Category: Reading

Lakes, Rom-Coms, Love Lists, and More

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I’ve spent the last three days in a cottage by a lake with Patrick and the kids, and it was absolutely wonderful. I spent the morning of my fortieth birthday drinking coffee by the lake, we visited a fun dinosaur park that afternoon, and I am VERY happy with my pile of birthday books:

I’ve already finished tearing through the Breaking Cat News collection (my favorite comic in the world! I got a Breaking Cat News cocoa mug for my birthday, too), and I’m in the middle of Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek, which is really, really fun. (It’s about two fabulously nerdy teen girls both having their own romances in the middle of a con – how could I not have fun reading it? It’s making me feel hugely nostalgic for the time when Patrick and I used to go to a lot of cons together – if you’re an f/sf geek like we both are, it really is a romantic thing to do!)

I also spent one of my days by the lake devouring Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, which was just amazing – the best romantic comedy novel I’ve read in ages, and now one of my favorite rom-coms ever. You can read my full review here.

It was a gorgeously relaxing, refreshing long weekend away, but now we’re home, we’ve retrieved Pebbles from the (very nice) cattery where she stayed while we were gone, and at this moment, she’s purring on my chest, so all is feeling Very Right With the World. :)

And I’m guest-posting today on the Ms. Yingling Reads blog, talking about the “love lists” I use when I come up with new books.

Only one more day until The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart‘s US/CA book birthday!

Books, Bubbles, and Other Kinds of Magic

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I’ve hit the point where I’m desperately counting down the days (and hours and minutes) to our first big family holiday of the year (less than two weeks to go!), so in other words, it has been A Week (to say the least), but here are some of my favorite moments from it:

1. Devouring Sally Nicholls’s upcoming YA suffragette novel Things A Bright Girl Can Do, which was utterly fabulous, immersive storytelling – by far the best historical novel I’ve read in ages – and written with wit and warmth and wonderful characterization throughout. You can read my full Goodreads review here.

2. Visiting our town’s new local comics-and-figurines shop with my boys, who broke into cries of glee when we stepped inside. This place could have been made for our family! Patrick and I have already promised each other to make a return visit together while the boys are at school, so that we can actually take time to browse for our own delights. (I’ve already spotted a Black Widow figurine that I just might need… ;) )

3. Reading an ARC of Cressida Cowell’s truly magical upcoming MG novel The Wizards of Once with my eight-year-old. It’s less light-hearted and slapstick than the early How to Train Your Dragon books (which I love) but it is genuinely, thrillingly full of magic and wonder, and my older son and I are both loving it. My biggest challenge has been keeping to my vow to only read it with him and not cheat by reading ahead on my own!

4. Signing contracts for the French edition of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. Oh, and seeing the gorgeous German cover, too! So far, this book has sold in seven languages, which is a first for me, and it’s incredibly exciting.

5. Blowing bubbles in the back garden with my kids last night. The garden is bursting with flowers, it’s been lovely and warm here, and watching the bubbles fly up high in the early evening light felt really magical.

What about you guys? What are some of your highlights from this week?

Three Things I Love That I’ve Been Thinking About This Week

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1. Toby Hay’s The Gathering

Lush, gorgeous instrumental-only folk music from Wales. Listening to this album makes me feel like I’m absorbing emotional sunshine! I love it, and I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to it since I bought it last week. You can hear the first song for free here.

2. Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Binding Thorns

Another lush pleasure! This time, it’s an adult fantasy novel set in a magically post-apocalyptic Paris with fallen angels and a fabulous, underwater dragon kingdom inside the Seine river. Ohhhhh do I love this book. I read it first as an e-ARC months ago and then started re-reading it yesterday afternoon as soon as my pre-ordered paper copy arrived. I’m loving it even more the second time through! It’s so rich and absorbing and magical and satisfying. It’s also the second full-length book in her Dominion of the Fallen series, and as much as I loved Book One (The House of Shattered Wings), this one is even better. I adore this whole series!

3. Tie-in-stories

I still like reading paper books most of all, but one of my favorite things about online- and ebook culture is that it’s now possible and easy for authors to publish all sorts of fun tie-in stories related to their series. After I read and loved Aliette’s The House of Shattered Wings last year, I devoured every one of her tie-in stories, which took the same setting and characters and gave them fun adventures and romances that had only been hinted at in the backstories of the full-length books. I adore them all (and you can find the whole list here), but my personal favorites are her Of Books and Earth and Courtship and Children of Thorns, Children of Water. Both of them give fascinatingly different perspectives and new insights on familiar characters from the series.

And I love getting to see the world made larger through those tie-in stories, too! Patrick’s YA novella The Dinosaur Hunters is a completely standalone story with original characters that don’t appear in any of his MG novels – but it’s set on the same world of Regency-era British Mars, and it all sprang from a throwaway mention in his first book. It’s one of my very favorite novellas ever, it is SO MUCH fun, funny and exciting (think: an Agatha Christie-style mystery with T-Rexes and girl detectives!), and – while you don’t need to have read any of his books before reading it – it gives a whole different view on the world of his books. (You can find out more and read the opening of it here.)

There’s a whole added pleasure for me as a reader to discover these smaller stories filling out side-characters and backstories from the larger novels and to get glimpses at the wider life of the world outside of the novels that I’ve loved. Each time I read a good tie-in story, I get to fall into the world again and again, and it becomes more real and rich to me with each new dip inside it.

Cover for Courting Magic

And of course, as an author that kind of story is just incredibly fun to write. Without ebooks, I couldn’t have published my own YA novella Courting Magic, a standalone story that gives my MG heroine Kat her own grown-up romance – much less Flying Magic (a short-short story about Kat’s own kids!), Dueling Magicks (a short story set between the first two Kat books) and Forbidden Magic (a short story about Kat’s parents that’s coming out tomorrow, huzzah)!

Novels work really, really well with traditional publishing, and I personally love publishing my full-length books that way. But when it comes to shorter, quirkier lengths and tie-in stories, it is SO great to have the freedom that hybrid publishing gives!

I’d love to hear about any of your own favorite tie-in stories to series that you’re following!

Charging Up With Joy

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Every time I do an event for kids, I’m reminded of why I want to keep writing kids’ books forever. Last Wednesday, I got on the train to Oswestry, a lovely town just across the border into England, where I got to hang out in my hotel with fab authors Sibéal Pounder and Andy Griffiths, along with our wonderful publicists (Lizz from Bloomsbury for me and Sibéal; Catherine from MacMillan for Andy) and Carrie and Tim, the owners of Booka Bookshop, who had organised an amazing World Book Day Event for Thursday.

Thursday morning, Sibéal, Andy and I talked to 500 students from the local schools about World Book Day and of course our books. (Click on the picture to see the fullsize image.) Sibéal – with the kids’ enthusiastic direction! – dressed two teachers up as fabulous witches. I found out about some of the secret creatures hidden behind the kids’ own exteriors (just like my ferocious heroine Aventurine is secretly a dragon inside her harmless-looking human form). Andy had the kids literally screaming with laughter as he showed them through the treehouses of his books and played a balloon symphony for them.

Afterwards, as we signed our books, I got to talk individually to so many interesting, creative kids – who ranged from secret dragons to wizards, warriors, and even bats. It was so much fun…and it left me absolutely buzzing with inspiration. As I took the train home that afternoon, I felt charged full of happiness and wonder that I get to do this amazing job and connect with such enthusiastic, generous kid-readers.

Of course, the M.E./CFS always demands a physical payback after I make any big trip, so I spent the next few days resting instead of writing…but today I finished the new Chapter Two of my MG work-in-progress (veeeery tentatively titled A Grumpy Princess’s Guide to Ice Giants and Other Catastrophes), and I’m hoping to finish Chapter Three by the end of this week. I’ve also been in touch with a fabulous artist who may be doing cover art for my upcoming adult novella, Snowspelled, later this year. I can’t wait to share more details as I figure them out!

And if you’re a longtime reader and have ever wondered what my first heroine’s parents were like when they were young…I’m sending out my next newsletter on Wednesday with a brand-new short story all about Kat’s parents. If you’d like to read it, just sign up here!

Now it’s time for me to dive back into my new novel before the kids get home from school, but I can’t close out without talking about two things I’ve really loved over this past week.

I read Renée Watson’s Piecing Me Together on the train rides back and forth from Oswestry, and oh, I devoured it! It’s so gorgeously written, so intensely compelling, and so uplifting. It’s one of my very favorite books I’ve read in a long time, and you can read my full Goodreads review here.

And – although I know I’m very late to the party here! – my kids and I watched My Neighbor Totoro yesterday and looooooooooved it. There was one point halfway through when I realized I’d just been grinning steadily for ages, and I kept on helplessly beaming at the screen for the rest of the film. It was so joyful and full of such a sense of wonder and love. If you haven’t seen it yet (is there anyone else who hasn’t seen it by now?): do it! You won’t regret it. :)

What about you guys? What’s one thing (book/movie/life event/whatever!) that’s made you happy lately? I would really love to hear about it!

A Love Letter to my Favorite Book Published in 2016, on the Occasion of its One-Year Birthday

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It’s January 12th – which means it’s exactly one year to the day from the day that Patrick’s Secrets of the Dragon Tomb was published!

I can’t even count how many times I’ve read this book – and I loved it more and more every time. When I read the first draft, well before it sold or even found an agent, I knew immediately that it would be published. It was so sparky and funny and exciting and heartfelt. It was just wonderful! And I loved every new version more. The final, published version absolutely blew me away…and I wasn’t the only one!

Publishers Weekly gave it one of their rare starred reviews, saying

Samphire’s swashbuckling tale is both a pitch-perfect pastiche of a Victorian serial and a well-rounded, three-dimensional story of a boy learning that the world is more complicated than he thought. Abundant humor, intricate worldbuilding details, and precisely timed slapstick and mayhem mesh as neatly as the gears and levers of the water abacus, producing a gorgeously articulated clockwork of a novel.

(And you can read the full review here.)

You can see a whole batch of other great reviews from other magazines and blogs here.

It’s a wonderful book, full of hilarious moments, exciting action adventure, wild pterodactyls, dangerous clockwork crabs, spies and mysteries and infuriating (in the best possible way) family members. I looooove practical, put-upon Edward and his family full of eccentric geniuses and social climbers.

I love this book!

And look – it has a brand-new cover lined up for its paperback edition:

Isn’t it cool?

The paperback edition won’t come out until July 18th, though, on the same date that Book Two – the wonderful The Emperor or Mars – will be published, carrying Edward and his sisters on even more fabulous adventures. (Sea serpents! Museum heists! And a very, very awesome girl thief!) So if you want to catch up in time to grab Emperor on its publication day, I vote for you to buy Secrets of the Dragon Tomb now, in celebration of its one-year birthday.

Happy birthday, Secrets! I love you! :)

My Favorite Adult F/SF Novels in 2016

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I posted last week about my favorite MG books read in 2016, and I promised to do a followup post about my favorite adult reads. Of course, I always have less time than I expect over the kids’ school holidays…so this followup is a little late for holiday shopping. Sorry! However, if you (like me!) are a last-minute holiday shopper, or if you just want to look for more fun new books to read yourself, here’s a list of adult fantasy novels that I genuinely loved in 2016, along with snippets of the reviews that I wrote for them on Goodreads (and links to some of the longer reviews):

Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory
A fabulously fun steampunk adventure story with a great, sympathetic (and very diverse) cast of characters and a completely gripping narrative voice. Karen, the narrator, is just *awesome* – matter-of-fact, brave, loyal, funny, and far more impressive than she realizes – and I cheered for her arc of empowerment by the end. I also loved her sweet, fumbling romance, and Priya, her love interest, is truly wonderful too. (Read my full Goodreads review here for more details and discussion.)

Laura Anne Gilman’s Silver on the Road
A slow-paced but truly lovely fantasy novel, set in an alternate version of the 19th-century American west in which the Devil staked his own territory centuries earlier and the rest of the territorial borders have shifted around that. The heroine, Izzy, is a sixteen-year-old coming of age and coming into her own as the Devil’s Left Hand, traveling the roads of her boss’s territory with a mentor who has magical issues of his own. The alternate history setting is fascinating and well thought-out, the writing is absorbing, and the characters are wonderful. By the time I was halfway through reading this book, I’d already preordered Book 2, which is coming out next month – I can’t wait to read it!

Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to San Francisco’s glamorous local superheroine, Aveda Jupiter…who was once her best friend Annie long ago, before a rift between dimensions scattered random superpowers across the city. Annie grabbed onto her new superpower whole-heartedly and flung herself into the spotlight, renaming herself Aveda Jupiter and fighting demons on livestream to the delight of her internet fans; Evie panicked and hid as deeply in Annie’s shadow as she could. But when she has to take Annie/Aveda’s place at an event with the help of a magical glamour, she’s finally forced to recognize her own true strength in more ways than one….with the help of a very nerdy, very hot scientist, lots of great friends, AND her rebellious little sister.

This book was so funny and fun and so full of real heart, it filled me with pure delight throughout. It’s full of fun urban fantasy adventure, hot (AND sweet and funny) romance, intense female friendships and complex, important family relationships. Basically, it has everything I love most in a book! And it’s all done so well. (Read my full Goodreads review for even more raving. I LOVED THIS BOOK.)

Ilona Andrews’s Magic Binds
This turned out to be one of my very favorite books in the whole Kate Daniel series so far (which is, by far, my favorite-ever urban fantasy series – I didn’t click with Book 1, but when I started again with Book 3, I got hooked HARD). I love the combination of humor with real emotion, tension and adventure, and these characters all feel like old friends by now. I loved the mixture of madcap wedding planning moments along with genuinely heartwrenching issues, freaky magic and fun fantasy action. I adored all the different kinds of relationships between women in this book, including one I would never, ever have guessed at any earlier in this series – it came as a delicious surprise in this book. And most of all, I cannot wait for the next book!

Seanan McGuire’s Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special
I just discovered Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series and have been DEVOURING it. I tore through both of these first two books within less than 3 days! Urban fantasy, ballroom dancing and talking mice – this series is just ridiculously fun. You can read my full reviews of Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special on Goodreads.


What about you guys? What were your favorite f/sf reads in 2016? I’d love to hear about them either here, on Facebook or on Twitter. (You will not be surprised to hear that I am ALWAYS looking for new recommendations! :) )

My Favorite MG Books in 2016

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It’s our last week of work before the kids’ school holidays begin…and of course, we’re also frantically gift-shopping at this time of year! In case you are, too, it seemed like a good moment to start posting my totally subjective, personal lists of favorite books I read this year. (Also, I just like looking back on them!) So here is my first list – all MG novels I utterly adored, in no particular order:


Sally Nicholls, An Island of Our Own
When I asked for recommendations of books that were filled with real comfort and joy, Frances Hardinge & Terri Trimble both recommended this one, and they were absolutely right. In terms of voice, overall feel and sheer charm, this book felt like a contemporary MG version of I Capture the Castle. Totally enchanting, heartfelt, and full of warmth, with wonderful characters and such a fun story. I loved it!

(ETA: A reader on Facebook pointed out that this isn’t available in the US, so I wanted to let you guys know that you can get it from The Book Depository with free worldwide delivery.)


Ronald Smith, Hoodoo
Hoodoo has one of the most fabulous narrative voices of any MG novel I’ve read in a long while. It is SO delicious and compelling, and I love the way the (creepy) magic is worked so seamlessly into the everyday life of the characters! This whole book is gorgeously creepy and magical.

Note: I really mean it about the creepy bit – I had to put it down at one point because I couldn’t read it at night! (I am a horror wimp) – but the characters are all SO wonderful, the story is so much fun and the magic feels so real, I HAD to go back to it afterward, no matter how much I knew it would scare me. (I just made sure to read the rest of it earlier in the day! ;) )


Natasha Farrant, Time for Jas
An absolutely beautiful conclusion to one of my favorite-ever MG series. When I finished reading, I literally cried even though it wasn’t a sad ending – I was just so full of emotion! I loved this book SO MUCH. It’s funny – sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious! – and zany and fabulous, with one of my favorite-ever big, quirky literary families (who wouldn’t want to hang out with the Gadsbys? they’re so much fun!), but it’s also a book that really profoundly looks at the questions of why we make art and how creativity works. It’s a deeply compassionate look at complex, sometimes incredibly painful and yet still loving family dynamics, and what it’s like to be someone who doesn’t fit in to the norm, and and and…

It’s just beautiful. Really, really beautiful. And it’s my favorite book in this whole fabulous series, which is saying a LOT. (You can find the whole series listed in order here.)


Anne Nesbet, Cloud and Wallfish
This book is utterly BRILLIANT. It’s exhilaratingly smart and fun, a wild ride from the very beginning, when 11-year-old Noah is picked up from school in Virginia by his parents only to be told his name isn’t really Noah, he isn’t really 11 after all, and they’re heading to East Berlin (this is set in 1989, when the Wall was still up) IMMEDIATELY, using an all-new set of names and a made-up history he urgently has to memorize….oh, and that from now on, he can’t ask any questions, because SOMEONE will always be listening from the moment they arrive in East Berlin!

It’s a fascinating and enormously fun story full of secrets and codes and mysteries, the setting is incredibly rich…and oh, the emotional developments as Noah makes a true friend in one of his neighbors and is drawn into her own painful and mysterious story!

This was an utterly compulsive read from beginning to end, I enjoyed every moment of it, and again, the ending made me cry in a very, very good way.


Jewell Parker Rhodes, Bayou Magic
Beautiful magical realism full of rich family relationships, strong women and girls, and beautiful writing. It isn’t fast-paced, but it is luscious! I looooved dipping into it a bit at a time and I always came out of each reading session feeling better about the world.


Emma Carroll, Strange Star
Magical, creepy, and so beautifully written and immersive. I devoured it within less than 24 hours! As someone who’s always been fascinated by Mary Shelley, I personally loved the masterful way Carroll built real history into her drama (and played with echoes of Frankenstein, too!), but this book would be just as much fun for someone who’d never heard of the Shelleys in their life. The voices of the characters are utterly compelling, the story is exciting and scary, and even when I was most filled with dread, I could not stop reading.


Sheila Grau, Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions
This book is full of wacky, funny, gross-out fun AND an enormous amount of real heart, and I loved it. Runt Higgins is a non-morphing werewolf who was left as a baby at Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions for his own protection. Now – in hopes of finding his parents again – he’s trying out for the elite Junior Henchman training program, with the help of his wonderful group of friends, including Frankie, a Frankenstein-style created boy whose head pops off when he gets too upset, Syke the hamadryad who can swing from tree to tree, and the crowd of sweet, shuffling zombies for whom Runt’s become responsible. The characters are all fabulous and very funny.

It’s such a great mixture of fun and humor and genuinely creepy moments, and what carries it all through is Runt’s true sweetness, his unstoppable optimism and his deep love for his created family. I enjoyed every minute of this book SO MUCH.


Lucy Worsley, Eliza Rose
I absolutely devoured this book, a delicious historical novel set in Tudor England, with a fabulously sharp and spiky narrator who is the cousin (and rival) of Henry VIII’s ill-fated wife Katherine Howard. The truth is, I’m not sure exactly which genre to class it in, as it breaks some of the “rules” of children’s literature – it looks from the cover like an MG novel, and starts with Eliza at 12, but by the end of the book she’s 20 and has been dealing for years with the questions of how to operate in a licentious and brutal court. There aren’t any explicit sex scenes, but the issues discussed are certainly adult…as, of course, teenage girls were expected to be in that era.

It’s all incredibly addictive, smart and entertaining and perfectly handled. I loved that Worsley let her heroine be sharp and unlikeable at various points, with her pride getting in the way of her own good. I loved Eliza’s voice – and oh, I swooned over her romance! And the historical era is conveyed beautifully throughout. I was already a huge fan of Worsley’s historical nonfiction, and now I can’t wait to read her next novel too!

(ETA: Apparently this is going to be published under a different title in the US, as Maid of the King’s Court, and not for a while yet. But you can find the UK edition on The Book Depository now.)


Later this week or next week, I’ll post about my favorite adult f/sf books of the year. But in the meantime, if you’ve been curious about my own next MG book (dragons and chocolate!)…


For the next 24 hours, you can bid to win a signed, early (final!) copy of The Dragon Heart as part of the #FundsForFox auction, raising money for wonderful YA writer and all-round wonderful human being, Fox Benwell. The book won’t be published until February in the UK and May in the US – but if you bid now, you might be reading it in the next couple of weeks! Good luck!

(And I was absolutely thrilled by this lovely review of the book by one of my favorite book bloggers yesterday. Hurrah!)

What were your favorite books this year (in any genre)? I’d love to know!


- 2 comments - Reading

I spent a lot of yesterday crying, in the aftermath of the US election. I am still sad and shocked and scared – scared for the rights and safety of Muslim-Americans, of Mexican-Americans, of African-Americans, of LGBT Americans, and more; scared for the health and safety of the Americans with chronic illnesses who won’t be eligible for health insurance anymore if/when Obamacare is repealed; scared for the future of the planet – my children’s future – with an incoming US government (just at this moment of global crisis, when we most need to DO SOMETHING) that doesn’t believe in climate change and has promised to remove the few controls that we already had…

And that’s not even the full list of my fears in the wake of this news.

This stuff is HARD – and whether or not you share my personal political perspective, I hope you can understand the fear that so many people are feeling right now.


I was trying to figure out, yesterday, what I could do – what small, positive steps I could take to combat those fears and not feel helpless.

The first thing I did was make a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has promised to fight for the constitutional rights of ALL Americans.

Another organization doing important work right now (and accepting donations) is the National Immigrant Justice Center, whose mandate is to protect human rights and provide access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

The Huffington Post made a good list of other positive actions people can take right now.

And I’m going to take one other small personal action. I’m going to go back to writing, after my day of crying yesterday.


What got me through the last 36 hours was Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric series. I read #2 and #3 over the course of that time and got to sink into a smart, absorbing fantasy world told from an extraordinarily kind and compassionate perspective. It let me escape my fears and remember that kindness is real and hope is important.

I may only be able to take small positive steps myself. But one of those small positive steps, for me, is trying to give other people comfort and reassurance with my own writing.

Here we go.

Getting Giddy on Books

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Hurrah! I sent off my MG spies-and-fairies book to my lovely UK editor yesterday morning, meaning that I have officially hit my final (so far!) deadline of the year. Whew!

This has been a seriously intense last year for very good reasons – in just over ten months, between April 2, 2016 and February 9, 2017, I have three books coming out (Masks and Shadows, Congress of Secrets and The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart), and a significant (30,000-word) freelance project under a pen name! I am SO grateful that this has all come together so amazingly well, but: oof. I am so relieved to have hit my final and most important deadline – the one I’d been most worried about – because honestly, there were a few points this year when I didn’t know how I could do it.



And the very best part is that suddenly, all I want to do is READ! For the past several months, my brain has been so intensely focused on my own books-in-progress that I didn’t have the energy & attention to read many new-to-me books by other people – all I could manage were comfort re-reads. But now I want to read EVERYTHING!

I devoured Mary Stewart’s re-released novella The Wind off the Small Isles earlier this week, which was lovely – and such a treat to get a new-to-me Mary Stewart story after all these years! – and finished Robin Stevens’s Murder Most Unladylike (a.k.a. Murder is Bad Manners in the US/CA) yesterday morning. (You can see my slightly spoiler-y review on Goodreads. The short version: I ordered Book 2 about 30 seconds after finishing Book 1! VERY addictive.)


Now I’m a third of the way through Ilona Andrews’s Magic Binds (the latest book in my very favorite urban fantasy series ever), really loving it, and also impatiently waiting for today’s expected book mail: Robin Stevens’s Arsenic for Tea (Book 2 in the Wells & Wong MG mystery series) and my preordered copy of Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick, which I’ve been looking forward to for months.


I also just bought Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies, which looks absolutely fabulous and has gotten great reviews.

So in other words, I am completely giddy on books right now! :)

Most of my energy for the next few days has to go to cleaning our messy house (because we’ve been in Deadline Mode for far too long!) before an upcoming kid birthday party. Pretty soon, I’ll start writing my own novels and stories again. (Monday, I hope!)

But right now I’m just going to roll around in all the books I can for a while longer. Hurrah!


Oh, and since I am posting this on a Wednesday, and Wednesday is Book Quote Wednesday over on Twitter, I might as well share the quote I put up on Twitter today. This week’s theme for #bookqw was “mistake,” so here’s mine from Masks and Shadows:


Happiness, Good Quotes, and Reading Recs

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Whew! I finished Draft 1.1 of my MG spies-and-fairies book on Wednesday, and I heard from my lovely agent today that she likes it! Double-WHEW. :) I am feeling so happy and relieved right now.

Will there ever be a time in my career when I stop feeling so nervous every time I send off a new book?

I had a really good Twitter-conversation earlier this week with another writer whose work I love about ways of getting the work done. One of the things we talked about was how we both use inspirational quotes to get through the times when we’re struggling (whether that’s because of health, confidence, or any other issue). Coincidentally enough, we’ve both used book-money to commission jewellery with the mottos that personally inspire us. (So now I wonder: How many other people have done that, too? Have any of you guys? If so, I’d love to hear about it!)

Her beautiful motto is Post Tenebras, Lux (After darkness, light); mine, for a long time, has been Invincible Summer (from Camus’s quote “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”)

What about you guys? Whether or not you’ve ever put it on a piece of jewelry, do you have a motto that you come back to for inspiration?


In terms of a different kind of inspiration, I’ve been reading so many good books over the last few weeks! Ronald Smith’s Hoodoo has one of the best narrative voices of any MG novel I’ve read in a long time. It is gorgeously creepy and magical! In fact, it’s so creepy that at one point I had to set it down because I was getting shaky just reading it! (I am a horror wimp.) But the story was so compelling and the magic all felt so real, I HAD to come back to it even as a horror wimp – and I absolutely LOVED it. :)

Natasha Farrant’s Time for Jas is the fourth book in her Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby series, which is one of my very favorite MG series ever. The series is about a quirky, sometimes-dysfunctional, always-loving family in contemporary London, it’s all enormously funny and sometimes incredibly heart-wrenching, and this fourth book was just perfect. I cried at the end, in the very best way. You could probably start with this book and enjoy it just fine (and it was in fact my favorite book in the whole series), but why not start at the beginning with After Iris and get to enjoy the whole course of the family’s journey? (I re-read After Iris immediately after reading Time for Jas, and I loved it more than ever.)


I’m halfway through Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Bayou Magic, and it’s a wonderful contemporary MG fantasy set in Louisiana, full of family, fireflies, mermaids, love and magic. It’s so beautifully written and so full of warmth that reading it feels like getting a big hug! I’m forcing myself to move slowly through it, so I get to enjoy it for as long as possible – and I feel happy every time I read a new chunk of it. :)

I’ve also just started Robin Stevens’s Murder Most Unladylike (a.k.a. Murder is Bad Manners in the US/CA) – the first book in the Wells & Wong series of British schoolgirl mysteries set in the 1930s – which is SO MUCH fun, I’m kicking myself for not reading it two years ago when it first came out! Then again, that means I can devour the first four books in the series (along with two bonus stories!) all at once now. So: that’s an excellent consolation! :)

And the wonderful Ying Lee just interviewed me over at The History Girls about my own book Masks and Shadows. The questions she asked were so thoughtful and in-depth – they were really fun to answer! You can read the interview here.

Happy Friday!