When we started this blog two years ago, we had no idea where it would lead us. We had no real expectations to have actual readers (other than close friends and family members), nor did we expect publishers and authors to contact us (or to reply to us when contacted), and we definitely did not expect it to become such a huge part of our lives. Last year when we celebrated our first anniversary, we talked about how The Book Smugglers began, but this year we thought we could do something different. For our second year of Book Smuggling, we’d like to celebrate by taking a retrospective look at the past year, month by month, to revisit what we loved about blogging this year.
Don’t get us wrong, we do love everything about blogging and running The Book Smugglers: the reading, the thinking about books, the books that get a “10” rating, the books that get a “1” rating, the chats with authors, the guest bloggers, the events, the comments, the lurkers. But there are also those truly special moments that remind us why we got started in this consuming hobby to begin with – and we are going to take a look at those such events, closest to our hearts…
- January 7th, we celebate our first anniversary with a Big Move: we move our blog from Blogspot to WordPress and unveil our new blog design (the one that you are seeing right now)
- Soon after the Big Move, what we have come to call the “Grand Statistical Collapse” happens and almost sends Ana (a.k.a. the stats whore) to an early grave. With the move, our Google Page Rank plummeted and our RSS Feed went AWOL – feed subscribers fell from more than 300 to a meager 45. We basically have to rebuild our readership almost from scratch. But it’s ok, we love a challenge!
- While Ana freaks out about a loss of showy statistics, Thea tears out her hair trying to fix the myriad problems that are inevitable when switching from a public platform to a (more) private web host. Thea nearly goes certifiably insane trying to consolidate RSS Feeds, setting up 401-redirects, switching and archiving posts/images/comments from Google’s Blogger platform to the shiny new WordPress platform, installing the new web design, and manipulating HTML/CSS code, amongst other headaches
- We have our first Official Event of 2009 with Manga Appreciation Week (January 12 – 16)
- Ana (finally) reads her first Juliet Marillier novel on a Dare from Thea, tackling Ms. Marillier’s first Sevenwaters book, Daughter of the Forest. Ana promptly falls in love with this author.
- For the release of Bone Crossed we are offered the opportunity to interview Patricia Briggs, one of Thea’s favorite authors since middle school, IN PERSON. We are still wondering how Thea managed to survive the experience.
- Thea somehow manages to convince Ana to allow and participate in our second Official Event of 2009 with Zombie Appreciation Week (February 22 – 28)…and Ana actually likes it.
- We make the Preditors and Editors Top 10 Review Sites of 2008 list, thanks to all that voted for us!
- One of our favorite Official Events of 2009 happens when the movie adaptation of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’s classic comic, Watchmen comes out in theaters. To celebrate the on-screen debut of what is commonly hailed as the best graphic novel ever written, we Book Smugglers hold our official Watchmen Long Weekend – a crazy weekend event during which we went all out by analyzing the book and reviewing the movie. Basically the post went unread (the only two comments for our dissertation of a post are our own). But hey, “Remembering The Watchmen” remains one of our favorite posts EVER. We just love geeking out like that.
- We participate in our first Blog Tour of 2009 with an author guest post/giveaway and joint review of Ann Aguirre’s Blue Diablo.
- We take part in an internet-spanning event hosted by the good folks at Alert Nerd (who – since this first, serendipitous meeting – have become one of our essential ‘go to’ websites and blogging buddies) with our “That’s Our Scott and Jean” post (in which we finally came out as the Great Geeks that we are to basically moan about Jack from Lost)
- Ana reviews fantasy novel The Painted Man by Petter Brett, which sparks a great discussion about Rape in Fiction, which leads to another great discussion concerning whether an author’s comments in reviews (especially in less-than-favorable reviews) are welcome or not
- In honor of the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in theaters, we hold our official Wolverine Weekend – in which we geek out over our own X-Men reading origins, our love for Wolvie, culminating in our review of the movie on May 3rd.
- We learn that Joel A. Sutherland’s debut horror novel Frozen Blood makes the final ballot for a 2009 Bram Stoker Award! Since Joel is the first author to ever have contacted The Book Smugglers for a review, we are very excited for him…
- The Name of the Wind Incident occurs – in which Ana goes rogue and reads the book before Thea does (and Thea had the book and had been dying to read it for much longer than Ana). To inflame matters, Ana falls desperatly in love with Patrick Rothfuss and his writing and cannot shut up about how wonderful The Name of the Wind is. Thea is not pleased.
- Thea geeks-out hard core in anticipation for the 2009 adaptation of Star Trek with a countdown of her Original Series favorite episodes.
- Ana goes apoplectic when she learns that “Patrick Rothfuss Loves Ana” back
- Thea reads Flood and finds Stephen Baxter – a hard science fiction author that has since become one of her favorite writers.
- After months of anticipation and hype, Thea watches Terminator: Salvation and is devastated by how terrible the movie is. But, she IS impressed with Aussie newcomer, Sam Worthington (whose name you might want to remember…)
- We review our shared Worst Read of 2009: Night’s Rose by Annaliese Evans. The review sparks another great discussion about genre mis-marketing.
- One of Thea’s favorite authors of all time, fantasy novelist Jacquelie Carey, agrees to write a guest post for us. This, naturally, causes Thea to hyperventilate for two hours.
- Thea drives out to the Dark Delicacies signing in Burbank to meet author Joel Sutherland, who is in town for the Stoker Awards. Thea embarrasses herself by becoming a starstruck, babbling buffoon in the presence of all the heavy-hitter authors of the horror genre.
- Our very first Young Adult Appreciation Month lasts over 5 weeks (July 15 – August 22) and marks a turning point for The Book Smugglers. Thea already had been reading loads of YA novels prior to this event, but Ana is a newbie to the genre and falls in love with the spectrum of YA reads. The blog is now more eclectic than ever. Great authors and bloggers stop by for guest posts, and the event is a resounding success (at least, it’s a huge success in Thea’s mind since she can now say to Ana: “I told you so.”)
- Total Numbers for Young Adult Appreciation month are as follows: 49 Books Reviewed (31 by Thea, 13 by Ana, 5 Joint Reviews). Insanity.
- It’s 2009’s annual Book Blogger Apreciation Week (September 14 – 18) takes place, and more than 1000 blogs participate. We devote hours to blogging for the week and become award judge panelists for Best Thriller/Mystery Blog and Best Diversity Blog. We then learn that we have been nominated for 16 awards, and we win 2: Best Collaborative Blog and Best Graphic Novel Blog!
- On the curtails of our victory, we write our Website Manifesto and make our sinister blogging agenda known to the world (mmmwahammmuwahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHA!). In the words of Dexter Morgan, “Presto Manifesto.”
- We participate in another Blog Tour with a guest post/giveaway from Kristin Cashore and a review of her new release, the Young Adult fantasy novel Fire
- The Revised FTC Guidelines, with new blogger culpability/regulations are officially released – and they cause D-R-A-M-A! We put up the requisite disclaimers, but make our own position on the matter very clear.
- Ana reads Hush, Hush and hates it with a passion. The post is one that still gets many comments. A common theme amongst these comments are that Ana must be old and therefore should not be readng these books. Ahem.
- Thea reads Ark – her favorite flippin’ book of 2009 and her first (one of only TWO) 10 rated book of the year. Her obsession with the science fiction of Stephen Baxter reaches new highs.
- Halloween Week 2009 takes place and Thea makes Ana submit to Horror-genre torture once again in the form of anthology reading and movie marathons. Amongst our favorite highlights of the week include authors Diana Peterfreund & Carrie Ryan’s guest post (a.k.a. fangirl love-fest) about Christopher Pike, Thea’s favorite sci-fi/horror films post, and Ana’s Alien/Aliens movie marathon (in which she FINALLY discovers the wonder that is Ellen Ripley).
- Ana is invited to attend the Gollancz Autumn Party where she mingles with awesome authors (where she did NOT do any of the following: attack Alex Bell because she loved Jasmyn so much; make a fool of herself in front of Sam Sykes; make Mark Chadbourn take a Book Smuggler business card or else; have an anxiety attack when standing next to Joe Abercombrie; attack the waitress when she came around with those wonderful mini-burgers. These are vicious lies spread by our enemies!). She did have an amazing, unforgettable time and loved meeting everybody and spending time with cool bloggers such as Graeme, Gav, Liz, and Mark. (Meanwhile, Thea sat at home turning puke green with envy)
- Thea is invited to an early press screening of New Moon three weeks prior to the official release date – and boy, was that a comical experience! (The review explains all)
- We are officialy invited to become bloggers for the amazing Tor.com. THAT email causes both of us to go catatonic.
- Our official month-long year-end celebration, Smugglivus 2009 begins with all its ensuing MADNESS! Smugglivus this year includes more than 60 guest authors and bloggers, multiple reviews, myriad giveaways, and, most importantly, loads of fun.
- The Hacker Situation occurs. Repeatedly. Someone continues to hack our WordPress (probably via some plugin, or maybe it has something to do with the recent crappy WordPress Version 2.9 upgrade) and our feed becomes repeatedly spammed. Thea gets a month-long headache and must manually fix the feed on a daily basis, and she comes to dread the inevitable email from Ana every other morning informing her that the feed problem is back. We change passwords, email our hosting provider, but so far no solution is in sight and Thea resorts to manually fixing the feed code every day (an aside: IF anyone has a similar problem or knows how to fix this, permanently, PLEASE HELP!).
So that’s our month-by-month recap of 2009! In addition to these highs (and lows), we also initiated a ton of new Smuggler Features last year, including: Inspirations and Influences, in which authors talk about the ideas/inspirations/influences behind their books; On the Boob Tube, because we are such couch potatoes and we love to share the love for our favorite TV shows every week (in addition, Ana started her insanely long, caps-ridden Lost Recaps every weekend too); On the Smugglers’ Radar, in which we pimp upcoming books we are dying to read; and finally, What She Said, in which we read & review books that the other Smuggler has already reviewed (this came after the fallout surrounding The Name of the Wind Incident back in May).
Phew. 2009 was undoubtably a busy year. But we feel like we’ve only just started! And so, to our 1200+ daily visitors, to our 930 feed subscribers, to the publishers and authors that support us, to all of our friends, acquaintances, regular commenters, and lurkers, we say THANK YOU! Book Smuggling wouldn’t be half as fun without you all.
And with that we declare Smugglivus officially finished! Until next year, we remain…
~ Ana and Thea, your friendly neighborhood Book Smugglers