Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Author

Smugglivus 2010 Guest Author: Megan Whalen Turner

Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 11

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: The amazingly, fantastically talented Megan Whalen Turner, author of The Queen’s Thief series (first three books reviewed here, SPOILER FREE) which happens to be one of Ana’s favorite books of ALL TIME. When the time to start inviting folks for Smugglivus came, Ana trembled but sent out an invitation and when MWT not only REPLIED but also said YES, Ana collapsed in a puddle of giddiness.

Recent Work: Book 4 in the series, A Conspiracy of Kings, reviewed HERE.

Ladies and gentlemen, please, all hail Megan Whalen Turner!

I spent today wondering why I said I would write a post for Smugglivus. Do you know how long it takes me to write anything? Okay, yes, you probably do. Fortunately, this doesn’t require me to pick any new character names, because that can take years, but picking favorites is almost as hard. I didn’t get to read that many books this year and they were a very odd batch even for me.

The book I was most excited to find? Inns of Greece and Rome. Yeah, no kidding. I don’t think too many other people will be interested, but I love it.

I found it one morning on the shelf at a used bookstore in San Diego. When I went back to get it in the afternoon it was GONE. Luckily, it had just been re-shelved by a staff person who had noticed that it was in the wrong section.

Readers may not be any more interested in Fanny Burney’s Journals and Letters, but I’ll pick it for a favorite anyway. M.T. Anderson evangelized for Burney in his Book Brahmin gig for Shelf Awareness and I owe him a thank you. I’ll steal his words about Fanny, and just add that she was born the year after Jane Austen and survived her by ten years. If you’d like to see what a life like Jane Austen’s looked like from the inside, read Fanny Burney’s Journal.

Fanny Burney’s Journals and Letters, a deeply moving glimpse at a brilliant woman over 70 years. She begins her journal as a slip of girl. Secretly, without knowledge of her father, she becomes one of the country’s leading novelists of wit. She is forced unwillingly to become a handmaid to the Queen of England . . . finally falls in love in middle-age . . . and on and on. She describes it all in a series of astounding portraits.

~ M.T. Anderson

I did read a few things written this century. Frances Hardinge’s The Lost Conspiracy. Maggie Stievater’s Ballad right after I finished her book, Lament. I like every book by Stievater better than the one I read before.

On the younger end of the spectrum, I read Kage Baker’s book The Hotel Under the Sand with mixed sadness and delight. Baker died at the beginning of the year, and I can only wonder what children’s stories will remain unwritten.

The Hotel Under the Sand is about a young girl named Emma, washed ashore on the Dunes after Great Tragedy who discovers the Wenlocke Hotel, many years earlier buried in a sandstorm and trapped in time. Diana Wynne Jones compared it to Alice and Oz, but it reminds me more of Half Magic, by Edward Eager. It would make a fabulous present for the ten or eleven year old reader in your life.

I had lunch at NCTE with Holly Black and Cindy Pon. Cindy bought me White Cat and it was perfect for this 45 year old. I am sure I don’t need to tell you how wonderful Holly Black’s books are. I think the reason I admire Holly so much is the integrity of her worldbuilding, for example, the way history of her invented “cursework” is carefully woven into our history.

And I know I am not the first to express my delight in Cindy’s Asian inspired fantasy. I don’t know what sources she drew on, but I know that her books remind me of Gulliver’s Travels and Marco Polo’s Marvels of the World and the voyages of Sinbad. Rather than any predictable quest, what Cindy’s characters set out on are Voyages of Discovery and I love that..

My last pick is Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill and I have an ulterior motive. I discovered Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein in middle school and I loved their books. There doesn’t seem to be much science fiction written explicitly for young adults, these days, and I want more. Near future dystopias are all very nice, I mean, they’re fine, wait, no, I mean, I am glad there are many outstanding stories set in dystopias, but I want space ships and laser beams, please. Black Hole Sun has got plasma pistols and a fabulous complicated collection of cities on a partially terraformed Mars. It’s got a main character who’s a mercenary, only maybe not a mercenary, with a complicated set of ethics, and just enough of the Seven Samurai to make me really, really happy. I understand that Gill is working on a sequel. I’m hoping for space ships.

Happy Smugglivus!
May you Read in Peace and Prosperity

Thank you Megan! And a Happy Smugglivus!

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  • Lenore
    December 11, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Ooh – The Hotel Under the Sand sounds like a perfect pick for my goddaughter!

  • Charlotte
    December 11, 2010 at 4:42 am

    What excellent books! (at least, the ones I’ve read, which strangly doesn’t include the first….)

  • mwt
    December 11, 2010 at 6:29 am


    I could loan it you! You could read sentences like . . .

    “There is wine of every variety, white and red; wine from Mareotis, wine from Pelusium, wine of the Star of Horus, Master of Heaven, native growth from the oases, wines of Syene, without counting.”

    That’s a quote from Maspero describing Ancient Egypt. I’m not sure how we got to Egypt from the Inns of Greece and Rome, but you know how these things happen.

    Anyway, I have a feeling that if I am inventorying wine in a wineshop in some future book you will be able to guess my source.

  • Estara
    December 11, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Some books to look out for, if you want spaceships and adventure and space opera: Sherwood Smith and Dave Trowbridge will be releasing ebooks of their revised Exordium series next year via the Book View Café.

    Vonda N. McIintyre has released the four books in her Starfarers Quartet there already.

    If you’re fine with a story set on a planet, Katherine Eliska Kimbriel is releasing her Chronicles of Nuala books at BVC at the moment. I adore the first one, but had a beef with one major viewpoint character in the second one.

    Still these are finally available again (or will be), just in case that particular niche is not being filled by current releases.

    It would be an advantage to have an ebook reader for those, though.

  • Leslie
    December 11, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Re: the Inns of Greece and Rome: What an absolutely gorgeous book! The mystery is that you were able to *walk away* from it in the morning, even if you did go back in the afternoon. Why can’t books have beautiful bindings like that now?

    I’ve just ordered The Hotel Under the Sand, of which I had never heard, on your recommendation. And I guess I’d better go dig out my book about Fanny Burney and finally read it.

    (The sandstorm-buried hotel reminded me of something I read in one of Jane Duncan’s Camerons books, about a whole town in Scotland that was swallowed up by sand dunes overnight.

  • wandering-dreamer
    December 11, 2010 at 9:07 am

    You know, she has a point, there isn’t that much YA science fiction, guess that means Black Hole Sun is a must read for me (and thanks for reminding me about Silver Phoenix, just reserved it at my library).

  • Emy Shin
    December 11, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I definitely agree that there needs to be more YA science fiction of the spaceships variety! Black Hole Sun sounds fabulous.

  • Holly Black
    December 11, 2010 at 10:47 am

    So excited that Megan recommended my book! Like Ana, the Queen’s Thief series is one of my favorites OF ALL TIME.

  • Sarah Rees Brennan
    December 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Yay Cindy and Holly!

    And booksmugglers, you are fancy to have Megan Whalen Turner guestblogging: adds name to the ‘Queen’s Thief: Greatest of All Time’ list.

  • mwt
    December 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Estara, thank you for the recs. I’ve heard Exordium mentioned without realizing that it will be Science Fiction. You are right about the e-reader. I might have to send a letter to Santa.

  • Kate Coombs
    December 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Yay, Black Hole Sun! (And it’s not sci-fi, but Gill’s previous book, Soul Enchilada, is good, as well–weird and funny.) I also liked Silver Phoenix, White Cat, and Hotel Under the Sand. Of course, if your first pick got together with Black Hole Sun and maybe Kage Baker’s book, too, we could have Scary Hotels on Mars.

  • mwt
    December 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    And if Cindy was writing it, the food would be great!

  • Estara
    December 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    You’re ever so much welcome, MWT 😉 , I have this urge (as Ana and Thea can attest) to try enabling books they may not have come across to people that have made my personal reading life so much richer ^^. If I can do that by recommending some more favourite authors of mine, it’s a win-win situation.

    I probably should add that my previous sf-recs are not young adult, maybe the Exordium has a younger hero, but the KEK and the VMI are definitely not young adult..

    OH OH, I recollected some fairly new REAL ya sf – it’s in the Liaden series: Fledgling and Saltation tie into the current Korval timeline but would also work well standalone and the heroine grows up during the two books available so far. You could get them at, but of course BAEN books are also available in print :mrgreen:

  • Estara
    December 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    ETA: … so much richer ^^ – whether they be reviewers or authors of awesome series!

  • cindy pon
    December 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    total squee that megan mentioned my books
    in such great company. and love all the recs
    of ones i haven’t read. miss discussing
    and arguing about books with you, mwt! =)

    great bookish interview, booksmugglers!

  • Maureen E
    December 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Ah, I loved White Cat! And since I am always on the lookout for good laser beam/terraforming sci-fi, Black Hole Sun sounds fantastic.

    As a side note, yay Queen’s Thief! (Is that the official series name now?)

  • David Macinnis Gill
    December 11, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Space ships? Did someone say *space ships*?

    White Cat and Fury of the Phoenix are on my TBRAIFTS pile. My older daughter tells me both are fabulous.

    Since I returned from NCTE with signed copies of all the Queen’s Thief books, my whole family has read about and is madly in love with Gen.

  • mwt
    December 11, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Sarah Rees Brennan, we will meet some day! And I am looking forward to it very much.

    I hope Cindy has told you how much I’ve enjoyed your books.

  • mwt
    December 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm


    Shoot, I didn’t get a signed copy of your book, but the family is enjoying Black Hole Sun anyway. Spaceships? Yes? Yes?

  • David Macinnis Gill
    December 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm


    Spaceships are in orbit. Not sure yet if we’ll get to them in this book.

  • mwt
    December 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm


  • mwt
    December 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Oh, wait. Not in this book, but SOME book?

  • Holly
    December 12, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I’m probably the only person but I want to read the Fanny Burney journal now. I loved Evelina. Part of me hopes that it will be adapted by the BBC someday.

  • Angie
    December 13, 2010 at 10:29 am

    You’re not the only one, Holly. That one caught my attention immediately. See what Austen’s life looked like from the inside? Sign. Me. Up.

    Wonderful post, Megan! I am delighted to see you loved BALLAD. I think it’s my favorite of Maggie’s. James is a winner and that’s all there is to it. Plus, beaucoup points for featuring the Horned King. Suddenly I was 10 again and reading the Chronicles of Prydain for the first time. *happysigh*

    Everyone knows what a fangirl I am of your books, so my name goes right there on the QUEEN’S THIEF: BEST OF ALL TIME list as well.

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