5 stars · history · middle grade

The Summer We Found the Baby: a cute, historical middle grade

The Summer We Found the Baby

author: Amy Hest

pages: [hardcover] 192

favorite character: Julie

summary:

Set during World War II, this poignant, briskly paced historical novel relays the events of one extraordinary summer from three engaging points of view.

On the morning of the dedication of the new children’s library in Belle Beach, Long Island, eleven-year-old Julie Sweet and her six-year-old sister, Martha, find a baby in a basket on the library steps. At the same time, twelve-year-old Bruno Ben-Eli is on his way to the train station to catch the 9:15 train into New York City. He is on an important errand for his brother, who is a soldier overseas in World War II. But when Bruno spies Julie, the same Julie who hasn’t spoken to him for sixteen days, heading away from the library with a baby in her arms, he has to follow her. Holy everything, he thinks. Julie Sweet is a kidnapper.

Of course, the truth is much more complicated than the children know in this heartwarming and beautifully textured family story by award-winning author Amy Hest. Told in three distinct voices, each with a different take on events, the novel captures the moments and emotions of a life-changing summer — a summer in which a baby gives a family hope and brings a community together.

review:

I’ve never read a book like The Summer We Found the Baby. Filled with lighthearted humor, a serious historical setting, and an adorable trio of narrators, this book shows how the simplest morning can turn into a grand adventure.

Each chapter features three different perspectives: Julie, 11, determined to be first to the opening of the new children’s library. Her sister, Martha, 6, who is equally determined never to be left behind. Bruno, 12, is on a very important mission, at least until he sees something odd: Julie taking a baby from where it’s been left alone on the front steps of the library. The book’s setup is very unique, showing the same scene from different characters’ perspectives and also utilizing each narrator’s flashbacks to give some perspective to their lives before they found the baby.

Although this book is set during World War II, it’s different in that it shows the war as an overarching backdrop that affects these children in different ways. Bruno’s brother has gone off to fight; Martha and Julie’s father’s job is to write about war heroes. It’s interesting to see how it’s shaped their lives and motivations–especially when it comes to preparing for the library’s opening!–when the war is so far removed from them geographically. This would be an interesting way to introduce young readers to the general American attitude during World War II, through the framing of a light plot.

In fact, I thought it pretty clever how real lessons and stories were told just behind the narrative surrounding the baby Julie is “borrowing” while the trio decide what to do with the baby. Julie and Martha grieve the loss of their mother. Bruno worries about his brother. The entire town seems to sit, frozen, waiting to hear news about the war. Even in this short book, the characters show real depth as they’re faced with mature situations and emotions. By viewing the plot through three separate narrators, readers can see no one person reacts just the same as another. Everyone processes emotions and life events differently, and The Summer We Found the Baby does an excellent job showcasing that.

I highly recommend this book! The Summer We Found the Baby is a quiet story that will leave you hooked on the mystery as well as the characters relating it to you.

5/5 stars

children's books · Fantasy · middle grade · Uncategorized

The Silver Arrow: an unremarkable middle-grade

50265120._sx318_

The Silver Arrow

author : lev grossman

pages : [paperback] 164

summary :

Kate and her younger brother Tom lead desperately uninteresting lives. And judging by their desperately uninteresting parents, the future isn’t much more promising. If only life was like it is in books, where you have adventures, and save the world! Even Kate’s 11th birthday is shaping up to be mundane — that is, until her mysterious and highly irresponsible Uncle Herbert surprises her with the most unexpected, exhilarating birthday present of all time: a real-life steam locomotive called The Silver Arrow.

Kate and Tom’s parents quite sensibly tell him to take it back, but Kate and Tom have other ideas — and so does The Silver Arrow — and very soon they’re off on a mysterious journey along magical rails. On their way, they pick up a pack of talking animals: a fishing cat, a porcupine, a green mamba, a polar bear, and the sweetest baby pangolin in the world. With only curiosity, fear, adrenaline, and the thrill of the unknown to guide them, Kate and Tom are on the adventure of a lifetime — and they just might save the world after all.

review :

I received a copy of this book as an arc and was eager to dive into this story, which is sort of like The Polar Express if the message there was about conservation.

It’s Kate’s birthday and everything in her life is utterly boring, which is why she writes a letter to her rich, estranged uncle asking him to send her a gift. What she receives isn’t what she expects: a train engine appears in her backyard! Her parents are furious; Kate and her brother Tom are delighted. At least until the train starts moving and they find themselves swept up in a fantastical journey where they are the conductors on a train helping animals travel to different stations around the world.

The concept of this book was cute. It’s not a bad idea. But the book is promoted for ages 8-12 and thinking back on my own reading experience, coupled with what I know of current middle-grade readers, the book skews too young. The writing and plot feel suitable maybe for the eight year-old end of that scale; The Silver Arrow might have done much better as a picture book. The message here is so blatantly obvious (and I think children are perhaps the ones who least need to be lectured about conservation these days) that I don’t think 8-12 year-olds would get much from this book. It feels like it talks down to children.

The characters are fairly basic and . . . boring. Kate, the main character, often goes chapters at a time without mentioning her younger brother, Tom, so sometimes it’s easy to forget he’s on the train at all. Kate might feel so simplistic because it would be easier for young readers to imagine themselves as her–putting themselves in her shoes, saving the animals. But she doesn’t feel like a realistic person, much less child. Somewhere alone the line (route? train tracks?) the story loses its emotion and becomes more of a step-by-step explanation of Kate’s day. First she did this, and then she did this, and then . . .

Honestly, the message delivered in The Silver Arrow is nothing that hasn’t been done before, and better, by other books. It’s a quick read, and the lesson behind it is very important, but this isn’t the book to use to demonstrate such things to the intended age group. I think they’ll lose interest quickly and won’t find the book fascinating at all.

2/5 stars

 

2 stars · middle grade · paranormal

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab: a little bland paranormal

35403058

City of Ghosts

author : victoria schwab

pages : [hardcover] 272

memorable quote :

Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?

favorite character : cass

summary :

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

review :

I listened to the audiobook version and while I’ve slowly been determining that audiobooks may not be for me, my review will focus on the content of the book. Not the delivery. However much I may want to rant about it.

City of Ghosts is a paranormal story, if you couldn’t guess from the name, with a pretty unique premise and setup. Cass moves with her family to Scotland, where they’re filming a paranormal TV show. Although her parents are obsessed with the supernatural and she’s told them about the ghost that follows her, for whatever reason they decided not to believe her (?????! why). Jacob gives her cryptic warnings and is obsessed with comic books. He’s her best friend, and he’s dead.

But it was hard to connect with Jacob, in the narrative. I didn’t really find myself wondering about his past or how he’d died. All of the ghosts in this story seem to have that aspect in common. They’re pale stereotypes of what they might have once been, with little by way of personality. They aren’t particularly funny, not very ominous. They only exist. Which is not great, for a paranormal book.

However, Cass is a fantastic main character, which makes me think this series could be something great. Middlegrade readers will absolutely love her. With her dry sense of humor and her impeccable loyalty, her anxieties and her adventurous spirit, she’s the perfect lead.

Which is why I’m left thinking something that I don’t know I’ve ever considered with another book: maybe the sequel will be better. Maybe, with a new paranormal portion of the plot, new obstacles for Cass to face, the pieces of this series will come together even brighter.

2/5 stars

 

 

 

 

5 stars · graphic novel · middle grade

Belle Comics Collection: a cute, humorous look at life in the Beast’s castle

41217097

pages : [hardcover] 89

summary :

Join Belle, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and all of your favorite characters from Disney Beauty and the Beast. What happens when Belle’s enchanted friends put on a stage show? How does Belle adjust to life in a magical castle? These adventures and more await in this collection of colorful comics and are sure to delight Disney fans of all ages.

review :

This comic is perfect for any Disney Princess lover or book fanatic–especially those who are a combo of the two. The collection features many different mini comics, most of which have jokes related to the animated movie or that relate to many problems or experiences bookish people have. Some of my favorite jokes were Belle’s reactions to the stories she was reading–you get to see her even more as a bookworm here than she is in the movie!

There were so many puns (which I loved, because I tell bad jokes myself . . way too often). Most of the panels seem to take place during the plot of the actual movie, before Belle and the Beast fall in love. It’s kind of like getting to peer into everyday castle life and all of the antics the characters could get up to that didn’t make it into the movie. Such as:

-how to find privacy in a castle filled with enchanted objects that look like everyday objects
-how Belle organizes her library
-HOW DOES LUMIERE NOT BURN DOWN THE CASTLE WHEN HE TOUCHES THINGS

–and other fun stories. Easily read through in an hour, memorable, and clever enough that you’ll want to reread it again. The art style is so cute as well–it’s interesting to see the take on all of these well-known animated people. And creatures. And . . . things. Who knew Chip could get even cuter?

I highly recommend this comics collection! You’ll fall in love with it as well–more easily than Beauty fell in love with the Beast.

5/5 stars

Fantasy · middle grade

Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu

Rules for Stealing Stars

author : corey ann haydu

pages : [hardcover] 336

summary :

In the tradition of Sharon Creech and Wendy Mass, Corey Ann Haydu’s sparkling middle grade debut is a sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope.

Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she’s too little for most things—especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.

When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart

review :

This is a middle grade novel but it deals with some pretty tough issues. Four sisters need to band together and decide what to do as they live with the reality of their mother’s mental illness and a father who’d really prefer to pretend to them that nothing is going wrong. As the story escalates, so too do the magical elements that make things a little easier for the girls because their mother’s illness is never explained to them, never defined, and they’re left in a helpless, spiraling situation.

Silly is the youngest girl so she often feels left out and then angry that she’s considered too childish whenever she wishes to join in on her sister’s adventures. Of course, she doesn’t realize that what the three older sisters are doing has magic to it until they finally let Silly in that inner circle. But is she ready to grow up, handle responsibility, and care for her sisters like they’ve been trying to protect her all these years?

I liked Rules for Stealing Stars because it wasn’t perfect. As much as it talked about fairy tales, this isn’t one; it’s real life and that means things are imperfect, parents don’t always have all of the answers, and no prince is going to come sweeping in to make everything okay. There is no magical cure for their mother. I also loved how through most of the story you’re left to wonder at the magic contained in the girls’ closets. Is it really there or all they all imagining it as a coping mechanism?

There were some things I didn’t really care for. The writing didn’t grasp me, though I think it will be great for younger readers who are just beginning to read about these situations where a parent is the one who might need extra help. The characters were confusing to me because they never seemed to stick to their own personality. I liked that the girls’ relationship often felt like one real sisters would have, but they all flip-flopped around so much that it became frustrating.

I really would recommend this as a book for younger readers because they will start to ask questions about and get an understanding of what a mental illness is and how it affects the individual, as well as the rest of their family.

Writing: 85%
Characters: 75%
Plot: 85%
Overall: 82%

3 stars

3 stars · fiction

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

 

Wonderstruck

author : brian selznick [also wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret]

pages : [hardcover] 640

memorable quote : Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for.”

favorite character : rose

summary :

Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for his unknown father. Rose scrapbooks a famous silent actress. When Ben finds clues and Rose reads enticing news, the children independently run to New York for what they are missing. Ben’s story in words, Rose’s in pictures, come together in deafness.

review :

I was absolutely fascinated by the idea that this story was told half in words, half pictures. I read and loved Hugo Cabret before, written by the same author, and loved how what was told in the text was visually represented. Wonderstruck is different because Ben’s story is told completely in words while Rose’s is only in pictures, so her tale is a little more difficult to piece together. The two narratives also take place in different times so it was awesome to see little historical bits about the 1970s and 1920s. It was also very fun to guess at why the two of them were chosen to tell the story and to try to figure out how they may be connected. While I kind of guessed the answer by the end, it still had a little surprise!

This book is very large but it’s such a quick read! If you have a few hours one afternoon you could easily get through this massive novel. I think younger readers might be daunted, at least until they see that most of the pages are taken up by pictures or large text. I breezed through this and though I needed to stop a few times to read my actual homework, this was much more fun to page through.

What I really liked about this novel, and think that there should be more of, was the fact that prominent characters are deaf. I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a novel with a deaf person in it. While I don’t know much about Deaf culture, I would love to learn sign language, so it was also very cool to see sign language in a few of the pictures throughout the novel.

Even though I was captivated by the concept of the story, loved that there was such a fascination with museums in the novel, and really enjoyed some pieces of the plot, this isn’t one of my favorite books. I’m not sure if I’ll read it again, now that the fun of it has worn off. I definitely think it’s the kind of story that some people might like better than I could. Ben and Rose seemed hard for me to relate to and so I wasn’t as drawn into their story as I should have been. While I wanted a happy ending, there was no real excitement in the story that had me craving more. It was simply a nice story.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, interesting read. It isn’t a favorite but I’m still very glad that I read it.

3.5/5 stars

4 stars · Fantasy · fiction

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

author : karen foxlee

pages : [hardcover] 240

memorable quote And you might think a name is just a name, nothing but a word, but that is not the case. Your name is tacked to you. Where it has joined you, it has seeped into your skin and into your essence and into your soul.

favorite characters : opehlia & the marvelous boy

summary :

A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

review :

I have a special affection for children’s stories that are modeled after fairy tales. I think  it’s so important for everyone to embrace their imagination and allow it to thrive. While there were some parts of this novel that seemed rushed for me, I really did enjoy it and hope to read more by this author in the future!

Ophelia was a fantastic protagonist. Not only is she still grieving the loss of her mother, something no girl should have to do, she’s small, asthmatic, and her father and sister have changed and seem to have little time for her anymore. Finding a mysterious boy in a museum opens up a whole new world for her. I loved seeing Ophelia change throughout the story and I felt like I could really connect with her, especially her doubts and her hope that everything would turn out alright in the end.

I did get very frustrated with her family in this book, mostly because it was obvious how much she needed them and they tended to ignore her. Of course she was speaking about impossible things so they assumed she was making it all up, but she’s young and deserved more than they gave her. The end settled most of this for me.

Some of the scenes were bothersome because they were more summary than action and I would have liked to have seen how they played out rather than have them told to me. As with my frustration with Ophelia’s family, this was made up for elsewhere, but kept me from giving this read a full 5 stars.

I really think that younger readers will fall in love with this story and the characters in it. Older readers like me will be able to enjoy this quick read. I think it contains a great message as well as two great protagonists to root for!

4/5 stars

If you like this book, you might also like Catalina or A Kiss in Time.

3 stars · Fantasy · fiction · paranormal · young adult

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

The Night Tourist 

author : katherine marsh

pages : [hardcover] 230

favorite character : Euri

summary :

Jack Perdu, a shy, ninth grade classics prodigy lives with father on the Yale University campus. Smart and introverted, Jack spends most of his time alone, his nose buried in a book. But when Jack suffers a near fatal accident, his life is forever changed. His father sends him to a mysterious doctor in New York City-a place Jack hasn’t been since his mother died there eight years ago. While in the city, Jack meets Euri, a young girl who offers to show him the secrets of Grand Central Station. Here, Jack discovers New York’s Underworld, a place where those who died in New York reside until they are ready to move on. This, Jack belives, is a chance to see his mother again. But as secrets about Euri’s past are revealed, so are the true reasons for Jack’s visit to the Underworld. Masterfully told, The Night Tourist weaves together New York City’s secret history and its modern-day landscape to create a highly vivid ghost world, full of magical adventure and page-turning action.

review :

The Night Tourist was a highly simplistic read that I started one night and finished the next afternoon. The writing is very to the point and not overly embellished though I think that I would have liked to see more added into it, especially in the more surreal parts of the novel. It was a very creative and fun journey though it seemed rushed and bland at points because of the bland writing.

I loved the ideas presented throughout The Night Tourist and the underworld that it created for the ghosts who were still in limbo. At times it was kind of confusing to keep track of the supporting characters as there were so many ghosts that Jack ran into, but I really liked the bantering relationship that he and Euri had going on so that definitely distracted me from most faults in this novel. I liked the settings, too; the ghost haunts, the different places around New York.

I think that if the author had added in some pages really developing the narrative and fleshing it out more fully then I would have enjoyed this much more because I really fell in love with all of the creative, ghostly things that were happening and hated it when an oddly phrased paragraph or blunted dialogue dragged me out of the book world simply because of the annoyance that that caused me. I’m really hoping that maybe if this author writes something else that I’ll read, that might not be the case, because of the creativity presented here that isn’t something to miss.

The Night Tourist is geared toward younger readers but I think that it’s a book that anyone can pick up and take something good from.

3.5/5 stars

3 stars · Fantasy · fiction · paranormal · young adult

Radiance by Alyson Noel

Radiance

Riley Bloom #1

Author : alyson noel [also wrote : Shadowland, Blue Moon]

pages [paperback] : 183

favorite character : buttercup

summary:

Riley has crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. She has picked up life where she left off when she was alive, living with her parents and dog in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. When she’s summoned before The Council, she learns that the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a possibly cute, seemingly nerdy boy who’s definitely hiding something. They return to earth together for Riley’s first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But all of that was before he met Riley . . .

review:

I purchased this book a while ago because I was really getting into Alyson Noel’s other series and wanted to see how this spin-off, geared more toward middle grade readers, would hold up in comparison. It definitely fell short, and the only reason I ever got around to finishing it (and thus reviewing it) is because I forced myself to sit down the other day and read the rest in one go. Even if I’d read the first portion months ago.

‘Forced’ is never a word that I want to use when I come to describe my experience reading a novel. It was interesting, to be sure, but I never really liked many of the characters, especially Riley. I already had a good idea of her personality, but when she’s so completely obnoxious about each and every thing that happens to her, when no one goes up and tells her how much of a brat she’s being . . . It makes me not want to go on. At first, I was sure she was going to be like this so that we could see her progress and watch her change her personality into something much more likeable. Even tolerable! But, no. There were some parts that made no sense; she’d spend all of this time seeking praise . . . And then suddenly be embarrassed, describing herself as humbled, when she gets a simple compliment. Even though she actively seeks them out constantly.

I might continue with this series purely through wanting to see how this series will go on from here, but I’ll be getting those books from the library. I’d say this would be an okay read, but one you wouldn’t want to spend money on in case it ends up disappointing.

3/5 stars

interview

Interview with Pepper Thorn, author of Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle!

I reviewed Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle a few weeks ago, and today I’m lucky enough to welcome the author to my blog!

*What inspired you to write Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle?

Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle has an interesting story behind it. I did a lot of babysitting as a teenager. The family I sat for had three small children and, being the conscientious person I am, I wouldn’t let them watch TV until after dark. Dark in the southern summer comes late. Often we would sit in the shade on the back porch telling stories. I let each child choose one element for the story and then I simply started talking as we all waited to see where it would go. Those stories wouldn’t have fared well against an English teacher with a red pen, but the kids loved them and they made they made the long, hot days pass faster. The only one I still remember was about a princess who lived in a castle made of glass.
 
After I was all grown up and writing real, not-off-the-top-of-my-head stories I thought about that princess and her glass castle. I thought about all the retellings and reworking of fairytales and all the books inspired by fairytales I had read over the intervening years. And I wondered, what would that story look like if I were telling it now?

The answer is, a lot different. First off the Crystal Castle (no longer actually made of glass) belongs to the dark, handsome prince who uses his magic to steal away Princess Rose after she turns down all of the princes desperate to marry her. Second, Princess Rose carries a strange and dangerous curse that makes everyone she meets fall in love with her. And last but not least, nothing in the Crystal Castle is quite what it seems: not the handsome prince, not the mad king she never sees, not even the silent page who becomes her only friend. But there is still a dragon, sort of. 🙂

*Where is your favorite place to write?

I love to write outdoors. There’s this nice, shady spot on my front porch where I like to write in the summer and a sunny one, at the other end, where I write in the spring and fall. In the winter I curl up in the big, cozy recliner next to the window in my library. I open the windows and snuggle under a blanket with a cup of tea, a cat or two, and my iPad.

My house is in a woodsy neighborhood and there’s a little stream running between the next house and mine. Instead of listening to music, I listen to the wind in the trees, the rustle of small creatures in the leaf litter, the soft sound of water trickling over rocks, birds chirping. My favorite is when it rains. I love the sound of rain.

*What did you find most challenging about writing Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle?

I originally intended for princess Rose to be very short, bedtime story length, and written in a traditional fairytale style. Both of these plans flew out the window almost as soon as I started writing. By the time I finished, it was a nice middle grade novel length and no more traditional than I am. So I had to go back and rewrite the first chapter several times. It was difficult to find that balance between my writing style and that distant, objective voice of a traditional fairytale. I needed to ease the reader out of that fairytale comfort zone while still staying true to my “once upon a time” beginning.

*If you could meet any literary character, who would you pick?

When I was young I would have said Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. I had an imagination to match hers but I wasn’t proud or fierce like she was. She sounded like so much fun, like she’d make a great friend. I dressed up as her for Halloween one year. Sadly, no one got it.

Now, though, I think I’d rather meet Lilly Potter. Even though she’s dead before the series starts she has a huge impact on everything that happens. She has to be the most loved and loving character in all of literature. Harry lives because of her love. Slughorn gives up his shameful secret to honor her memory. Snape ultimately gives up his life protecting the son she died for. Remus, Petunia, everyone talks about her with such love and respect. Someone like that is always worth meeting because they change your life for the better.

I’d also like to meet Lois MacMaster Bujuold’s Miles Vorkosigan. He’s like a force of nature that sweeps everyone around him along in his wake. That could be a bad thing, especially with such an eccentric character in such an oddly strict culture. But Miles is also one of those people who can do what is necessary while still remaining a genuinely good person. I doubt you could meet him without getting drawn into some adventure.

*Have you been influenced by any particular writer’s style?

I first read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis when I was very young and it blew my mind. I loved that series growing up and read it over and over again. By the time I graduated high school I owned three copies of each book and knew them backwards and forwards. Those stories made me feel that anything was possible and that has definitely influenced my work.

*What is your all-time favorite book?

That’s too hard. There are so many great books out there. I could never choose just one.

I’d honestly be hard pressed to even choose a favorite author. I always say its Marion Zimmer Bradley. I love her Darkover novels, especially the Renunciate books. But Anne McCaffery also has that same perfect balance between a rich, unique world that keeps you coming back book after book even when all the characters change and strong, very human characters that you identify with right away.

For a sense of the otherworldly and a story where you never know what might happen next, because truly anything can, I can always rely on Patricia McKillip and Neil Gaiman. I love that darkness that edges every word. They have a way of taking the everyday and twisting it, without you even noticing, until its disturbingly alien. And their prose is simply beautiful.

*Fun fact about yourself?

My five favorite things in the world are my husband, my cats, books, chocolate, and routines. I think that routines make life interesting.

I start every day with a cup of tea. I have several pairs of the same set of shirt and pants, in a variety of colors, that I wear to work every day. All the pieces match each other so I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear. All I have to do is pull something off the hanger and put it on. I eat the same thing for lunch everyday and a cup of tea when I get home.

I try to turn as many of the little nothings that we all do everyday into a routine as possible. That way I don’t have to waste my mental energy on things that aren’t important. I’m not a naturally organized or efficient person. My routines let me save as much energy and creativity as possible for my writing.

Thanks so much for answering my questions!
I highly recommend checking out Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle. It’s a great, fun, quick read!