Recommended reading: Mary HK Choi, Jaime Questell, Catherynne M. Valente


Emergecy Contact by Mary H.K. Choi 

Emergecy Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is an absolute joy. Calling it a love story seems wrong, it’s more like a friendship story of two people who fall in love. And I enjoyed it so very much. Penny is an aspiring writer in her first year of college and Sam is a baker who wants to make documentary films. Through a series of complications and their lives going wrong in a variety of ways, both of them meet and become one another’s ‘Emergency Contacts’. So begins a relationship of texting, and phone calls, a relationship that is remarkably compelling and lovable. The pair have the emotional maturity of a set of mittens, but manage to be so wonderfully honest throughout the entirety of the book. It was the Rainbow Rowell recommendation on the front that drew us to it, but the minute we started reading we were drawn into the centre of their universe and delighted to be there. Penny and Sam are wonderfully sad, flawed, honest and joyful in eachother’s company. If you encounter them, you won’t want to walk away.

By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell

By a Charm and a Curse is an undoubtedly charming, a piece of YA that will appeal to fans of The Night Circus. We all love a circus, and a carnival. Places that say they are magic, are so often ones that we want to really be magic. And that’s where the appeal of By a Charm and a Curse begins. It’s a love story that is filled with magic and beauty and madness. And it’s so much fun. Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy, whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. The boy who seems to have a rather inconvenient kiss. You want to know more? Just follow us down the rabbit hole…

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space Opera is weird. Delightfully, deliciously, weird. Catherynne M. Valente is the queen of strange stories and complicated narratives and she doesn’t disappoint with this one. When you have a tag line like ‘In space, no one can hear you sing’ you have to know more. Space Opera is absolutely brilliant. It’s a shiny disco ball of a story and has been favorably compared to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Earth was just plodding along, minding its own messed up business, when all of a sudden, first contact is established by a group of flamingo shaped aliens with anglerfish heads. They are then informed that intergalactic peace has been established through the creation of an intergalactic singing competition. And Earth has just been entered. There are few things I can say about Space Opera that make it more interesting than the premise. It’s Star Trek meets Eurovision, and it’s the kind of sparkly goodness that a premise like that makes you think of. It’s beauty and wonderment in a story.

Recommended Reads: Frances Hardinge, Seanan Maguire, Joanne M Harris

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A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Following on from the success of The Lie Tree, A Skinful of Shadows is Frances Hardinge’s next big hit. A Skinful of Shadows is a dark YA historical fantasy set in the early part of the English Civil War. Makepeace is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, and because of this, she shares their unique gift: she is able to be possessed by ghosts. But Makepeace is reluctant to accept her appointed destiny as vessel for a coterie of her ancestors, so she escapes. As she flees the pursuing Fellmottes across war-torn England, she accumulates a motley crew of her own allies, including outcasts, misfits, criminals, and one extremely angry dead bear. You won’t be sorry you checked this one out.

Beaneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan Maguire

If you like your outcasts confident and your heroines unique then you can’t go wrong with Seanan Maguire’s beautiful trio of novellas about  Eleanor’s West’s Home for Wayward Children. Beginning with Every Heart a Doorway and continuing on to Down Among the Sticks and Bones, it continues with Beneath the Sugar Sky which is released in January 2018. Maguire combines beautiful, lyrical writing with fantastic stories and settings. Beneath the Sugar Sky follows Rini, a girl who lands with a  literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, and discovers that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived.  If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. The whole series is a brilliant read and the newest installment will really brighten up your weekends.

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M Harris

Modern magical realist Joanne M Harris takes another foray into fantasy with A Pocketful of Crows. Following the months of the year, A Pocketful of Crows draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl who grows up around the wild and nature. It isn’t until she falls in love that she takes her first steps into the world of man but she isn’t certain that she fits in there either. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape. Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a gorgeous modern fairytale.

Happy International Women’s Day! Cinders Reading List

Happy international women’s day to all of the friends, mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, co-workers, inspirations and activists out there! You all inspire us daily and make us take pride in who we are and make us choose who we want to be.

This year our thanks go out to all of the brave women who have told their stories and truths in the hope that we can be part of a better future. Both in the workplace and outside of it.

Here in Cinders we love brave confident women and we look up to them every day. Here’s hoping that we can grow up to be like them.

If you’re looking for some fantastic International Women’s Day reading then look no further, here’s our definitive list:

If you like non-fiction and badass women:

Rocking the System by Siobhan Parkinson

If you like scientific Victorian feminism:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Gross

If you like sci-fi dystopias:

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

If you like realistic stories:

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

If you like relatable stories with musicals in the end:

Like other Girls by Claire Hennessy

If you like fairytales:

Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan and Illustrated by Karen Vaughan

Make sure to check out the CBI #BOLDGIRLS hashtag for more brilliant reading recommendations!

Recommended Reads: JK Rowling, Aline Brosh McKenna, Anna Marie McLemore

First published in Cinders Magazine Volume one Issue Six

Cormoran Strike Series

What with the BBC’s recent release of Strike: The Cuckcoo’s Calling and Strike: The Silkworm, we decided to revisit JK Rowling’s fantastic detective series. Writing as Robert Galbraith the series follows veteran private detective Cormoran Strike and his intelligent partner, Robin Ellacott. Rowling’s talent for whodunnit’s hasn’t lessened since her Harry Potter days, with each of the three books as compelling as the adventures of the boy wizard. However, their true shining star is the kind-hearted genius that is Robin Ellacott. Resourceful and brave, Robin is the girl that you want to be and the girl, you want to be your friend. The books follow Robin’s journey from temp to partner in the business, and it’s her story that keeps me reading on. There hasn’t been much news about the next book in the series, Lethal White, but that doesn’t make us any less excited.

Jane by Aline Brosh McKenna and Roman K. Perez

We don’t need to tell you in Cinders that we are big fans of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writer, Aline Brosh McKenna, so when we heard that she was writing the script for a graphic novel adaptation of Jane Eyre, we were definitely onboard. And boy does it not disappoint. Given a modern setting, we meet Jane Eyre, a young woman who just wants to get to art school in New York. However in order to make her dreams a reality, she needs to take a position as a nanny to pay her way. Roman K. Perez’ art is wonderful in the book, beginning in black and white and – just like the Wizard of Oz – only becoming colour when Jane reaches New York. Even if graphic novels aren’t your thing, if you’re a Charlotte Bronte fan, we think that this book will be one for you.

Wild Beauty by Anna Marie McLemore

Anna Marie McLemore is becoming a big name in the magical realism genre, and with the release of her third novel, Wild Beauty; it’s easy to see why. The book is filled with lush, magnetic prose that you just can’t tear yourself away from. It follows the Nomeolvides family, the women who tend the gardens at La Pradera, who are cursed that every man they will ever love eventually disappears. That is, until the garden gives them a mysterious boy back. Knowing nothing but the first three letters of his name, he must use the girls help to figure out the mystery of who he is. An enchanting, and surprising read.

Recommended reads: Laini Taylor, Sarah J. Maas and Meg Grehan

First published in Volume One Issue Three

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer is pure magic. that’s no surprise because it’s written by Laini Taylor, who writes only beautiful things. Her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is a thing of pure beauty and her Dreamdark series are the badass fairytales that you wish your twelve year old self had. Strange the Dreamer is no different. She invents a completely new world for this series full of gods and lost cities and magic and dreams. I’m not going to tell you anything else but that Lazlo Strange is a librarian with a singular dream – to find the lost city of Weep. I guarantee if you read it you will.

Continue reading Recommended reads: Laini Taylor, Sarah J. Maas and Meg Grehan