Summer reading with one eye on craft

I think I may have mentioned, in response to someone else’s post, how ironic it is that we, as writers, struggle to find time to read.  Vacations are usually the best time. No pressure from the day job, and if there are any revisions to be done for our lovely editors, they are generally put on the back-burner.I usually start off with good intentions, maybe even cajole myself with something that I wouldn’t normally read. But, since it takes at least a couple of days for me to unwind enough not to fall asleep every fifteen minutes, I generally default to my guilty pleasures.  And since I write MG—what fantastic pleasures those are.

            So, on my ‘to be read list’ now are:


Finn Finnegan,  By Darby Karchut.

FinnFinnegan MacCullen: a thirteen-year-old apprentice with the famous Irish temperament.
Gideon Lir: a legendary Celtic warrior with a bit of a temper of his own.

Secretly, these blue-collar warriors battle the hobgoblins infesting their suburban neighborhood…when they are not battling each other.

Finn (not bleedin’ Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.

Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn’s survival.

Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of “fighting Irish.”


The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shroudedFlams in the mist Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma’s past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.


And for me as a grown up, Ben Aaranaovitch’s  Whisper’s on the Underground.

WhispersPeter Grant is learning magic fast. And its just as well – he’s already had run ins with the deadly supernatural children of the Thames and a terrifying killer in Soho. Progression in the Police Force is less easy. Especially when you work in a department of two. A department that doesn’t even officially exist. A department that if you did describe it to most people would get you laughed at. And then there’s his love life. The last person he fell for ended up seriously dead. It wasn’t his fault, but still.

Now something horrible is happening in the labyrinth of tunnels that make up the tube system that honeycombs the ancient foundations of London. And delays on the Northern line is the very least of it. Time to call in the Met’s Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, aka ‘The Folly’. Time to call in PC Peter Grant, Britains Last Wizard.

of course, it’s not all pleasure. I read using the Kindle app on my Ipad and am very free with the highlighter if I find something tasty and admirable. These are seamlessly transmitted to my Kindle page through Amazon for me to peruse at my leisure.

I would highly recommend using this, if you don’t. Of course, if you’re doing it with a paperback, there are always proper highlighters, too.

There is always something to learn.

8 thoughts on “Summer reading with one eye on craft

  1. I have this habit of saying I don’t read middle grade, and then I pick up an excellent one and I am hooked. I found The Lightning Thief in my basement and I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. I’m looking forward to your, Rhys! I actually “met” Kit online recently and bought her book. I also have an arc of Finn Finnegan I am eagerly hoping to read as I chew through my very large TBR pile. I’m very excited, too, since I am currently designing the cover of the sequel, Gideon’s Spear.

  2. I have often thought about using the highlight feature but have not done it yet. I tend to be a hard core paper and pen person. I have a book that I make notes in. BUT, I think it might be easier to track them using the highlight feature. It’s especially useful if I could do it and then send my reads back to the author (like when I am beta reading something). And have fun reading Finn! I loved that book!

  3. Lots of good titles on that list! Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow MG. It’s storytelling at its finest.

  4. I’ve taken notes right on the kindle at times–a bit cumbersome, though. Probably an Ipad is easier. Great suggestions, Rhys–I love middle grade (obviously) and especially fantasy.

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