Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Blogger

Smugglivus 2011 Guest Blogger: Kenda of Lurv a la Mode

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!


  • Carla
    December 16, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Eon is one of my favourite reads of the year – was so chuffed to see it on this fabulous list!

  • MarieC
    December 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

    So happy to see Molly Harper and Ilona Andrews Mentioned in the list!!

  • Amy @ Tripping Over Books
    December 16, 2011 at 8:19 am

    EON and EONA were both so amazing! When I saw them on this list I did little happy claps because I loved those books so hard. I’ve been recommending them all over the place! And don’t give up on the Game of Thrones books yet! The THIRD one is WHERE IT’S AT if you enjoy heartbreak, betrayal, and death. (WHO DOESN’T, amiright?)

  • SandyG265
    December 16, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I’m looking foward to the new Nice Girls book too.

  • Angie
    December 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Kenda-baby . . . lol!

    I really need to read EON, don’t I?

  • KB/KT Grant
    December 16, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Shadow Reader was awesome and because of you, Kmont, I’m so glad I read it.

    Let’s hope for much demon sexxorin in Diana’s next book!

  • KMont
    December 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Angie, I’m getting Kenda-baby on a t-shirt lol! 😀

    Thanks as always for having me here for Smugglivus, Ana and Thea! Yalls poster ideas this year were so much fun to make!

    Carla and Amy, let’s all assure Angie that she really DOES need to read EON! Angie – you so do. ;D As much of a champion of Ya you are, I just know it’ll be up your alley.

    Marie, have you read the Andrews futuristic short stories, too? You agree we need MORE, right? YES.

    Sandy, I was so happy to see Harper would be doing more Nice Girls books!

    Babs, I’m sooooo happy you enjoyed The Shadow Reader. I cannot wait for the next one. I honestly don’t know which of the two dudes I prefer. Maybe both…heehee. And hell yes to more Diana Rowland-style demon sexxorin!

  • Karen
    December 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Love the October Daye books, yay! I am definitely looking forward to the new series, even though that cover is rather ridiculous.

    Ooh, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your challenge! I’m tempted to join in, but working as a librarian I tend to keep my TBR list filled up with all the new books coming in, and lord knows I can never get through as many as I want of those… I’m really jealous that you’ll get to read Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time, though. I’m re-listening to it on audio right now, actually, I adore it so utterly.

  • Brie
    December 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Please, please, pleaaaaase let’s start a petition to get more Ilona Andrews’ futuristic romance! The Kinsmen Series was so good! I want more, I don’t care if it’s a short story or a full-length novel, just more! And while we are at it, I want more Alphas too, I know I’m in the minority there because not everyone loved that novella, but I thought it was the best, some shortcomings, sure, but so much potential for awesomeness!!

  • Kristen
    December 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Love your list, Kenda! Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea were the best Toby Daye books yet, and I also enjoyed Eon and Eona this year. I’m reading Cold Fire right now and loving it. And I have been dying to read The Shadow Reader ever since you reviewed it.

    Amy is right – the third Song of Ice and Fire book is the best one. It has to be one of the most intensely exciting books I’ve ever read, if not at the top of that list.

    Angie – Yes you need to read Eon! As well as The Demon King. 😉

  • Holly
    December 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    EON has just been bumped up the TBR. 🙂 Thanks for the thoughtful list and always well-written posts, Kenda.

  • Chachic
    December 18, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Loved the first Hunger Games novel as well and really liked the second but felt kind of meh for the third one. Although I think the movie trailer looks good and I can’t wait to watch it. I kind of like movie-Katniss more than book-Katniss, who was annoying at times. I have both Eon and Eona on my TBR pile! I really should bump them up. And I really want to read the Toby Daye books as well because I’ve heard such good things about them. I just need to hunt down copies of all the books. I’m not planning to read the Song of Fire and Ice series but I’ve watched the HBO series and loved it, really looking forward to the next season.

    Like I said on Twitter, I’m seriously considering joining your fantasy classics challenge. :mrgreen:

  • Christine
    December 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Love your list, Kenda.
    I have EON out from the library right now… hoping to read it by the end of the year.

    I am IN on your Fantasy Reading Challenge for 2012. Laugh? At you? as if … 😉

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