Welcome to Smugglivus 2017! Throughout this month, we will have guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2017, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2018, and more.
Please give a warm welcome to Sarah and her round up of BOOK YELLING.
STRANGE THE DREAMER By Laini Taylor
Book Yelling: How do y’all feel about GODS and MAN and TRAUMA and COMPLEXITY and MOTHS and MAGIC? Are you into FIRST LOVE and FORBIDDEN LOVE and VENGEANCE and POWER and STRUGGLES??
I’VE GOT A BOOK FOR YOU AND IT IS CALLED STRANGE THE DREAMER.
If you hate INTRICATE AND PERFECT PROSE THAT NEVER FALTERS EVEN ONCE then DO NOT READ STRANGE THE DREAMER because let me tell you THIS BOOK AIN’T FOR YOU.
Oh by the way if you have any interest at all in ADVENTURE and COMING OF AGE and TRUTH and THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POWER AND SOVEREIGNTY and WELL-UNRAVELED MYSTERY THEN I might possibly recommend STRANGE THE DREAMER because HOT DAMN.
Have you ever read a book where you wanted to rip out the pages and eat them one by one? I have, and it’s called STRANGE THE DREAMER, which is a book that makes me uncertain what it is that I’ve been doing this whole time when I thought I was reading and writing because CLEARLY THERE’S A WHOLE OTHER LEVEL OF STORY OUT THERE IN THE WORLD.
EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR By E. K. Johnston
Book Yelling: (TW: Discussion of Sexual Assault) EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR was perfect from the first word to the last and let me tell you THAT IS NO EASY FEAT. I read it start to finish without breaks and YOU SHOULD, TOO. I have never read a more accurate, heartfelt, compassionate, earnest, direct book about rape than EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR. I have never read a better depiction of the loving, flawed ways that support systems come together after sexual assault, THIS BOOK IS VERY DAMN GOOD OKAY.
LOOK LET ME BREAK THIS THING DOWN FOR YOU:
Are you interested in a book featuring COMPLEX TEEN SUPPORT SYSTEMS?
Do you like WELL-WRITTEN ATHLETES?
How do you feel abt EXTRAORDINARILY WELL-WRITTEN TRAUMA NARRATIVES THAT DON’T FETISHIZE THE SUFFERING OF ASSAULT VICTIMS IN ANY WAY?
Do you like GOOD, MESSY FRIENDSHIPS THAT ARE LAYERED & IMPORTANT??
How about SMART, EMOTIONAL GIRLS WHO ARE REAL PEOPLE and not UNDERDEVELOPED CARICATURES?
If you like those things (AND YOU SHOULD) then you will love EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR!!
I won’t spoil anything but the end!!! Is beautiful!!! ALL OF THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFUL IN WAYS I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS MISSING. Real talk time, I HATE most sexual assault narratives in literature & film because it tends to exploit the pain of victims by demanding that they suffer continuously and in increasingly dramatic ways for the satisfaction of the audience. BUT NOT EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR. NO SIR. THIS BOOK APPROACHES SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVAL AND RECOVERY WITH WELL-GROUNDED RESPECT and also, ALSO, the characters have COMPLEX RESPONSES TO TRAUMA which accurately reflect a WIDE AND VARIED RANGE OF COPING SKILLS AND MECHANISMS.
PLUS GOD DAMN IT THE ATHLETICISM OF CHEERLEADING IS NIGH UNIVERSALLY UNDERRATED AND THIS BOOK GETS IT RIGHT.
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE By Katherine Arden
Book Yelling: HOLY HELL THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD.
If you like wild witch-girls and riding bareback and gathering flowers and hearth demons and gilt YOU WILL ENJOY THIS BOOK. I literally took a flight voucher and gave up my seat on a plane to INTENTIONALLY EXTEND MY LAYOVER so that nobody could interrupt my reading, that is how good this thing is.
My aesthetic appreciation of SNOW and COURAGE and BLOOD and BEARDS and POWER and TREES FULL OF EYES and DEATH and HUNGER made this a HECK OF AN ENJOYABLE TIME and if you like those things you will ALSO have a HECK OF AN ENJOYABLE TIME READING THIS BOOK.
What’s that you say? You like BRILLIANT FULL-THROATED PROSE and RICHLY EMBROIDERED WORLDBUILDING and fuckin’ ONION DOMES and explorations of FAITH AND MAGIC AND POWER?
Well GEE WHIZ DO I HAVE A BOOK TO RECOMMEND TO YOU AND IT IS CALLED THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE.
ZEROBOXER By Fonda Lee
Book Yelling: How do y’all feel about action scenes that feel like watching Friday Night Lights but for SPACE PUNCHING?
Looking for a relationship that is written with excellent boundaries and respectful tensions? How about realistic struggles between people trying their best to succeed at SPACE PUNCHING and also at the preservation of INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS?
Interested in a story about the pressures of athletic fame as set against the love of excellence and ALSO GENETIC TAMPERING?
How about SCENES THAT DESCRIBE HOW BLOOD MOVES IN NULL GRAVITY AND HOW HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT CHANGES WHEN YOU ARE FLOATING?
DO YOU LIKE TO READ ABOUT FLAWED PEOPLE DOING THEIR BEST TO LOVE EACH OTHER IN IMPOSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES?? OF COURSE YOU DO AND GUESS WHAT, ZEROBOXER delivers all of that and then also a WHOLE LOT MORE. Fonda Lee understands how to throw a good jab – fast and tight with a quick recoil – AND she understands how to swing a solid cross that knocks you out.
THIS IS EVIDENT BECAUSE OF HOW WELL SHE WRITES PUNCHING AND IS ALSO A METAPHOR FOR HER EXCELLENT PROSE AND STORYTELLING IN ZEROBOXER.
Oh also if you’re hoping for a damn masterclass in worldbuilding this book will KNOCK YOU ON YOUR BUTT because the holy heckin’ dang, THAT’S SOME WELL-STRUCTURED SOCIAL TENSION.
ALSO SPACE PUNCHING.
JADE CITY Also by Fonda Lee
Book Yelling: HAHAHAHA DID YOU THINK I WAS DONE YELLING ABOUT FONDA LEE? YOU FOOL, YOU ABSOLUTE FOOL, you clearly didn’t consider the fact that JADE CITY EXISTS.
Look I’ve been rereading THE GODFATHER every year for over a decade now, it taught me everything I know about business and resolving interpersonal conflict and for those of you who know me YES, THAT DOES EXPLAIN A LOT. I love THE GODFATHER with the entirety of the cold dark void where my heart is supposed to be.
JADE CITY IS BETTER.
It is about FAMILY and HONOR and RESPONSIBILITY and also MAGICAL JADE POWERS.
DO YOU LIKE AMAZING BLOODY MAGIC POWER FIGHT SCENES?
How about interfamilial tension enhanced by people trying to establish their identities under both internal and external pressures?
All I’m saying is that if you’re into EXTREMELY TENSE POLITICAL MANEUVERING AND INTRIGUE as set against a backdrop of INSTITUTIONALLY NECESSARY ORGANIZED CRIME then you will goddamn love JADE CITY.
Fonda Lee pointed her signature tight, immediate prose at MAGIC and CRIME and BLOODSHED and GRIT and DESPERATION okay??
JADE CITY IS THE GODFATHER BUT FIXED IN EVERY WAY THAT NEEDS FIXING AND THAT’S A WHOLE LOTTA WAYS. I swear to god Fonda Lee is THE NEW MARIO PUZO but MINUS THE WEIRD MISOGYNY AND RACISM AND FASCINATION WITH VAGINAL SURGERY.