Smugglivus

Smugglivus Presents: Ana and Thea’s Most Excellent Books of 2009

Ana: Hello, I’m Ana

Thea: And I’m Thea

Ana & Thea: And we’re…[Wyld Stallyns] BOOK SMUGGLERS!!!!!!!

*play facemelting riffs on air guitars*

We’ve brought you some of our favorite authors with their reflections on 2009 and plans for 2010… We’ve brought your some of our favorite bloggers with their own wonderful ‘best of’ lists… But now it’s finally time to get our own hands dirty! We have scoured our personal libraries, gone through all our reviews for the year, and we are happy to report that we finally have our final picks ready to go. The rules: the books in our lists are books that were published in 2009 and that we read and reviewed here.

Thus, we Smugglers are proud to present you with our Most Excellent Books of 2009!

ANA

Looking back at the books I read in 2009 and comparing to those I read in 2008, it is plain that there has been a huge shift in my reading habits.

Last year I read 134 books, out of which 88 were Romance Novels. This year, I read and reviewed 133 (OMG LESS books read in 2009???!! Shame on me!) books and only 37 were Romance novels. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more Fantasy and YA and I am happy to see that I succeeded: in fact, I read more YA than any other genre this year (39) and loads of Fantasy as well (36, if you count UF). I am pretty satisfied with the results, I feel like I read some pretty good stuff and discovered wonderful new authors and genres – I also read quite a few short stories and I have found a new appreciation for the format. If I have a New Year resolution for 2010 is to read more anthologies and short stories. On the down side, I read less Graphic Novels than I wanted, another fact I plan to rectify in 2010.

With all that in mind, my top 10 list was a pretty easy one to come up with and I think it reflects beautifully the genres I read the most this year.

Thus, my favourite reads of 2009 are, in no particular order:

Scandal by Carolyn Jewel

Review here.

Scandal is my favorite type of romance novel: all the focus on the main couple. Add to that, the fact that this is a historical about a reformed rake and voila, you have me interested from the get go. The thing that makes this one different though, is the fact that the story opens with the rake ALREADY reformed and completely in love with the girl trying to prove that he has changed. Via flashbacks, we see just how much of a rake he was in the past and the writing is so lovely, and the story is so amazing, I just loved everything about this one.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Review here.

I love fairytale retellings! Ash is based on Cinderella and I loved the writing, which I thought was very lyrical. Above all, I loved the main character Ash and her journey to happiness, battling depression and abuse till the very end, when she saves herself and find love not in the arms of a Knight in Shining Armor but in the arms of another kick-ass girl, the King’s Huntress.

Revealed by Kate Noble

Review here.

I found Kate Noble’s books this year and now I am a fan for life. Revealed is here because it has lovely writing, and an amazing pair of protagonists: a beta hero and an alpha heroine. In fact , in any other romance novel, the heroine would have been the Rival or the Villain: she is rich, beautiful and the most influential woman of the Ton, and she knows it and she loves it. Then there is this sentence that is their signature greeting “It’s just me” that made me melt pretty much every time they said it.

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

Review here

One of my most anticipated reads of 2009, Fragile Eternity is Seth’s book, the one character that I loved since the first book in the series, and whose point of view we hadn’t seen. I love this fairy-human world, the struggles of all characters to fit in either or both. Complex relationships and politics and amazing writing, proves to me that Melissa Marr can do no wrong in my book.

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Review here.

This one I did not see coming, it caught me by surprise and I read Going Too Far in one go, I read till I was done with it and it was well past midnight and I can’t remember the last time I did that. I was so engrossed in this love story between too youngsters in a small town : one who wanted to stay put, the other wanted to go and there were more layers to the story and to the characters than a freaking onion and the vegetable comparison is so lame and so tame when compared to the book that I am a bit ashamed of myself for using it. In any case, this is an amazing YA romance between two characters on equal footing of awesomeness and one book I loved with all my heart.

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Review Here.

Now, this one, this one is here for several reasons: Nick, the unreliable narrator (just how much, you need to read it to find out); the relationship between the two brothers, Alan and Nick, (this book is about brotherly love and devotion and it is awesome); the many cool details in the story including the Goblin Market. Above all, the main reason for loving this book is the crazy chemistry I have with Sarah Rees Brennan’s writing. Plus, it has the best opening sentence of the year:

“The pipe under the sink was leaking again. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that Nick kept his favourite sword under the sink.”

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Review here.

The best Steampunk novel I read this year, with all the elements that make it pure Steampunk goodness: alternate history, worldbuilding where the Steampunk elements are necessary and not only white noise. It has a mix of biology and mechanics, a great story and two great kids as the protagonists, especially the girl-who-pretends-to-be-a-boy. And Holy Barking spiders!, the book comes with wicked illustrations too!

Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

Review here.

I love Nalini Singh’s books and with this first in her new series, she outdid herself. Angels’ Blood is one of those books where plot meet characterization and everything is well balanced and everything just works. Elena Deveraux is my one of the strongest, most interesting female characters I have read and I loved her every single word.

Demon Forged by Meljean Brook

Review here.

Meljean Brook is another author whose writing I have crazy chemistry with. I love everything she writes and Demon Forged is her best book to date. From the amazing romance to the awesome worldbuilding where everything matters and everything has a reason. The stakes are high and the author is not afraid of showing it. This is Paranormal Romance at its best. I dare say all the nay-sayers have not read Meljean Brook’s Guardian series.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Review here.

Liar is one of those books that speaks directly to me but not because of the characters and story (although both are really, really good) but because of the narrative itself. I love unreliable narrators and Micah is the Ultimate Unreliable Narrator because right from the first page we know she is a compulsive liar. What comes next is an exercise of writing that begs the reader’s attention and connection in order to really work as every single line makes one wonder and doubt. This book is gripping, mind-blowing and brilliant. I Loved it.

The ones that didn’t make it:

My list would have looked quite different if I could have included books not published in 2009. By now, our regular readers must know how much I enjoyed, loved, ADORED the books below. I loved them for the amazing world building, the awesome characters and above all the incredible prose. Patrick Rothfuss’ is particularly akin to “reading beauty” (tm Kris n Good Books)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Notable Mentions:

(For other damn good books from this year, and for those not published in 2008)

Because it is so hard to narrow down to a mere top 10, we always try to mention other notable, awesome reads from 2009 or before.

For starters this was the year I discovered Brandon Sanderson, a fantastic Epic Fantasy writer, with a thing for writing kooky Magic systems. I loved his Mistborn Trilogy and Warbreaker. Speaking of Fantasy, I also loved finding out the Princess books by Jim C. Hines, they are Fantasy, fairytale retellings of the highest order with Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty as warrior-princesses. It’s a mixture of comedy and high adventure and so much fun!

Two other that totally worthy of praise are Jasmyn by Alex Bell, a modern fairytale and Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter, I loved both books with their somewhat unreliable narrators (it seems I used this excuse a lot this year, but I am a fan!).

On the Romance front, I need to mention my favourite contemporary romance of the year: Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James. James writes the best romantic comedies around. But in the romance genre, I really am a historical romance fan and this year I felt I was especially lucky with the ones I read. Eloisa James’s This Duchess of Mine, Loretta Chase’s Don’t Tempt Me, Julia Quinn’s What Happens in London and Meredith Duran’s Bound By Your Touch are the finest romance published in 2009.

Then, a couple of YA like Rampant by Diana Peterfreund and Lips Touch by Laini Taylor, and this is me totally cheating, because I never reviewed this one but I looooooooooove the writing like whoa and OMG.

Finally, I read only but a few short stories and graphic novels but the ones I did were quite memorable. The Dragon Book anthology with stories of luminaries of the Fantasy genre was amazing and One Con Gloryby Sarah Khun was quite possibly the most fun I ever had with a short story. As for Graphic Novels , I absolutely loved Madame Xanadu, The Walking Dead and Rapunzel’s Revenge.

Favourite characters:

2009 will be known as the year when I lost my heart over and over again to some amazing characters. Top of the list is Eugenides from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief Series. Oh my word! That guy is unbelievably clever and one of the most memorable characters ever. I also fell in love with Nick and Alan from The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan and their brotherly relationship. I can’t wait to read more!

But really, this year is the Year of the Awesome Female characters. Never before, I fell in love with so many of them. First there were two kick-ass warriors: Elena Deveraux from Nalini Singh’s Angels’ Blood and Irena from Meljean Brook’s Demon Forged. Then, there are: Rapunzel from the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and the three princesses from Jim C. Hines books that are strong and spunky. Equally strong but in a more quiet way, is Anna from the Alpha and Omega books by Patricia Briggs. And also, any Juliet Marillier protagonist. After reading those example of awesome female protagonists, I find myself wanting more!

Love the authors:

I developed serious author-crushes this year. I always start falling in love with the books, then I follow the white rabbit to their blogs and voila, I almost feel like a stalker because I read everything they write, be it movie reviews, book reviews, writerly stuff, etc. These authors are only but a few I discovered this year and their blogs are awesome and well worth reading:

Jim C Hines, Sarah Rees Brennan, Justine Larbalestier, Diana Peterfreund, Karen Mahoney, and Patrick Rothfuss. Plus “old” favorites Meljean Brook and Nalini Singh . Gotta love the people who bring me so much joy!

2010 Books I REALLY want.

Where do I even start?

Highest on my Most Wanted list are A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (I got the ARC! I got the ARC! Ahem), The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr, the next Sevenwaters book, Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier, Demon Blood and the Iron Duke’s Steampunk series by Meljean Brook and The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan.

I also wait with baited breath for the next in the Princess Books by Jim C Hines, Red Hood’s Revenge , Forget You by Jennifer Echols, Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes, Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, Lex Trent versus the Gods by Alex Bell, Prospero in Hell by L. Jagi Lamplighter and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson…

plus anything by Nalini Singh, Julie James, Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Loretta Chase, Meredith Duran and Linnea Sinclair.

I also reserve the right to be caught by surprise by new-to-me and debut authors. There is nothing quite as amazing as finding new treasures!

2010 is looking like it’s going to be a mighty fine year for reading! I can’t wait!

**********

THEA

I didn’t go through such a dramatic shift in reading habits as Ana as I was pretty varied to begin with, but I did read a whole lot more Young Adult this year – so that’s something! This year, I reviewed a grand total of 159 books (holy crapoly!!!!!). Of those 159 books, the most dominant genre was YA – a whopping total of 75 books reviewed were YA! I blame our YA month for the imbalance (and just in case you were wondering, of those 75 YA titles, 27 were SF, 20 were Fantasy, 11 were UF, and 11 were Horror, with the remaining 6 YA books historical/literature/graphic novels). Besides YA, I reviewed 21 Fantasy novels, 20 Urban Fantasy novels, 15 Horror titles, and a pitiful 8 Science Fiction titles (the remaining 20 books were a mix of literary fiction – mystery, thrillers, chick-lit, even 2 romance titles – and graphic novels/manga).

Pretty GD nuts, huh?

All that said, and without any further ado, here are my top 10 picks of the year…

Flood and Ark by Stephen Baxter

Review of Flood HERE; Review of Ark HERE.

I lucked out this year, as Flood was just released this fall in the US, and then shortly after Ark hit stores in the UK – and thanks to the good folks at Gollancz (and Ana in the UK), I was able to read both books in the duology within only a few short months of each other (whereas other poor folks here in the US have to wait until next year for Ark). And holy, holy crap – I’ve discovered a brand new MUST BUY author in Stephen Baxter. Flood, which tells the apocalypse by way of subterranean ocean leaking and flooding the Earth’s surface, was an awesome good novel and one I thoroughly enjoyed (even if it was a bit clinical and cut and dry). But Ark took the series to an entirely new level – it was flat out, knock my socks off fantastic, and the first (and only one of TWO books) I gave a perfect 10 rating to this year. Let me just put it this way – If I had to pick a single favorite book from 2009, it would be Stephen Baxter’s Ark.

Ark follows a group of talented young people as they try to get a spot on humanity’s last ditch effort to survive the floodwater apocalypse – through the creation of a spaceship that can travel at super-luminal speeds, in a search for an inhabitable planet elsewhere in the universe. Part military thriller, part exploration novel, and all around a compelling, haunting, and ultimately hopeful tale about the human will to survive, Ark is one damn fine book. I loved it. And I have proceeded to glom Stephen Baxter’s scifi backlist, thanks to this awesome duology.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Reviewed HERE.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth was probably my most anticipated, lusted-after book of 2009. I had been hankering for this book since way back in 2008, when I first caught wind of the synopsis, heard the lyrical title, and saw the gorgeous cover. And wouldn’t you know it, not only did The Forest of Hands and Teeth live up to my incredibly high expectations, but it surpassed them. PLUS, author Carrie Ryan is one of the coolest cats on the web. (That’s right, I just used the phrase “cool cat” – she’s THAT awesome)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is about a village in the woods, surrounded on all sides by fences that keep the “unconsecrated” – or zombies – out, and the humans in. But one girl dares to dream of a future beyond the fences and the rules of her strict society, and when the fences inevitably fall, she has the strength to seek out life beyond in the forest of hands and teeth. I don’t think there are words to express my love for this grim, post-apocalyptic tale – it’s a zombie novel, but like the best works of zombie fiction, it’s not so much about the undead as it is about the living. I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. And its companion novel, The Dead-Tossed Waves is – you guessed it – my most anticipated novel of 2010.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Reviewed HERE.

Like the rest of the known universe, I was enamored with Catching Fire – in fact, I loved it even more than The Hunger Games, primarily because it finally showed me that Ms. Collins can create something new and compelling (The Hunger Games was a tad too much Battle Royale meets The Running Man meets The Long Walk for my tastes). I loved the action of this second book, I loved the government complications, the surge of rebellion in the districts of Panem, and most of all, I loved how Katniss grows in this book.

And….TEAM PEETA, for the win! I cannot wait for the third book this coming fall.

Slights by Kaaron Warren

Reviewed HERE.

As I said in my review of Slights, I don’t think I have the words to properly convey the sense of shock, of depravity, of total, awesome horror that Kaaron Warren’s debut novel from Angry Robot left me with. This is one of the most disturbing books I have read in a very long time – not since Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves have I felt so unsettled (in the BEST way) by a book. Horrific, resonating, and profoundly sad, I loved Slights. This is horror at its absolute finest, and I wholeheartedly recommend Ms. Warren’s novel to all.

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Reviewed HERE.

It was a close call between this novel and Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs for a spot on my top 10 – but ultimately, Magic Strikes won out because of the sheer scope of the book. In this third novel, heroine Kate Daniels goes through a LOT – she finds herself in an honest-to-goodness Arena, fighting off creatures decidedly outside the usual realm of shapeshifter/vampire/fey. The action is unparalleled, and Ms. Andrews just continues to get better with each subsequent book. I cannot wait for the next Daniels novel early next year – if it’s anything like Magic Strikes, I’ll be one happy camper.

Hunger by Michael Grant

Reviewed HERE

I started this outstanding series by Michael Grant this year, and loved both Gone (published in 2008) and Hunger immensely. Michael Grant’s FAYZ books, about a seaside California town whose inhabitants over the age of 14 all disappear one day, is the stuff Stephen King fans will salivate over. Part X-Men, part Lord of the Flies, sprinkled with a healthy dose of supernatural King-style terror, Hunger is a surprisingly gritty Young Adult novel. Don’t let the YA label fool you – there is nothing juvenile about this title. It is Grim, with a capital “G.” Heck, I loved Hunger more than I did Stephen King’s Under the Dome (a similar setup to Michael Grant’s FAYZ)! Recommended for fans of violent, dystopian style novels.

Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Reviewed HERE.

It’s no secret that I am a Jacqueline Carey fangirl. The Kushiel’s Legacy books are among my favorites of All Time – if I’m stranded on a desert island, Kushiel’s Dart (or Kushiel’s Avatar) is coming with me. With Naamah’s Kiss, Ms. Carey returns to the world of Terre d’Ange, this time with a new heroine named Moirin, touched not by Kushiel but Naamah herself. Naamah’s Kiss has everything I have come to expect from Ms. Carey’s books – adventure, strong characters, breathtaking worldbuilding, love and sex, and prose so lush it makes you catch your breath in wonder. Ms. Carey takes Moirin to lands far beyond Terre d’Ange’s borders, to cultures different and familiar at the same time – and I loved every second of it. This is a no brainer for me – Naamah’s Kiss completely rocks.

Drood by Dan Simmons

Reviewed HERE.

As with Ms. Carey, it should come as no surprise that I am a huge Dan Simmons fangirl. His Hyperion cantos are among my favorite books of all time, and so when I learned he was releasing a new book this year, I was beside myself with giddiness. Drood is Simmons at his best – weaving intricate history with strong characters, solid plotting and an unmatched eye for detail. About Wilkie Collins and his jealousy and close friendship with Charles Dickens, Drood is part mystery, part horror, and captures the era and both authors flawlessly. Seriously, Dan Simmons is an author that does his homework. Another home run from Dan Simmons, as he proves again why he is one of the finest authors of ANY genre he chooses to write in.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Reviewed HERE.

Another YA novel with the word “Fire” in the title! But seriously, Fire is a book that completely took me by surprise. I had the pleasure of reading both Graceling and this companion novel/prequel this year, and both blew me away. I loved the character of Fire, the world of “monsters” and their normal counterparts. Ms. Cashore’s second novel, in fact, appealed to me more than her debut novel did. Fire is YA Fantasy at its finest, evocative of Tamora Pierce. I love the strong heroines that she writes, and urge everyone – especially young girls dissatisfied with the wishy-washy Bellas of the YA literary landscape – to read her work.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Reviewed HERE.

Another no-brainer, favorite author of mine is Juliet Marillier, and her 2009 release of Heart’s Blood – a Celtic retelling of Beauty and the Beast – is another solid gold winner. Ms. Marillier, like Ms. Carey, is an author whose prose never fails to win me over. Lush, evocative, hauntingly beautiful, Heart’s Blood is no exception. I loved this smart, heartfelt retelling of a familiar fable.

Honorable Mentions (2009 Close Calls and Pre-2009 Published Favorites)

As the title suggests, this section is for favorite books read in 2009 – books that I loved but didn’t make the cut (barely), or would have made the cut if they were published this year.

I. 2009 Close Calls

I think I lucked out this year, as I read a number of really awesome memorable books. For organization’s sake, I’ve broken ’em out by genre:

In the YA Genre, these 2009 close calls include: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman, Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr, The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong, Forest Born by Shannon Hale, The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, Rampant by Diana Peterfreund, Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison, Blood Promise by Richelle Mead, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines (a VERY narrow miss for my Top 10), and Going Bovine by Libba Bray.

In the Fantasy Genre: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey, Jasmyn by Alex Bell, and Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter top the list of 2009 published titles that I absolutely loved, but didn’t quite make the top 10.

In the UF Genre: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs, Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs, and Deadtown by Nancy Holzner top my favorites. I didn’t read as much UF this year as in 2008, but the genre still holds a soft spot in my heart. Seanan McGuire and Nancy Holzner are two debut UF authors that managed to completely win me over with their first in a series books, and I eagerly await for more from them. And Patricia Briggs is Patricia Briggs – her writing is AMAZING.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Paranormal Romance Genre novel Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh, and Horror Genre novel Hater by David Moody. Both took me by surprise and managed to win me over, and are definitely recommended.

II. Pre-2009 Publication Faves

Leading the pre-2009 published favorites read this year is Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go – the only other book (besides Ark) that I gave a 10 rating to. This is literary fiction, yes, but also falls into the realm of science fiction, about mysterious “donors” and their upbringing in an english countryside boarding school. Mr. Ishiguro has won numerous awards for his literary efforts, and Never Let Me Go showed me why he is so worthy of those accolades. Please, for the love of pete, read the book before watching the movie adaptation coming out next year. Please.

Along with Never Let Me Go the lightbook Goth by Otsuichi would easily have made my top 10 list, had it been published in 2009. Goth tells the story of two teenage sociopaths in Japan, and is a truly chilling portrayal. Another title that easily would have cracked my top 10 was delightful gothic/regency/romance/fantasy novel The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett. I hadn’t seen this book reviewed anywhere, but I was so very glad I took a chance on this title.

There were a slew of pre-2009 YA titles that I read and absolutely loved this year, so I’ll just list them quickly: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld (Uglies, Pretties, and Specials), Genesis by Bernard Beckett, Exodus by Julie Bertagna, and Feed by M.T. Anderson. Also Wildwood Dancing and Cybelle’s Secret by Juliet Marillier were standout novels that deserve mention.

On the fantasy front, I also discovered the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson this year, which is one of the most inventive and original epic fantasy series’ I have read, period. There also was the beautiful The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente that blew me away. Finally, The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip was another solid winner that I truly loved and wholeheartedly recommend.

Favorite Characters:

I didn’t discover anyone as lovely as Miles Vorkosigan or Amelia Peabody this year, but I did read a number of YA protagonists that totally won me over. Perhaps most winsome of them all are Todd and Viola from Patrick Ness’s incredible/awesome/insert superlative Chaos Walking series, The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer. I love these two characters so very much; I root for them like no other pair that I can think of in an ongoing series. So, they get my vote!

New Authors:

2009 was another great year for new-to-me authors – topping the list has to be Diana Peterfreund, author of the excellent Secret Society Girl series (which I *will* get around to finishing soon) and the awesome Rampant, a new YA series about killer unicorns and the girls that slay them. Diana is not only a fabulous author, she’s also really friendly, she’s allowed us to bug her for interviews and guest posts, and she also shares the love for Christopher Pike. Another autobuy author I discovered this year is Brandon Sanderson – his Mistborn books blew me away, and his 2009 release, Warbreaker wasn’t too shabby either. He’s definitely an author I will be looking out for in the future.

Finally, there’s the ineffable Stephen Baxter. Man, I loved Ark with every fiber of my being – so much so that I am currently glomming his backlist (I just finished Moonseed which was also absofreakinglutely phenomenal – another one for the keeper shelf. Next up is Titan – I love me some apocalyptic-toned scifi!). This guy’s writing just does it for me.

2010 Books I Cannot Wait to Read:

Oh, the list is long indeed. I suppose I should set a reading goal for next year – and that is READ MORE SCIENCE FICTION. It’s a genre I love (hell, my favorite two books of 2009 were scifi titles), and there’s no excuse for my deficiency in this area. So, if there are any scifi titles you have to recommend, please let me know! I’m all ears.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness – The dramatic final novel in the Chaos Walking series. The Ask and the Answer kicked my ass – I cannot wait to see what Mr. Ness has in store for Todd and Viola in this third book.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan – Given my big love for The Forest of Hands and Teeth this is – if you’ll pardon my lame puns – a no-brainer! Seriously, love Carrie Ryan’s writing, and cannot wait for this title. The covers are gorgeous too.

Lies by Michael Grant – Again, given my love for Gone and Hunger, it should come as no surprise that this third book in the planned 7 book series is on my most anticipated of 2010 list.

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs – Patricia Briggs freaking rules. Mercy Thompson is one of my favorite UF heroines for a reason, and I cannot wait for more of her in Silver Borne.

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews – Again, given my love for Magic Strikes this is an autobuy for me. Love Kate and Curran, and cannot wait to see where Ms. Andrews takes them next! (Although what is with these stupid “Guaranteed Good Read!” stickers on books? Who do publishers think they are fooling? They just look tacky)

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss – I read The Name of the Wind this year as part of our “What She Said” feature, and I loved it. So, I, along with the rest of the fantasy reading world, will be anxiously hoping for The Wise Man’s Fear in 2010.

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer – OMG. Probably my MOST highly anticipated book of 2010 – I *loved* with the force of a thousand suns the first two books in Ms. Pfeffer’s Moon Crush trilogy (Life as we Knew it and the dead and the gone were my two favorite reads of 2008), so I am on tenterhooks waiting for this third volume. EEEEEE! The cover gives me goosebumps.

Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett – I have heard nothing but Good Things about this upcoming title, and hey, I even have an ARC. I cannot freaking wait to dive in. (Plus, I hate to be shallow, but how awesome is that cover??)

Horns by Joe Hill – I really, really enjoyed his debut novel Heart-Shaped Box, and being the son of Stephen King and all, I’m partial towards Mr. Hill. Horns looks to be a fantastic read, and I have high hopes. AND I have an ARC that I am just dying to start ripping through…

The Line by Teri Hall – Talk about BUZZ, this book is all over the blogosphere. The cover is gorgeous, the title mysterious and atmospheric, and the synopsis sounds like it’s a book right up Thea Alley. I cannot wait.

Black Magic Sanction and Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison

I was a little bit disappointed with White Witch, Black Curse, the newest entry in Kim Harrison’s otherwise near-flawless The Hollows series. BUT, I still have high hopes for the next Rachel Morgan. And I absolutely loved Once Dead, Twice Shy, Ms. Harrison’s YA entry – and I eagerly await Madison Avery’s next novel.

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead – Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy books are among my favorite YA Vampire series’ – and given the number of YA Vampires out there, that’s saying a LOT. Forget the poorly written (and brain numbingly idiotic) Twilight, because it is all about Rose. And Adrian.

The Reckoning by Kelley ArmstrongThe Summoning (book 1 in the Darkest Powers series) didn’t really wow me, but I was pleasantly surprised by The Awakening this year. Chloe and Derek are a wonderful couple, and I am eager to see where The Reckoning takes them.

Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey – Come on. Jacqueline Carey. Book 2 in Moirin’s story. No. Brainer.

Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren – I loved Slights so very much, and was incredibly impressed with Kaaron Warren. So, it goes without saying that I will most certainly read her next book – which happens to be fantasy title, Walking the Tree, again from Angry Robot.

Prospero in Hell by L. Jagi Lamplighter – I was so delighted with Prospero Lost, and I wish everyone would run out and purchase it. Seriously, smart, funny, well-researched and impeccably written. THIS is Urban Fantasy like you’ve never seen it before – and I want more Miranda and Mab!

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – The new Brandon Sanderson, first of a planned 10 book series, is an investment (both emotionally and economically). But it’s one I’m ready to make. Come on, The Way of Kings!

Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman – I loved Eon: Dragoneye reborn very, very much. Though there were predictable elements, it reminded me of all the things I loved in Tamora Pierce’s Alanna books and Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori. This is an action filled YA fantasy that took me by surprise, and has me impatiently waiting for the next book.

The Third book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series – Seriously. Is it October yet? I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, DAMMIT!

Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier – A new Sevenwaters book!!! I am going into paroxysms of glee!

And with that we, your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers, bid you so long, farewell, au revoir, see you in 2010!

And be Excellent to Each Other, dudes!

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26 Comments

  • Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf
    December 31, 2009 at 5:57 am

    That’s quite the list(s)! 😀

    Looking through all these top-ten posts this year is such a lot of fun!

  • Diana Peterfreund
    December 31, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Awww, thanks guys! You’ve become one of my must-read blogs too, this year. Sadly, the experience has been less than beneficial to my wallet, and I ought to send you a bill for the massive increase in my book budget my household has suffered due to my addiction to Booksmugglers. Thanks heaps.

  • Sheila DeChantal
    December 31, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Holy cow! The books look fantastic and I seen quite a few I would like to read. Have a greta New Year! 😀

  • AnimeJune
    December 31, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Looks like you guys had a great year! It’s mostly thanks to you that I’ve started going back to my fantasy roots (while still sticking with romance – I do love romance books…)

    Also – I’m reading SCANDAL by Carolyn Jewel next! Yippee!

    Looking forward to reading NAME OF THE WIND, and Thea, I’d really suggest reading the next volume in the Orphan’s Tales – CITIES OF COIN AND SPICE, it concludes the whole wackadoo story in a really lovely way.

    I’m also seconding your mention of EON! Despite the heroine occasionally being oblivious, what a great book and world! This makes me think you (and Ana) would get a huge kick out of SNAKE AGENT by Liz Williams and its Asian setting.

  • Roxy
    December 31, 2009 at 9:39 am

    That was a great post! Lot’s of good books to add to my TBR list. Can’t wait for the new Mercy Thompson and Rachel Morgan books either. 2010 should be a good year.

    I’ve turned green with envy for that ARC of a Conspiracy of Kings!

    Happy New Year!!!

  • katiebabs
    December 31, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Awesome end of the year book list my adorable Smuggles. Many of your books mentioned are some of my favorites.

    Thanks for all the great book pimping you have done during the year and can’t wait for more in 2010.

  • Thea
    December 31, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Thanks for the comments, guys!

    Darren – These top 10 lists popping up all over the place are KILLING me! I keep realizing how many fabulous books there are out there, and I want to read them all nowNowNOW! Which is impossible. My creaking bookshelf, filled with books I am dying to read but haven’t had time to read yet is glaring at me…

    Diana – :mrgreen: Back ‘atcha! This symbiotic relationship of mutual wallet depletion is killing me…but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Seriously, thanks for everything this year. It’s been a blast, and thanks to you I’ve not only read some fantastic new books *coughRampantcough* but I’ve also discovered a ton of new authors (and revisited old ones too).

    Sheila – Have a great New Year yourself! And…yeah, this list is rather long, isn’t it? 😳

    AnimeJune – I *need* to get my hands on the second Orphan’s Tales book like now. My stupid local bookstores don’t have it in stock though! Amazon, here I come 😀 And Snake Agent, you say?? I’m intrigued! I really enjoyed Eon (though yeah, Eona was a little thick at parts), and do love asian-based YA/fantasy. Have you read the Tales of the Otori books? I’m a fan of those too, and have Silver Phoenix on my TBR too…

    Roxy – Ana is absolutely salivating over the ARC of A Conspiracy of Kings. I really should send it to her soon 😈 Mercy Thompson and Rachel Morgan RULE, and I cannot wait for their new adventures!

    KB – Thanks dude!!! And I just checked out your list too, looks like great powerpuff minds think alike 😉 Thank YOU for everything, you big ol’ book pimp you. 2010 should be a blast!

  • Kristen
    December 31, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Don’t need more books… Must resist urge to buy more of these… Heart’s Blood is calling even though I already have and haven’t read Daughter of the Forest. I have a big soft spot for Beauty and the Beast stories.

    I’ve just come to the conclusion that in 2010 I have decided I must read Juliet Marillier. And Ilona Andrews. I have one book by each; there is no excuse not to!!

  • Adrienne
    December 31, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I wanted to thank you both for having such an awesome blog and reading all those books for us. You have given me so many new authors to try and it has been an amazing year for books. Because of your amazing blog 😆 my book budget when from $30 bucks a month to $75. HA HA, no new pretty shoes for me 😛 I have read all those books in both your top 10 (except for the romance, sorry Ana!) and have to agree, they all left an impression. Here is to 2010 and no new shoes! 😉

  • Susan B. Evans
    December 31, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I loveloveLOVE your blog! I’m hoping to take many suggestions from you two for a YA challenge I’ve signed up for in 2010.

    Happy New Year!

  • Ana
    December 31, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Kristen – Heart’s Blood is totally unrelated to the Sevenwaters book, it is a stand alove, so you are safe there. But yes, it should be your New Year’s resolution to read La Marillier!!! :mrgreen:

    Adrienne – thank you for always being here talking to us 😀 And you should totally try to read one of the romance, Revelead is a very tame romance, I think you won’t regret reading it!!

  • Ana
    December 31, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Susan – Happy New Year to you too!!! 😀

  • Kristen
    December 31, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Ana – My problem with buying Heart’s Blood is that I should probably read the Marillier book I already have before buying another one. 🙂 It’s just that one sounds so tempting and hard to resist…

  • Holly
    December 31, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Amazing list!! I have had Ash on my list for a long time! The line has me drooling!

    Check out our list here http://www.bellasnovella.com/2009/12/bellas-novella-best-of-2009.html

  • Sarah
    December 31, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Great post, guys! So many books I still need to check out…gah.
    And thanks for the mention — pretty sure that’s the only time One Con Glory will be pictured next to/mentioned in the same breath as Madame Xanadu. 🙂

  • Celia
    December 31, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Great list. I now have to go out and put these all on hold at the library…

  • Kris
    December 31, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I feel a sudden need to go shopping…

    Also, you probably wouldn’t believe the number of times I said ‘got it when you first reviewed it’ as I was reading through this list. Actually, knowing you girls you probably would…

    Happy New Year to you both! May it be filled with many, many good books. :mrgreen:

  • maered
    December 31, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Great list, guys. Can I just ask why it seems like everyone is on Team Peeta? Am I the only one who is Team Gale? 😕 Is it hopeless? *cries* Looking forward to the 2010 releases, though.

    Happy New Year!!

  • Nalini Singh
    December 31, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks for the mention Ana & Thea! 🙂

    Now I’m off to add some more books to my tbb list. So many great choices. I’ve read several books I wouldn’t normally have picked up because of this blog – so thank you for the introductions!

  • azteclady
    December 31, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Thank you, lady smugglers, for all the great reading, recommendations and funny/serious sharing you’ve done through this year that ends (has ended?)

    Here’s wishing you only good things for the next one–happy 2010!

  • Carolyn Crane (CJ)
    December 31, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Hey! Wow, that is a great roundup! Some really enticing ones, and some beloved faves, too. I love that your reading is always evolving like it is. Happy new years!

  • orannia
    December 31, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Two amazing lists – thank you Ana & Thea! So many books on your lists are on my TBR lists! I’m finally going to read my first Jacqueline Carey book – Kushiel’s Dart – as part of my Big Book Challenge. The Name of the Wind is in there too!

    Thank you for an amazing year and introducing me to some amazing books, specifically Sarah Monette’s The Doctrine of Labyrinths and Juliet Marillier’s Heir to Sevenwaters (I’ll be reading Daughter of the Forest next 🙂 I’m looking forward to 2010!

    Happy New Year!

  • Karen Mahoney
    January 1, 2010 at 3:16 am

    What an amazing post. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you girls put into this. 🙂

    Looking forward to LOTS more smuggling in 2010! Happy new year, dudes!!

    *ninja*

  • SonomaLass
    January 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I agree with so many of these! Rothfuss, Carey, Jewel, Peterfreund, Lo, Marr — this was a really excellent year for books.

    If you liked Brandon Sanderson (I’m a squeeing fangirl, to the point that I went back to the Wheel of Time for him!), you should read Elantris, his first full-length book. It’s a favorite of mine.

    I don’t know if it’s my MOST anticipated book of 2010, but I am super-excited that Guy Gavriel Kay has a book coming out this year, called Under Heaven. Anyone who enjoys fantasy with fabulous world building and strong romantic elements should read Kay.

  • Sarah Rees Brennan
    January 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Happy New Year, my most favourite bloggers, and I curtsy prettily yet demonically to Ana for this high honour. 😉

  • Pam P
    January 2, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Ana, I’ve read several of your favorites which are also my favorites of the year:
    Scandal, Revealed, Angel’s Blood, Don’t Tempt Me, Practice Makes Perfect, Bound by Your Touch. Also for me, Duran’s Written On Your Skin.

    I’m sure Demon Forged will make my list, too, once I catch up with the series and get to this one. Julia Quinn’s I enjoyed quite a lot.

    Another favorite of the year for me is Karen Ranney’s “A Scotsman in Love.”

    Happy New Year!

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