Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Author

Smugglivus Day 16 – Guest Author: Diana Peterfreund

Welcome to Smugglivus 2009 – Day 16!

Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2009, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2010.

Today’s Guest #2: Diana Petefreund author of The Secret Society Girl series (the first book, Secret Society Girl was reviewed by Thea here) and a brand new YA series about Killer Unicorns. For an article about Diana’s Inspirations and Influences for the new series, please go here.

Recent Work: Diana made her first foray into YA this year with Rampant (can we say again: Killer!Unicorns!), which we loved and reviewed here . She also published the last book in the Secret Society Girl series, Tap & Gown.

A big warm welcome to Diana and her favourite things about 2009:


2009 was a long and busy year for me. It was the first year I’ve ever had two books out, and I wrapped up one series while launching another in an entirely new genre. What fell by the wayside, unfortunately, was reading. I bought dozens of books this year, but I read only a handful, and most of what I did read falls into the category of YA (a strange situation for me since usually I read widely across all genres). I definitely have to make “read more” a New Year’s resolution.

Two of my favorite books of the year were actually ones I read in 2008: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan and Liar by Justine Larbalestier. The former is an eerie post-apocalyptic vision; zombies as they might be envisioned by Margaret Atwood. The latter is a mind-bending thriller with an unreliable protagonist and more twists than a unicorn horn.

Another was published in 2008: My Life as a Rhombus, by Varian Johnson. This is not my usual read, but I loved it. The clever, mathematician heroine, the unlikely friendships, the revenge fantasy triumph of an ending – delicious! If you are looking for a fun, moving, relatable story about high school girls, this is the one you need to read. Oh, and the chapter headings that look like mathematical formulas totally get my vote for favorite interior design of the year.

Also in the realm of realism, we’ve got The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison. It’s a hypnotic, dreamlike drama about a teenage girl and her obsessive friendship with a larger than life classmate. Also, shoplifting sprees. Madison’s voice is an unique and welcome presence in the YA field.

I gobbled up Catching Fire, the sequel to one of last year’s favorites, The Hunger Games, in the course of a single fevered night, and I’m totally obsessed with Peeta, the marvelously complex (Forthright! Manipulative! Strong! Gentle!) hero of the piece. What a great character. Another favorite romance of the year: Jennifer Echols latest, Going Too Far. Echols slays me with her depictions of teen romance. She really captures the emotion.

I also loved Sarah Cross’s debut, the effervescent Dull Boy, about a group of teenagers who discover they have superpowers, and try to create a comic book style league to combat evil with sometimes disastrous but always hilarious results. Another contender for “best interior design,” Dull Boy features awesome comic book stylings and hero dossiers and origin stories throughout. If you like superheroes, comic books, action/adventure, humor, or all of the above, this is the book for you.

Though I didn’t do a lot of reading this year, I discovered some of my favorite-ever television shows — though they are all “old.” Slings & Arrows, a Canadian program about a Shakespearean theater festival run by a corrupt nebbish, a neurotic diva, and an insane (literally) artistic director was recommended to me by one of my readers, and my husband and I loved its mix of modern humor and Shakespearean references.

Middle Man (canceled too soon) was a brilliant and quirky send up of both superheroes and conspiracy buffs (imagine the X-Files episode “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” but even funnier and with warmer, more functional main characters). I loved that show – how could it have been canceled?

Skins is a compelling and occasionally surreal British drama about hard-partying 17-18 year olds in Bristol. Gorgeous, intricate relationships and great acting (my favorite is the friendship between aspiring dancer and openly gay Maxxie and conflicted Muslim Anwar, who is played by Slumdog Millionaire and The Last Airbender’s Dev Patel). Speaking of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I discovered that show this year, too, and it is now one of my all-time favorite fantasies. Avatar (not to be confused with the Cameron movie) has it all: amazing worldbuilding, epic battles, deep and abiding friendships, cool magic, cuddly animals, family conflict, political conspiracies, heart and soul and the fate of the world at stake – don’t dismiss it because it’s a cartoon or “for kids” – it’s phenomenal. (You might want to skip the whitewashed upcoming live action version, though. Twilight’s Jasper as Inuit warrior Sokka? Please.)

Unfortunately for my stated resolution, 2010 is shaping up to be a busy year as well. Ascendant, the sequel to this year’s Rampant, will be out in September. It picks up where Rampant left off, and follows Astrid, now a fully-trained unicorn hunter, on a new mission where she encounters the fifth type of unicorn, the einhorn.

I’ve also got two short stories; both stand alone and are set in the killer unicorn world. One is out in the spring but we’re still finalizing the title. The other is called “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” and will be published in the Holly Black and Justine Larblestier-edited collection, Zombies vs. Unicorns. Not only am I absolutely ravenous for this anthology as a reader (half a book of unicorn stories, another half of zombie ones! My dream is alive!), but I’m also very proud of my story, which is the first one I ever wrote for professional publication. I also have another project coming out next year, but unfortunately, its identity is still a secret.

But that’s not going to stop me from reading in the new year! Not only do I have to catch up on all the books I am behind on this year, but I’m dying to read some of next year’s releases: I’ve already read Carrie Ryan’s The Dead-Tossed Waves – you’re going to love it. I can’t wait for the conclusion to Robin Wasserman’s Skinned series, or the last Hunger Games book, and I’m finally, finally going to read the Megan Whalen Turner Attolia series.

What book did I miss this year that I absolutely must read?


Thank you, Diana!

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  • Natalie
    December 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    These are definitely some great picks! Everyone seems to love Catching Fire, but I haven’t gotten around to reading The Hunger Games yet. Gaah! I really need to get on that. Thanks for the post guys!

  • Diana Peterfreund
    December 16, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Natalie, the Hunger Games is fantastic! What have you read this year?

  • MaryK
    December 16, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    ‘Read More’ is going to be my New Year’s resolution, too. Oh man, I’m so behind I don’t even want to shop for books anymore [was that a pig that just flew by?] because the piles are getting so bad! A cozy reading nook [ha] would really help me, I think.

    The good news is all the series will be finished by the time I read them so I won’t have to wait; but, yeah, it means I have no suggestions. 😕

  • katiebabs
    December 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Going Too Far was one of the cutest books I’ve read this year. I blame Carrie Ryan for all the nightmares she gave me because of Forest.

  • Alexa
    December 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    ah Peeta I love him too and I can’t wait for The Dead Tossed Waves.

    Four books should read are:

    Cracked up to be by Courtney Summers
    Willow by Julia Holban
    Something Maybe by Elizabeth Scott
    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’farrel

  • Estara
    December 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    You missed Treason’s Shore, the last book in Sherwood Smith’s Inda Series. If you know you’ll enjoy Megan Whalen Turner, then this series will be right up your alley, too. She’s the author of Crown Duel (and quite a few other books).

  • MaryK
    December 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I just remembered Robin McKinley’s Chalice. I read it in 2008, but the paperback reprint just came out so I’ll count it as 2009.

  • Angie
    December 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I can’t remember if you’ve read Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series or not. If not, you really must! The 3rd came out this year.

    Yay for TAP & GOWN and RAMPANT! 🙂

  • RKCharron
    December 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Diana 🙂
    Thank you for sharing here today.
    I love your selection of novels.
    I hadn’t been aware of Bennett Madison before.
    Happy Holidays,

  • Dee
    December 17, 2009 at 7:09 am

    I’m going to pick up Rampant and Dull Boy this weekend. I’ve heard great things about these books.

    I’m waiting for the third book to come out before I pick up Catching Fire. Hopefully I have some will power.

  • Diana Peterfreund
    December 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

    MaryK, that’s how I feel about the Attolia series. No waiting. Though my friend told me that it will ruin me for all other books and make me want to hang up my pen for good. Which… sad face.

  • Diana Peterfreund
    December 17, 2009 at 8:10 am

    katiebabs, I agree — Carrie’s book was deeply chilling!

  • Diana Peterfreund
    December 17, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Thanks for the recs, alexa! I actually own something maybe — it’s on my TBR shelf. And I haven’t heard of that last one but i’ll have to check it out!

  • Maureen McGowan
    December 17, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Great round up, Diana. Other than RAMPANT of course, I think my two favourite reads of the year were already on your list: HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE.

  • Adrienne
    December 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Wow-we had the same reading list! 😀 Graceling if you can get a copy-that was an amazing book and the 2nd book in the series Fire was also well written.

    And after reading your book, I can’t look at unicorns the same way-bad, naughty creatures! 😛

  • Veronica F.
    December 18, 2009 at 2:13 am

    haven’t read Rampant yet but plan to.
    And the Hunger Games trilogy is without a doubt my favorite series right now.

    as for books I’d suggest?
    definitely read Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy!
    and I also liked Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

  • Lell
    December 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Yes! The einhorn emerges!! I’m…probably a little too excited about that. Ah, well. I don’t think I have any good 2009 book recs for you, seeing as I get most of my YA books from my sister and my mom and they seem to recommend exactly the same books you do on your blog (except Hunger Games. For some reason, Mom’s not loving that series). I did read the entire Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher this year, and I’ll always point people toward those. A great story every time, awesome characters, and if you’re not a Murphy/Harry shipper by the end of the sixth book, you may have the heart of a Grinch. 🙂

  • Jessica Capelle
    December 18, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    great suggestions, thank you! Everything in my pile of books is mostly from 2008 but from this year I really loved Leviathan. Very cool book.

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