Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 28

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: Erika, of the blog Jawas Read, Too whose eclectic taste in books matches our own, with a focus on Science Fiction & Fantasy. Plus, how awesome is the title of the blog??? Seriously.

Ladies and gents, Erika!

Dear Regular Readers of The Book Smugglers:

My name is Erika from Jawas Read, Too and this is my first (hopefully not last?) Smugglivus post! Since the only episode of “Seinfeld” episode I’ve seen is the one with the guy and the soup (“No soup for you!”), the namesake is a little lost on me, but fear not gentle readers. I’ve got this one in the bag. Sit back, relax, and don’t you mind me cracking my knuckles like a pro as I prepare to paint a rather haphazard and spotty portrait for what 2010 has brought to my literary world. Below is a mixed list of the new and older titles that make up my top five reads of 2010, in no particular order.

Top 5 Favorite Books of 2010

The Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens

This is the first book the came to mind, more for personal reasons than anything else. That’s not to say Michael Rubens’ book isn’t deserving of your time (because it is), but it’s too intimately connected to the time I spent, immediately after our family kitty died in January, grieving, for me not to include it here. This book, with its light-hearted look at humanity, helped me cope. But of the book itself: a Science Fiction adventure tale with a little Western flare thrown in to create a reluctant, albeit swagger-ready protagonist who makes his living as a space pirate. Cole lives in a universe overrun by advertising (a road many already feel society is on) in this satirical novel full of wit, charm, and multiple pop culture references to “Star Wars,” 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

I can’t believe I went this long without reading this book. Really, I can’t. I grew up with The Incredible Journey, Charlotte’s Web, Black Beauty, The Wind in the Willows, and countless other books and television shows and movies about talking animals. Who doesn’t love talking animals? When a friend of mine discovered this, he remedied the situation by buying it for me as a Christmas present. Naturally, I obliged him by reading it as soon as I could and let me tell you: this book could not come sooner into my life. Watership Down is an epic tale of leporine bravery. The narrative follows the perilous journey of a cast of rabbits so long it rivals a Robert Jordan novel, but is infinitely more heart-warming and adorable as they migrate from one warren in search of another. There are moments when you forget the protagonists are rabbits—a quick mention of ears, paws, or characteristic rabbit behavior serves as a gentle reminder. The feats they must overcome are things humans would find rather silly (crossing a small body of water, evading cats), but are rather daunting to a rabbit and put quite a different perspective on the matter. If you haven’t already, you must go out and read this one!

Kindred by Octavia Butler

I can’t say too many good things about this book. It’s really something extraordinary. There’s such a vast and complex consideration of race and ethics inside that I had a very hard time putting this one down. Butler creates a studied atmosphere to give readers a window into what the Antebellum South might have been like, had we been there. It’s brutally honest, heart-breaking, utterly emotional, and is one of those books that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I was very impressed.

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest has quickly become one of those authors I find myself wanting to read whenever I get the chance—this book only validated that desire. Good as a stand alone or as the third installment in her loosely connected Clockwork Century steampunk series, Priest takes us on a rough and wild train ride across a late 19th Century America during a Civil War that’s been prolonged roughly twenty years and is getting a bit long in the tooth. Add a bunch of zombies to the mix and the setting for nurse Vinita Lynch’s journey out West becomes a frightening tale of survival and derring do. You can’t get much better than this—steampunk and zombies. To sweeten the deal, Priest’s outdone her own writing and produced something that’s as polished as shined brass. It sings, you guys. It’s really quite fantastic.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

I love British humor. I also had, before I read this book, never heard of Connie Willis and think now that that was such a crime I never knew I’d been committing that I’m doing my best to find and read everything of hers I can get my grubby little hands on. Connie Willis does British humor well enough for me to laugh as often as I found myself utter engrossed in this time traveling tale of romance, history, and suspense. The characters spend most of their time in Victorian England, which is treated quite delightfully here, and find themselves the key players in a mysterious race against the clock. This book also has one of the most romantic lines I’ve ever read.

Honorable Mentions (with brief exclamations):

The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

Or: how I’m going to spend the next 10+ years of my life waiting for what happens next.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Irish mythology! Finn Mac Cumhaill! A mission to save a librarian!

“Merlin” (season 2)

Ladies and gentleman, I’ve found my favorite television show and it’s going into a fourth season.

BBC’s “Sherlock” (season 1)

Watson has a therapeutic blog and Sherlock doesn’t know the Earth revolves around the Sun. Brilliant.

What I look forward to reading in 2010

With only a few days left in the year, I’ll just list the books I’m looking most forward to reading in 2011, beginning with two that are released on my birthday (if any publisher would like to send them to me as a birthday present, I would not complain).

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire

Embassytown China Miéville

The Thirteen Secrets by Michelle Harrison

The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan

What readers can expect from me in 2011

I’m most looking forward to the Women of Fantasy book club being hosted on Jawas Read, Too next year. It’s the longest I’ve ever planned ahead of time on the blog. Each month I’ll be reading a different book by a female author in the Fantasy genre and invite whomever wants to read along or pop in for discussions to join me. I’m very excited over the selection and am even giving readers the opportunity to help vote in the twelfth book closer to December.

Thank you to both Ana & Thea for inviting me to participate this year!

Thank YOU, Erika!

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13 Responses to Smugglivus 2010 Guest Blogger: Erika of Jawas Read Too!

  1. Kristen says:

    Thanks, Erika! I can’t wait for Late Eclipses and The Wise Man’s Fear either. And I’m also very excited about the Women of Fantasy Book Club. I’ve read the January and February selections and loved both of them.

  2. @Kristen: You’re welcome! It’s encouraging to hear you’ve read and liked two of the books already. I feel like I must be one of the only readers who hasn’t read Jemisin’s book yet! :)

  3. Brandy says:

    I too read To Say Nothing of the Dog and discovered Connie Willis for the first time this year. I have been devouring the rest of her books as quickly as I can. She is magnificent.

  4. S.S. White says:

    Great post, Erika! I’m glad they invited you to participate! And can I just say that it rather warms my heart to see two of my book club’s selections in your top five list? It really thrills me! :)

  5. @Brandy: She is a rather excellent author! I can’t decide if I want to read Impossible Things or Blackout next. :)

    @S.S. White: Ack! I knew I forgot to mention something. I didn’t include here who introduced me to Kindred or To Say Nothing of the Dog. If anyone reading this hasn’t seen some of the awesome books in Calico Reaction’s monthly book club, it’s a sure bet you’ll find something interesting once you do. :)

  6. S.S. White says:

    Oh, I wasn’t expecting credit at all, but thank you. No, it just makes me feel good to see that you probably wouldn’t have read those particular books if it weren’t for me! :)

  7. Chimney says:

    I really do need to see Merlin! There are a few books you mentioned here that are now going on my radar.

  8. Chimney says:

    I heard that season two of Sherlock is going to come out this summer, hopefully that is true.

  9. @S.S. White: Absolutely! Willis was already on my radar with Blackout, but your club made me read her sooner than I would have otherwise. And for that, and Kindred, you can take all of the credit you’d like. :D

    @Chimney: I really do enjoy watching “Merlin”! Third season premieres next week here in the US so I am looking forward to that. :) The next season of Sherlock can’t come fast enough. That cliffhanger was brutal!

  10. Avalon says:

    Amusing I’d put almost all of your Honorable Mentions under my best books of the year list, and all of the best books under Honorable mentions instead, but there you are. x3;

  11. Chimney says:

    I had watched all three episodes in a row and after seeing the darn cliffhanger my poor roommate had to listen to me ramble on and on about how they should have had the next season out the minute I finished the first! I also had to have a moment to fully absorb how awesome the series was. I will probably be checking out Merlin (or going back to Robin Hood) soon, so I have something to do in the agonizing wait for season two.

  12. Ana says:

    I just finished reading To Say Nothing of the Dog and it was AWESOME AWESOOOOOOOOOOOME

  13. Heather says:

    Ah yes, fitting that Brandon Sanderson is finishing up a giant series of doom for the late Robert Jordan and then starts his own. At least we epic fantasy readers will still have something to speculate over for the next decade or more.

    And as a fan of the classic Sherlock stories I must say I love the new season. Small things like Sherlock not knowing about the Earth going around the sun and Watson being in a war in Afghanistan really made my nerd self happy. I just wish it wasn’t only going to be 3 episodes for each season. D: Not enough Holmes for me!

    Less than 24 hours before I can start reading for your book club. Can’t wait!

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