Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Author

Smugglivus 2013 Guest Author: Merrie Haskell (& Giveaway)

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: Merrie Haskell, author of middle grade fantasy novels The Princess Curse and 2013’s The Handbook for Dragon Slayers. We dearly loved both books, and are so thrilled that Merrie can join the Smugglivus festivities this year.

Merrie Haskell Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Please give it up for Merrie, everyone!

I read some great stuff this year, and thanks so much to Ana and Thea for letting me talk about these books!

I will now endeavor Thematic Lumping. Because I’m like that.

Happy Conclusions

Rae Carson’s The Bitter Kingdom wrapped up her amazing first trilogy this year, and I could not have been more excited to get my hands on it. The trilogy is a fitting heir to my childhood favorite, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, in the “bewildered girl comes into her own power in a desert” vein. (That’s a vein, right? A very, very specific vein, I suppose, but an important one.) The main character goes from being the reluctant bride in an arranged marriage to an independent and capable ruler. I adored the moments where Elisa took charge and truly came to understand her own worth. I love the subtleties of the world-building as much as I love anything about this trilogy. A very powerful conclusion, and if anyone hasn’t broached this trilogy yet, now is the time.

The Bitter Kingdom The Pirate's Wish

Cassandra Rae Clarke’s duology, Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish wrapped up this year as well–I read both of them this year, in fact. Actually: “bewildered girl comes into her own power in a desert” might hold true for these books as well. Clarke’s books are wildly romantic in the best possible way, but they really impressed me with their examination of promises and fate. I have always loved the trope of “you saved my life and now we are bonded forever” and this book starts there and goes all the way out the other end of examining that trope. So much fun.


The Summer Prince When We Wake

Two books I read this year that seemed to be speaking on some of the same topics were Karen Healey’s When We Wake and Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince. Healey’s book is the more straightforward of the two, though it is satisfyingly complex in its own right. Healey’s story is of a young political activist who dies and is cryogenically frozen, to be resuscitated in a future where environmental catastrophe is present and real, but many of the things she fought for have come to pass (gay marriage not being an issue at all anymore, for example). It’s quite poignant, and addresses so many things that are going on right now in a future context. There are similar environmental, political, and class themes within The Summer Prince, which takes place in a world beset by a nuclear winter. Johnson’s book has layers upon layers of complexity; sexuality and gender are fluid in the society she’s drawn, and there is a fascinating dialogue about the importance of art throughout. Both books are wonderful.

Books I Read This Year That Were Not Published in 2013

Digger Jackaroo

Ursula Vernon’s Digger series is killing me. Graphic novels about a wombat! I laugh, I cry, I kick myself for not reading these earlier.

I re-read Cynthia Voigt’s Jackaroo, which is the first of her Kingdom series. I love the books in this series: They are so beautiful, sharp and subtle, and each one builds on the other in ways that just hurt, but so good.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale. If you are looking for a hilarious modern take on Northanger Abbey–and why wouldn’t you?–this is the one.

Books I’m in the Middle Of

Shadows 17 & Gone

I’m always reading about five books at once. At the moment: I am all of the way into chapter 3 of Robin McKinley’s Shadows, which I hesitate to describe because I’m not actually yet sure what it is about (did I read the blurbs? No, I did not. Why would I need to know what a Robin McKinley book is about?) and she has already made me tear up once with spot-on insight into what it’s like to have a single mother and have to act a little older than you really are.

I am likewise reading: Nova Ren Suma’s 17 & Gone, Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Corner of White, and Carey Wallace’s The Ghost in the Glass House. And I’m sure something else.

Books I’m Looking Forward To

Bad Luck Girl The Waiting Sky

I’m keen to read the conclusion of Sarah Zettel’s American fairy trilogy; I think it’s just a brilliant concept, fairies in the Dust Bowl. I am currently reading a narrow spectrum of books in 2013 for an award jury, and I have been so focused on that, I mostly don’t know what’s on the radar for next year in YA/MG–I’m just really looking forward to reading everything I’ve had to miss in all the other genres lately. I’d like to read Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy, for example, and I have been meaning to finally dive into Middlemarch forever. I’ve had Lara Zielin’s The Waiting Sky on my TBR pile for too long. I can’t think of the last time I cracked a contemporary YA, so that will be novel. Forgive the pun. And I haven’t re-read Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion in about two years, so it is time!

Thanks so much, Merrie!

Giveaway Details:

Handbook for Dragon Slayers Castle Behind Thorns

We have two awesome books up for grabs – one copy of The Handbook for Dragon Slayers and one ARC of Merrie’s upcoming book, The Castle Behind Thorns. The contest is open to all, and will run until Sunday, December 8 at 12:01AM EST. In order to enter, use the form below. GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Tammy
    December 2, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Just One Year by Gayle Forman

  • de Pizan
    December 2, 2013 at 12:33 am

    I always have a few going at once: The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold (third in the gorgeous Chalion series), A History of Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani, and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

  • Jana
    December 2, 2013 at 12:44 am

    “Lyra’s Oxford,” by Philip Pullman. I’ve read (and enjoyed) the main books in the His Dark Materials trilogy, and I’m finally getting to the ancillary books, so I’m very excited.

  • Hannah H
    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 am

    A truly, truly terrible book (that was only a buck for the Kindle). Needs must when a long bus ride awaits, and when one’s pockets are stretched to the breaking point. Also A Tale of Two Cities- I can say that one’s title with pride.
    Just for the record? Digger is AMAZING.

  • Harmony
    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 am

    I’m currently reading “if you find me” which I’m really enjoying.

  • Brenda C
    December 2, 2013 at 1:10 am

    I recently finished Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon. Haven’t decided what to read next…

  • Anonymous
    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 am

    I always read several books at once, and now is particularly bad in that way because I’m too busy to get around to finishing enough of them. But here are a few: “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon” by Gideon Defoe, “Newt’s Emerald” by Garth Nix, and “The Paladin Prophecy” by Mark Frost.

  • Rachel
    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 am

    That was me above, not anonymous…FYI.

  • TΓΌnde
    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Natalie Babbitt Tuck Everlasting

  • Hebe
    December 2, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Night Film by Marisha Pessl.

  • Anita Yancey
    December 2, 2013 at 8:29 am

    I am reading Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich.

  • Lan
    December 2, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I am reading Atonement by Ian McEwan.

  • mary anne
    December 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

    First book in the Arcadia Bell series. Good enough that I’ll finish it, though I’m getting a bit impatient. Not good enough that I’ll chase down the rest.

  • Katrina
    December 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

    It’s finals, so I’m reading Edible Action by Sally Miller and The Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods by keith Steinkraus for my Political Economy of Food class.

  • Lisa
    December 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I am currently reading Hero by Alethea Kontis, which I’m having trouble getting into, but enjoyed the first book so feel confident it will pick up soon.

  • Matthew
    December 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

    This is such an exciting giveaway — I read both of Haskell’s earlier books and loved them!

  • Matthew
    December 2, 2013 at 10:07 am

    And I’m currently re-reading “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula Le Guin because it’s a possibility for a library event where I work… And I’ m hoping to be able to push fantasy (which we’ve been lacking).

  • Gerd D.
    December 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Currently wading through “Undying” by V.K. Forrest, a book I’d wish on no one. *blush*
    But to my excuse I’m reading it at work and, well, it gives me something to do during my break.

  • Sarah Zane Kellar
    December 2, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I am currently reading Incarnate

  • Jasmine Stairs
    December 2, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Well, setting aside the school books I’m reading for my final paper I am SO CLOSE to finishing, I’m reading Hilari Bell’s Traitor’s Son and Sky Jumpers, whose author’s name I forget.

  • Marie-Claude
    December 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Shadow and Bones from Leigh Bardugo.

  • Lexi
    December 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Currently reading “Retribution Falls” (which I will finish but would not recommend), and just started “For a Few Demons More”

  • Katie M
    December 2, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I’m currently reading “Firelight” by Kristen Callihan.

  • Gabi
    December 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    “When My Brother Was an Aztec” by Natalie Diaz for American Indian Lit, and “Preparing for Your ACS Examination in Organic Chemistry – the Official Guide.” I started “The Kingdom of Little Wounds” over Thanksgiving break, but I’ll have to wait until after finals to get back to it.

  • superbwg
    December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I am currently reading “Behemoth”, “The Mammoth Book of Steampunk”, “Confessions of A Prairie Bitch”, “The Ship Who Sang”, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” reread. I always have at least five books going

  • Dakota
    December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I’m going to read Wild Orchid and Neverending Story when I’m less busy with papers.

  • Morgan
    December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I’m currently reading The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan, which I’m really enjoying! It’s definitely unique amongst the supernatural YA currently out there. I’m also reading Empress of the Seven Hills by Kate Quinn, third in a fantastic historical fiction series about ancient Rome πŸ™‚

  • Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room
    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I’m rereading Under the Never Sky in preparation for the final book in the trilogy.

  • Diana C.
    December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I’m currently reading Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin and Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan (both for Mark Reads projects), and I’m enjoying both so much.

  • Maureen E
    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin. Light and fun, though not my favorite.

  • Mishel
    December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Wow, thanks for the awesome list of books Merrie, my TBR list thanks you as well =) I’m especially interested in the Digger graphic novels and Jackaroo!!

    As for what I’m reading now – the final book in Cleopatra’s Daughter trilogy by Stephanie Dray. Daughters of the Nile is the title. It’s really good so far and I loved the first two books!

  • Whitney
    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    The Madman’s Daughter

  • Halley
    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I am currently reading Linger by Maggie Stiefvater and the second book in the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter.

  • Kailana
    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I also normally read like 5 books at a time, but on Friday I put everything back on the shelf and am just going to read one book at a time for a bit. I am in the midst of the Diviners and so happy that I am enjoying it so far. I wasn’t so enamoured with Bray’s standalone books…

    Also, I am so happy to see people liking the end of Carson’s trilogy because I still have not read it…

  • Alice
    December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I just finished The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair, it’s cute. πŸ™‚

  • Kara
    December 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I have been meaning to read Merrie Haskell’s books for a year now. They sound amazing.

  • Rebecca I.
    December 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Doll Bones by Holly Black

  • Natalia
    December 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Currently reading “This Alien Shore.” by C.S Friedman

  • Kristen H.
    December 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Great guest post Merrie! I am currently reading The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman.

  • Jennifer
    December 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    I am reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. I am not really convinced but I am hoping it will become more exciting.

  • Makaela
    December 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I am reading The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress!

  • Raina Zheng
    December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    I’m reading Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.

  • Alexandra the Great
    December 3, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I *just* finished The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (it’s the perfect season for a reread). This afternoon I started Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I’m not too far in yet, but it looks like it’s going to be absolutely fantastic.

  • Kate & Zena
    December 3, 2013 at 12:17 am

    I’m reading More Than This by Patrick Ness.

  • Ashfa
    December 3, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Firelight by Sophie Jordan.

  • Mieneke
    December 3, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I just started Letters from a Murderer by John Matthews this morning.

  • Giada M.
    December 3, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I’m reading Plain Kate by Erin Bow. Thank you for this chance! πŸ˜€

  • Helle M.
    December 3, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I’m reading Prodigy by Marie Lu. πŸ™‚

  • Malin
    December 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

    I am currently reading Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, re-reading The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, and listening to Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher on audio book. Although all three are on hold because I’m trying to write a 5000 word exam paper.

  • Meghan M.
    December 3, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I am currently in the middle of Kate Elliot’s Cold Magic, Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth, and Fire From Heaven, by Mary Renault, as well, about Alexander the Great. Too many, but I can’t help myself!

  • Meghan
    December 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I am currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. Both are excellent! (HP is a reread)

  • Lauren
    December 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I literally just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s latest, MaddAddam, which is the conclusion of her “trilogy”. I adore her, and am intensely gratified that age has done nothing to stunt her bold and outrageous writing.
    Currently reading Susan Moody’s A Final Reckoning, and Maile Meloy’s The Apothecary.

  • Bart
    December 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I am currently reading Cursed by S.J. Harper.

  • Jaime
    December 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I just started Robin McKinley’s Shadows as well, and I’m also reading Sara Larson’s Defy. I love a lot of the books suggested here, as well as Haskell’s own, so I’m definitely looking into the ones I’m unfamiliar with.

  • Amalia
    December 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I am currently reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection and White Cat by Holly Black.

  • Amanda
    December 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I just started Garth Nix’s new book Newt’s Emerald (and can’t wait to read your review!). I’m also in the middle of Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman, which I’m reading aloud to my 4th graders, who are loving it to bits.

  • Becky C.
    December 3, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Currently reading Silent Boy by Lois Lowry!

  • Justine
    December 4, 2013 at 1:00 am

    the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems πŸ™‚

  • Amanda W
    December 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I’m currently reading The Lies of Locke Lamora and re-reading Way of Kings. And waiting for The Cuckoo’s Calling to finally come in for me at the library!

  • Ashley
    December 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I am FINALLY reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

  • Katharine
    December 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I’m reading The Black Count now – fascinating story of the Dumas men.

  • Allison
    December 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, very interesting!

  • Jenna O
    December 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    IΒ΄m reading When Love Never Ends by J. Alec Keaton πŸ™‚

  • Mary Preston
    December 6, 2013 at 7:01 am

    I am re-reading NEVERWHERE By Neil Gaiman.

  • VanessaRenee
    December 6, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I tend to not be in the middle of books, as I’m a binge reader. I am in the middle of Elizabeth Wein’s Lion Series, as well as about to begin Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield.

  • Jamie
    December 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I submitted my first entry without completing my email. Ugh. Anyways, I really want to read Cassandra Rae Clarke’s duology now.

  • Ray Pratt
    December 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I am currently about halfway through “A Free Man of Color” by Barbara Hambly and just starting “Hotel Transylvania” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

  • Randi Moulton
    December 6, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Lovely guest post! It’s so fun to see what authors are reading. πŸ™‚ I’m currently reading Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.

  • Emily
    December 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I’m reading The Cup and the Crown by Diane Stanley!

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