Book Recommendations Please: Strong POC

Today I suggested to a friend that, rather than reread To Kill a Mockingbird, he’d read something where a POC saves the day. I then broadened it to books with strong, nuanced MCs with agency that are also POC, and put the word out for recommendations.

What follows is the list I received over twitter and FB. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments section, On FB or on Twitter. I’ll keep adding as they come in

(PLEASE NOTE, I haven’t read all these books. Any that I have will have an asterisk. I suspect there is a wide variety of age ranges here so please check books before buying for younger readers)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie*

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières*

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz*

Wild Seed  by Octavia Butler

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing and its sequel, Kingdom of the Waves by MT Anderson

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemsin*

Salt Road by Nalo Hopkinson

The Hap & Leonard series of crime novels (The Savage Season etc) by Joe R. Lansdale* (I’ve read and loved these books, but take note that the narrator is white. His friend Leonard, however, features prominently in the books, is gay, a black man, and a brilliant character.)

Edge Of Dark Water by Joe R Lansdale (see note above: white narrator, but apparently also features a prominent black MC. Both MCs are female.)

Un-Lun-Dun Un Lun Dun is a young adult fantasy novel by China Miévil

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms* and sequels, by N. K. Jemisin

 Black Ajax by George MacDonald Fraser* ( note, this is an historical novel based on the career of Tom Molineaux. It does not pull its punches about anyone or anything)

The Private Eye by Marcos Martin and writer Brian K. Vaughan (digital comic)

Any book by Malinda Lo

One Crazy Summer by Cinda Williams Garcia

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker*

Ben Janvier mystery novels (A Free Man of Color etc)  by Barbara Hambly

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

The Eternal Sky Trilogy by Elizabeth Bear

Yashim the Eunuch mystery novels (The Janissary Tree etc) by Jason Godwin*

On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

Earthsea (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu) series by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Craft Sequence (Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five) by Max Gladstone

Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Anything YA or MG by Nancy Farmer

Anything by Rita-Williams Garcia

Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

 Parable of the Sower, Patternmaster and Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler

The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Wild Swans by Jung Chang*

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk*

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz*

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

Killing Moon/Shadowed Sun duology by NK Jemisin

Isles of the Forsaken by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Air by Geoff Ryman

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole*

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall*

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel*

Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

Heart of Gold by Sharon Shinn

The Mary Quinn Mysteries by Y.S. Lee: Half Chinese girl working as a spy/detective in Victorian London

Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord (Based on a Senegalese folk tale)

The Rivers of London books by Ben Aaronovitch

Untold, etc. by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Red Princess Mysteries by Lisa See

Inspector Chen Mysteries by Qiu Xiaolong (Set in Shanghai in the 90’s)

Inspector Chen Mysteries by Liz Williams

Under Heaven and River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

Posted in random doodlings, writing | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Into the Grey Audio Book

Into the Grey USAThis week sees the release of Into the Grey in the US and Canada. Sometime in the next week or so I’ll be doing an international giveaway of the glorious Candlewick Press hardback edition (see left – what a cover!)

Today, to celebrate its publication, I’ll just share a sample from the audio book, published by Brilliance Audio and narrated by the wonderful Gerard Doyle.


CLICK HERE to listen and enjoy!

Posted in Allen and unwin, Brilliance Audio, CBI Book of The Year 2012, CBI Childrens' Choice Award 2012, O'Brien Press, Taken Away/Into The Grey, Walker Books | Leave a comment

Gorgeous Tribute Poem for Moorehawke

I’m just crawling up from the editing mines, folks, and what do I find as I emerge blinking into the sunshine? The following lovely message (and poem) from a fan of Moorehawke. Some mornings it’s just great to be alive. Thanks Allie D P Morris for making my day!

Hi there, I just wanted to float you a quick note to say how much I’m enjoying re-reading The Moorehawke Trilogy for the fourth or fifth time. It does such a good job of sucking me in. Today I took ‘The Poison Throne’ to the movies, read through the previews, and when they turned the lights off for the feature I thought ‘damn’. Then I was like ‘why did I even leave the house?’. I wrote the attached poem after another time I re-read them, all in a row, if you’re interested. Anyway, thanks for filling up my bookshelf with stuff I love. Have a great week!


Posted in Allen and unwin, Moorehawke, O'Brien Press, Orbit | Leave a comment

Down the editing well…

dragon3 I’m down the rabbit hole again, folks. This time for edits, as the deadline for Resonance is looming fast.

It’s the last leg of what’s been a long process, but Resonance is a big book. There’s a lot of work remaining even at this stage. So you won’t be hearing from me for the next three or so weeks.

See you at the end of August, when I emerge mole-like and blinking into the sunshine, just in time to start revisions on Come See the Sky.

hugs, and stay safe and happy while I’m away!


Posted in Allen and unwin, Come See the Sky, O'Brien Press, Resonance, writing | Leave a comment

More terrific Into the Grey Reviews (USA)

Into the Grey USA Many thanks to my American publishers, Candlewick, for sharing these with me. The first is from American Library Association magazine, Booklist. The second is from library review journal, VOYA.

Into the Grey.

Kiernan, Celine (Author) Aug 2014. 304 p. Candlewick, hardcover,  $16.99. (9780763670610).

When 15-year-old twins Dominick and Patrick lose their home to a fire, their family moves to the seaside cottage where they usually spend their summers. Everything seems run of the mill, until the twins start having vivid, terrifying dreams about a bad man coming to take them, and when they wake they’re filled with a ravenous, mindless hunger. Soon the dreams start bleeding into reality, and Pat sees an ominous WWI soldier lurking in the shadows. Then he wakes to a terrifying goblinlike creature talking to his brother in the night. When Dom becomes possessed by a ghost and his body turns dangerously ice-cold, no one in their loving family save Pat seems to notice, so he takes it upon himself to dig up clues about the ghost in the hopes that he can rescue his twin. Dom and Pat share a deeply loving bond, which makes Pat’s panic over Dom’s transformation palpable. In stark, eerie passages, Kiernan tells a gripping story as much about the love between brothers as it is about ghosts.  — Sarah Hunter

Into the Grey. Candlewick, 2014. 304p. $16.99. 978-0-763-67061-0.


This award-winning export from Ireland is an atmospheric ghost story set in the 1970s. After Nan burns down the house, Dom and Pat’s family move into a seaside cottage. At night they both have weird dreams, and soon Dom is speaking with the goblin-boy, a strange ghostlike creature that is afraid of the soldier. When Dom is possessed by it, Pat knows that he has to save his brother since his parents are oblivious to the changes in Dom. Joint hauntings and not-so-scary ghosts become the focus in the last part of the novel.

When Pat initially hears and sees the goblin-boy, the tension and atmosphere are genuinely creepy. The creepiness slowly disappears once Dom is possessed. Pat’s confusion, anger, and frustration are authentic. The appearance of James, the old man, and Nan’s sudden lucidness are convenient for the author to fill in the blanks for Pat and the not-Dom. In the end, the author has created an interesting realm of the afterlife within a story that has multigenerational focuses, making it a richer account. Readers may struggle with some of the historical details, as well as the heavy usage of Irish and British slang and accents, but if they soldier on, they will be rewarded with a ghost story that encompasses heartache from two generations and the love brothers have for their twins—both living and dead.—Kristin Fletcher-Spear.

Posted in Allen and unwin, Brilliance Audio, Candlewick, CBI Book of The Year 2012, CBI Childrens' Choice Award 2012, O'Brien Press, Taken Away/Into The Grey, Walker Books | Leave a comment

Lovely Into the Grey review from Carousel Magazine

Into the Grey Another lovely review of Into the Grey, this time from Carousel: The Guide to Children’s Books. Many thanks to my eds at Walker UK for forwarding this to me:

Into the Grey

Walker(eB) £6.99 ISBN 978-1406347326

After Nan accidentally burns down their house in Dublin, Pat and Dom’s family retreat to their normal holiday spot in Skerries. Perhaps because they have lost everything in the fire, the twins make an unwelcome connection with the mysterious and deadly goblin-boy. Pat must race to understand what the goblin-boy wants before his presence kills his twin bother, Dom. Set in 1974, this haunting ghost story shows how sadness can continue to affect later generations. The story leads back to a simple, but effective, portrayal of the First World War, as well as the limbo world of spirits, the Grey. Celine Kiernan has something profound to say about how our relationships are as much as part of who we are as are our actions and our memories. This exciting and chilling yarn shows the power of sibling relationships to both be destructive in their need and profoundly nurturing in their generosity.

(Benjamin Scott)

Posted in Allen and unwin, Brilliance Audio, Candlewick, CBI Book of The Year 2012, CBI Childrens' Choice Award 2012, O'Brien Press, Taken Away/Into The Grey, Walker Books | Leave a comment

Resonance : Chapter One.

Bat dinkusSo we’re nearing the end of copy-edits on Resonance! It’s been over four years since I finished the first draft of this novel, believe it or not. I still love it dearly. As my beloved editor and I march valiantly towards the finish-line, I thought we’d celebrate hitting the final stretch by sharing the first chapter with you.

You can read it here on the blog , or you can download it as a pdf. I hope you enjoy it.

(Many thanks to all of you who voted for which dinkus I should use in this online edition. As you will see, the spider won out over the carriage by the slimmest of margins.)

Posted in Allen and unwin, O'Brien Press, Resonance | 3 Comments