A brief note on New Year's resolutions. . .
Ha ha. . .what are those?
If I had one, it'd be: STOP PROCRASTINATING. And if I'd followed that advice, you would've read this in December. So let's go back in time, about a month ago, and enjoy my end-of-the-year newsletter. . .
And be sure to enter my giveaway below of a signed copy of Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans by Isi Hendrix, plus book swag.
I'm so excited to share the cover of my next middle grade novel, Near and Deer, coming out on Oct. 1, 2024 from Scholastic, about a dog who befriends an abandoned fawn and the girl who tries to keep it together while taking care of the fawn. Here's the adorable cover, art by Diego Salas and design by Maeve Norton:
Don't you think this is will be like catnip for kids?
If you have a moment, please add this book to your "want to read" list on Goodreads.
Book/Media Recs from 2023
In 2023, most of my entertainment hours were consumed by a rekindled love of soccer. I grew up watching the World Cup every four years, but ever since last winter's World Cup, I've gotten really into the game. It turns out that following teams or players is like watching a long-running show, with dramatic storylines, twists and turns, heart, and high drama.
In case you're wondering, I follow the Premier League, rooting for Tottenham (favorite players: Son and Romero); the U.S. men's and women's national teams (favorites: Pulisic and Reyna); Conmebol (the South American League), especially Argentina and Venezuela; and Inter Miami (because, Messi, of course). Looking forward to the U.S. hosting Copa America this summer and co-hosting the World Cup with Canada and Mexico in 2026! Hoping to get to a game or two in those tournaments; last year, we saw a Premier League game in London (Chelsea v. Everton) and a USMNT game in Nashville (US v Ghana):
Other than soccer, these shows & books that stood out for me in 2023:
It's OK to Not Be OK. I love this K-drama. The premise of a diva-esque picture book author who writes the most disturbing stories caught my attention, but what drew me in was the central question: can two broken people find happiness together? The characters are complex and interesting (including a well-done autistic character); the tone is dark and whimsical; and the fairy tale metaphors and inventive filmmaking add to the appeal.
One Piece. I haven't read the source manga, but I really enjoyed this rollicking found-family-of-pirates story about an optimistic boy's quest to become King of the Pirates. Packed with action, charming characters, and set in an odd world of misfits and magic, this is feel-good brain candy.
Lost Rewatch. I don't usually rewatch series (except for Battlestar Galactica and Dark Matter), but when I found out my daughters hadn't seen Lost, we began a rewatch. Every episode reminds me of how brilliant the storytelling is, between its immersive and mysterious plot and the brilliant character building.Lost Rewatch. I don't usually rewatch series (except for Battlestar Galactica and Dark Matter), but when I found out my daughters hadn't seen Lost, we began a rewatch. Every episode reminds me of how brilliant the storytelling is, between its immersive and mysterious plot and the brilliant character building.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I loved this sci-fi epistolary novella about rival time-bending agents who fall in love by writing to each other across enemy lines, time, and multiverses. A fun and mind-bending enemies-to-lovers story.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin. Of last year's popular books, I really enjoyed this unique story of a friendship between two game developers that spans decades of ups and downs, rivalries, betrayals, and more. It's a fun deep-dive into geeky gamer culture as well as a refreshing exploration of the intricacies of a non-romantic friendship.
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews. My favorite middle grade graphic novel from last year. Every year, a town floats paper lanterns down a river, and legend has it that they float up into the Milky Way. This year, Ben and his friends vow to follow the lanterns, and what follows is a Studio Ghibli-esque adventure of magic, talking bears, and eccentric new worlds.
Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans, by Isi Hendrix. This middle grade Afrofantasy holds a special place in my heart, because Isi Hendrix was my Pitch Wars mentee, so I got to see this story develop from its early drafts: a twelve-year-old apprenticing in the kitchens at the prestigious Academy of Shamans must ally with a snarky goddess and a knife-wielding warrior to save her kingdom.
#Authorgoal unlocked: blurbs!
I was honored to be asked to blurb some middle grade novels last year. It's a thrill to see my name on books I admire (and check out the cool UK cover of Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans).
ADIA KELBARA Giveaway
I'm giving away a signed copy of Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans, along with some fun swag to go with it. To enter the givewaway:
1. You must be a subscriber to my newsletter
2. Reply to this email (or to the newsletter welcome email if you arrived at this post from somewhere else) with a favorite book or show recommendation.
3. BONUS ENTRY: add Near and Deer to your Goodreads want to read list - just let me know you've done it and I'll give you an extra entry
This giveaway ends on Jan. 21, 2024, noon ET. US addresses only.