Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Blogger

Smugglivus Guest Blogger: Graeme of Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

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: Graeme, the awesome blogger behind the one man show that is Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review – a blog dedicated to all things speculative fiction (including a healthy dose of horror, zombies, and comics).

Please give a warm welcome to Graeme!

Well, I was going to kick this post off with a rousing seasonal Smugglivus carol… until I realised that there aren’t any. Thea, Ana – You created Smugglivus, where are the Smugglivus carols? I’ll expect at least one by this time next year.

Never mind ;o) If we’re singing Smugglivus carols then we’re not talking about books and that’s what we’re really here for isn’t it? There’s no argument, Smugglivus is the best place in the net to talk about the year’s reading and I’m all chuffed and happy to be here doing just that.

So… 2011, another great year for reading in my house although I ought to qualify that by saying that I deliberately went for books that I knew I’d like this year. Having a 19 month old toddler running around the place leaves a chap yearning for the comfort reads! If I’ve got one resolution for 2012 it’s to branch out a little again and try books that I wouldn’t normally go for. There’s still not enough space between me and ‘Paranormal Romance’ for me to contemplate giving it another shot though; maybe I’ll check out the YA stuff that everyone’s going on about. It has to be fantasy or sci-fi based though, anyone have any recommendations?

When Thea and Ana asked me if I’d like to contribute a Smugglivus post, one of their suggestions was for a ‘Favourite Reads of 2011’ style post. Having read loads of great books this year I was more than up for that but wanted to do something a little different at the same time. And then it struck me… Having a toddler in the house has broadened my reading in one way in particular. Check out my list and you’ll see what I mean… (Oh yeah, this list isn’t exhaustive by the way. I need some books left to feature on my own blog!)

‘Banana!’ (Ed Vere)

My house is no longer a house filled with sci-fi and fantasy goodness in book form; the smallest member of the house is building up her own collection and I’m reading this collection to her every night. It’s more fun than you’d think though, especially when books like ‘Banana!’ suddenly appear. The story is simple… or is it? One monkey has a banana, the other monkey has to learn to say ‘please’ before he can get his hands on it… ‘Banana’ and ‘please’ are the only two words in the entire book but they are accompanied by a range of emotion that I will guarantee you will have never seen in a monkey before. I loved reading ‘Banana’ to my daughter and she has now learnt to say ‘please’. A win all round I think :o)

‘The Alloy of Law’ – Brandon Sanderson

Don’t worry, this list isn’t all kids books! After several ‘what is all the fuss about Brandon Sanderson?’ moments, ‘The Alloy of Law’ is the book that answered that question in the best possible way. What is the big deal about Brandon Sanderson? ‘The Alloy of Law’ is a lot of fun and filled with characters that you want to invest your time in, a winning combination. I can see a lot more of his books being read in the New Year.

‘Neonomicon’ – Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows

I love reading comic books and ‘Neonomicon’ came almost out of nowhere to smack me in the face with its no holds barred brand of in your face Cthulhu horror. It’s a disturbing read that stayed with me a long time after I’d finished reading it. That’s why it’s on the list, it still makes me shudder even now.

I think ‘Neonomicon’ is a very good read but I’ll ask you one question before you pick it up. Do your reading limits stretch to fairly explicit scenes of ‘woman/fish-man’ sex? If your answer is no then maybe don’t pick this one up…

‘I Am Legend’ – Richard Matheson

2011 was all about sometimes taking a step back from what’s new and shiny to read some of the classics as well. Sci-fi classics don’t get a lot more classic than ‘I Am Legend’, an excellent book that has never quite made a successful transition to the big screen. Don’t bother with ‘The Omega Man’ or the Will Smith version (is there anyone who thinks that film is any good?); just pick up the book instead, it will blow your mind just like it did mine.

‘The Cold Commands’ – Richard Morgan

My first ever Smugglivus post was full of how great Richard Morgan’s ‘The Steel Remains’ was so it was only fair that ‘The Cold Commands’ got a mention as well. In fairness, ‘The Cold Commands’ inclusion is well deserved as it is a marked improvement on an already impressive series opener with subtle links to Morgan’s sci-fi work that fans are going to love.

‘Heir to the Empire’ (20th Anniversary Edition) – Timothy Zahn

Another older work (has it really been twenty years already?) but Star Wars written as it should be. Nothing else comes close to ‘Heir’ and the other two books in the trilogy, not even the prequel films themselves.

‘Outpost’ – Adam Baker

Because this wouldn’t be an authentic ‘Graeme Post’ without at least one mention of the post-apocalypse. Adam Baker’s mixture of techno-zombies and long dark nights on an Arctic Ocean oil rig made for compelling reading and Baker pulled no punches either as the plot progressed. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Juggernaut’ when it comes out next year.

‘Ha-ha, Maisy!’ – Lucy Cousins

Because there is no better way to end a ‘Favourite Reads in 2011’ list than to completely dispel my ‘hard-bitten fantasy & sci-fi blogger persona… :o) I’ve read a lot of baby books over the last year but this one probably more than any of the others. Hope and I get to share a giggle and pull funny faces at each other while reading this book which probably makes ‘Ha-ha, Maisy’ the best book of 2011, at least as far as I’m concerned :o)

Well, that’s it for me! I’ve really enjoyed going back and revisiting these books and I hope you’ve had some fun as well. Have a good one y’all and, if I don’t see you on my blog first, hopefully I’ll see you here again next year :o)

Thank you, Graeme!


  • SandyG265
    December 21, 2011 at 6:05 am

    I first read I Am Legend years ago. It still hold up.

  • Karen Mahoney
    December 21, 2011 at 6:25 am

    I think it’s important to point out that Neonomicon has a 10-page very graphic rape scene. Just a heads up/trigger warning.


  • Lisa
    December 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you for the heads up, Kaz! Much appreciated!

  • Graeme
    December 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I don’t know how I missed that but concentrated on the fish man instead… Sorry guys 🙁

  • Kate Fall
    January 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I met Timothy Zahn at the Rochester Teen Book Festival a few years ago. He was a wonderful, funny man and he got the teen boys to show up, not an easy feat.

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