the immediate reading list and writers on writing

On this month’s reading list, there’s:

1. Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce, which I’m currently reading.

I think it’s safe to say I’m finally, properly excited about her book! Three chapters in and it’s proving to be bookshelf-worthy.

A gorgeous cover doesn’t hurt, either!


Sure, there are wolves in this one too (what is it with Jackson Pearce and wolves? 3 books of hers I’ve read and even The Little Mermaid retelling has something to do with wolves), but since Cold Spell is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, the imagery in this one is rich – roses and snow and icy-blue eyes and pale blonde hair.

And now I have frost and roses and the snow queen on my mind. I had to look for images of them on Pinterest.

Pearce’s prose gets better with each book, too. There is tension in every scene and sentence, particularly with the mysterious new girl, Mora, who threatens to steal Kai’s heart. I love the relationship between the main character, Ginny, and her childhood best friend/lover Kai. They are best friends first, lovers second – which is what makes the stakes even higher when Mora enters the picture and Kai begins to forget Ginny.

LOVE LOVE LOVE! It’s taken me four books to finally get excited about Jackson Pearce’s writing, but – don’t flay me for the cliche! – better late than never.

2. Another Andersen retelling currently on my reading list is Tinder by Sally Gardner.

It’s inspired by The Tinderbox, a short story by Anderson, so you KNOW it has to be good. Anderson’s fairytales are so lovely and rich – also slightly melancholic and dark – that any retelling would already have something beautiful to build on. Totally looking forward to reading this!

3. Tiger Lily, by Jodie Lynn Anderson

Peter Pan. Enough said.

4. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve bought that book for ages, and planned to read it for even longer, but with so much urban fantasy in my diet lately, a good old contemporary YA a much needed respite.

5. Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor

Okay. Technically, this shouldn’t be on this list, but since the FINAL INSTALLMENT IN THE TRILOGY, DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS, IS COMING OUT IN APRIL (sorry, got too excited there) a re-read of the second book is required.

Don’t you just hate when books in a series take so long to be released you’ve pretty much forgotten what happened in the last book? I can’t remember how many series I’ve given up on because I couldn’t be bothered to re-read the last book to remember where the story left off.

But this one, this one I know will be entirely worth the re-read. The re-read itself is already a treat!

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Okay. Need. To. Stop. Gushing.

There are a lot more books on that reading list, but I don’t think I have time to talk about all 184 of them.




Okay, confession time: it’s been almost a week since I last visited No Room in Neverland. What I’ve been doing in the meantime is polishing up other, completed manuscripts like Until Morning and, um, blogging, and um, reading and um, trying to write some flash fiction and watching videos like this on YouTube:

Well, you get the idea.

So to my writer friends (and myself) who are still wading through the first draft and in need of some motivation to press on,

Enjoy the weekend, guys! :0)

5 places to find inspiration when writing a Peter Pan retelling

So Epic Reads was pretty awesome in doing this:

Click on the image to see it in full-size!

Speaking of fairy-tale retellings, now that I’m writing a contemporary YA novel that’s inspired by Peter Pan, I’m starting to appreciate this genre more.

I’m still partway through Fathomless by Jackson Pearce –

Let’s take another minute to admire this gorgeous cover again.

And dammit now I need to own this lovely book. It’s not so mind-blowing or insanely gorgeous that I want to put it in a shrine the way I want to for Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

or the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

Shrine-worthy covers, no?

Fathomless may not induce this reaction:

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But it’s original and riveting, and contains the magic of the original fairy tale with its own tinge of darkness and drama.

Dark and dramatic, with romance and high stakes, terrible beauty and the threat of losing one’s humanity – just the way I like my YA fantasy novels! If – when – I write Indigo Tides, that is all I can hope for it to be.

But* a mermaid story is a novel for another time (Indigo Tides, wait for me!). Right now, Peter Pan is taking centre stage, so I’m looking for books that were inspired by the boy who wouldn’t grow up. Scouring through Goodreads, I came up with 5 books to sink my teeth into while working on No Room in Neverland.

*That is one too many buts.

When someone mentions Peter Pan, you’d probably think of this:

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(Ah, Jeremy Sumpter. I had the hugest crush on him because of this movie!)

Or you might think of this:

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Or, in my case, you’d think of this:

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(That’s my Thomas – from No Room in Neverland – by the way.)

And this:

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But I always thought Peter Pan was quite a sad story, not least because Peter and the Lost Boys were, well, lost. They might seem wild and carefree in Neverland, little kings and princes of their isolated domain, but they’ve never really known love, or had parents to guide them – they’re just sort of cosseted in their insular world until the Darlings come along.

(That’s definitely what I’m tapping on in my novel, only, as in most character-driven romance novels, both the main characters end up transforming each other, for better or worse.)

These modern retellings of the classic story are not just sad, but also pretty dark – YUM:

1. The Child Thief, by Brom

How gloriously dark and sinister does this look! A devilish version of the Disney classic where Peter Pan comes with a dark past of being raised by wolves and shuttles between the realms of faerie and man, where Peter leads a “savage tribe of lost and stolen children” and recruits a human boy to save Neverland from turning into a wasteland? Three words: sign me up.

2. Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

I read Peaches back in 2005.

It was a sweet and – dare I say it – forgettable contemporary YA summer romance. But Tiger Lily looks a lot less run-of-the-mill, largely because it has an unexpected narrator: Tinkerbell!

(Except she’s not called Tinkerbell here, but Tiger Lily.)

I’ve always viewed Tink as the antagonist, because she showed me that fairies weren’t always nice (just like mermaids – those bitches in Peter Pan belonged in Mean Girls!) and were ruthless when it came to protecting the boy they loved.

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But I guess that might be why Anderson chose to write from her POV.

3. The Lost Girls, by Laurie Fox

I think this book might have been the cause of my Peter Pan obsession. I read it when I was in university, and have been searching EVERYWHERE for it in bookstores. I borrowed it from the library then, but it’s not there anymore.

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(Ugh, don’t you just hate when you can’t find your favourite books in the library anymore?)

The Lost Girls is actually adult fiction, about three generations of Darling girls who continually fall for Peter Pan’s charm. It’s all family drama, secrets, estranged mothers and girls coming of age in a dysfunctional family – the sort of adult fiction I love. (Amazon provides a better description of the story than Goodreads, so go here to learn more!)

4. Finding Neverland (2004)

It’s about J.M. Barrie’s friendship with a family who inspired him to write the iconic novel. So good research, I suppose?

5. Peter Pan, acoustic cover by Silv3rT3ar

Ah, this song. I loved it the first time I heard the original version in Korean, and even more when I heard this version.

And then there’s this:

Which is on Replay while I write Neverland. No kidding.

Yes, I believe I’ve got Peter Pan on the brain