Ch. 6-2 – Dealing with Dragons

Dear Andrew,

It’s so lovely that you and your family read together each night!  I’m quite jealous.

My fantasy series recommendation for you is the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede, the first volume of which is Dealing with Dragons. It features a sassy and clever young women confronting many dragons, wicked plots, and magic in fun and exciting ways – though I don’t believe any of them will be too scary for your littlest one. Additionally, this series has a fairytale world aspect which your daughters might enjoy.

Happy reading!




Ch. 6-1: An Open Question

Dear Readers, 

I’ll post my answer to this query tomorrow. In the meantime, please feel free to offer your own advice in the comments.



Dear Emmy,

My wife and I have two daughters, ages 6 and 9. We still enjoy reading bedtime stories together every night, though we’ve graduated to chapter books. We’ve just finished the Little House on the Prairie series, and have also already read the Chronicles of Narnia, which were series my wife remembered fondly from her own childhood.

We’d like to read a fantasy series next (dragons, magic, etc). Can you recommend something we’d all enjoy that’s appropriate for the 6 year old?  Preferably something with humor and strong female characters, and nothing dystopian-please! Illustrations are appreciated but not required.

I look forward to your response,

Andrew M.

Ch. 5 – Chocolate Coated History

Dear Emmy,

Can you recommend some historical fiction that I’ll actually learn something from? Preferably not too depressing but heavy enough that I actually feel accomplished after I read it.

I love historical fiction but I’m tired of sifting through the kind that is either X rated or just sticks the characters in 1850 but doesn’t actually incorporate any historical events.


Kristen L.

Dear Kristen,

I feel you 100% on this one.

My all-time favorite historical fiction novel is  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It takes place on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and has to be the most well-written historical novel I have read to date.

That said, who doesn’t know about WWII?

If you’re looking for a more obscure historical event, try The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott, about the life of women who worked in textile mills in 1832. Or, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, about a segment of the foster care system that operated from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s.

If this still isn’t enough history for you, consider braving a little non-fiction. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie is such a beautifully written book with such wild subject matter that it reads like a novel (I promise!).






Ch. 4 – Family Connections

Dear Emmy,

One of my new year’s goals is to be more diligent about staying in touch with my extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. – while I can. I’m generally pretty good about calling my parents and siblings, but I realized over the holidays that I’m not as connected with the rest of my family as I’d like to be.

Of course staying in touch with family shouldn’t be a chore – and it isn’t. But, at the same time it can be hard to make time to get in touch sometimes. Could you recommend a book (preferably something light/funny, not too much of a tearjerker please!) that I can put on my shelf to read if/when I start to slip in a month or two?



Dear Jessica,

I totally understand – and I applaud your goal! The lightest/funniest book I’ve read about family connections has to be Twenties Girl: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella.

To be very honest, I’m not the biggest Sophie Kinsella fan – but this is a really fun book and I don’t find the protagonist as obnoxious as some of her other characters. Also, for once the book revolves around a relationship between two women (the protagonist and her great aunt) and not a romance (although of course there is one). The book highlights all that we can miss when we neglect relationships with the elders in our families, but in a non-tearjerking manner.

I hope you enjoy it, and best wishes in sticking to your goal!

Let me know how it goes.



Ch. 3 – And Now For Something Complete Different

Dear Emmy,

I’m addicted  to science fiction and fantasy books – and I’m stuck in a rut! I love love love reading, but I’m caught in this weird place where part of me desperately wants to read something other than the same old space adventure or epic wizard/dragon/royalty saga… but I can’t actually seem to get myself to get past the first few pages of anything else.

Can you recommend something to help me broaden my horizons? But not too broad… or I won’t actually read it.


Anna P.

Dear Anna,

Two words: Octavia Butler.

She’s a master storyteller who weaves serious topics into unique sci fi and fantasy stories.

You might want to start with a collection of her short stories to whet your appetite, like Bloodchild: And Other Stories. But if short stories aren’t your thing, take a leap and dive right in. She is one of the most creative authors I’ve read – the differences in characters and plot from one novel to the next is enormous (which is awesome!).

Two of my favorites are Kindred and Parable of the Talents.





Chapter Two – A Novel Approach to Weight Loss

Dear Emmy, 

I’m 17 and I’ve been overweight for about five years. My new year’s resolution is to lose 40 lbs in 2016 (it’s a healthy goal, trust me). I have my diet plan all worked out, but could you recommend some fiction with some bad ass heroines who lose weight along the way? I’d love some out-of-the box inspiration.


Alice J.

Dear Alice,

I have not one but several recommendations for you!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by  Rae Carson, which is actually the first book in an excellent trilogy. It’s a fantasy book, meaning it incorporates magic and so on, but the weight loss is all through exercise and learning to not eat one’s feelings. It’s part of the heroine’s transformation from a wallflower princess to an ass kicking empress.

The Thin Woman An Epicurean Mystery by Dorothy Cannell is a fun, suspenseful and absorbing mystery. In order to receive an inheritance, the heroine must lose 63 pounds within six months while also completing a treasure hunt and fending off treacherous relatives.

Both the Song of the Lioness Quartet and the Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce. Though they don’t exactly involve weight loss, both series (especially the first books of each) involve intense fitness regimens for the heroines which I think you might find quite inspiring as they learn to be knights.

If anyone else has recommendations to help Alice meet her goals this year, please share them in the comments!



Chapter One – A Manly Book to Impress

Dear Emmy,

I don’t usually like to read, but I want to give it another try. I’m really into this girl who LOVES it. I went to her place for the first time last week and she has books all over the place. She’s coming over this weekend and I’d like to have at least one book that I’m actually reading for her to see (whatever I pick, I’m pretty sure she’s read it – I’m not risking any fakery). I don’t want her to think I’m illiterate/stupid. 

Can you recommend something I might not hate? Preferably something I can get a few chapters into quickly?

I’m 33. I like sports and the outdoors, and TV shows like “Dual Survival.” I haven’t read a whole book since college.


Mike R.


Dear Mike,

Fear not – I have just the book for you.

It’s timely, manly, easy to read, and a story of survival that should align with your interests.

Perhaps best of all – the movie version will be available for rental in February, so you and your lady can cuddle up and watch it together after you finish the book.

My recommendation for you is The Martian, by Andy Weir.

Get reading!


Emmy Louis

PS. Remember, I read everything.

The Book:

The Martian

The Movie:

The Martian