Celebrating Juneteenth

In honor of today, here is a small handful of great books by African-American authors that I recommend.

The links will take you to my blogs with more about the books and why I recommend them, with multiple ways to obtain them.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: powerful contemporary fiction for YA and older.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi: excellent and engaging nonfiction on the title subject written for young people.

The Lost Tribes by Christine Taylor-Butler: fun adventure fiction for middle schoolers.

For All Time by Shanna Miles: captivating time-travel love story for YA and older.

Many of these are outside my usual genres of fantasy and historical fiction, but I’m so glad I gave them a try, and hope you will take a look, too. (They’re listed in the order I read them.)

Updated! Publication News for Frama-12

My friend Aud just shared this good news: her fantasy novel Frama-12 is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Update as of May 7th: you can now also pre-order the e-book and paperback on Barnes and Noble and the paperback on Bookshop.org! All sites have the same prices for the same formats.

Frama-12 is a fun, light-hearted YA fantasy with depth and heart. If you’ve read my blog recently, you know I’ve read this novel since it was a youngster of a book, and I’ve watched it grow up in our critique group. The characters Winnie, Mikey, and Kip have won my heart, made me laugh, made me worry, made me cheer.

Here’s how Aud describes it:

“Winnie Harris, following a warrior code in honor of her mother’s fighting spirit, will do whatever it takes to protect her little stepbrother, Mikey. Kip Skyler, charming to everyone but Winnie, impresses her stepbrother with his sleight of hand. Now Mikey wants them to pass through a time tear into Frama-12 and save the inhabitants from an invasion. She’ll be the general and Kip the wizard.

Winnie sees two problems with the mission. Frama-12 is just a fantasy game, right? And Kip is majorly annoying. But she’s only half right. If the incompatible teens can’t work together, an enemy could march through a very real time tear and attack Earth.”

I am so excited to read Frama-12 in its grown-up form! It comes out July 13th, 2022 and I’ve already reserved my copy. Like I’ve said before, I kind of feel like a proud aunt waiting for my niece and nephews to step out on stage for their big debut.

You can read about Aud’s adventures on the journey toward publication with Wild Rose Press on her blog. It’s been an exciting ride to follow!

Frama 12 Cover Art

“Alternate worlds? Alien armies? Summer vacation just took a wild turn.”

Book Review: For All Time by Shanna Miles

As soon as I read the blurb on For All Time by Shanna Miles, I was sure I would like it: a “romance that follows two lovers fated to repeat their story across hundreds of lifetimes, who hope to break the cycle once and for all.” I was still wowed by just how riveted I was. I cared about Tamar and Fayard from the very first page. Which is all the more remarkable since modern urban fantasy isn’t my usual inclination.

Then Shanna Miles braids in more of their stories, from the wealthy West African empire of Mali in the 1300s, to 1920s Philadelphia. Tamar and Fayard have their own souls in each time, but their lives vary drastically from period to period, which makes each of them very different people depending on when we find them. I quickly came to care about their fates in each era. Every time they are drawn together by love, and every time they are torn apart.

Their story has some excellent twists – some quite shocking. The best is at the end. I deeply dislike spoilers, so I will try to give nothing away. I’ll only say I’m very glad to have read For All Time, and I recommend it to readers who love well-written love stories that span time and space. You can get the hardback and audio book right now through all the regular channels, and pre-order the paperback for September 6th. When I checked today, I was very pleased to see that it was among Bookshop.org’s Romance Picks by POC Authors, and it’s also Amazon’s Editors’ Pick for Best Young Adult.

Thank you, Shanna Miles! I’m so grateful to have gotten your book via your raffle, though I would have been very glad to have bought it!

Holiday Gift Ideas 2021

Like the last two years, I want to post some ideas for mid-winter gifts. This year, to do my personal utmost to fight the pandemic and still support bricks-and-mortar and small businesses, I’ve mostly avoided crowded shops and post offices and instead ordered online. As always, my favorite gifts to give are books, and I ordered all these from my local indie bookstore.

But Christmas is fast approaching. If you have a local indie, check with them to see if they have time to get your books by Christmas. Or you can use Barnes & Noble – their website notes if you order by Dec. 20th you can get books shipped just in time with express shipping.

These are the books I’ve gotten for my loved ones – and some for myself!

my own copy

For picture-book lovers of all ages: The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper. The text is a poem from the Christmas Revels, and celebrates the return of light into the darkest of times. I love this poem so much I bought a copy of the book for myself.

For young middle-schoolers: Stuntboy by Jason Reynolds. Full disclosure: I haven’t read this book, but I was greatly impressed by the book Stamped Jason Reynolds co-wrote with Ibram X. Kendi, and by hearing Jason talk at a book-signing. Also, his description of the book was so charming, I knew I wanted to get it for my nephew. Here’s Jason’s description of Stuntboy aka Portico Reeves: “he’s awesome. He’s got a hightop fade, a cape, a cat, a grandmother, a best friend (which has been hard for me to get used to because I thought I was his best friend) and lives in a castle. Most importantly, he has a super power.”

my advance copy

For young adults and older: For All Time by Shanna Miles. This is a great story of star-crossed lovers meeting and being parted across time, with vivid glimpses into times past and some excellent twists. I feel honored to have gotten an advance reader’s copy, and hope to post a more full review in the new year.

my own copy

Also for young adults and older: Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer. One of my favorite books of the year – I highly recommend it for anyone who has read all the previous Enola Holmes books. For fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian mysteries, and the Enola Holmes movie – I highly recommend starting with the first book, Enola Holmes and the Case of the Missing Marquess.

Photo Provided by Laura Selinsky

For adults young and old: Whitstead Christmastide edited by Abigail and Sara Falanga. A collection of short stories set in a Dickensian village where the veil between worlds is thin, and wondrous things can happen. I read one of the stories as my friend Laura Selinsky was polishing it, and that inspired me to buy three copies, one for myself. I am reading it presently, and it is warming my heart.

For animal lovers: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. The wonderful stories from the life of a Yorkshire veterinarian; if you’ve seen the excellent adaptation on PBS, know that the stories are even richer.

For more ideas, I invite you to see my blogposts from 2019 and 2020.

May we all celebrate the light, and share it.

Good News from a Writing Friend

My friend Aud recently shared this splendid news: her novel Frama-12 is going to be published by The Wild Rose Press!

I have read Aud’s draft of this novel and I loved it. The characters Winnie, Mikey, and Kip made me laugh, warmed my heart, aggravated me, and made me tense with worry during their exploits in a wild, wacky world. I can’t wait to see their story shine out from the covers of a book!

Aud talked about this book in our joint blog about the writing conferences we took part in. And you can read about her process of getting Frama-12 out into the world on her blog, where she’s in the midst of chronicling the journey.

Aud, I’m happy to be along for the ride!

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