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Smugglivus 2010 Guest Author (& Giveaway): Rachel Neumeier

Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 22

Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors, bloggers and publishers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2010, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2011.

Who: Rachel Neumeier, author of Fantasy novels for adults (Griffin Mage Trilogy) and YA (The City in the Lake and the upcoming The Floating Islands).

Recent Work: Lord of the Changing Winds, first in the Griffin Mage Trilogy, reviewed by Thea HERE.

Folks, please give it up for Rachel!

Thank you, Ana and Thea, for inviting me to participate in 2010’s Smugglivus! This is a great year for me to join in the fun because for the first time ever I have actually kept track of the books I’ve read for the entire year. I read a whole bunch, and I have to say, there were so many good ones that it’s really difficult to narrow the list down. To make a tough job at least possible, I decided to limit myself to my favorite five books that were actually published in 2010. In alphabetical order:

1. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whelan Turner

I can’t say enough good things about the outstanding YA Attolia series. The Book Smugglers themselves reviewed Turner’s series and I don’t have much to add except I agree with every word. Eugenides is one of the great protagonists in all of YA fantasy – in fact, in all of fantasy, period. But when Turner shifts to other protagonists, they’re great, too. These books are just about flawless in every way.

More than that, let me just mention here, if you have any ambition to write, this series could serve not only as a primer for “how it’s done” in every sense, but also specifically as a guide to writing first vs. third person narratives and when and why and how to switch between first person and third person. Turner does awesome things with narrative voice and person and point of view all the way through.

2. Beka Cooper: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Usually I can take or leave Tamora Pierce, but the Beka Cooper series is blowing me away. The slang! The grittiness! The clever details! (I’m lovin’ those pigeons!) These books are slower-paced than some, but the slower pace is an asset, letting you really stroll through the world Pierce has brought so vividly to life.

3. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

No, this wasn’t my favorite Miles Vokosigan book ever. But it was Miles! How could it NOT be among my top five for the year? Sent to Kibou, a world obsessed with living forever, Miles uncovers the “slowest, creepiest” plot of planetary conquest ever. But what makes this book fun is watching everyone else react to Miles. I’d have liked a little more from his own point of view and a bit less from everyone else’s, but still, I loved it.

4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I loved – really loved – The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. The final book of the trilogy, Mockingjay – what can I say? It’s such a step away from the earlier two stories. People seem to generally love it or really be disappointed with it. It lacks the intimate scale of the first book, which does make it less approachable and “catchy”. But the broad scale is appropriate to the action, and the choices the characters matter a whole lot more because of that broader scale.

Lots of reviewers were upset by the lack of focus on the romantic triangle, but these books were never actually about the romance – especially not Mockingjay. This trilogy was about war, not love. Lots of reviewers also believe that Mockingjay is an anti-war book. I don’t think so at all. I think the overall theme, not in the least subtle, is that war is sometimes absolutely necessary, even though it is also brutal and thoroughly destructive of individual lives.

I’d have suggested just one small but important change in order to let Katniss be a more deliberate actor at the end: I’d have loved to see one last impassioned speech, delivered along with that final arrow. But overall, for me, a very satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy.

5. Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Just what you’d expect from Kay: lush prose and a brilliantly detailed setting. I read the first page several times, just admiring the actual writing, before I got down to actually reading the story. And the worldbuilding! Absolutely fabulous. The setting is Tang China with a name change and a tiny bit of magic flickering around the edges. Yes, there were details I wondered about (what ABOUT the painting of the horse in the cave?). Yes, the ending felt truncated. I do think Kay might have broken Under Heaven into two books and finished the story off properly. Nevertheless, a beautiful book I’ll definitely be reading again.

Now, how about a list for Books I’m Dying to Read in 2011?

1. Beka Cooper: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce – I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book of this great series!

2. Betrayer by CJ Cherryh – The twelfth book in the series. The twelfth! But I’m still not bored. How IS Bran going to finesse the situation this time? Nobody does nonhuman psychology like Cherryh, and Bran Cameron serves as our key to understanding the atevi species. Too slow-paced for some, but I love the steady unfolding of this complicated long-running series.

3. Dead and Buried by Barbara Hambly

I’ve loved this mystery series since I read the first one, A Free Man of Color, years ago. Barbara Hambly is the author who made me realize that what I love most about mysteries is not the mystery – for me, that’s almost beside the point. No, what matters to me in a mystery, besides the characters, is the SETTING. This series delivers setting in spades – 1830s New Orleans. It also has a fantastic protagonist – a black man whose mother was a slave, who was trained as a surgeon in Paris and is now a pianist to earn his bread. Add Hambly’s ability to tell a story, and I was hooked.

4. River Marked by Patricia Briggs

As far as I’m concerned, nobody writes a better paranormal urban fantasy than Patricia Briggs. I love Mercy Thompson. I’ll have this one preordered long before it hits the shelves.

5. And last but NOT LEAST, Patricia McKillip’s new book, The Bards of Bone Plain.

I know, I know, it came out in Dec 2010! But I won’t have a chance to read it until 2011! I am planning to save it as a special treat; something to savor and enjoy after, say, finishing another manuscript of my own. Nobody beats McKillip for beautiful writing and lovely storytelling.

Of course, I’m also waiting impatiently for one or two of my own books to hit the shelves. Or maybe three, depending on how you count ‘em.

1. My second YA fantasy, THE FLOATING ISLANDS, is due out in February 2011.

The Junior Library Guild chose ISLANDS as one of their Fall 2010 selections, and Kirkus just gave it a starred review (!!). I’m pretty excited about this, you can probably guess. Here’s what Kirkus said:

“Intelligent, richly detailed fantasy featuring two young cousins battered by losses, personal passions and larger events. Shy, inarticulate, recently orphaned and newly arrived in the aptly named Floating Islands, Trei is transformed by the rare chance to strap on a pair of feathered wings and join the legendary corps of soaring kajuraihi. For his fiercely intense cousin Araenè, constraints on women are but annoying obstacles to be overcome in pursuing first the forbidden (to women) culinary arts and then the magical abilities that well up in her, all unbidden, in the wake of a family tragedy of her own. The arrival of an expanding empire’s invasion fleet, augmented by a new, mechanically powered magic, propels Trei and Araenè into actions that test their courage, loyalties and cleverness to the utmost. The author delineates complex characters, geographies and societies alike with a dab hand, deftly weaves them all—along with dragons of several sorts, mouthwatering kitchen talk, flashes of humor and a late-blooming romance—into a suspenseful plot and delivers an outstanding tale that is self-contained but full of promise for sequels.”

2. Also, my first YA fantasy, THE CITY IN THE LAKE, is coming out as a paperback. Does that count as a new release? CITY’s new cover is fabulous:

All of CITY’s reviews were good. any reviewers compared it to Patricia McKillip, which was wonderful and flattering. I hope the new look helps CITY catch the eyes of anybody browsing shelves at their local brick-and-mortar.

3.And finally, I’m also expecting another book of mine, HOUSE OF SHADOWS to come out from Orbit – probably in 2011. Orbit’s still working on the cover, so nothing to show yet!

HOUSE OF SHADOWS was a complicated book to write because, see, I started it three times in three different ways with three different protagonists. Then I couldn’t decide which I liked best. I wound up braiding them all together, which worked out beautifully, but makes the book a little hard to describe. I mean . . . what to leave out? I could give this description:

“After their father dies unexpectedly, Nemienne and her seven sisters must find some way to survive — but Nemienne never guessed that she would apprentice herself to a mage, nor that her new master might prove to be a deadly enemy to everything she loves.”

But so much gets left out of that kind of one-sentence description. What about Leilis, cursed by a rival so that she has become literally untouchable? And Taudde, a sorcerer-bard who slipped illegally into the city to study the magic of the sea and now finds himself drowning not in the waves but in political intrigue? All I can say is, it’ll be fun to try to write the back cover copy one of these days . . .

Thank you Rachel!

Now, for the giveaway!


Rachel Neumeier is generously offering one ARC of her upcoming YA novel The Floating Islands to ONE lucky winner. The contest is open to all and will run until Saturday, December 25 at 11:59PM (PST). In order to enter, leave a comment here and we will randomly pick a winner and post it on our Sunday stash. Multiple comments will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!

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  • Carol Thompson
    December 22, 2010 at 3:06 am

    This sounds like a promising start to a new series and I would really like to sample it.

    I presume open yo all means worldwide, so please enter me.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  • Lynossa
    December 22, 2010 at 3:22 am

    It seems interesting and the cover is really eye-catching. If I see this in bookstore, I will pick it up and read the summary right away!

    I do hope this is open for international followers ^^

    Thanks for the opportunity


  • rhapsodyinbooks
    December 22, 2010 at 4:52 am

    What an amazing cover! Please enter me!

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

  • SandyG265
    December 22, 2010 at 4:54 am

    I like the cover for this book. It caught my eye which very few covers do these days.

    sgiden at

  • Jodie
    December 22, 2010 at 5:11 am

    I feel like I have been wanting this for ever, one of those books where the cover turns up everywhere because it’s so striking. Also more books to add to my list (Smugglivus is making it more of a tome).

  • Liz
    December 22, 2010 at 5:19 am

    Ah, a great selection of books. I must really pull up my socks and get reading on Tamora Pierce and finish the Megan Whalen Turner books I have at home. Please do enter me into this comp!

  • Hannah
    December 22, 2010 at 5:19 am

    Three of my favourite authors in your top five – I feel validated! 😀 And I know this is an incredible shallow thing to say about a book, but that’s a beautiful cover on The Floating Islands. It also sounds like a brilliant book so thanks so much for holding the giveaway!

  • Chachic
    December 22, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Oh yay, she has A Conspiracy of Kings in her list. Let’s spread the MWT love. I should try reading Guy Gavriel Kay because he’s the only unfamiliar author in the five books mentioned for 2010.

    Thanks for having a giveaway! The Floating Islands looks interesting.

  • Andrea Chettle
    December 22, 2010 at 6:28 am

    This sounds a really interesting book and one I hadn’t heard of before coming here. I would love to give it a go. I live in the UK so thanks for making this international


  • Mia
    December 22, 2010 at 6:40 am

    flying, cooking, magic, women’s rights, I’m in. This book is definitely going on my TBR list.

  • Lisa
    December 22, 2010 at 7:04 am

    This new book from Neumeier sounds great! Count me in!

  • Greg
    December 22, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Recently bought the first two books from the Griffin series from Orbit. will probably try her YA books too

  • Ginny
    December 22, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Great cover. I’ve got Lord of the Changing Winds on my Christmas list & can’t wait to read it.

  • Mezzowriter
    December 22, 2010 at 8:26 am

    The Floating Islands sounds so good! 🙂

    *crossing fingers*
    I want it! 🙂

  • Lisa
    December 22, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Thank you for the wonderful recommendations! Please enter me in the drawing! Happy Holidays!

  • Kaethe
    December 22, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the post, Rachel. I look forward to trying your books.

  • LiseO
    December 22, 2010 at 9:07 am

    what a cover! it really made me want to read the book! 😀

  • Su
    December 22, 2010 at 9:13 am

    You had me at feathered wings, and then sealed the deal with dragons. Thank you for the contest!

  • Nikki Egerton
    December 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

    What a beautiful cover! Please enter me in the contest, and thank you for making it international


  • Marie
    December 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Kate N (YzhaBella)
    December 22, 2010 at 9:24 am

    WOW! This sounds like an amazing story! The premise is very intriguing!


  • Emy Shin
    December 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I can’t help but agree with most of your picks, especially Megan Whalen Turner. The Queen’s Thief series is definitely one of my favorite of all time.

    And The Floating Islands sounds amazing — and that cover is absolutely gorgeous!

  • Rana
    December 22, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Is it an international contest?
    If so, count me in
    It looks so good!

  • Tina
    December 22, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I was glad to see some of my favorite books and series mentioned in this post; I love the Queen’s Thief series and the Beka Cooper series. I loved The Hunger Games and Catching Fire but I’m nervous to read Mockingjay, since people tend to have pretty extreme feelings about it. Floating Islands sounds like an awesome read and I LOVE the cover.

  • curiousnomad
    December 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

    count me in. 🙂

  • Claudia
    December 22, 2010 at 11:35 am

    This book looks great!
    ama_bling-bling AT hotmail D0T com

  • Laura
    December 22, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I like the cover art. 🙂

  • Mel S
    December 22, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I love Beka Cooper and Mercy Thompson series as well! The realism of Beka’s world is great and it’s different other YA out there. Will be checking your YA series as I loved the Griffin Mage! 🙂

    Mel S

  • Nona Mills
    December 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    WOW! This sounds like an amazing story! The premise is very intriguing! Thanks!

  • Megan
    December 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    ooOooo sounds so good. i’d love to enter.

  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    December 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Count me in.

  • Chimney
    December 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I’m kind of embarrassed to say I have yet to read the ‘Hunger Game’ series. I have the first book on my Nook, but I’ve been so busy trying to read every new thing I bought that it somehow ended up TBR pile.

    Both your books look very interesting. I will definitely keep an eye out for them.

  • Amy
    December 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    This book sounds great!

  • Maya M.
    December 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Pretty cover, nifty concept – that’s all I need to know to be interested.

  • Katy
    December 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    A gorgeous cover. I’d love to own a copy of this…

  • Ashley
    December 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Sounds really interesting!

  • Amanda Lee
    December 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    That cover looks AWESOME. 😀

  • Throuthehaze
    December 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I love the cover and the book sounds interesting 🙂

  • Arhcadia
    December 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Great list – guy gavriel kay and patricia mckillip can do no wrong!

  • Scribe Kira
    December 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    i would love to read the floating islands. but i have a comment on the post as well. in regards to mockingjay, i loved what you said because its one of the things i hate about people’s reaction–because there is such a lack of romance. i’m glad you pointed that out. =o)

    and i see what you mean about katniss’s speech with the final arrow because honestly I LOOOOVE all of katniss’s speeches, however, i don’t think she would have had time for another speech nor did katniss really have the mental stability or ability to make one at that point. she had just lost the person that meant most to her, so, i think it katniss’ single decision and LACK of words, the part was all the more powerful.


  • Katie
    December 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I really enjoyed The City in the Lake, so I would love the opportunity to win The Floating Islands. 🙂

  • natalie23
    December 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    That cover is amazing, it would look great as a framed picture on a wall. The book sounds really good too. So now I have even more books to add to my wishlist.

  • Sarah
    December 22, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for the interview. I love your griffins. We seem to have common tastes in reading as well. I’m glad City in the Lake is being reissued. I’m looking forward to it and your other ones will be snatched up as they publish.

  • Amy C
    December 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I love the cover design of The Floating Islands; clean cut but still very detailed.

  • Ellie
    December 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    This book sounds really good!! Love the cover! It reminds me a little of Pandora… XD

  • Doreen R
    December 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I too, love the cover. The books sounds like I would really enjoy it. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Jasmine A S
    December 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Oh my, given what I’ve heard about both The Floating Islands and the Griffin Mage trilogy, I’d really love to win the ARC!

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    December 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  • Llehn
    December 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I’d love to play please 😀

  • Rachel
    December 22, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Great recommendations! I had over half of them on my to-read list already, but now I definitely have to add “The Floating Islands,” too!

  • Marie
    December 22, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Sign me up!

  • jennifer
    December 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Yeah… I enter 🙂

  • jennie m
    December 22, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    thanks for the great post rachel! i’ve been meaning to read “under heaven” for a while but it never seems to be on the top of my list — i’ll have to bump it up! i love GGK. and i thought mockingjay was amazing, i wouldn’t change a thing. i am so glad young adults are being exposed to the complexity and grit of war through such compelling stories and characters. and i think i need to jump on the tamora pierce bandwagon!

    anyways, looking forward to reading your new book, and happy smugglivus!

  • Poppy
    December 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Gorgeous cover and a great post!

    Enter me too please 🙂

  • SaraC
    December 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I also love Barbara Hambly’s mysteries!

  • Melanie L
    December 22, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    This book sounds great and the cover is so pretty. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Courtney
    December 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Looks good!

  • A round-up of book giveaways 23 Dec 201 | Read in a Single Sitting - Book reviews and new books
    December 23, 2010 at 12:02 am

    […] The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier giveaway (world, ends 25 Dec) […]

  • Dovile
    December 23, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Sounds interesting, I’d love to read it! Thanks

  • nix
    December 23, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I have had my sight on The Floating Islands ever since I saw it on the book smuggler’s radar. I would love to join this giveaway!:)

  • Giada M
    December 23, 2010 at 8:04 am

    The Floating Islands has a lovely cover and it sounds really interesting! Thank you for this chance! 😀

    Giada M.

    fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Noobling
    December 23, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Please enter me in the giveaway contest. Thank you so much!

  • Stacy
    December 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Looks like a great book!

  • Lillian Maloney
    December 23, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    The Floating Islands sounds like a fantastic read! Sign me up!

  • Fay Pugh
    December 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Sounds interesting, I’d love to read it! Thanks

  • Nadine Nys
    December 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I was not really in YA, but after reading this post and seeing the beautiful and intruiging cover, I certainly want to start exploring the genre. Please enter me! Thank you.

  • Audra Holtwick
    December 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I would love to read this book-You are a new author to me Thank you

  • Karalynn Lee
    December 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    It’s a welcome surprise to learn that an author I enjoy shares some of the same other books I like! I actually think Neumeier’s writing style has some McKillipesque tones to it.

    I’ve read everything else Neumeier has out and would love to get my hands on The Floating Islands.

  • CherylS22
    December 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Looks like a good story – please count me in!

    Thanks for the giveaway…..
    Happy Holidays!

  • Becky
    December 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    You guys have been great giving away all of these books! I look forward to seeing who wins them all! (and I hope I am one of them)

  • Eva SB
    December 24, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Sounds like a great story and the cover art is gorgeous

  • Mieneke
    December 25, 2010 at 2:49 am

    That is such a gorgeous cover! I’d love to be entered for this one 🙂

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