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June 8, 2009

Cynthia Leititch Smith on Summer Reading

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Is there any better way to spend your summer vacation than with a glass of lemonade in one hand and a great book in the other? Today, Cynthia Leitich Smith --- author of gothic fantasties TANTALIZE and ETERNAL --- shares what's on her list of summer reads and recommends a few titles to add to yours.


I'm not only a "champion" of summer reading, I've won an award to prove it.

When I was a very young reader, I won the summer reading challenge at my local public library in Grandview, Missouri. It took place between the summer of second and third grade. I read more books than anybody, even though the contest went up to grade six. I remember a ceremony and being presented a certificate by the mayor and getting my picture in the newspaper.

Back then, I loved any books that had to do with magic, especially those about putting on a magic show. I wanted to be a magician when I grew up.

By the time I was teen, my summer reading had shifted to realistic contemporary books like TIGER EYES by Judy Blume and creepy stories by Stephen King.

I also re-read Elizabeth George Speare’s THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND every summer from the time I was twelve. It was a combination of the romance and Kit's strength that kept drawing me back.

It's funny because now I'm back to magic again, as a writer and reader, though not so much with tricks but rather magic of a fictional kind.

I can't wait to read THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT by Julie Berry or SILVER PHOENIX: BEYOND THE KINGDOM OF XIA by Cindy Pon.

You may want to add a couple of my recent reads to your list: A KISS IN TIME by Alex Flinn and WATERSMEET by Ellen Jensen Abbott. Flinn's book is a fun, funny contemporary twist on Sleeping Beauty, and Abbott's is a dark, fierce fantasy with heart.

And if you haven’t already I hope you’ll look for my own Gothics --- TANTALIZE and ETERNAL. They’re companion books set in a multi-creature-verse that includes angels, vampires, ghosts, and shape-shifters.

You don’t have to read them in any particular order. But the two casts will crossover in BLESSED, which I’m working on now, and it picks up where TANTALIZE leaves off.

If you’re already a fan, don’t miss Deborah Noyes’s short story collection SIDESHOW: Ten Original Dark Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical, which will be out in July. My contribution is “Cat Calls,” which is set in my own monstrous and magical universe.

Happy summer reading!

-- Cynthia Leitich Smith