Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Blogger

Smugglivus Guest Blogger: KB of Babbling About Books and More

Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 17

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: KB, Romance Blogger Extraordinaire, who blogs from her HQ: Babbling About Books and More with a mix of reviews and commentary posts. In 2010, we are happy to say, KB was able to make her life-long dream of becoming a published author come true. Check out her books at her Alter Ego’s website: K T Grant.

Please give it up for KB!

2010 was the year where I decided to expand my reading horizons and branch out. I’ve read a total of 230 books this year. The ones that really struck a chord for me, that I considered my favorites of the year, may surprise some, because the majority of my top 5 reads aren’t romances at all.

Back in April I read what I consider to be epic. The author isn’t very prolific, but she makes up for it with the quality of her work. Ginn Hale is a well-known author of gay fiction fantasy with a nice blend of M/M romance within the pages. Her Lord of the White Hell: Book One exceeded all my expectations and more. Ginn’s world building will astound you, and even though this is an adult read, the tone is also much like one would find in a young adult novel.

Compelling, well written, romantic and thrilling are just a few words to describe Lord of the White Hell: Book One. The way Ginn has written the romance between her two main characters, students who are roommates, (a lofty, cursed Duke and a book smart, mechanical genius) who in turn become lovers, shows a wonderful connection and buildup of passion and respect between two men who will be together at all costs.

September was an incredible reading month. If not for Ana’s recommendation, I would have never read Room by Emma Donoaghue.

I read Room straight through in the late hours of the morning. Room is an emotional, breathtaking read that shows the deep love a mother and child has for one another. A woman, who has been a sex slave to a disturbed man for seven years, and her son, Jack who is the outcome of her rape, shows the powerful testament of how love, not hate can give a person hope. I simply loved this book, and one parents and children should read together. Room is one of the most powerful books I’ve read this year that left me crying happy tears.

September also gave me The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook that wowed me in so many ways.

This is the MUST READ book of 2010, and one that will turn the romance genre on its ear. Steampunk fans will rejoice as well because not only does it have some of the most intricate world building I’ve ever read, but there are feats of death defying adventure, larger than life characters and a romance that is not only steamy (Yes, I purposely meant to say that), but ravenous, crazed zombies and mechanical gadgets I want for my own. The Iron Duke has this blockbuster movie feel, and is indeed one of the best romances and best books I’ve read this year, if not this decade. If I had to name one book over the past ten years that I consider to be a masterpiece and possibly revolutionary, it would be The Iron Duke.

Speaking of zombies, November gave me Feed by Mira Grant.

Feed was released in May, but based on Thea’s recommendation, and meeting Mira at this year’s NYC Comic Con, I grabbed Feed in the hopes I wouldn’t be sitting in a corner, freaking out that zombies were going to eat me. A few weeks later I found myself lost in a futuristic world where the zombie apocalypse has become a reality. Feed is a hybrid of the movies, 12 Monkeys, 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. This is also Mira’s ode to bloggers and the freedom of the press. Set during the American presidential primaries in the distant future, this is a political narrative on society and humanity, where the landscape isn’t as bleak as it sees. Seen through the eyes of blog reporter Georgia, we are given a first had unbiased account of a changed world, and the knowledge that the human race has overcome and survived even after a mass destruction that should have destroyed life as everyone has known it. If Edward R, Murrow, one of the greatest American broadcast journalist was still alive, he would embrace Feed for its message. George Romero, the godfather of the zombie apocalypse, would stand up and cheer. Possibly one of the best zombie stories I’ve ever read, behind George Matheson’s, I am Legend.

The final book this year that I picked up based on a friend’s recommendation is Megan Hart’s Precious and Fragile Things.

This is quite the departure for Megan since she is well-known for her dark erotic fiction. Precious and Fragile Things really opens your mind to those precious things that may drive you crazy sometimes. From the point of view of Gilly, this is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She wants to escape her perfect life and her husband and two young children. She gets her wish when she is carjacked and stays with her kidnapper, who takes her deep into the woods during the winter. Gilly comes a few welcomed conclusions of how blessed she truly is, and how her kidnapper Todd is not what he seems. Two very flawed people from different backgrounds and how they come to come to rely on one another is a therapeutic read, and left me with a sense of peace and not taking anything for granted.

I cannot fail to mention one last book, or rather a debut author who arrived on the scene this year. I may be a bit biased because this author is also one I count as my friend. Carolyn Crane already had an incredible reputation as a blogger, but now she can proudly say she is a successful author who will be on many readers’ lips in the years to come.

Mind Games and Double Cross are adrenaline pumping books that takes the Urban Fantasy genre and twists it into knots, but all in a good way. Not many authors can take a hypochondriac heroine and transform her in to super hero you’d only find in comic books. Carolyn’s words are very unique, intelligently written and has a subtle humor to it that not many authors can do with their stories. If I had to pick one author who gave the best they had to offer this year, it would be Carolyn Crane.

And so these are my top picks for 2010 from a blogger, turned author, who urges everyone to think outside the box and pick a book that maybe outside your comfort zone. You never know what gems you may find if you don’t.

Thank you KB and a Happy Smugglivus to you!

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  • Tiah
    December 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    How can I not read The Iron Duke after what you said. Wow. I am added all of these book to my tbr list.

  • KB/KT Grant
    December 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Tiah: Please do! My mouth was open the entire time I read The Iron Duke. Amazing, simply amazing.

  • Angelique
    December 17, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Loved Room and Feed as well…have added Precious and Fragile Things to my wishlist =)

  • Kristen
    December 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Lord of the White Hell is a great book, and it exceeded my expectations as well. I really enjoyed Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentlemen, but I enjoyed Lord of the White Hell even more.

  • heidenkind
    December 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    I haven’t read ANY of these books. Sadness.

  • Ginn Hale
    December 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I’m rather flustered and flattered to find Lord of the White Hell in such good company! 😀

    Thank you so much– not just for picking the book, but for all the time and effort it takes to read and review so much literature throughout the year.

    All my best,

  • April (Good Books & Wine)
    December 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    I’m so glad you liked Feed, KB! I audio-ed it in the car, and OMG, that ending, what an emotional punch in the head.

    ALSO, ROOM that is on my omfg need to read ASAP tbr.

    Also, I am tempted to try the other books you list, they aren’t in my typical genre BUT there’s a lot to be said for trying new things.

  • katiebabs
    December 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Angelique: I sobbed while reading Room and hid under my covers while reading Feed. I hate zombies and yet I love reading and watching them.

    Kristen: I’m in awe of everything Ginn writes.

    Heidenkind: tsk tsk… 😉

    Ginn: Thank you for writing an incredible book. I look forward to more from you. *coughwritefasterpleasecough*

    April: I guess my picks have a little something for everyone 🙂 Room will astound you. It’s the only book this year that I re-read after I read it a first time. I thank Ana so very much for the recommendation!

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