Welcome to Smugglivus 2012! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2012, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2013.

Who: Sarah Beth Durst, amazing author of YA fantasy/speculative fiction. We are big, big fans of Sarah Beth Durst’s work – especially her most recent novel…

Recent Work: The amazing Vessel, a fascinating fantasy novel about gods, destiny, and self-empowerment (and on Thea’s list for one of the best books of 2012).

Please give it up for Sarah, everyone!

I have always been deeply suspicious of any gift that isn’t shaped like a flat rectangle. So with that in mind, for Smugglivus, I thought I’d put together a list of flat rectangular gifts that I like to give:

Board Books

BABY BELUGA by Raffi, illustrated by Ashley Wolff — No penguins incorrectly frolicking with polar bears in this book. The Arctic animals in these illustrations are both accurate and gorgeous.

MOO BAA LA LA LA by Sandra Boynton — I dare you to read this without instantly memorizing it.

GOSSIE AND GERTIE by Olivier Dunrea — Goslings with the best personalities. And boots.

Picture Books

INTERRUPTING CHICKEN by David Ezra Stein — The little chicken in this story doesn’t want Hansel and Gretel to be eaten. I am totally Interrupting Chicken. Minus the feathers.

THE THREE PIGS by David Wiesner — The three little pigs escape and transform their fairy tale. Very meta. Very brilliant. Very beautiful.

WHEN DINOSAURS CAME WITH EVERYTHING by Elise Broach — A little boy runs errands with his mother and discovers everyone’s handing out free dinosaurs today. I love that the fantasy is never broken in this story.

BEAR SNORES ON by Karma Wilson — A sleepy bear, partying woodland animals, and great rhymes.

THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin — Grover!!!

KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO by Mo Willems — The most accurate depiction of childhood ever. I also love his great learn-to-read books featuring the world’s best neurotic elephant and his faithful friend Piggie, such as I WILL SURPRISE MY FRIEND and PIGS MAKE ME SNEEZE.

Middle Grade

THE UNICORN CHRONICLES by Bruce Coville — THE quintessential girl and unicorn series.

JEREMY THATCHER, DRAGON HATCHER by Bruce Coville — THE quintessential boy and baby dragon book. I cry every time I read it.

DRAGON SLIPPERS by Jessica Day George — Girl and dragon awesomeness!

WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin — Lovely story, lovely illustrations, lovely font. (Seriously, whoever designed the look of this book did a fantastic job.)

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones — Great fantasy adventure. Sophie is one of the best protagonists ever, and Calcifer is one of the best characters ever.

SMELLS LIKE DOG by Suzanne Selfors — Wonderful adventure featuring a droopy dog and sinister villains.

THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS by R. L. La Fevers — If someone on your gift list likes ancient Egypt (and who doesn’t?) and magic, he/she will love this series. I wish I were as brave as Theodosia.

I’d include Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE by J. K. Rowling on this list, but is there honestly anyone in the world who hasn’t read it yet?

Young Adult

WILD MAGIC by Tamora Pierce — I love all of Tamora Pierce’s books and have read each of them many, many times. She’s one of the authors that inspired me to become a writer. My personal favorite series of hers is Daine’s, which starts with WILD MAGIC, about a girl who can talk to animals.

A FISTFUL OF SKY by Nina Kiriki Hoffman — Wonderful story about a girl in a family of magic-users who develops curse magic. All the characters are so vivid and real.

THE UNNATURALISTS by Tiffany Trent — Adventure in an alternate Victorian London. Every page is jam-packed with something new and cool.

THIEF EYES by Janni Lee Simner — Magical polar bear! Need I say more? This is a great romantic adventure set in Iceland.

VESSEL by Sarah Beth Durst — Yes, this one’s mine. :) It’s about a girl in a harsh desert land who is destined to sacrifice herself so that her goddess can inhabit her body and save her clan… but her goddess never comes. It’s a sweeping epic adventure, and I’m rather fond of it.

Adult

UNDER HEAVEN by Guy Gavriel Kay — A lush, gorgeous historical novel with hints of fantastical elements. Give this to someone who likes to sink into a book.

THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley — Not sure if this counts as YA or adult, but it is my favorite book of all time. Girl with sword awesomeness. Greatest training scenes ever.

SOULLESS (THE PARASOL PROTECTORATE) by Gail Carriger — The protagonist defeats a vampire with her parasol in the first scene. I giggled my way through this whole wonderful series.

LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED by Jenny Lawson — The only nonfiction book on my list. So funny I read it twice in a row.

CONFESSIONS OF A DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM by Julie Kenner — Buffy as a mom. Hilarious. And each book in the series is better than the last.

Happy reading! And happy Smugglivus!

Thank you, Sarah!

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4 Responses to Smugglivus 2012 Guest Author: Sarah Beth Durst

  1. I love INTERRUPTING CHICKEN soooo much!

  2. Linda W says:

    What a superb list! I’ve read some of these, but I’m glad to have new books to add to my list.

  3. Wonderful list! I’ll have to track down some of the ones I’m not familiar with. I love Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Jessica Day George, and Diana Wynne Jones, as well as some of the picture books, so obviously we have some tastes in common. I look forward to reading Vessel.

  4. Eliza says:

    Yay for the Theodosia mention! This is such a fun series and Theodosia herself is a delight. I’ve come to enjoy the grandmother also. I just hope there are more books to come and the success of her Fair Assassin series doesn’t prevent that.

    While I liked Daine and the Wild Magic quartet and all of Tamora Pierce’s books, my heart belongs to Alana and the Song of the Lioness quartet. Maybe because it’s the first one of her books I read but it’s probably ’cause Alana rocks. It’s fun to see which ones are people’s favorites.

    Great choices. There are some new ones for me to try. Can’t wait.

    I’m glad that you included your new book Vessel. I finished it last week and really enjoyed it. I loved your world building, the logic held and the characters’ actions made sense and were true to that world. I’m usually not one for epilogues, but this one was perfect. I don’t want to give anything away but it ended on the just the right note and left me completely satisfied. Thank you for the lovely book.

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