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Smugglivus 2013 Guest Author (& Giveaway): Courtney Summers

Welcome to Smugglivus 2013! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2013, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2014.

Who: Courtney Summers, author of emotionally-wrenching contemporary young adult novels, including this year’s release of bindup What Goes Around and one of Thea’s favorite zombie novels ever, This is Not a Test.

courtney summers What Goes Around

Give it up for Courtney, folks!

Smugglivus! I love this time of year! Thank you so much for inviting me to participate again, Ana and Thea! It’s always fun to step back and reflect on what would top a personal Best of List for the year and discovering that’s… not as easy as I always assume it’s going to be be. When so much good stuff gets produced these days, HOW TO CHOOSE THE MOST NOTABLE? Objectively, it’s not the worst problem to have–in fact it might just be one of the best–but it’s hard! (Things I learned: I did not watch enough movies at all this year to warrant the mention of a single one on this list… sooo if you are reading this and have a must-see movie of 2013, please tell me.) I busted my brain a little bit BUT it was totally worth it and without further ado, I’m so excited to share a few of my favourite things from 2013!


Charm and Strange

Here, I must tip my hat to Stephanie Kuehn, for her dark, thoughtful and edgy novel, Charm & Strange which came out June of this year. It follows a boy, Win, with a tragic past and… you know what? The less I say, the better. All you need to know is that when you pick this book up–and you should definitely pick this book up–you are in for a character and story that you won’t forget. It will stay with you. The prose is haunting and gorgeous. Stephanie is an incredibly skilled writer and this shows in the effortless way she makes us part of Win’s world. His pain and his heart are fully and wonderfully realized. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to her sophomore release, Complicit, in 2014.

with so much room for improvement as of my writing this, it technically shouldn’t even be on the list


The Walking Dead has zombies in it and so it appeals to me. If you don’t watch The Walking Dead, it’s about a Sheriff named Rick Grimes who gets shot and when he wakes up in the hospital after enough time has passed for a zombie apocalypse to be well under way, a zombie apocalypse is well under way! The first few episodes follow his quest to reunite with his family and every episode after he does chronicles how much greasier his hair gets because my goodness. I love The Walking Dead because it is brutal and relentless and feels real. It forces you to get all attached to the characters before snatching them away, generally in a cruel flurry of teeth and guts and blood. What’s not to love?

WELL. About that. Unfortunately, The Walking Dead also drives me crazy because it’s not great at writing women. Starting with Lori, who was complicated and tough the first season and then got progressively more awful and ridiculous as the second season wore on until she was finally (spoilers ahead!) killed off in the third. It’s like she was stripped of emotional depth to create some for Rick and it makes me angry because I fell for it! Ugh. And Andrea. I loved how Andrea made as many mistakes as say, Merle, but also got to die for her sins like Lori, because it seems redemptive arcs are only for guys and the most women can count on is being killed or exiled for their missteps? If I even get started on what they may or may not be doing to Carol right now, we will be here until the new year. If Carol’s arc hasn’t broken the pattern of how The Walking Dead writes their ladies by the time this post goes up, I hope it will in 2014. I’ll admit it, putting this on my fav lists for Smugglivus is a show of faith that they’ll turn things around. If they don’t, at least I will be able to look back on this post and bitterly remember there was a time it WAS my favourite. (sob)


It’s really hard to pick a favourite song of 2013, but one of the most notable (for me) was Young and Beautiful (DH Orchestral Version) by Lana Del Rey, which was for The Great Gatsby soundtrack which was probably one of the best albums released this year too, in my opinion! I LOVE Lana Del Rey. And I like to make jokes about how her songs are all about fast cars, old men, drugs, sex, fame, and empty Hollywood pursuits but… that’s also everything I love about her too. I love stories about excess and emptiness and looking for the next thing hoping it’s THE thing. I love ugly cloaked in glamour. Lana Del Rey works it. Young and Beautiful is so desperate and reflective. I love it. It makes me sad in the best way.


Bioshock Infinite

Video games are an integral part of my writing process. I’m at the point where I can’t imagine writing without gaming. I mean, I could do it–but I don’t wanna. When a video game comes together in every way–its aesthetic, its gameplay mechanics, its characters, its story–I tend to feel so inspired I want to write a MILLION BOOKS! You can’t tell me video games aren’t art unless you’re looking for a fistfight. 2013 was all about BioShock Infinite for me. It’s the third installment in the BioShock franchise, a first person shooter that takes place in 1912. You play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent turned PI, tasked with finding a girl, Elizabeth, and delivering her to New York in exchange for wiping out your massive gambling debt. Did I mention Elizabeth is in Columbia which is a FLOATING CITY IN THE SKY? WHICH IS ALSO A DYSTOPIA PRETENDING TO BE A UTOPIA? The politics and history are so ugly against a backdrop of utter beauty and wonder. Visually, it’s unforgettable. The story, even moreso. I will say no more lest I ruin it.

But what really makes BioShock Infinite my favourite video game of the year is that it’s expanded my understanding of and appreciation for world building. As someone who writes mostly contemporary, realistic YA novels, but who would like to branch out more (provided the right idea hits me), BioShock really drove home the importance of those subtle and crucial ways you make a world come alive. Walking down the streets of Columbia and hearing a group of children reciting the terrifying Songbird nursery rhyme was such a moment in this game for me. It’s something you literally walk past, but it’s a something that makes the whole experience that much more OF an experience. It’s important to remember that kind of thing while writing. It was so nice to be reminded while playing.

Also, Elizabeth has earned a spot in my Top 5 as on of my favourite female video game characters. Love her.



Afterlife with Archie.
Archie. Comics. Meet. The. Zombie. Apocalypse.
What more can I even say.
It’s beautiful.


Giveaway Details:

Courtesy of Courtney, we have 2 signed copies of her What Goes Around bindup up for grabs! The giveaway is open to ALL and will run until Sunday December 22, at 12:01am EST. Use the form below to enter for a chance to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Ella Zegarra
    December 16, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Once upon a time is my favorite show *-* Nice interview!

  • Amalia
    December 16, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Oh, gosh, I’ve no real favorite book of 2013 but I’d have to pick The Cydonian Pyramid.

  • Kailana
    December 16, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I still haven’t figured out what my favourite book of the year is yet. haha. I really should think about it.

  • Jen Moyers
    December 16, 2013 at 6:54 am

    I loooove The Walking Dead, too (for all its problems), and as a Twitter follower have enjoyed seeing your take on its development this season. πŸ™‚

    Your love for video games as part of your writing process reminds me of one of my favorite student writers–I’m sharing this with her right now.

  • Natalia Ayala
    December 16, 2013 at 8:11 am

    So far I am loving the show Sleepy Hollow.

  • Julie N.
    December 16, 2013 at 8:43 am

    My favorite book this year was Making Faces by Amy Harmon. I told all my friends about it!

  • kelly
    December 16, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Charm & Strange was SUCH a knockout debut. So, so good and deserves all of the fave nods it’s been seeing.

    “Ugly cloaked in glamor” is the perfect way to describe Lana’s music and that song is killer.

  • Lexi
    December 16, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Sleepy Hollow has been pretty great this year and I am back watching Castle again.

  • Kelly G.
    December 16, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I really liked Red Rising, though maybe that doesn’t count since it won’t be released until next month? πŸ˜‰

  • Antara
    December 16, 2013 at 9:48 am

    My favourite TV show of the year is… Orphan Black. Got into it a bit late, but it is SO addictive!

  • Katrina
    December 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. The BBC miniseries is also excellent.

  • Mia
    December 16, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I wish I had a movie to recommend, but I didn’t watch a lot of movies this year and I only saw a couple in the theater. Most of my watching habits this year have been web series (I devoured the Lizzie Bennett Diaries and am now enjoying Emma Approved) and TV (Hello, K-Dramas!).

  • Lan
    December 16, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Favorite book would be Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro…a reread, but my favorite this year nonetheless, ha.

  • Heidi
    December 16, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I have been meaning to play BioShock since it came out! I even have it. But somehow I let myself get sucked back into playing Civ IV again instead…I have a thing for occasional world domination. The only show that was new this year that I actually truly enjoy is The Goldbergs, surprisingly.

  • Lauren
    December 16, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Favorite book is way too hard, and I don’t have enough brain power right now to whittle down the list.

    Therefore, favorite TV show of 2013 = The Mindy Project. I just started watching it, and find it absolutely hysterical. It’s a delightful half hour escape!

  • Gerd D.
    December 16, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Favorite Game was “The last of us”, pure storytelling brilliance!

    Fave TV-Show, “Once” – gotta love true love. πŸ™‚

  • Tamara
    December 16, 2013 at 11:59 am

    My favorite tv show is American Horror story. I am really enjoying this season!

  • Kazhy
    December 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    My fave TV show of 2013 is Reign. Everything about it is just so beautiful! <3

  • Jason
    December 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    My favorite video game of 2013 was Batman Arkham Origins!

  • Grace
    December 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    My favorite song has got to be ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry.

  • Anita Yancey
    December 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    My favorite book was Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich.

  • Georgeana
    December 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    My favorite tv show of 2013 was The Blacklist.

  • Raina Zheng
    December 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Really loved Orange is the New Black this year!

  • Hebe
    December 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I loved the film of Les Miserables that came out earlier this year. It may be my favourite film ever, in fact.

  • mary anne
    December 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I liked the Star Trek movies that came out this year, I plan to like the Hobbit when I see it later this week.

  • Andrea Izykowski-Paz
    December 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Let us know what your favorite book, song, tv show or video game of 2013 was!

    Favorite book: Love and Other Perishable Items.
    Favorite TV show: This didn’t come out in 2013, but I’ve gotten into Daria.
    Favorite song: Homewrecker by Marina and the Diamonds.

  • aqila
    December 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Well I can’t be really into tv shows because I dont have cable, but my favorite book this year maybe Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barness. It’s seriously awesome.

  • Jennifer
    December 16, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    My favourite book that I read in 2013 was Cracked Up To Be!

  • Hania Ahmed
    December 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    My favorite show in 2013 is Sleepy Hollow

  • Hannah H
    December 16, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I got started on Supernatural this year, so I’m counting it! I cannot chose a book, and I don’t really do video games. I suppose my favorite song was Take on Me- yet another of the old ones, but I’d only heard it a few times before this year, so I’m counting it too.
    Here’s to technically cheating!

  • Michi
    December 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    My favourite book that I read this year was On the Jellicoe Road.
    I think it’s actually even my favourite YA book ever.

  • Rima
    December 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Two books I read at the very start of this year that really stand out as the best are My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick and This is Not a Test by Courtney! And as far as TV goes, Breaking Bad was amazingly awesome! I’m extremely sad it has ended, although I’m happy with the way it ended. πŸ™‚

  • DebraG
    December 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I like so many it is hard to pic one thing. Let’s just say I discovered Big Bang Theory and am enjoying it.

  • Chenise Jones
    December 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    One of my favourite books this year was definitely The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. Excellent debut!

  • Allison
    December 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Favorite TV show this year is definitely Breaking Bad. What an amazing ending, but so sad to see it go ):

  • Christine L.
    December 16, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    My favorite 2013 book was THE ROSIE PROJECT which was utterly delightful. I hope it will be turned into my favorite film of 2015!

  • Nic
    December 17, 2013 at 12:10 am

    My favorite book I read in 2013 was probably Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore, though Sorcery and Cecelia was also awesome. My favorite book to come out in 2013 . . . maybe The Cuckoo’s Calling? I loved it!

  • Audrey
    December 17, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Favourite book… probably The Name of the Wind by patrick rothfuss. And according to my iTunes, I’ve played “A better son/daughter” by Rilo Kiley an exorbitant amount of times :p

  • Tina
    December 17, 2013 at 3:35 am

    My favorite book read in 2013 was Melina Marchetta’s Quintana of Charyn

  • Anonymous
    December 17, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Totally agree with you, The Great Gatsby Soundtrack was brilliant and really fit with the movie especially with relating it to newer audiences!

  • Alicia Lumsden
    December 17, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Totally agree with you, The Great Gatsby Soundtrack was brilliant and really fit with the movie especially with relating it to newer audiences!

  • Suz_Glo
    December 17, 2013 at 8:02 am

    JoJo Moyes'”The Girl You Left Behind” is my favorite book of 2013.

  • Karin shaim
    December 17, 2013 at 10:50 am

    My favorite book in 2913 is the fault in our stars

  • Justine
    December 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks to The Sing-Off, I’ve been rocking out to a cappella. It’s the best reality singing competition on TV.

  • Becca Fowler
    December 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    All our yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

  • Rebecca
    December 17, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    My favourite book I’ve read this year is Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield.

  • Franny
    December 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Can’t narrow down a favorite book from this year. My favorite song to listen to this year, though, was “Midnight City” by M83. And that video! Love it!

  • Llehn
    December 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    The Bitter Kingdom

  • Zach Payne
    December 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    My favorite TV show of the year is definitely Game of Thrones. My favorite book of the year is Gayle Forman’s duo, Just One Day / Just One Year. Lovely books!~

  • SaraC
    December 17, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I think y favorite book I read this year was Lexicon.

  • Jen
    December 17, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    My favourite book this year would have to be FanGirl. It was too perfect!

  • Jen
    December 18, 2013 at 12:17 am

    I haven’t gotten around to reading many books that were published in 2013 yet. Of the one’s I have read, I’d choose Pantomime by Laura Lam or The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

  • Lysha
    December 18, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Awesome list! Awesome giveaway! Cheers x

  • Lysha
    December 18, 2013 at 12:54 am

    My favorite book is the Stargirl duology, hands down.

  • Rachael L
    December 18, 2013 at 1:20 am

    My favorite book in 2013 was Allegiant. Thanks for the giveaway πŸ™‚

  • Antonia
    December 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    My favourite book Unravel me By Tahereh Mafi

  • Jennifer
    December 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    My favourite book is The Rithmatist by Sanderson.

  • TΓΌnde
    December 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    My favorite book in 2013 was The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

  • Ileana A.
    December 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you soooooooo much for the giveaway!! This ones are my favorites
    Book: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
    Song: Dance With Me Tonight by Olly Murs
    Tv show: The Walking Dead

  • Anto Tilio
    December 19, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Hi everyone!
    Omg I absolutely loved Courtney and she is a zombie fan, I love her even more.
    Let me see.
    My favorite book from 2013 was Before I fall by Lauren Oliver.
    My favorite song, Gosh that’s hard… I would say it was Up in the air by 30 seconds to Mars.
    Favorite Tv Show, 2 broke girls!
    And video game… this year I finished, for the first time in my life, Resident Evil 1… qith a lot of help from my brother.
    Since I read Cracked up to be I’ve been wanting to read anything else from Courtney so thanks for the giveaway!

  • Mary Preston
    December 19, 2013 at 3:07 am

    THE BOOK THIEF was my favorite book of the year. I wonder if the movie will be my favorite. No favorite TV show.

  • Hinatabonita
    December 19, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    I really loves Courtney summer’s books, really. My favorite book all the time is this is not a test .

    My favorite book of 2013 is paper town by John green and for the song, Korean song ‘I got the boy’ by girls’ generation. Favorite tv show absolutely game of thrones season 3. And lastly for the game, it must be Resident evil 5 that I played together with my brother. I wish I could play RE6 next year :’)

  • Siti Widyastuti Noor
    December 20, 2013 at 12:06 am

    My favorite book is Eleanor and Park, so far it is one of the best book i’ve read in this year. While I personally can choose my favorite songs because I have so many. But, the whole songs in latest album of Justin Timberlake are one of the best. Then for my favorite tv shows is definitely the walking dead!

  • grelyn
    December 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

    My favorite book for this year would be Tiffanie DeBartolo’s How to Kill a Rock star. πŸ™‚

  • Brian C. Williams
    December 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

    My favorite book I read this year was Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ( A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. My favorite TV show was Doctor Who. I’m behind in my game and music listening this year. Will have to make up for it in 2014

  • Tanja
    December 21, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I actually don’t know which is harder to pick. I’d probably go with Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta as my fave book, while for the song I’d pick Passenger – Let Her Go πŸ™‚ I don’t play video games so there goes that and my fave tv-show hmm probably Once Upon a Time. Great giveaway. Thanks πŸ™‚

  • Ana
    December 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

    It’s really hard to choose a favorite book, but I think it was World After by Susan Ee. I waited so long. Favorite tv show: Arrow <3

  • Chloe
    December 21, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    My favorite books I read this year were the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta πŸ™‚

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