Who Wants a Signed Dragon Book for Christmas?

Hello lovelies!

We are only two weeks away from the release of Book Twelve!  Would you . . . maybe like a copy signed by me?  Or . . . any other Wings of Fire books signed by me?  🙂  Because this holiday season, you can get them, thanks to the marvelous and lovely independent bookstore Belmont Books!

All you have to do is click here to place an order online — they make it super-easy!  Make sure you note in the comments who you want me to personalize it to!  And then I’ll go into the store, sign the book, and they’ll mail it to you.  Tada!  So exciting!  Aren’t they wonderful?  🙂  

Important note: Book Twelve helpfully comes out on December 26, so it will arrive after Christmas.  I’m sorry about that!  But at least it’ll be VERY SOON after Christmas!  🙂  And if you want the second graphic novel, order it separately, because that comes out in February, and I’m guessing you will want the other books you order before then.  🙂

Thank you so much, Belmont Books!  Hooray!

And while you’re at it, you know what else makes a lovely present?  Other books!  By other people!  🙂  Here are just a few of my favorite books that I read this year (although I know I’m forgetting some, so my apologies to those authors!):

For Awesome New Readers

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Meet Yasmin
, by Saadia Faruqi — A super-fun new heroine for fans of Fancy Nancy or Henry and Mudge; Yasmin is unique, funny, and totally delightful.

The King & Kayla series, by Dori Hillestad Butler — Kayla and her dog solve mysteries (with actually surprising answers and clever clue-finding!) — highly recommended if you’re looking for a more modern Nate the Great!

Juana and Lucas, by Juana Medina — A slice-of-life story about Juana and her dog growing up in Bogota, Colombia (which reminded me a little bit of my childhood in Paraguay!) — the illustrations and the notes around them are so adorable, there’s Spanish sprinkled throughout, and Juana’s just an awesome kid.  It’s a great way to think about how an ordinary kid lives in another country — what’s the same and what’s different?

The Race the Wild series, by Kristin Earhart — My Amazing Race-obsessed six-year-old is super into these books about kids racing around the world, through various cool habitats (where they learn about interesting animals along the way!)…even though he’s pretty sure he already knows who’s going to win!

The Zoey and Sassafras series, by Asia Citro — Zoey and her cat Sassafras help mythical creatures with various ailments, using the scientific method and a whole lot of intelligence and observation.  For younger fans of The Menagerie or The Unicorn Rescue Society!

For Your Favorite Middle Grade Readers (that can mean ages 8-12, or 7-14, or anyone who wisely remembers how many great books there are for this age!)

A Properly Unhaunted Place
, by William Alexander — I also really loved Will’s book Goblin Secrets, and I thought this one (about the only ghost-free town in the world, and the girl who moves there and is like, where are all the ghosts?  what is wrong with this place?!) was super fun and full of surprises.  Plus now there’s a sequel (A Festival of Ghosts!), for more adventures from Jasper and Rosa!

Cilla Lee-Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire, by Susan Tan — oh my goodness, I loved this book!  (And it ALSO has a sequel!: Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic.)  It just made me feel lighter and happier the whole time I was reading it.  Cilla is such a bright, funny new heroine, with a wonderful voice and a really great family and big plans for her future.  She’s the new Judy Moody/Ramona Quimby/Clementine you’ve been looking for!

Bob, by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead — This is a delightfully weird, surprising little book about a girl who goes to visit her grandmother in Australia and finds something in the closet that she forgot she left there when she was five…someone, in fact, named Bob.  I read it with my bears and we all found it enthralling.  (And there’s a shoutout in it to an Australian book I loved when I was a kid — Snugglepot and Cuddlepie! — but no one ever knows what I’m talking about!)

Unusual Chickens for the Extraordinary Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones — one of my favorite books of all time, and now there’s a sequel to this one, too!: Are You Ready To Hatch an Unusual Chicken?

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill — I know, I can’t believe I didn’t read this one sooner — it has a tiny adorable dragon on the cover!  And it was as great as I expected; it reminded me of Sage Blackwood’s books, combining funny characters, secrets from the past, and excellent magic in a wonderful way.  I liked it so much, I made myself a Luna costume for our school’s Book Character Day!


(Hope you can see the little dragon on my wrist — he was the inspiration for the whole outfit!)  And the handsome puppy with me in the second photo is Buddy, the Golden Retriever detective from The Buddy Files by Dori Hillestad Butler, another series we love.  (In fact, Buddy is the same dog as King from King & Kayla, recommended above!  You can find his friend Mouse, seen here looking wise, gray, and fluffy, in both series.)

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, by Carlos Hernandez — I know, I’m sorry, it’s not out yet, and I’m just torturing you by telling you how great this book is!  But you could pre-order it!  And tell your local library and bookstore that they definitely should get it!  Because it’s wonderful!  🙂

A Horribly Haunted School, by Margaret Mahy — This is a weird little lovely old book by one of my favorite weird lovely authors, Margaret Mahy, who was from New Zealand and wrote over 100 weird and marvelous books — if you can find anything by her in your library, I very much recommend her!  (The Tricksters, which is for teens, is amazing!)

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, by Stacy McAnulty — Complex and relatable friend issues + awesome math + cute dogs = a really fun, lovable book.

The Countdown Conspiracy, by Katie Slivensky — Kid astronauts!  Need I say more?  (OK, I will; it’s also got great characters and well-researched science and a splendid robot!)

The Unicorn Quest, by Kamilla Benko — I really liked the world-building and magic and history in this book.  For fans of complex fantasy worlds and plucky heroines!  🙂

Arabel’s Raven, by Joan Aiken — another weird hilarious book from ages ago!  I adored Joan Aiken’s books as a kid, but I never read this series, so I went looking for them, and I was not disappointed; this book was SO FUNNY.  Arabel and her raven Mortimer just have these odd hilarious misadventures that feel quintessentially British and ever so strange — I think kids who like Roald Dahl would enjoy these, too!

Well, That Was Awkward and Unfriended, by Rachel Vail — These two are right on the edge of middle grade and teen — on her website, these are listed as teen books, so keep that in mind for content, but what Rachel does so perfectly is that in-between age, 12-14.  I really love everything by Rachel Vail, if I haven’t said that before; I think anyone who loves Raina Telgemeier, Rainbow Rowell, or Rebecca Stead’s books would love her, too!  She does tween angst and awkward friendship and young romance and hilarious dialogue SO WELL.  My favorite of these two is Well, That Was Awkward, a twist on the Cyrano de Bergerac story with texting and an excellent tortoise — it’s a book that will make you happy, and if it were up to me, it would win all the awards!

For Those Intelligent Readers of All Ages Who Love Graphic Novels:

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Space Battle Lunchtime!
, by Natalie Riess — This might be my favorite graphic novel I read this year, about an adorable Earth chef who gets abducted to participate in a giant alien version of Top Chef, competing against alien chefs from across the galaxy!  It’s snacktion-packed and super-cute!

The Princess and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang — Or THIS might be my favorite graphic novel of the year; it’s about a prince who loves wearing elegant dresses, and the lovely dressmaker he hires to make them for him in secret.  Beautiful art and the sweetest story!

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier — I know, all your graphic-novel-loving friends have already read everything by Raina, but I just read this one this year and (as a former stage crew member myself!) now it’s my favorite!

Backstagers, by Rian Sygh and James Tynion IV — And here’s another story about the kids who work behind the scenes at the theatre!  Except this one also has magical twists . . . if you know anyone who loves Lumberjanes, give them this series next!  It has the same cuddly-sparky-lovable-brilliant kinds of characters, and the same WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!??? wild funny brand of storytelling.

Awkward, Brave, and Crush, by Svetlana Chmakova — This is a trilogy set in middle school, with characters crossing over between the books, and they’re all super-relatable (and funny!); I feel like I knew kids like this in school, or I was like some of these kids!  My favorite characters are Jorge (loyal and kind is my kind of guy) and Liv, so Crush might be my favorite of the three books, but they’re all wonderful!

Sanity and Tallulah, by Molly Brooks — Smart best friends on a space station with a three-headed kitten (which they made!) and a catastrophe (which they may or may not have made! but can probably fix because they’re awesome!) — it’s like everything I love in one book!

Goldie Vance, by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams — Were you looking for a diverse Nancy Drew-esque teen detective graphic novel series?  You know you were!  And here it is!  Goldie Vance is awesome, smart, has an adorable crush on the girl who sells records at the music store, and solves the weirdest mysteries!  (I also really love the art in these!) 

The Cardboard Kingdom, by Chad Sell — Another beautifully illustrated graphic novel, this one about kids creating their own fantasy characters to play pretend with the other kids in their neighborhood, and how each character they create helps them be their true selves.  Elliot and I liked talking about which characters we’d want to be, and what other characters we might come up with…

Positively Izzy and Invisible Emmie, by Terri Libenson — Another great author for Raina Telgemeier fans; as soon as Jonah finished each book, he wanted me to read it right away so we could talk about the twists at the end!

(I really have to go work on Book Thirteen now, so the rest of these will be really short!)

For the Extremely Cool Teens in Your Life:

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Want, by Cindy Pon — This book has AMAZING world-building and fantastic characters — near-future Taiwan + hackers + romance + excellent twists!  Maybe my favorite YA I read this year.

Moxie, by Jennifer Mathieu — A great book for young feminists (male or female!)!

The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton — I adored this book; it’s beautifully written and fascinating!

The Conqueror’s Saga trilogy (And I Darken, Now I Rise, and Bright We Burn), by Kiersten White — SUCH a great twist on the history of Vlad the Impaler (not that I knew much about him in the first place — but rewriting him as a fierce, take-no-prisoners young woman is a pretty amazing idea!) — dark and twisty and smart with surprisingly lovable characters

The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert — This book got lots of buzz for good reason; and after you finish it, if you’re curious, you can listen to my friend Cyd’s Book Talk radio interview with her, which is followed by me and Cyd and another reader talking about how much we loved it!

Pride, by Ibi Zoboi — A cool “remix” of Pride and Prejudice set in Bushwick, NY, where Zuri Benitez meets Darius Darcy…it’s interesting to compare to the original, but Zuri also has a great voice that’s all her own.

A Line in the Dark, by Malinda Lo — Super-dark and twisty and surprising!  Confession: I love Malinda, so I’m a little biased, but I’m sure I would have liked this book anyway — it has kind of a Gone GirlPretty Little Liars feel to it, which I am always up for!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han — And then there’s this lovely book, on the not-dark-at-all end of the spectrum; it’s as fun and heart-lifting as the Netflix movie based on it, and I’m excited to read the sequels!

For Interesting Grown-Ups:

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The Calculating Stars
, by Mary Robinette Kowal — Lady astronauts!  Need I say more?  (Hee!  OK: an asteroid hitting the Earth in the 1950s, ladies being amazing at science and flying airplanes, alternate history, AND lady astronauts!)

Sorceror to the Crown, by Zen Cho — Another one I’ve mentioned before; it’s funny and delightful.

I’ve fallen for two very different adult authors in the last couple of years, both of whom were published ages ago and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover them.  One is Georgette Heyer, who I swear is like Jane Austen but more prolific!  I love her books so much and they’re absolutely my comfort food right now.  This year I read Venetia and Frederica and loved them both.

The other is Octavia Butler, who is not comforting at all, but writes the most amazing mind-blowing science fiction; her books are like nothing I’ve ever read before.  I don’t even know how to describe Wild Seed — it’s just unique and complicated and extraordinary.

What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw, by Leah Stewart — This is another one I read for Cyd’s radio show and really enjoyed — about a TV star who gets kidnapped, and his ex-girlfriend who used to be famous, with lots of interesting thoughts about celebrity and fame and self-awareness.  (Here’s our Book Talk radio episode about it, if you’re curious!)

Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty — This book was SO MUCH FUN.  It’s a MURDER MYSTERY set in SPACE with CLONES, where the clones wake up and realize their previous bodes were all MURDERED and it must have been ONE OF THEM but none of them can remember WHO or WHY or what happened on this spaceship in the last few decades and there are so many possibilities and potential suspects and motives and it’s GREAT.

OK, OK, I’m really going to go write now!  Happy holidays, everyone, and since I probably won’t make it back to the blog before January, I wish you all a wonderful 2019, too!  

What We’re Reading:
Me:  Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, 
by Ashley Herring Blake; Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott; Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters; and The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

With my bears:  Mega Princess, by Kelly Thompson, and Harry Potter 3, by J.K. Rowling