giving me a spot to wax un-poetically about my reading year! Here’s to many more years of Smugglivus and your wonderful insights and opinions of books!
Thank you Kenda-baby!