Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Blogger

Smugglivus 2010 Guest Blogger: Jodie of Book Gazing

Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 6

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: Jodie of the wonderful UK-based blog Book Gazing one of the most conscious, in depth critics in the blogging world. She recently had a Women in Sports Month which included several reviews of YA novels and a most illuminating post about “Excepto-girls” which is well worth a read.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jodie!

What I love about Smugglivus is that it’s dedicated to celebrating the world of genuine creation. During Smugglivus we can put down the angry placards, written in decorative typeface and drink butter beer to soothe our protest shouting throats. Smugglivus is the festive season where rainbows appear over everything, no deserving writer goes over looked and James Frey is left whistling for pennies outside a train station.

All this festive cheer makes me want to break into a Smugglivus song! The problem is I don’t know any Smugglivus tunes, so I’ll have to steal *ahem* I mean be transported by the inspiration of – another song, from another present giving, love spreading celebration. I feel like kind of a tool for not joining in the original creative spirit of Smugglivus, but don’t worry, I’ll shorten it, punch it up a bit and fill it with lots of cool products that people can go off and buy…Yeah that sounds like art to me 😉

On the 6th day of Smugglivus, Bookgazing gives to you:

6 releases of awesome, coming in 2011….

Slice of Cherry – Dia Reeves: In 2010 her first book Bleeding Violet dragged readers into a tripped out, gorey world of ghosts, demons and mental illness and most of us followed Hanna willingly down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass and all the way down the disturbingly bright yellow brick road to ritual sacrifice. In Slice of Cherry Dia Reeves is returning to the paranormal infested town Portero, which featured in Bleeding Violet, but introduces new main characters. Two righteous, female serial killers Kit and Fancy, daughters of the well known Bone Saw killer, find themselves influenced by the supernatural feel of Portero and it’s not long before the killing starts. If you have a little taste for violence in your literature this is probably right up your dark, dead end alley.

Luminous – Dawn Metcalf: I’m a big fan of fantasy and I’d read book after book of well done, similar plot concepts but there is no denying the allure of a book with an original concept. Luminous contains a heroine who can take off her skin. It doesn’t get much more original than that. Conseula must save people in a parallel world from dying before they’re supposed to, even though she just wants to get back home. As someone is trying to murder those she must protect, it doesn’t look like Conseula’s homesickness will be cured by a convenient pair of fancy red shoes. She’ll have to stick it out until the killer is identified and beaten.The cover on this one gorgeous, as everyone is pointing out (see above).

Peirene Press 2011 selection: This dedicated, thoughtful publishing company is one of my favourite discoveries of 2010. Their goal is to produce beautifully turned out translations of non-English language books that contain under 200 pages. In 2010 bloggers were won over by Peirene’s first three offering and next year three more translated novels will be added to their line. The three books to be released are Next World Novella, a story about how little married couples know each other; Tomorrow PamplonaM/em>, a tale of aggression and boxing and Maybe This Time, a novel of obsession. Is everybody hearing the stirring voice of Judy Garland in their head now? Well forget it, keep up with the Chris…Smugglivus song.

Across the Universe – Beth Revis: Sinister happenings are afoot on a space ship in Beth Revis’ debut novel. Amy has awoken too early from an induced space sleep, designed to keep her alive until her space ship reaches a new planet. She quickly realises that one of the other suspended passengers is trying to kill her. I think of the ‘awakened too soon’ trope as a classic sci-fi concept, so I’m interested to see what Revis is going to do with it. Props for being brave and using a Beatles title, as that can inspire hatred. Time to stop singing along with the mop headed four though and move along with my totally original song.

The Traitor and the Tunnel – YS Lee: Mary Quinn is a female spy, in Victorian times…oh you’ve all gone to buy the book. I see. I’ll wait. This is the third title in YS Lee’s The Agency series. The Prince of Wale’s friend has been killed in scandalous circumstances and the Queen of all people is considering a conspiracy. I hope there’s nothing treasonous in this book, because we British people are very sensitive about our royals – we might have to write the author a strongly worded letter or something. More exciting than the possibility of getting out the headed paper and red pen, is the prospect of reading an adventure story with secret tunnels and much spying by this capable, spirited heroine.

Demonglass – Rachel Hawkins: The sequel to ‘Hex Hall’, the charming, snarky, fantasy boarding school romp. It’s like Harry Potter with a heroine, although Sophie Mercer is more like try hard, mess up Ron than the desperately talented hero of that series. I mean that’s why readers love her, doesn’t everyone like adorable Ron the best (ducks)? Sophie thought she was a witch and a bad one at that, that’s why she got shipped off to Hex Hall reformatory school in the first place. However, it seems Sophie’s parents may not have been telling her everything and she’s in for some rough times this term, especially as her crush seems sworn to destroy her.

Can I be sneaky and say I’m also really excited for Hawkins stand alone novel Rebel Belle. A popular teenager is spirited away at Homecoming and recruited into a supernatural set of bodyguards. Hawkins blog seems to hint strongly that death by high heel may feature. Someone will die by stiletto and knowing Hawkins she will not let the opportunity for geeky puns pass. Score. Its release date is shrouded in mystery and it could come out at any time, like a sneak attack ninja.

5 book projects that it would please me to see published in 2011…

Following author and publisher blogs can bring joy and knowledge. You always know what their next book will be and when it will be out. On the other hand these blogs talk about projects that are way in the future, like there isn’t even a cover, or a finished chapter. And you want it now! Here are five books I’d love to see appear between shiny covers by the end of 2011.

Ganymede – Cherie Priest: This will be the fourth book in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series. Cherie posted about her progress on the book regularly, exciting my readerly interest with descriptions of submarine adventures in Texas, pirates and something called an octoroon madam, which I can only imagine means a brothel keeper with eight appendages (and for some reason I’m imagining all that in a can can skirt).

Judah’s Tale – Zetta Elliott: The sequel to Zetta Elliott’s time travelling novel ‘A Wish After Midnight’. It’s being written right now and will follow the exploits of Judah, the boy Genna left behind when she returned to the twentieth century. When last we saw Judah he was determined to get to Africa to reconnect with his heritage, so there could be lots of travelling in this novel.

Book 3 of the Billi SanGreal series – Sarwat Chadda: Billi Sangreal, the gloriously conflicted heroine of Sarwat Chadda’s Knights Templar adventure series is set to return in a third book. There are possibly plans to allow Billi to investigate her family culture in this third book, possibly a chance to see some of the other important Templar artefacts. Wherever the book is set there will be demons dying in spectacular fights and perhaps some more gorgeous romance between two committed ghul slayers.

Colleen Mondor’s first published book: If you don’t know Colleen’s work at GuysLitWire, or Chasing Ray, or Bookslut then you are missing three of your monthly young adult staples. Now Colleen’s creative non-fiction book about aviation history and Alaskan pilots (currently titled The Map of My Dead Pilots) has been sold. Right now you can check out an excerpt from the manuscript that was turned into a magazine article for Anchorage Press. Colleen’s endeavour has taken a long time, but she kept working and when that book appears I’m going to swoop up multiple copies, because I always want to read a book that has so much passion woven into it.

Tanita S Davis is writing a sci-fi book? – It’s always exciting to see an author switch genres and venture into new areas. Davis began by writing a contemporary YA novel about a young, African American woman who dreams of becoming a professional chef with her own vegetarian cooking show. Then she wrote Mare’s War, a historical novel about African American female troops in WWII, which won the Coretta Scott King Author Honor. Now she’s planning a sci-fi novel. That’s a brave, creative author, right there.

4 excellent books read in 2010…

Crossing – Andrew Xia Fukada: I’m not asking people to love everything about Amazon, nor am I endorsing their whole business but I think the AmazonEncore project, which seeks to ‘use information such as customer reviews on to identify exceptional, overlooked books and authors with more potential than their sales may indicate. Amazon will then partner with the authors to re-introduce their books to readers through marketing support and distribution’ can bring great, over looked books like Crossing to a larger audience.

Crossing is the story of Xing, a teenager from a family of Chinese immigrants who left everything to make a new life in America. Xing doesn’t fit in and is hopelessly in love with the only other Chinese student, his best friend, newly popular Naomi. This isn’t a typical story of a teenager boy’s development and pursuit of a girl, there’s a dark core to Crossing that is slowly revealed as kids from Xing’s school start to go missing. The novel will hold you tight in its talons until you reach the end, which broke my heart.

The Still Point – Amy Sackville: The Still Point is a sensitive look at a broken relationship between two people involved in lives that now feel incomplete. It’s also the story of a long ago love story, family connections and doomed polar exploration. I’m a bit of a tragic love junkie and I’m not sure tragic love stories can get more fraught than when they include doomed polar exploration (Romeo and Juliet can’t compete with the nature in sympathy).

The Tapestry of Love – Rosy Thornton: Catherine sets up an upholstery business in the Pyrennes and begins to form friendships with her neighbours. When her sister comes to stay Catherine’s life begins to lose its order, but she can’t quite seem to shift her gaze from the glory of mountain life around her.

The Tapestry of Love is not another one of those novels about a feckless British person moving to France in the hope that it will solve all their problems, only to find that speaking French is like, hard and the mountains are all isolated and stuff. Catherine is sensible, if a little vague about legislative details and full of good humour. Her life in the mountains sounds less like an idyll and more like the comfortable sort of life we all might be able to achieve with a bit of forward planning. This novel also contains gorgeous descriptions of food, scenery and nature that will have you searching for cheap flights to France. I wanted my very own wild boar piglet after reading this book.

Liar – Justine Larbalestier: Micah is a liar, but she swears she’s telling the truth about not having killed her boyfriend. The police aren’t so sure. Readers are never certain how much they can trust her as Micah relates her story. Liar contains the best use of a (potentially) unreliable narrator I’ve seen so far.

3 bookish projects from the blogosphere…

Women of sci-fi challenge
Women of fantasy challenge
Feminist classics challenge

All these challenges are designed to increase interest in books by women in 2011, to which I say rock on challenge creators. The challenge lists are varied, look like fun and you can sign up for just a few months if you think 2011 is destined to be a busy year. To be frank this year has made me seek out every happy discussion about female characters that I can find. I could do with some female positive challenges in 2011 to rejuvenate myself. Maybe you could too. These links are my gift to you. But wait, the song’s not over yet, I have more to gift.

2 upcoming literary adaptations…

Jane Eyre:

For me Jane Eyre is the ultimate proto-feminist novel and every new imagining of the book is desperately interesting to me. Judy Dench will be in this adaptation, presumably as Mrs Reed. I’m afraid I’ll be distracted by wondering how Dench would have played Jane, but with this new anti-ageing technology perhaps we’ll know one day (shall we ignore just what a great dystopian novel concept this technology seems to provide? I think it’s best to. I don’t want to be living in a dystopian novel.).

Brighton Rock:

Brighton Rock is my favourite Graham Greene novel and while a mods and rockers version of the book doesn’t sound like my ideal imagining, it does indicate that the people involved have a feel for Greene’s dark, sin filled atmosphere. It sounds exciting, like it could stir me to a passionate response and that’s important when it comes to art. I’m a little worried by the idea that Brighton Rock is now being described as a love story (yes, but no, but IT’S COMPLICATED) and that the ending has been changed, but Greene relatives are said to approve so I’ll go with a positive mind. Gangsters and fear and darkness – oh my.

And 1 brilliant period drama…

Downton Abbey: Downton Abbey was my favourite period drama in 2010. Anticipation started building when I heard it was created by Julian Fellowes, novelist and writer of the sumptuous film Gosford Park. It continues to rule my emotions in 2010, even though the first series has now finshed. Downton Abbey portrays a typical upstairs, downstairs British situation, beginning just before WWI, but it also explores a host of unexpected historical detail, that is often left unexamined by mainstream period dramas (gay relationships, the suffragette movement, the financial and legal position of women). The first series was a bit silly in places (someone actually dies from sex, there is no explanation of why – I KNOW), but overall it’s delicious and the casting has a wonderful mix of acting class for a television drama (Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville). A second series is promised in 2011 and those of your outside Britain can enjoy the dvd of the first series in January 2011.

There are so many deserving artists out there who deserve to shine and it’s fantastic that Ana and Thea have created this annual space to shower those who work hard with festive, praise flavoured candy. I am obviously not one of the creative geniuses, having ripped off a song from another celebration, but I wish all you genuinely hard working artists many more days of Smugglivus and your favourite kind of rewards for keeping the world bright and lively.

Happy Smugglivus everyone!

Happy Smugglivus to you Jodie and thank you for the wonderful post (although now we have an earworm).

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  • Amy @ My Friend Amy
    December 6, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Yay! I love Jodie. And what a nice mix of books you have here….:)

  • April (Books&Wine)
    December 6, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Jodie is awesome!

    I’m excited for Slice of Cherry and Luminous and Across the Universe too!

    2011 is going to be super awesome 🙂

  • Karen Mahoney
    December 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Why in the blue blazes (what does that even MEAN, by the way??) am I not already reading Jodie’s blog?

    *gives Ana the look* Dude, I didn’t know about Jodie’s blog. Obviously this is entirely your fault. 😉

    *adds Book Gazing to Google Reader*

    Jodie, AWESOME POST!!!


  • Carolyn Crane
    December 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    This is such an awesome post! I love this. Your intro, your little song. Also, Brighton Rock is my favorite GG novel, too! In fact, it’s one of my all time literary favorites. OMG, I’m scared to see the trailer. Partly bc it won’t be right, and Pinkie won’t be right, and partly, what if it is, but the movie never comes to Minneapolis?
    And I have to wait?

    Also, thanks for all these diverse recs.

  • Thea
    December 6, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Maybe this is a leeeetle bit self-serving, but I think this is one of the best guest posts we’ve ever had. Thanks Jodie!

    Also, I’ve just added Downton Abbey to my Netflix queue (and apparently, it’s a “very long wait” for availability though!).

  • Patty
    December 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Awesome awesome post…I was not aware of scads of these authors…thank you so much…

  • RK Charron
    December 6, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Um, what Karen Mahoney said.

    Thank you for introducing me to Jodie. She can write! “I don’t want to be living in a dystopian novel.” ~ awesome.
    Excellent post.
    All the best,

  • Jodie
    December 7, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Thanks for having me ladies and thanks for all the super enthusiastic comments here, you’re so nice 🙂 I see my plan to get all bloggers watching Downton is going swimmingly Thea, hope you can get to it soon (and your comment will get me through the working day today, ta so much).

  • Nikki Egerton
    December 7, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Great post Jodie.

    Just wanted to agree that Downton Abbey was fab, and I can’t wait for series two! 😀

  • Hannah
    December 7, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Judy Dench is playing Mrs Fairfax, I think, from the looks of that trailer? I do not know if the world needs another Jane Eyre adaptation, it is my favourite British classic (along with A Tale of Two Cities, but there aren’t really any women in there so Jane Eyre beats it out!) but I’m sure I’ll watch it anyway!

    Thanks for the post and so many awesome book recs! I haven’t read most of them – hurrah! More to read next year!

  • Amy
    December 7, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Wow, what a great list. I may have to try to read a few of those books Jodie. Also, thanks for mentioning the Year of Feminist Classics 🙂

  • Zetta Elliott
    December 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I love that Jodie looks both ways–ahead into the future and back into the past…and all authors should have dedicated readers to urge them on as they write! My TBR list and Netflix queue just got longer…

  • KarenS
    December 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Downton Abbey was fantastic! I watched it on, actually, so you don’t have to wait for Netflix. It’ll air in the US on PBS in January, I believe, and the DVDs will be available January 11th!

    Looking forward to Jane Eyre. The actor playing Rochester grows on me more and more each time I watch the trailer. Brighton Rock looks good, too.

  • Joanna
    December 8, 2010 at 4:27 am

    So. much. giving. I’m stunned. 🙂 This is the first I hear of the Smugglivus tradition, but I am now definitely a fan. Great post, Jodie!

  • Nymeth
    December 8, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Awesome post – and I shall not resent Jodie for adding like ten books to my wishlist in one go 😛

  • Peta
    December 10, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Great post, Jodie! I’ve just “given in” and ordered Downton Abbey as clearly I am missing out on a Good Thing here. 🙂

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