Dark and Mysterious Recs

I’m trying to make up for the fact that I’ve been too busy to write daily recs by combining some of the categories I drew up in advance to dole out over a longer period. Please do drop me a line, here or on other social media, to let me know if you’re reading. I was away from blogging for so long, and I wonder if I’m too old school. Do people only do videos these days on TikTok or Instagram? Do I need to learn an entirely new “language”? Inquiring minds want to know! (Also, I’d love to hear what you’re reading to add to my teetering TBR pile!)

In the meantime…the past few posts have been about the fabulously fun, but dark and suspenseful can be such great escapes as well. Sometimes nothing gets me out of my head like being sucked into someone else’s world and dragged along for the ride, unable to take a full breath until I know that the characters will come out okay or the bad guy will be brought to justice. So here are some reads that will do just that:

Dark & Gritty:

THE BLUE BAR by Damyanti Biswas

On the dark streets of Mumbai, the paths of a missing dancer, a serial killer, and an inspector with a haunted past converge in an evocative thriller about lost love and murderous obsession.

After years of dancing in Mumbai’s bars, Tara Mondal was desperate for a new start. So when a client offered her a life-changing payout to indulge a harmless, if odd, fantasy, she accepted. The setup was simple: wear a blue-sequined saree, enter a crowded railway station, and escape from view in less than three minutes. It was the last time anyone saw Tara.

Thirteen years later, Tara’s lover, Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, is still grappling with her disappearance as he faces a horrifying new crisis: on the city’s outskirts, women’s dismembered bodies are being unearthed from shallow graves. Very little links the murders, except a scattering of blue sequins and a decade’s worth of missing persons reports that correspond with major festivals.

Past and present blur as Arnav realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer and that someone wants his investigation buried at any cost. Could the key to finding Tara and solving these murders be hidden in one of his cold cases? Or will the next body they recover be hers?

“Meticulous local color matches sensitive characterizations, including of brave Mumbai police who try to overcome the deadly hazards of the corrupt system they have to work in. This searing portrait of marginalized people struggling for survival is unforgettable.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“The Blue Bar is one of those books that tattoos itself onto your bones—the luscious language, the glorious sense of place, a mystery that draws you in deep, so deep that you forget there’s a world around you. Best of all is Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, the tender, lionhearted man at the story’s center who will stop at nothing to see that justice is done. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.” —Jess Lourey, Edgar-nominated author of Unspeakable Things

“An intense, visceral thriller that…will leave you breathless!” —Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author



“I was knocked over by the momentum of an intense psychological thriller that doesn’t let go until the final page. This is a terrific read.” – Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author

*Marie Claire’s September Book Club Pick* 

Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

Featured in Parade, Essence, Bustle, Popsugar, Elle, Shondaland, Marie Claire, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Good Housekeeping, Brit + Co, Real Simple, Lit Hub, Crime Reads, Blavity, Ms. Magazine, Hello Giggles, The New York Times, Town & Country, Newsweek, New York Post, Refinery29, Woman’s World, Washington Post, the Skimm, Book Riot, Bookish, Huffington Post, and more!

Serious Agatha Christie Vibes

Okay, this first one not only has serious Agatha Christie vibes, but also features a book within a book!

MOONFLOWER MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz

From New York Times–bestselling author Anthony Horowitz comes a new novel featuring ex-editor hero Susan Ryeland, set to solve another murder mystery

Farlingaye Hall is a beautiful hotel in Suffolk on the east coast of England. Unfortunately, it is also the site of the brutal murder of Frank Parris, a retired advertising executive. Stefan Codrescu, a Romanian maintenance man, is arrested after police discover blood spatter on his clothes and bed linen. He is found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison. It appears to be an open-and-shut case, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

Alan Conway, the late author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew Frank Parris and once visited Farlingaye Hall. Also, the third book in Conway’s detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Cake, was based on the hotel. Cecily Treherne, the daughter of Farlingaye Hall’s owner, has read the book and believes the proof of Stefan’s innocence can be found in its pages.

But now . . . Cecily Treherne has disappeared. So Conway’s former editor, Susan Ryeland, leaves her own hotel in Crete and travels to Suffolk to investigate the murder and Treherne’s disappearance.

Masterfully intriguing, brilliantly clever and relentlessly suspenseful, Moonflower Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.

Then, of course, there is MARPLE, itself! I was so excited to get an early copy because of Alyssa Cole’s excellent story and to read all of the other amazing stories in here, because I’ve been an Agatha Christie fan since childhood! You will not be disappointed. Stories by Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, Jean Kwok, Val McDermid, Karen M. McManus, Kate Mosse, Dreda Say Mitchell, and Ruth Ware.

MARPLE: Twelve New Mysteries


“Each author captures Christie—and Marple—perfectly, while also displaying just a bit of her own unique touch. . . . This new and entertaining collection by some of our favorite writers will hook a new group of readers to the formidable Miss Marple.” — Rhys Bowen, Washington Post

“Marple is the best loved [detective]. Also the most influential. . . . It is Miss Marple who introduced the revolutionary notion that people are essentially the same wherever one goes.” — Los Angeles Times

Agatha Christie’s legendary sleuth, Jane Marple, returns to solve twelve baffling cases in this brand-new collection, penned by a host of acclaimed authors skilled in the fine art of mystery and murder

One doesn’t stop at one murder…

Jane Marple is an elderly lady from St Mary Mead who possesses an uncanny knack for solving even the most perplexing puzzles. Now, for the first time in 45 years, Agatha Christie’s beloved character returns to the page for a globe-trotting tour of crime and detection.

Join Marple as she travels through her sleepy English village and around the world. In St Mary Mead, a Christmas dinner is interrupted by unexpected guests; the Broadway stage in New York City is set for a dangerous improvisation; bad omens surround an untimely death aboard a cruise ship to Hong Kong; and a bestselling writer on holiday in Italy is caught in a nefarious plot. These and other crimes committed in the name of love, jealousy, blackmail, and revenge are ones that only the indomitable Jane Marple can solve.

Bringing a fresh twist to the hallmarks of a classic Agatha Christie mystery, these twelve esteemed writers have captured the sharp wit, unique voice, and droll ingenuity of the deceptively demure detective. A triumphant celebration of Christie’s legacy and essential reading for crime lovers, Marple is a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains one of the most famous detectives of all time.

SFF Rays of Sunshine

Yesterday, or maybe it was the day before, I had to do an update to the bio on the blog, and I won’t say that it wrecked me, but it was a near thing. Everything has changed in the past eighteen months. I can no longer say that I live in Florida with my “husband and daughter” because my amazing daughter moved to New York last summer to live with my sister and pursue job opportunities there. There were so many tears and visceral reactions as she packed up, that none of us were certain she would actually go. Minds were changed and rechanged. It was touch and go up until the car got on the road. Even then, there was that “I want to come home” stage. And the “you have to stick it out” point. And now we’re here, where she has an amazing union job with benefits and tuition assistance up to 100%. They appreciate her; she feels appreciated. She has someone in her life. She’s happy. It’s all we’ve ever wanted for her. We talk with her several times a day and see her several times a year, so in some ways, it’s like she never left. Except that we can’t get hugs any time we want.

I also had to change the part about living with the “two cutest dogs in the world” because we lost our oldest, Mickey, the day after Thanksgiving this year. Mickey was an apricot cockapoo, a small dog with a big personality. He would tell us in no uncertain terms who was to walk him or whether he expected both of us to drop everything and do the honors, and he would not take “no” for an answer. He sneezed to say “yes”. He knew about a thousand words and twice that many non-verbal cues. For example, what going-out clothes looked like. He loved people, kids especially. He would put up with the little girl down the street piling twigs and leaves on top of him and turning him into a “tree” but would not suffer himself to be sniffed by other dogs. We loved him with all our hearts. However, his sister, Ginger is still here and doing as well as she can be without him, so we’re focusing on the positive.

My last blog, I gave some fun book recs. I want to give a few more today in the SFF field. Books that are like a ray of sunshine, in some cases a warm hug. Please enjoy!


A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family—and a new love—changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos “pretending” to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.
But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.
As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when peril comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….


A 2021 Alex Award winner!
The 2021 RUSA Reading List: Fantasy Winner!
An Indie Next Pick!
One of Publishers Weekly‘s “Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2020”
One of Book Riot’s “20 Must-Read Feel-Good Fantasies”

Lambda Literary Award-winning author TJ Klune’s bestselling, breakout contemporary fantasy that’s “1984 meets The Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Douglas Adams thrown in.” (Gail Carriger)

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.


Monsters are real.
But so are heroes.

Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice . . . mostly.

Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality. Doors creak at their approach. Cobwebs gather where they linger.

Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident (what else?) transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks—and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities—and (of course) to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names.

Turns out that “accident” was just the first salvo in a Mad Genius’s latest diabolical scheme. Now it’s up to four newbie heroes to save the day, before they even have a chance to figure out what their team’s name should be!


Step into a world of hope, fate, and folk magic in this bewitching debut when a young woman travels to a sleepy southern town in the Appalachian Mountains to honor her best friend. 

Mel Smith’s life is shattered after the sudden death of her best friend, Sarah Ross. In an effort to fulfill a final promise to Sarah and find herself again, Mel travels to an idyllic small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. But Morgan’s Gap is more than she ever expected.

There are secrets that call to Mel, from a salvaged remedy book filled with the magic of simple mountain traditions to the connection she feels to the Ross homestead and the wilderness around it. 

With every taste of sweet honey and tart blackberries, the wildwood twines further into Mel’s broken heart. But a threat lingers in the woods—one that may have something to do with Sarah’s untimely death and has now set its sights on Mel. 

The wildwood is whispering. It has secrets to reveal—if you’re willing to listen . . .

Praise for Wildwood Whispers:

“A feast for the senses. Willa Reece has written a magical, romantic tale about our essential connections to nature and to each other.” —Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author

“A beautifully woven tale of fantasy, feminism, and mystery set in rural Appalachia.”―Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time


Book Recs to Add some Light to Your Life

Ah, so we meet again! We all need some light in our lives, particularly as we’ve been living through a lot these past years. The holidays can be boisterous, fun, a time to reconnect, to see loved ones we haven’t seen in a while. But they can also be difficult, reminding us of those we’ve lost along the way. I want to start there with my first rec.

I absolutely adored LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus. It was amazing, and deserves all the accolades. But all the promo I’ve seen, and the cover itself, leans into the humor. And it is humorous. Oh, so funny. I laughed out loud throughout. But it’s also about loss, and bias, and it should perhaps come with a trigger warning. What I’m saying is absolutely buy this book, read this book, but know what you’re getting into, because it will affect you, as all the best books will, but perhaps more than you anticipate, and I want you to be ready. Then, strap in and enjoy one of the most satisfying books of the year.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (PARADE) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

WINNER OF THE GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, GoodReads

“A unique heroine … you’ll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional.” —Seattle Times

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.  

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.


The Reluctant Royals and Runaway Royals series by Alyssa Cole

While we’re talking about chemistry,  you absolutely have to check out Alyssa

Cole’s Royals series, starting with A PRINCESS IN THEORY!

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Selected as one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018!

Other Novels: A PRINCE ON PAPER, A DUKE BY DEFAULT, HOW TO CATCH A QUEEN, HOW TO FIND A PRINCESS and stories: “Once Ghosted, Twice Shy”, “Can’t Escape Love”


I know, I know, everyone has already read or recommended BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry, but I can’t help myself. How could I resist a book with an agent protagonist? And I loved it. Really and truly. My only quibble was that I couldn’t quite believe that an agent with a bestselling author could give up her salary for that of an editor or that an editor would have the time to focus so completely on one author (see, for example, what’s going on with the HarperCollins strike), but, we all make allowances for fiction!

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Oprah Daily ∙ Today ∙ Parade ∙ Marie Claire ∙ Bustle ∙ PopSugar ∙ Katie Couric Media ∙ Book Bub ∙ SheReads ∙ Medium ∙ The Washington Post ∙ and more!

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.


And, if you’d like to binge a wonderful and witchy rom com series, look no further than Ann Aguirre’s Fix-it Witches, starting with WITCH PLEASE!

Practical Magic meets Gilmore Girls in this adorable witchy rom-com by New York Times bestselling author Ann Aguirre, with a bisexual cinnamon roll hero, a commitment-averse heroine, and a chemistry between them that causes literal sparks.

Danica Waterhouse is a fully modern witch—daughter, granddaughter, cousin, and co-owner of the Fix-It Witches, a magical tech repair shop. After a messy breakup that included way too much family “feedback,” Danica made a pact with her cousin: they’ll keep their hearts protected and have fun, without involving any of the overly opinionated Waterhouse matriarchs. Danica is more than a little exhausted navigating a long-standing family feud where Gram thinks the only good mundane is a dead one and Danica’s mother weaves floral crowns for anyone who crosses her path.

Three blocks down from the Fix-It Witches, Titus Winnaker, owner of Sugar Daddy’s bakery, has family trouble of his own. After a tragic loss, all he’s got left is his sister, the bakery, and a lifetime of terrible luck in love. Sure, business is sweet, but he can’t seem to shake the romantic curse that’s left him past thirty and still a virgin. He’s decided he’s doomed to be forever alone.

Until he meets Danica Waterhouse. The sparks are instant, their attraction irresistible. For him, she’s the one. To her, he’s a firebomb thrown in the middle of a family war. Can a modern witch find love with an old-fashioned mundane who refuses to settle for anything less than forever?

Praise for Witch Please:

“The start to Aguirre’s Fix-It Witches series is a delightful, laugh-out-loud small-town tale…Ann Aguirre’s sexy, sweet, funny, and oh-so-fulfilling witchy love story will leave readers hungry for Clementine’s story”—Library Journal, starred review

“Readers will be enchanted.”—Publishers Weekly


Forthcoming: THE ONLY PURPLE HOUSE IN TOWN (July 2023)

Mythic recs

Today’s recommended reads are inspired not only by the fact that they’re amazing books, but because KAIKEYI by Vaishnavi Patel is currently on sale in digital under Orbit’s New Voices initiative, so you can also try it before you buy it for someone else, if you’d like! And the Great Cities series by N.K. Jemisin was just recommended by Emma Straub on The Today Show, so you don’t have to take my word for it! (After all, I am her agent, so perhaps a bit biased.)

KAIKEYI by Vaishnavi Patel

Buy US: https://bit.ly/3VFhYYV Buy UK: https://bit.ly/3VA2yF6

Before she was cast as Indian mythology’s most jealous and vengeful queen, she had her own story…

Kaikeyi is the only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, beloved by her many brothers and raised on stories about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land prospers, how they offer the devout powerful boons. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts her she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most-favored queen, determined to forge a better world for herself and the women around her.

But as the demons of her childhood stories threaten the cosmic order once more, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family—especially that of her beloved son, Rama. Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak…and what legacy she intends to leave behind.

A stunning debut from a singular new voice, Kaikeyi reimagines the life of the vilified queen from the Indian epic the Ramayana. It is a story of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman who dares to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come.

The Great Cities Duology by N.K Jemisin

Four-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts a glorious tale of identity, resistance, magic and myth.

I could go on and on about this series, but I’m going to tell the tale in two of my favorite reviews that I really think sum up each book:

“VERDICT Jemisin (The Broken Earth) writes a harsh love story to one of America’s most famous places. As raw and vibrant as the city itself, the prose pushes the boundaries of fantasy and brings home what residents already know—their city is alive.” – Library Journal, Starred Review, on THE CITY WE BECAME

“A ray of hope in a dark time.” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review, on THE WORLD WE MAKE


Hi, all! With Twitter self-destructing and discrimination and danger coming with disclosing personal details on other social apps like Facebook, I’m looking at whether I have the time to restart my blog. Also, whether anyone will be interested in following along. Starting with this test balloon!

As a start, I’ll try to do a book rec or two a day through the new year, because I absolutely want to support this lovely, heartbreaking, heartwarming business of ours and everyone associated with it. Because it’s a Saturday*, which is never a big news day, I want to start with this whole post I did for A Book Lovin’ Mama’s Blog from the perspective of the characters from my books with gift ideas for the holidays for that booklover on your list, including some book recs (not just mine)!

Next, quick recs for the poetry lover on your list:

CALL US WHAT WE CARRY by Amanda Gorman, the Presidential Poet who wrote that amazing inaugural poem THE HILL WE CLIMB, also available!

SELECTED POEMS OF EMILY DICKENSON – I’ve been a long time fan, but have never had her poems all in one place. I found this volume on a B&N table for $10 and think it makes a great gift.

Not all are keepers, of course, but some new to me are so compelling and evergreen, like this short piece:

Much madness is divines sense

To a discerning eye;

Much sense the starkest madness.

‘Tis the majority

In this, as all, prevails.

Assent, and you are sane;

Demur, —you’re straightway dangerous,

And handled with a chain.

I feel this so deeply right now, surrounded as I am in a very red state with so many of my neighbors afraid to speak and children afraid to be who they are.

(*This was moved over from another blogsite, hence the tagging and the out-of-order posts. Henceforth, all should be in order!)


As promised, I’m going to continue my blog and great book recs leading right into the new year, but first I want to talk about the HarperCollins strike. As many of you may know, the HarperCollins Workers Union authorized a strike by an overwhelming 95.1% vote. Per the press release available via their open letter on Linktree (please free to sign in support!), they had been bargaining for eleven months to no avail. Among other things, HarperCollins had instituted lay-offs and hiring freezes that put an undue strain upon their workforce with no indication of what other measures had been considered and despite reporting record-setting profits in the past two years. Also “[t]he mainly women workers average $55,000 annually, with a starting salary of $45,000. Many employees cite pressure to work extra hours without additional compensation.” Which, of course, is what happens when you have fewer people to do the same amount of work, and it’s been happening throughout the industry. As anyone who’s lived in NY will tell you, $45,000 is not a living wage. (For that matter, neither was the $15k-$17k starting salary when I started in publishing almost thirty years ago, but the personnel squeeze wasn’t on then too.) These brave union workers striking for what’s right – and I say brave because they’ve been out there through the cold and the rain, they’ve been out there now for 23 days with no pay checks despite the already high cost of living and the holiday season and the risk that they take – have not heard word one from HarperCollins. They’ve asked that you please do not take this out on their authors or by not buying their books, but that you please make some noise, do what you can to help, including, if you can, donate to the strike fund.

Transgender Day of Visibility

My daughter is absolutely amazing. Some of you know her, either through my social media or because you’ve met her along the way. I did a post a few years ago about our journey, but it was from my perspective as a parent, because I wanted people who might not understand to have a way in or a post they could point others to who were struggling to accept. We’ve come such a long way since then, and I hope to continue on that path.

Today I asked my daughter whether she wanted to send me something in honor of Transgender Day of Visibility. I told her there were no parameters. Here is what she sent.

Transphobia in the Trans Community

            Transphobia coming from trans people sounds like the kind of argument you hear from those trying to discredit the community as hypocritical teenagers who don’t know what they’re talking about. But it is a serious issue, and can be seen even in some of the more visible faces of the trans community. It doesn’t come in the form of open bigotry, however, but more in the form of harmful rhetoric that creates a narrow and restrictive view of what it means to be transgender. These things can sound reasonable at first glance, but don’t hold up to scrutiny. And they are unfortunately pervasive among some trans people.

            The harmful rhetoric in question comes in the form of gender skepticism and ‘trans-medicalism.’ The basic tenet is that being transgender is a condition, dependent on gender dysphoria. However, gender dysphoria takes on all shapes and forms, and can vary wildly in severity. It can also be alleviated with social and medical transitions. Because of this, what makes one trans person dysphoric may not have the same effect on another. For example, there are some trans men who find that the word ‘boobs’ can trigger dysphoria regarding their own chests. Others, however don’t experience that effect. Neither side is ‘correct,’ but standardizing on a view that if one doesn’t experience dysphoria in a certain way can do serious harm to those who lay somewhere in the middle, and choose not to fully conform with the norms of any one gender. Despite being a trans woman, I rarely put on makeup or do my nails, and I still prefer pants in many cases. And that’s okay. Just as it’s okay for a trans man to still enjoy messing with makeup.

            So why is this so harmful? For one thing, it segregates the community, and alienates many gender nonconforming people. Even in small settings, promoting these ideas can make a nonbinary or just nonconforming trans person feel invalid, and even make them question their identity altogether. In larger settings, however, it can lead to widespread harassment of individuals that don’t fit the idea of a trans person that some have in their head. For instance, after being featured in a video about so-called ‘Trans-trenders,’ a young nonbinary trans-masculine individual named Brennan Beckwith experienced a vast number of hateful, transphobic, and even threatening comments. They were also doxed and chased off the internet for several years. It’s important to note that they were legally a minor when this happened. And while not every gender-nonconforming individual in trans and queer spaces will face this kind of widespread targeted harassment, the threat of it still looms over any who choose to share their experiences online, even to an audience of only a few dozen people. It silences those who don’t fit the common idea of a trans person, and reinforces stereotypes that exclude anyone different. Which seems to defeat the point of our movement for acceptance, quite frankly.

            The reasons for these pervasive ideas spreading in the trans community is simple. Anyone who doesn’t appear super gender conforming is viewed by bigots as trans people ‘not knowing what they want’ or ‘just going too far’ or ‘being crazy.’ And those who fit into the gender roles they identify with may want to separate themselves from the more divergent parts of the community, because in doing so they think they’ll find more acceptance with transphobes and bigots. And I can see the logic in it. Because I used to internalize it myself. But the truth is that we’ll never change everyone’s mind. And by dividing ourselves and fighting each other rather than the system that makes us the outcasts, we’re only hurting ourselves. If we want to be accepted for who we are, we need to be better about accepting others for who they are as well.

Happy Trans visibility day. And remember, you’re all valid.

-Abigail Wheeler


Hey, all! My blog went on hiatus as I’ve been crazy busy and as we’ve been living in interesting times (yes, this is a gross understatement, but words fail even a writer). However, I’m popping back up with the exciting news of my new release, DISAPPEARED, especially as it’s appearing for the next few weeks as part of WordFire Press’s Chills & Wonder StoryBundle. So, first about my new release and then about the bundle, which is amazing, and which you’re going to want to check out!

“DISAPPEARED is a wonderfully creepy read! Full of devious twists and filled with characters who are so real you genuinely care about them. Highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of ROT & RUIN and V-WARS

“A fast-paced murder-mystery with relatable characters and a shocking twist.” – School Library Journal

DISAPPEARED by Lucienne Diver is a gripping YA suspense with a twist that readers won’t see coming.

The story their father tells about their mother’s disappearance doesn’t add up for Jared and Emily Graham.

Foul play is suspected, intensifying their fears.

Their mom’s car is discovered, abandoned and covered in blood. No one will tell them what’s going on, so they’re going to find out for themselves. Their investigations into what really happened to their mother may have killer consequences for them both, especially if the truth hits close to home.


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The Chills & Wonder Bundle – Curated by Kevin J. Anderson

We live in creepy times. It’s summer, when we sit around the campfire and tell fun and chilling tales. Better yet, sit back with your e-reader and enjoy these thirteen books in the “Chills and Wonder” StoryBundle curated by New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson. These are some of the best, most entertaining dark fantasy, urban fantasy, and thriller novels—all thirteen books for as little as $15, and a portion goes to support the Challenger Learning Centers.

The StoryBundle includes the just-released anthology Monsters, Movies & Mayhem, with 23 all original stories about monsters and movies by Jonathan Maberry, David Gerrold, Fran Wilde, Rick Wilber, and many others. Lights! Camera! Monsters!

In the gritty thriller Disappeared by Lucienne Diver, a mother is missing, a father left to tell the tale, and their kids are determined to get to the truth or die trying. Steven-Elliot Altman’s Severed Wings is a romantic urban fantasy thriller that will make you believe in angels and demons and everything in between. Recommended for readers from American Gods to Twilight. In Keeper of the Winds by Russell Davis, nineteen-year-old Jenna Solitaire discovers an ancient family artifact, a wooden board covered in runes. It is coveted by powerful forces, and they will stop at nothing to take it from her.

In Amity Green’s The Witcher Chime, a deadly, possessive entity imprints on members of Savannah Caleman’s family, making her the latest object of obsession in this chilling, historical tale of haunted legacy and terror. In Book and Blade by Erik Lynd, Christopher never asked to inherit the office of the Beast or take up the mantle of the Hunter of Lost Souls. He never asked for his safe, comfortable world to be shattered and his family taken from him. And to make matters worse, it was all a mistake.

Melinda M. Snodgrass, one of the writers for Star Trek: The Next Generation, introduces readers to White Fang Law in This Case Is Gonna Kill Me. Fresh out of law school, Linnet Ellery is offered a position at of one the most prestigious firms in New York—one that caters to supernatural clients. Linnet will need all of her vaunted luck to avoid the cutthroat office politics, backroom deals, supernatural killers, and centuries-old schemers…

But there’s more—An insect-loving boy discovers that his new boarding school harbors a dark past and grisly secrets in Sarah Read’s The Bone Weaver’s Orchard. In The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, strange transformations destroyed Phoebe’s friends, and now threaten her own existence. And New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry presents a collection of hairy detective tales in Beneath the Skin, It’s hard enough being a low-rent private investigator—but when you’re also a werewolf, things take a turn for the weird.

The Chills & Wonder StoryBundle includes three exclusive titles, not yet available to the public except for here. Mr. Menace by R. Michael Burns—When a wealthy and gorgeous woman asks P.I. Frank Orpheus to find her missing identity, he just can’t say no … even if the case leads him into a criminal underworld more horrific than anything he ever imagined. A new edition of Alexandre Dumas’s long-unavailable classic The Wolf Leader, one of the first werewolf novels ever written, by the author of The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask. New edition with a Foreword by Jonathan Maberry.

And Drumbeats: Special Edition, by Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart. Written with legendary drummer and lyricist from Rush, a creepy story about a drummer who visits an African village where drums are made with human skin…and they have very special properties. This edition includes the original afterword by Peart and a new foreword by Anderson written after Peart’s death in January 2020. Kevin J. Anderson

* * *

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • The Rust Maidensby Gwendolyn Kiste
  • Book and Bladeby Erik Lynd
  • Severed Wingsby Steven-Elliot Altman
  • Disappearedby Lucienne Diver
  • Monsters, Movies & Mayhemby Kevin J. Anderson

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular books, plus seven more books, for a total of eleven!

  • Keeper of the Windsby Jenna Solitaire with Russell Davis
  • Menaceby R. Michael Burns (StoryBundle Exclusive!)
  • The Witcher Chimeby Amity Green
  • The Wolf Leaderby Alexandre Dumas (StoryBundle Exclusive!)
  • Drumbeats: Special Editionby Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart (StoryBundle Exclusive!)
  • Beneath the Skinby Jonathan Maberry
  • The Bone Weaver’s Orchardby Sarah Read
  • This Case Is Gonna Kill Meby Melinda M. Snodgrass

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub, .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): Youdecide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Challenger Center for Space Education!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

DragonCon Schedule

Wow, it’s been a crazy few weeks. I’m just back from Worldcon in Dublin and then vacation throughout southern Ireland, and I leave on Thursday for DragonCon! I hope to post some notes and pictures of Ireland in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, I hope to see some of you in Hotlanta at DragonCon in just a few days. Finding me shouldn’t be hard! My panel schedule is below, and between times I can be found at Bard’s Tower (booth #2719) in the dealer’s room hawking my Latter-Day Olympians books and at least the first book in my Vamped series!


10:00 am YA of Yore: Classic YA; Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Come reminisce with us as we remember all your favorite YA fantasy of yore: Tamora Pierce, Peter Beagle, Madeline L’Engle, Francesca Lia Block, & more!
Panelists: Rebecca Moesta, Jeanne P Adams, Ashley Poston, Lucienne Diver, John G. Hartness, Marghie Parsons(M)

11:30 am The Best Worst Villians; Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Who is the best (worst?) of the worst in YA? Is Voldemort more evil than the White Witch? Could President Snow outdo Dolores Umbridge? Share your thoughts, & then your votes will decide!
Panelists: Ashley Poston, Lucienne Diver, Hanako Ricks, Casey Fiesler, Jenn Clack(M), Alledria Hurt

1:00 pm To Market, to Market; Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: I’ve written it. What’s next?
Panelists: Nancy Knight(M), Lucienne Diver, Anne Sowards, Claire M. Eddy, Holly Sullivan McClure, John G. Hartness

3:30 – 7:00 Bard’s Tower


11:30 am Now Hiring: Compelling Characters; Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Memorable characters are essential. A great character will grab an editor/reader’s attention & keep it. Make sure your characters do the work they’re hired to do.
Panelists: Lucienne Diver, J. Gregory Keyes, Nancy Knight(M), Katherine Kurtz, Holly Sullivan McClure, Jonathan Maberry

1:30 – 3:30 Bard’s Tower

4:00 pm YA & Adult Urban Fantasy: The Differences; Location: Chastain 1-2 – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Each of the authors on this panel have written urban fantasy for both teens & adults. They will share how their approach differs for both audiences & discuss the challenges of being an author for both.
Panelists: Eric R. Asher, Lucienne Diver, Mari Mancusi, Jennifer Morris(M), Tamsin L. Silver, Jonathan Maberry


12:00 – 5:00 Bard’s Tower

7:00 pm Dealin’ with the Devil; Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Do you have to sell your soul to the devil to get published? Editors & agents discuss what they look for from new writers.
Panelists: Lucienne Diver, Anne Sowards, Steve Saffel, Claire M. Eddy, Jonathan Maberry, Chris A Jackson, Lee Martindale(M)

8:30 pm Behind the Scenes; Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Editors & agents discuss what happens when they’re interested in a book.
Panelists: Bill Fawcett(M), Claire M. Eddy, Anne Sowards, Toni Weisskopf, Lucienne Diver

♪ Here Comes the Sun ♪

I don’t even know how to start this blog post, because I don’t want to be a writer or an educator or anything else at this point. I just want to be a mom and do leaps and cartwheels and shout from the tops of buildings that my kid is back. My kid is back.

Abby’s only a week out of surgery (well, a week and a day), and despite the swelling and bruising and lingering pain – because you don’t go through major surgery and spring back instantaneously, Abby is laughing and smiling. She’d giddy. For the last few years, she’s barely wanted to leave the house except for work and school. It’s been difficult to get her to go to the movies with us let alone anywhere she’d have to be social. When I didn’t get it, she explained it like this.

Me: But you don’t have to “people” at the movies. You just sit in a dark theatre and watch a show.

Abby: To you going to the movies is no big deal. To me, I have to deal with how people will respond to me in the parking lot. At the ticket counter. In concessions. I analyze every look, every reaction. It’s exhausting.

To her, every venture out of the house and encountering people was like running a gauntlet, afraid that she wouldn’t be accepted and that someone would make an issue of her very existence. I can’t even imagine living like that. The closest I can come is that as an assault survivor, as a woman, I have to be constantly on guard about who’s around me, how I might be vulnerable, what I can do if someone grabs me or breaks into my house. But I worry about those things when I’m alone or it’s dark and isolated. Not all day, every day. Exhausting was probably putting it mildly.

However, even since the surgery, even with the bandaging, the discomfort, the healing still to be done, Abby is more herself than I’ve seen her in years. She’s wanted to go out and meet the friends I’m reconnecting with who live in the area. She’s let me take pictures, all of them with her beautiful smile, dimples out in full force.

She’s happy. She’s comfortable. She’s our full-of-life kid again. I know there will still be ups and downs. Her doctors have warned that sometimes people get depressed after the surgery because they think it will change their lives, but they have the same lives to go back to, and we’ve seen this in people we know. However, right now it’s like the sun has come out from behind the clouds after months or, really, years, of overcast skies and torrential downpours, and the whole world is new and beautiful and glowing. And so is our daughter.